This post is the manuscript of my message for Elevate Makati two weeks ago (March 21).

Last Monday, I blogged about ways we hyper-spiritualize decision-making. There are three hyper-spiritual approaches: (1) The “There is an Open Door” approach; (2) the “Lord, Give Me a Sign” approach; and (3) the “The Lord Impressed on Me” approach. We shouldn’t go the way of hyper-spirituality (which is not spiritual at all). Rather, we should go the way of wisdom. Wisdom comes from God and begins when we fear Him, an awe-filled reverence of Him.

So how do we gain wisdom? We go to Proverbs 2:1-6:

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
4if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding

This text mentions 3 practical ways: (1) “treasure up my commandments with you” (dive into the Bible); (2) “[make] your ear attentive to wisdom” (listen to sound advice); and (3) “call out for insight” (pray).

DIVE INTO THE BIBLE

As I wrote last week, the Bible was given to us “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” For what purpose? “[T]hat the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible, breathed out by God, equips us for life and faith.

Moreover, the Bible makes us wise. Referring to the Scripture, Psalm 19:7-11 (NIV) says:

The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward. (Emphasis mine)

As I’ve wrote before, the Bible doesn’t function as our Magic 8-Ball. Or, as Kevin DeYoung says, our casebook. In his short excellent book Just Do Something, DeYoung wisely writes:

[The Bible] doesn’t give us explicit information about dating or careers or when to build a church or buy a house. We’ve all wished that the Bible was that kind of book, but it’s not because God is interested in more than getting us to follow His to-do list; He wants transformation.1 (Emphasis mine)

God wants us to be transformed. He wants us to be like His Son, Jesus (Romans 8:29). DeYoung adds:

God doesn’t want us to merely give external obedience to His commands. He wants us to know Him so intimately that His thoughts become our thoughts, His ways our ways, His affections our affections. God wants us to drink so deeply of the Scriptures that our heads and hearts are transformed so that we love what He loves and hate what He hates.2 (Emphasis mine)

When “we love what [God] loves and hate what He hates,” then we have wisdom. But we will only love what He loves and hate what He hates when we are familiar with Bible, for in it we will know what He loves and what He hates.

I once watched Top Chef Masters, a cooking reality show where famous chefs battle one another. In one of the episodes, the chefs were given a taste test challenge. They were given dishes and a spoonful of it to taste it. Then they will say what the ingredients were. Amazingly, the chefs were able to name most of the ingredients, if not all. That’s how familiar they were with the ingredients’ taste that they can instantly say if it’s included in the dish.

Are you that familiar with God’s ways that you can instantly say what He loves and what He hates? Are you familiar with the Bible, where His ways can be found? If not, then dive into it. Read it. Meditate on it. Memorize parts of it. Study it. Obey it. Let it transform you heads and hearts. Let it turn you into a wise person.

INTERMISSION

Before we move on to the next point, let me show you how the Bible can help us in making wise decisions. Let me give you scenarios.

Scenario No. 1: Let’s say you’re already graduating from college and is looking for a job. You got an offer to be a hitman. Obviously, the Bible speaks against murder. Will you take it? I hope not. Really!

Scenario No. 2: You got a good offer from an advertising firm. But you learned that if ever you accept the job, you’ll be handling the account for a men’s magazine. So what do you do? Ask, “What does the Bible say about it?” The Bible doesn’t say anything directly about jobs and men’s magazines. But it does speak against lust and sexual immorality, which is the purpose of men’s magazines. So if you accept that job, you’ll be indirectly promoting lust and sexual immorality.

Scenario No. 3: Now let’s talk to about a non-moral decision-making where the choices are inherently sinful or without moral consequences. Let’s say you’re graduating from high school and is choosing which school to go to and what course to take. Again you ask yourself, “What does the Bible say about it?” Now, the Bible doesn’t say anything about what school to go to. Also, it doesn’t say whether you should choose IT or nursing. There’s nothing sinful about making such choices. In this case, proceed with seeking counsel. (Of course, you must weigh the pros and cons [cost, location, school values, ministry opportunities, etc.]. What I want you to avoid is the hyper-spiritualizing of decision-making.)

