Reviews, Uncategorized

Review: “Just Do Something”

I have a confession to make. Some days, I wake up and I wish I was 15 again. Not because I was more handsome then – that’s me now. Not because I want to be as popular as I was then – which was not very popular, but then a nerdy type with a volatile temper doesn’t make you that. No, I want to be 15 on some days because at 15, you genuinely don’t have a care in the world. You go to school, come home, do homework, play PlayStation 2, eat dinner, watch TV, go to church, etc. – who you’re going to marry, where you’re going to work, even what A-levels you’re going to story are far from your mind.  Now I’m 22, thinking about a career, ministry desires, finding a wife and a host of smaller but by no means less perplexing decisions every day. For a Christian, the inevitable question is, “How do I know whether my decisions are in accord with God’s will?”

The subject of decision-making and knowing the will of God is a contentious one in our day. The rise of hyper-charismatic theology has meant that most Christians are of the conviction that God’s will is discernible through dreams, visions, prophecies, words of knowledge, etc. The problems with such an approach are, I trust, self-evident. (If you’d like to know more about the Bible’s teaching on the spiritual gifts and the work of the Spirit , may I recommend Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit by Thomas Edgar or Charismatic Chaos by John MacArthur for a good Biblical treatment of this subject)

On the other extreme, some have proposed a scheme where, while eschewing the idea of special revelation in making decision, the aim subtly becomes the reading of providence and ultimately one’s ability to make decisions effectively is dependent on whether they can follow these few steps accurately.

Either way, the problem becomes: “How can I know what the will of God is for me in making decisions?” I will admit that for a long time, I just figured that the safest (and ‘safe’ is seriously top of the reference list) thing was to guarantee in my mind that everything would work out and then make a move (my way, of course). In the likely event it didn’t work, it was a dumb idea to begin with and next time, I won’t even think twice about making a decision, should I be in the same place somewhere down the road. In short – I did something and it didn’t work…so we won’t be doing that or anything next time.

Enter Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. Prior to having read this book, I had heard some negative things about this book and others like it. For the most part, I heard two basic criticisms: (1) “He’s saying God doesn’t have a specific will for your life” and (2) “He’s saying just do whatever you want – where’s the careful thought and discernment in that?” Well, I read it – and neither objection I had heard rings true. If anything, this book lays out a liberating, common-sense and empowering view of guidance which I have been personally encouraged by it.

Pastor DeYoung begins with a “State of the World” review, putting the facts on the table and showing that the majority of Christians deeply struggle with “getting on with it” ever chasing after the seemingly elusive “will of God”. Having basically said, “Why aren’t we doing anything?”, the following chapters are very much like Rev. DeYoung putting the kettle on, opening up a Bible and having a chat about what the will of God looks like and how we “find it”. Chapter two deals with the three ways in which the will of God is discussed: (1) God’s will of decree, (2) God’s will of desire and (3) God’s will of direction. DeYoung, in an insightful manner, deals with the relevant texts and then comes to the following staggering conclusion (which I think is right):

This conventional understanding [that there is a specific will of God for every believer and anything less is a fail] is the wrong way to think of God’s will. In fact, expecting God to reveal some hidden way of direction is an invitation to disappointment and indecision. Trusting in God’s will of decree is good. Following His will of desire is obedient. Waiting for God’s will of direction is dangerous.

Dangerous? Seems a little irreverent to say that waiting for God’s will is dangerous – but then that assumes the existence of a “will of God” for every individual believer, anything (I will save that for a future blog post.) With a unique mixture of sarcasm, wit and pastoral concern, DeYoung then lays out an uncomplicated scheme for knowing the will of God. God wants you saved, sanctified, Spirit-led and growing in faith – that’s His will as we find in the Bible. For everything, apply some sanctified common sense and just do something. If it works out, praise the Lord and keep it moving. If not, learn from it, praise the Lord and keep it moving. DeYoung also dedicates a chapter to the big questions which most – if not, all – young people wrestle through – “What about marriage?” and “What should I do after studying (or should I study at all?)”

I honestly enjoyed this book, even though at points, it was painful and felt like my non-risk-taking, safety-loving heart was being dragged through a briar patch. But then, that was the greatest part – stripping back the tradition and letting the Word be the governing principle. You may not agree with his conclusions initially (and judging by its reviews, neither does half of the Internet) but do the spade-work and test what he is saying. I can definitely say you’ll be glad you did.


