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Decisions, Decisions: How (And How Not) to Make Them [Paperback]

By David Swavely (Author)
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Item Number 130592  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   189
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.54" Width: 5.44" Height: 0.42"
Weight:   0.51 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 10, 2003
Publisher   P & R Publishing
ISBN  087552592X  
EAN  9780875525921  

Availability  3 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 28, 2016 01:55.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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Item Description...
Emphasizes our responsibility to make wise decisions, ones that honor the Lord and benefit us. Also reflects and explains the concept of divine guidance.

Publishers Description
Table of Contents
Part One: How Not to Make Decisions
1. Roads To Nowhere
2. Special Revelation Outside The Bible
3. Supernatural Signs
4. The Will of God
5. Feelings and Impressions
6. Circumstances, Counsel, Desires, Prayer
Part Two: How to Make Decisions
7. The Prerequisites for Biblical Decision Making
8. The Principles of Biblical Decision Making
9. The Process of Biblical Decision Making
10. The Picture of Biblical Decision Making Conclusion

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More About David Swavely

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DAVE SWAVELY is a published author of four nonfiction books. He lived in the beautiful Napa Valley for ten years and now resides in lovely Chester County, near Philadelphia. "Silhouette" was his first novel, and the sequel, Kaleidocide, was also published by Thomas Dunne Books.

Dave Swavely currently resides in the state of California. Dave Swavely was born in 1966.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General   [31520  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living   [6082  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Lessons of Tremendous Practical Importance  May 29, 2008
Decision making is not one of those hot-button theological issues, but when you read Swavely's book, it relates to at least two of the most perennial debates amongst Christians; Cessasionism vs Continualism; and Arminianism vs. Calvinism. If you are a Continualist, a.k.a., Charismatic and an Arminian or an Opentheist, you may not like this book, but I would not be quick to dismiss it, because there are still lessons of immense importance to learn from it. Though used to be a Cessasionist, I have been leaning these days toward the middle, not in the sense that there is still further extra divine revelation beyond the canon of the Scripture, but the Holy Spirit is still fully at work, no longer to inspire, but to illuminate and validate the preaching of the gospel, which could include supernatural manifestations. The middle position that I am talking about is in line with John Owen's whose details the readers can find in Prof. Kelly Kapic's dissertation, for example, "Communion with God: The Divine and the Human in the Theology of John Owen." What I hold also agrees with John Piper's position in this regard. This is the only part that I disagree with Swavely who seems to be a hard Cessasionist; the danger of which is to give credit of "right" decision making to man's godliness, not to the sovereign goodness of God, even though he points out over and over again the utmost importance of the Scripture as the starting point of every decision making process.

When Luther had to decide whether or not to stay or flee when the Vatican put a bounty on his head, there is no specific instruction in the Bible as of what to do. But his decision to escape was attributed ultimately to the sovereign plan of God to spare him through his irresistible influence to draw him toward this decision. According to Swavely, this is when you cross the line of wisdom and desire by considering what the wisest choice is and this consideration should include getting counsels from other people which I don't deny. God gives us brain to be used, as he wrote. Human beings are doubtless responsible for our actions. But who is the ultimate agent beyond every decision but God? And how is God still working today other than through the Holy Spirit? I said this without intending to accuse God of being guilty for evil, not at all. Divine sovereignty is compatible with human responsibility. This is one of the most beautiful mysteries one can ever learn. There is a danger therefore, when claiming that a decision is made through wisdom, desire and counsel, though these are tremendously important, to boast in one's wisdom and godliness, even the wisdom in consulting the Scriptures or doing it the right way; the Swavely way; while the truth is, ultimately it is God, who wills and to act according to his good purposes (Phil 2:13). Or "For by him (referring to Christ") all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created through Him and for Him" (Col 1:16), or "For from Him, through Him and through Him are all things; to Him be glory forever. Amen" (Rom 11:36). In addition, perhaps there needs to be an analysis as well why a Christian would not want to base their decision on the Bible, which after learning from Swavely, may be caused by either ignorance, unbelief, or laziness or a combination of these. But the few concerns I just brought up should not in any way cause readers to shy away from getting this book and put the principles that Swavely teaches into actions. I find the closing statement of book for Christian readers most worth pondering and is no less important than all the steps, warnings, and examples of a proper biblical decision making process,

"And if you want to please the Lord in your life, you will find that many times the best decisions are also the hardest. Going God's way will often lead you into risk and trouble, and if you follow the principles in this book, even your process of decision making itself will not be easy. It requires the hard work of self-evaluation, biblical study, and wisdom learned by experience. But what makes it all worthwhile is knowing that your decisions will be pleasing to the one who loved you and died for you" (p.176).

Helpful overview  Jan 4, 2007
Swavely provides a simple, readable manual outlining the so-called wisdom approach to biblically based decision making. He offers a popular presentation of Garry Friesen's well-known work, Decision Making and the Will of God. The book is helpful for those who desire a simplified version of the wisdom approach and was beneficial as a resource for teaching a series on the topic in an Adult Bible Fellowship in our church.
Review by Dr. Rick Horne  Jan 3, 2006
The following review is by Dr. Rick Horne (even though it probably says my name above!). I cut and pasted it here with Rick's permission from the Barnes and Noble page, so the top review wouldn't be the bad one below!!). Dave S.