Of course, motives matter. There is nothing sinful in taking up IT or nursing in college. But if your motive in taking IT is so that you can learn how to hack banks and steal money, then it is wrong. And if your motive in taking nursing is so that you can pursue medicine and work in an abortion clinic, then it is wrong. Again, motives matter.

LISTEN TO SOUND ADVICE

If the Bible makes us wise already, then why do we have to listen to others (assuming they are godly men and women, walking faithfully with the Lord)? The answer is that we can learn from them, who have tons of experience in reading, meditating, memorizing, studying, and applying the Bible.

What does the Bible say about sound advice or godly counsel? Let’s take a look at some verses from the book of Proverbs:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
/ but a wise man listens to advice. (12:15)

Without counsel plans fail,
/ but with many advisers they succeed. (15:22)

Listen to advice and accept instruction,
/ that you may gain wisdom in the future. (19:20)

Finally, let’s consider the story of Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:1-20). Rehoboam was the successor his father King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived in the planet. When Rehoboam was made king, the people went to him and asked if he could lighten their load. If he did, they will serve him. So he sent them away and told them to return after three days.

Then he sought advice from old men, who had been with his father. It is safe to assume that these men were also wise, since they were exposed to the wisdom of Solomon. They told the king that if he becomes the people’s servants and speak kind words to them, he would gain the support of the people.

But Rehoboam rejected their advice and instead sought the advice of young men who had grown with him. Young people can be very proud and foolish. So what did these young men advise? Make the people work heavier and discipline them harder. And that’s what the king did.

The result? The people rebelled and the kingdom was divided into two. A kingdom was divided simply because a king did not listen to sound advice.

Of course, there will be times that we will have to make a decision on our own, where we simply do not have the luxury of time to seek advice from others. And there will be times where we will have to make unpopular decisions because we know it is right. But when we have the time, let’s go to godly men and women who can give us wise counsel over a decision that we’re making.

When making decisions, especially the major ones, it will be helpful to ask, “What do my parents (or if married, spouse) say? My small group leader? My pastor?” “What do the people around me say?” And whatever they say, be humble to consider their input. Be willing to change your mind and plans should there be a need. Be teachable.

PRAY

Finally, we go to prayer. But if the Bible already makes us wise and sound advice helps, what is the role of prayer? Well, we pray for three things. First, we pray that God open our eyes to His word. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes that I may see / wonderful things in your law.” We must pray for illumination or enlightenment. God can reveal things in His word that are amazingly relevant to us.

Second, we pray for wisdom (see James 1:5). Given what we know from the Bible, we need wisdom on how to best apply them in our lives, especially in our decision-making.

Third, we pray for the things that we already know are God’s will. It is God’s will that we would have good motives in making decisions. It is His will that we would an attitude of trust and faith and obedience. It is His will that we would be holy. And so on and so forth. We must pray for these things while we make major life decisions.

CONCLUSION

These are way that we can become wise people and decision-makers. Let me close with words from DeYoung:

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.3

Is the way of wisdom your way of life?


1Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 91-92.
2Ibid, 92.
3Ibid, 97.

This post is the manuscript of my message for Elevate Makati two weeks ago (March 14).

In a message/blog two weeks ago, I mentioned that we tend to over-complicate and hyper-spiritualize decision-making. Some of you might not have fully grasped that idea yet. So today, I want to talk about that. I want to show you in what ways we hyper-spiritualize decision-making.

THE WAY OF HYPER-SPIRITUALITY

It’s important to identify the ways we hyper-spiritualize decision-making. When we do, we can correct them. I could think of 3 hyper-spiritual approaches to decision-making. They are:

1. The “There is an Open Door” Approach

When we say “open door”, this refers to a window of opportunity. Sometimes, the “open door” approach can help us in making decisions. Let me give you some examples. Let’s say you wanted to join a ministry and are choosing between music and ushering ministries. Then you learned that there are music ministry auditions or recruitment going on. That’s an open door. So you took the opportunity.