Review: Google Nexus 10

The tablet has been become a big part of technology in our days, especially since the iPad came along and revolutionized the market. For various reasons, however, despite just how ubiquitous the iPad has become, I’ve never taken to it. With that, I’ve not had a great time with Android tablets, either. While me and Android phones have had a great time, I haven’t had a great time with tablets – until I went and bought a Nexus 10. The Nexus 10 is the second tablet in Google’s Nexus line of products and produced in cooperation with Samsung and arguably Google’s answer to the iPad.

The Nexus 10
The Nexus 10

The Good

1. Price: I love to save money, even on a high-end purchase and on price alone, the N10 was already looking attractive. In the UK, the 16GB model (what I own) was only £319 – for an iPad 4 of the same capacity, I would have to shell out an extra £80. When you like a good bargain, you can’t argue with prices like that.

2. Specifications: Allow me to say one thing about Apple for my perspective. I am convinced that Apple’s products have to look nice to compensate for being technically average. (At this point, dare I say, that is solely my opinion – this is not a professional comment in any way, shape or form)

The N10 definitely doesn’t compromise on technical specifications. With a 16GB or 32GB capacity, coupled with a 1.6Ghz dual-core processor and 2GB RAM, it is safe to say that this thing is no weak product under the hood.

3. Android 4.2: The strongest incarnation of the Android OS yet is only fitting for such a great product. It boasts a number of fine features – such as multiple user accounts (great if you have to share your device), a limited number of widgets for the lock screen, gesture typing and Google’s answer to Siri (or so I think), Google Now.

The Google Play Store (formerly known as the Android Market) continues to go from strength to strength with close to 800,000 apps available. Since I purchased my tablet, a number of apps available have simply become indispensable, such as the fantastic Evernote (blog post pending on why I’m switched to Evernote for all my note-taking needs) and the Logos app for getting studies prepped last-minute (which has happened a great deal of late LOL)

Finally there is that gem of an app called Play Music. When I can have my entire iTunes library (which currently stands at close to 7000 MP3s of music, sermons, podcasts and my own recordings) available on my phone and tablet, I call that a win. And it’s FREE! I like free…

The Bad

Sadly, technology, while amazing, is not perfect. Here are a number of downsides I’ve found with the tablet and Android 4.2 in general.

1. Charging time: Simply put – the battery life is great but charging it is a nightmare. I get a good few days out of mine but I carry a charger with me and to get it to a respectable level on-the-move is near-impossible. Using a micro-USB port to charge such a power-intensive piece of kit was probably not Samsung’s finest idea if I’m honest.

2. Face Unlock: When my brother – who is simply skinnier than I and looks nothing like me – can unlock the thing (on both my tablet and my Galaxy Nexus), it is safe to say it needs more work. ‘Nuff said.

3. Play Store compatibility: While the Play Store is brimming with apps, some apps are compatible with your phone which aren’t with your tablet and vice versa. While I appreciate that to be part of having an operating system that has specific incarnations on phones and tablets, it is a little frustrating.

4. No 3G capability: Would be helpful if it could, especially when your mobile data isn’t working (as happens to be when I’m at church).

5. No expandable memory: I have a 16GB microSD card which collects dust because none of my devices use one. I understand the push these days is towards being up in the Cloud, but for the installation of apps, expandable memory still continues to be a needed part for smartphone users.

The Ugly

If there was one ugly thing about this tablet, it has to be the availability of this thing. I want to give Google a side of slack for this but hear me out. The Nexus 7 was arguably the tablet of 2012. Its ridiculous specs for such a small product coupled with a ridiculously competitive price is very much what put me on Google’s Nexus range. When I then heard that Google had a 10-inch tablet, I swooped it up pretty much on sight. Within weeks of me getting mine, I was hearing that Google had run out and folks were waiting for ages to get their hands on one.

Google, if you have a cash cow like you clearly have with your Nexus line of products, it would be in your best interests to get numbers sorted. I know folks who have moved to getting an iPad solely because you could get your hands on one while the N10 took ages to replenish stocks.

Verdict: All in all, this tablet, like its younger cousin, the Nexus 7 is quite the product. For all its failings, it stacks up well in the world of the iPad. Some more accessories and it’ll be up there. Easily 9/10.