Or let’s say you are deciding between the courses nursing and IT in a certain university. You found out that there are no more slots for nursing but there is one more for IT. That’s another open door. Again, you took that opportunity.

But sometimes, this approach can be used in foolish ways. For some, it is used as an excuse for laziness. For example, you know that you should share the gospel in fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Your pastor or small group leader has been encouraging and pushing you to do it. So you signed-up for the challenge. You decided to share to a first-timer in the Sunday service or in a Bible study. However, no first-timer approached you. So you viewed it as “God closing a door” or “not yet God’s will”. But maybe you should just get out of your lazy pants, approach a first-timer next time, start a conversation, and share the gospel.

For some, it is used as an excuse for doing something good yet difficult. Here’s an example: You know you have to ask forgiveness from someone whom you have offended or hurt. You decided to do it when you see the person in church. But it didn’t happen and you viewed it as God closing another door. So you just opted to just text the person. But maybe you should just appoint a meeting with that person instead.

Kevin DeYoung wisely writes:

If God opens the door for you to do something you know is good or necessary, be thankful for the opportunity. But other than that, don’t assume that the relative ease or difficulty of a new situation is God’s way of telling you to do one thing or the other.1

2. The “Lord, Give Me a Sign” Approach

When Christians ask for a “sign”, or “confirmation” as I noted from the previous message/blog, they normally meant a specific circumstance—even a “divine” coincidence or a “miraculous” event—or a random Bible verse. But isn’t this in violation of Jesus’ admonition, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matthew 4:7).

Now let’s go to random Bible verses. Remember the guy who wanted to transfer companies from last week’s message/blog? For the sake of those who don’t know, here’s the story: This guy was working for a company but would want to transfer to another one. So he prayed for guidance, whether he should stay or go. Then in one of his Bible readings, he encountered Acts 19:21 which says, “Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, ‘After I have been there, I must also see Rome.’” He read the word “go” and took it as a sign that he should leave the company.

Again, the guy is a good, sincere follower of Jesus. But he didn’t interpret the verse right. There is nothing in the verse that tells him (or any of us) to transfer companies. Frankly, the guy, unintentionally and unconsciously, used the Bible like a Magic 8-Ball, as many other Christians also do.

The Bible is not our Magic 8-Ball. It is given to us “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” For what purpose? “[T]hat the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible, breathed out by God, equips us for life and faith. It doesn’t function as our Magic 8-Ball.

3. The “The Lord Impressed on Me” Approach

I know of a female friend who had a guy friend who acted “strangely” towards her. She said “strangely” because he’s acting as if he’s interested with her. One time, this guy texted her saying, “The Lord impressed on me to text you. How are you?” My friend got mad. (It’s obvious why she got mad. It appeared that the guy used the Lord so that he could have a reason to talk with her. Why didn’t he take a risk to just talk to her, without getting an “impression” from God?)

I wonder what the guy had been doing before texting. Was he wrestling with the thought of texting my female friend or not texting her? Was he praying hard that the Lord give him an “impression” so he could make a decision whether to text or not? (Guys, if you want to talk to a lady and even date her, take a risk. Don’t wait for an “impression” from God or hyper-spiritualize your decision-making. This deserves another blog entry.)

Sometimes we make decisions based on a feeling or our intuition. Oftentimes, there’s nothing wrong with it. But DeYoung shows a potential problem:

[T]he problem with impressions is not that they are subjective. The problem is in assuming they are from the Lord. Here’s my profound wisdom on the matter: Impressions are impressions. They are not in a special category.2

So DeYoung wisely gives this advice:

Don’t confuse impressions, hunches, and subjective feeling with certain words from the Lord. If a thought or impulse pops into your head, even if it happens while reading Scripture, don’t assume it is a voice from heaven.3

Here’s another story. I have a male friend who opened his heart to a girl. They both prayed about it. After some time (a long time!), they talked again in person. The girl had made a decision and told my friend, “I prayed about it and the Lord said, ‘No’.” Poor guy! He was rejected not only by the girl but also by the Lord.

DeYoung writes:

“[W]e need to be careful that we don’t absolutize our decisions just because we pray about them…Certainly prayer makes a huge difference…But impressions of the Lord’s leading after prayer are still impressions.”4

THE WAY OF WISDOM

So if we are not to go the way of hyper-spirituality, then which is the way to go? Here’s the answer: We should go the way of wisdom. “Wisdom is what we need to live a godly life,” DeYoung writes. “God does not tell us the future, nor does He expect us to figure it out. When we don’t know which way to turn and are faced with tough decisions in life, God doesn’t expect us to grope in the dark for some hidden will of direction. He expects us to trust Him and to be wise.”5

So how do we get wisdom? First, we have to realize that wisdom comes from God—“For the Lord gives wisdom…” (Proverbs 2:5). James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

Second, we have to understand that wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord—“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, / and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10). This fear doesn’t mean that we are to be scared of the Lord. It does mean that we should have an awe and reverence of Him. Now, we can only have an awe-filled reverence of Him if we have an accurate knowledge of Him, including His character and ways. If we know His character and ways, we would want to live in accordance to that. We would want to please Him in everything, including our decision-making. That’s what we call wise living!

But how do we practically get wisdom? Let’s turn to Proverbs 2:1-6:

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
4if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding

This text mentions 3 practical ways: (1) “treasure up my commandments with you” (read the Bible); (2) “[make] your ear attentive to wisdom” (listen to sound advice); and (3) “call out for insight” (pray). (On a future post, I’ll be dealing more on this and answer the question, “How do we become wise and make wise decisions?”)

So we learned about the way of hyper-spirituality and the way of wisdom. My prayer is that we will not hyper-spiritualize our decision-making. Rather, we will live wise lives and do wise decision-making, in fear and trust of God, all for the glory of God.


1Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 78.
2Ibid, 84.
3Ibid.
4Ibid, 84-85.
5Ibid, 88-89.

There are two kinds of disciple-making.1 The first one is what I call the organizational kind of disciple-making. In this set-up, a person is discipled under a church’s system of discipleship. Typically, a small-groups approach is used, which follows a curriculum and a formal process of spiritual formation and leadership development, making it formal and structured.

I belong to a church that employs an organizational approach to disciple-making. I’m discipled by my pastor in a small group, which meets weekly, and is joined by other men, single and married, coming from different backgrounds (business, marketplace, law, medicine, full-time ministry, etc.). We do group discussions, accountability, and prayer. I greatly benefit from our time together and from the wisdom of the other men with me.

The second kind of disciple-making is what I call organic. In this set-up, a person is discipled by an older man or woman who is invited to speak into his or her life. Sometimes, the discipleship can be narrow or focused on a single aspect, such as work, leadership, marriage, or parenting. Compared to the organizational kind, this is usually informal and unstructured.2

I also benefit from the second kind. Like I said, I’m joined by other men (many are older than me) in my small group. Many times, I get to have conversations with them, ranging from church leadership to family matters. I’m not sure if they’re intentional in discipling me organically (organic discipleship can happen unplanned). Nevertheless, I’m tremendously helped when they speak to me.

Between the two kinds, I believe, at least in my experience, that the organic happens less than the organizational. This is because we’re living in a world of filled-calendars and hyper-activity. Going to a small group (organizational) once a week is already demanding for our busy schedules. So meeting with an older man or woman at a separate time (organic) can be a challenge.

I do not prefer one over the other; far from it! I’m for both. I firmly believe that both are important and necessary. So I’m hoping that we will benefit from both kinds, even applying them to others.

Are you discipled/discipling both organizationally and organically? If not, what will you do?


1I got the idea of “organizational” and “organic” forms of disciple-making from Matt Chandler. He mentioned about this when he answered questions on dating(!) for Desiring God. Yes, on dating! See it here.
2Eric Raymond gives examples of organic disciple-making (see here). He shows that discipleship can happen in the everyday, ordinary occurrences and are done by ordinary people.

This post is the manuscript of my message for Elevate Makati (March 7).

Life is full of choices.

Years ago, I used to eat at Mercato a lot. (For readers abroad, it’s a food bazaar located in in a growing business district here in Manila.) There are two things that I like about Mercato. First, there are lots of foods there. There are kebabs, burgers, inihaw, etc. Second, the foods are sold at a reasonable price. Good food and affordable price? It’s a food-lover’s paradise!

But whenever I go there, I usually spend at least 30 minutes choosing (deciding) what food to get. “Should I get the kebab?” “The burger?” “Or both?” The choices can get confusing and crazy.

Recently, Starbucks Philippines launched a promotional campaign in which they asked customers to choose between Hazelnut Macchiato and Caramel Macchiato. And who didn’t get into “The Dress” craze? Netizens had to decide whether the dress was white and gold or blue and black. (It’s blue and black, by the way.)

Now those are just “small” things. Let’s now talk about “big” things. If you’re graduating from high school, you might be asking, “Where should I study?” “What course should I take?” “Am I really happy with the course of my choice?” If you’re graduating from college, you might be asking, “What will I do after graduation?” “Will I work in the corporate world, or get a Master’s degree, or shift to another career field, or go full-time in ministry?” If you’re already a working professional, you might be asking, “Am I really happy with what I’m doing?” “Where I am?” “Who will I marry?”

Life is indeed full of choices. Choices mean decisions. So life is also full of decisions. Whether we like it or not, we will make decisions, big and small alike. It’s just inevitable. And sometimes, even many times, making decisions can be difficult.

THREE REASONS

So why is making decisions hard? While there are many reasons for it, I can think of 3 for now:

1. We have too many choices. When you go to a milk tea store, you have plenty to choose from the menu. There’s milk tea, hot tea, Yakult drink, etc. When you get the milk tea, you get to choose the variety: Wintermelon, Oolong, Taro, etc. Then you get to choose add-ons: Pearls, nata, coffee jelly, beans, etc. But before you get to enjoy your drink, you get to choose sugar levels: Normal, 80%, 50%, 25%, no sugar, or extra. There are just too many options!

If you are a graduating high school student, there are many schools you can go to. Then there’s lot of courses/programs you can choose from: Business Administration, Education, Engineering, IT, Nursing, etc. Let’s say you took Business Ad. You then get to choose a specialization or a track: Marketing, Finance, HR, etc. Again: Too many options!

I believe that it’s good to have lots of options. But sometimes, or many times, it can make decision-making difficult, or worse, paralyzing. Adam Holz wisely writes:

Our consumer culture is awash in options. And one unintended result of so many options is that it has conditioned us to be careful, to be on our guard and to do our research lest we make a decision we later regret. Options and choices were supposed to make our lives more satisfying. But what if all those choices are having exactly the opposite effect and are in fact making us miserable because we struggle to commit to anything and immediately question whether we’ve made the best choice almost as soon as we’ve made it? (Emphases mine)

Holz identifies two effects of having too many options. First, “we struggle to commit to anything.” Remember my Mercato experience? The variety of foods makes it hard for me to “commit” or decide. It can be paralyzing. Likewise in life, the myriad of options makes it hard for us to commit to something, even paralyzing us that we don’t even want to decide at all.

The second effect is that we “immediately question whether we’ve made the best choice almost as soon as we’ve made it.” In psychology, we call this buyers’ remorse. This is what we feel when we have made a choice but start to feel that it might be the wrong one. In my Mercato experience, when I already bought something, say a kebab, I would feel this remorse and ask myself, “Is this worth it? Or should I have gotten the burger?”

In life, because of the many options that we have, we will experience something akin to a buyers’ remorse. When we made a choice, may it be a school to go to, a course to study, a company to work for, a ministry to serve in, or a person to marry, we right away doubt if we’ve made the best one.

Making decisions can be hard because of the many options we have.

2. We tend to over-complicate and hyper-spiritualize. I know of a woman who would always ask for “God’s confirmation” when it comes to making big life decisions (I’m just not sure if even in the small ones). Now I’m not really sure what she meant by that. But normally in the Christian world, this “confirmation” meant a random verse, a specific circumstance, or a “sign” that helps in solidifying one’s decision.

Let me give you an example of how this confirmation thing works. I know of a guy who’s working for a company but would want to transfer to another one. So he prayed for guidance, whether he should stay or go. Then in one of his Bible readings, he encountered Acts 19:21 which says, “Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, ‘After I have been there, I must also see Rome.’” He read the word “go” and took it as a sign that he should leave the company.

The guy is a good, sincere follower of Jesus. But honestly, I don’t think he interpreted the verse right. There is nothing in the verse that tells him (or any of us) to transfer companies. The guy, unintentionally and unconsciously, used the Bible like a Magic 8-ball, as many other Christians also do. Frankly, there is nothing spiritual about that. Moreover, there’s nothing spiritual in asking God for “confirmation.” (I will be dealing more on “confirmation” and on “the-Bible-as-Magic-8-ball” in the future.)

In making decisions (I’m referring to nonmoral ones—those that are not inherently sinful or are without moral consequences), we tend to complicate what is already hard. We also tend to hyper-spiritualize. We ask for “confirmation” and ask God to make everything perfectly fall into place before we make a decision. We even delay doing good—like choosing a school or course, serving in the ministry, or obeying the Bible—believing that we need more time to pray about it. But there’s nothing spiritual in delaying doing what is good and hiding it under the mask of “waiting on the Lord.” It is unnecessary delaying and even laziness.

3. We are just cowards. When I asked some students for reasons why they have a hard time making a decision, some of the answers were: “I’m concerned of what people will say of my decision”, “I’m uncertain of what will happen after I make a decision”, and “I might not be able to follow-through with my decision.”

If I were to summarize their answers into one word, it would be fear. Many of us are having a hard time deciding because of fear. We fear what people will think of us. We fear the future. We fear commitment. So we are afraid to make a decision and mess up.

In his excellent book Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung writes:

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 the categories. Either we ask that everything would be fine or we ask to know that everything will be fine.1

No wonder some people want to receive a “confirmation” from God or want things to fall perfectly into place first. And when everything fails, at least they have someone to blame—God!

TWO ENCOURAGEMENTS

So we’ve talked about three reasons why we are having a hard time making decisions. Now, let me give you a couple of encouragements that address these reasons.

First, in making decisions, we should trust God because He is good. The Bible tells us to pray to God as our Father (Matthew 6:9). God isn’t just any Father; He is a good one. That’s why we can persist in prayer. Matthew 7:7-11 says:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Sometimes, we ask for “stones” and “serpents”, things that could harm us. We even think that we’re asking for “fish” and “bread” when we are actually not. But God will only give what is good for us. He is a good father!

Let’s be imaginative for a while. Think of a boy who’s hungry. He went to his dad and said, “Dad, I’m hungry and I want to eat the bread in the kitchen.” The dad replied, “Son, the bread has molds on it.” “It’s okay. I’ll eat the molds in it,” the son said. Apparently, the son did not know what molds are and that they are harmful for him. So the dad gave him another treat instead. He loved his son too much to give him bread with molds. The son did not get what he exactly wants. Instead, he got what is truly good for him.

God is like the father in the story above. He is a good Father who is only concerned for our good. And because He is good and only wants what is good for us, we can trust Him with the decisions that we make (provided, of course, that what we are choosing isn’t sinful). We don’t have to be paralyzed with the myriad of options we have in front of us. Just make a decision and trust God with it. Should you make a mistake or experience a setback, learn from it and trust that God had a good purpose for it.

Second, in making decisions, we should take risks because God does not.2 Have you ever thought about that? God could not and does not take risks. Risks involve uncertainty. So if God were to risk, that means He isn’t certain about what He’s doing. Will you entrust yourself to a risk-taking God? But I’m glad He doesn’t take risks. He knows what He’s doing. That’s why we could take risks.

There’s a Bible character named Esther. She’s a Jewish queen married to a pagan king. Once, a plot to annihilate the Jews was discovered. Obviously, Esther was the only person who could do something about it. The problem, however, was she couldn’t go to the king without permission. The punishment for disobedience was death. But she did something. She asked for prayers (actually, a fast) and said, “I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). Now that’s risk!

Notice that Esther didn’t over-complicate or hyper-spiritualize. She didn’t ask for a sign from heaven or for things to perfectly fall into place. She didn’t delay to do good (saving an entire race is really good!). She might be scared but did not let fear overcome her. Rather, she did something. And if we read the rest of the story (and the entire Bible), we will find that the Jewish race was saved (and ultimately, the line of Jesus was preserved).

There’s really no need to over-complicate and hyper-spiritualize decision-making. There’s no use to fearing the future and uncertainties. God knows our future; He holds our future. Therefore, we can take risks for God’s purpose and glory.

Let me close with some words of wisdom from Tim Challies:

What I really want when I make a decision is to see the future. I don’t only want to see the options before me, but the result of each of those options…But the thing we want is a thing God does not give us. He is far too wise for that, and does not give us that view of the finish line, that sneak peak of the future. He could, of course…But he doesn’t. Instead, he does something far better: He gives us a view of himself. We don’t need to know the future when we know the one who holds the future. God does not want us to put our hope in a future outcome, but in him. We don’t ground our faith in a result, but in a Person. If we could see the future we would take our eyes off him. If we could see the future, our faith would be in the future. But when all we see is God, our trust must be in him.

We don’t have to be paralyzed with having too many options. We don’t have to over-complicate and hyper-spiritualize decision-making. We don’t have to fear, especially the future. God is good and He can be trusted. God doesn’t take risks so we could. It is my prayer that we will trust Him with our decisions and take risks for His purpose and glory. It’s my prayer that we will place our hope and faith in Him.


1Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 40. I encourage you to get a copy of a book. If someone needs a resource on decision-making, I will be recommending this book. It’s very helpful.
2DeYoung backs this idea as well. He writes: “God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He has planned out and works out every detail of our lives—the joyous days and the difficult—all for our good (Ecclesiastes 7:14). 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. In other words, God doesn’t take risks, so we can.” Ibid, 41.

Earlier this year, I read an article on Time.com entitled, E-books Go Out of Fashion As Book Sales Revive. It reports that sales for physical books in U.K. increased and “demand for the e-reader has all but disappeared.” This brings me joy because I’m a big fan of the printed book (e-books can be too lame sometimes; just my opinion). I’m hoping that it isn’t just true in the U.K. but also in other parts of the globe.

Now, I want to throw-in this question: “Is there really a place for digital reading, especially for leaders?”

Albert Mohler, in his excellent book The Conviction to Lead, writes:

[T]he arrival of digital reading devices should be celebrated for what they can add to a leader’s reading…The new e-readers will not replace the printed book any time soon, but they are incredible reading technologies on their own, allowing you to carry hundreds of books in your hands, access millions of book in an instant, and have these books constantly available. More and more, leaders will find such e-reading to come naturally.1

So yes, there is a place for digital reading in the life of a leader. I download free PDF versions of Christian books (you’ll find a lot of good ones here) and read my Master’s requirements from a Kindle app. There are benefits to e-reading, in which I find accessibility and convenience the most prominent.

I agree with Mohler that “there is nothing like the physical experience of reading a printed book.”2 Nevertheless, I’m happy that people are still reading, even digitally. So whether you’re holding a paper book or a Kindle device, just keep reading.

P.S. It looks like I’m now into blogging about reading (check out my earlier post Leaders are Readers). Stay in touch for more posts on this topic.


1R. Albert Mohler Jr., The Conviction to Lead (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2012), 106.
2Ibid.