Here's Rick's review of the book:

Great resource for youth workers on this topic!!
Decisions, Decisions How (And How Not) To Make Them, by David Swavely cuts through sentimentality and clinical detachment and summarizes sound biblical teaching about this subject in a practical and sensitive way. The balance he achieves is noteworthy in a field that tends to err by stressing existential matters such as feelings and impressions or more dispassionate uses of the Bible's principles as a cold formula for decision-making. The personal element is very present. The Bible's principles are also the clear framework for real people to make real decisions. This book will be helpful to any exploring the Bible's counsel for discerning among options in front of them. But it is also a significant resource for youth workers. In a world that bombards our young people, in and out of the church, with the message to go with their feelings, David Swavely gives youth workers a resource to help young people with their own solid decision-making.
Poor Biblical references and questionable conclusions  Jul 27, 2005
I think this book tries to make a very valid point: That our single and most important reference point, the Bible, is not used nearly enough as a foundation for God-centered decision making. However, the author's approach is not well articulated, he has a consistent condemning tone towards anything outside of his particular opinion, and I personally thinks he misuses many of the biblical references he quotes in the first half of the book. When I looked up the verses myself, my interpretation of them often skewed wildly with the conclusions the author is trying to make (primarily in his case for cessationism), and I'd strongly recommend that anyone reading this book also make sure to look up passages themselves to see if they agree in meaning when they see a verse in context of the larger passage.

Personally, I found the author's views on cessationism to be a little too extreme for me, and I decided to stop reading his misinterpretations after flipping through the book and looking at all of the disagreeing notes I made in the margins. Other reviewers have found value in reading on in the book, and they are fair in their reservations (which should have translated into fewer stars in my opinion), but overall I would express caution on the part of new readers, and encourage them to test the authors conclusions while reading this book.
One of those books you wish you had read early on in life !  Feb 5, 2005
Decisions, Decisions by Dave Swavely is an excellent book with much food for thought - food that is very important and helpful for running our lives well. If you want to make much better decisions in your life, especially decisions that honor and glorify God, then this book is a must read. Life can be very difficult sometimes, and we need all the help we can get.

The book consists of two halves. In the first half, Swavely discusses many wrong ways in which many Christians(Xtns) go about making decisions. In the second half, he discusses how we ought to go about making decisions.

First Half:
The books basic contention is that all too often Xtns make decisions about X or Y in life on the basis of inner promptings, sudden senses of peace during prayers, still small voices speaking to them, feelings, impressions, etc. These subjective means of making decisions are wrong according to DS - if they are made without any regard to what Scriptures say or if they are given more authority than Scriptures. Note, Swavely is not saying that these decision making factors are completely to be disregarded. He is saying that Scriptures must speak first, and if these things happen to be there supporting what Scriptures have said, then great. Otherwise drop them.

In this first half, Swavely also discusses the sovereign will of God and the revealed will of God, and finally the doctrine of Providence. I found this stuff to be a bit heady, and difficult to understand. He should have given more examples.

Second Half:
The second half of the book is concerned with how to go about making right decisions. For this Swavely outlines a 3 tiered approach: 1. See what Scriptures say, 2. think about the dictates of wisdom, and 3. the "dictates" of desire.

Swavely's suggestion is that we first consult the Scriptures and see what they have to say. If Scriptures give direction, then go with what they say. Also - if what Scriptures say seems to contradict what circumstances, feelings, inner promptings, burdens, apparent wisdom, and personal desires say - then go with what Scriptures say instead. Scriptures are primary. Ideally however wisdom and desire will hopefully also support what Scriptures have to say to you.

Sometimes however, Scriptures will not readily give you direction. Or it will not be readily apparent to you from your reading. Then you need to do some thinking and see what wisdom has to say. If its not readily apparent from Scriptures, and you have been praying about it, then go with what wisdom says. Moving on one step further, if its neither apparent from Scriptures or from wisdom, then follow your desires. Desire is the tie breaker. Your desires are often the means by which God gets things accomplished in your life. (Philosophical aside: Desire is central to a theory of free will known as compatibilism, which I believe to be biblical. Very interesting.)

All that said, I would now like to move to some criticisms of the book:

1. I really wish Swavely gave more examples of how this stuff is applied in life. Examples are so much easier to understand than theories.

2. I dont entirely buy his arguments for Cessationism. This is because I have seen some pretty strong arguments for non cessationism being made. Personally while I am skeptical of most of the non-cess. phenomena that I see today, I feel that it is still around, albeit rare. Contra Swavely, I also feel that non-cess phenomena does not neccesarily convey extra-biblical information. They might just simply be reinforcing a point already found in Scriptures.

3. Swavely does not address another problem - and this is a problem of hermeneutics. Sometimes Scriptures are in fact very difficult to understand and apply. In my own life, I have misinterpreted and misapplied Scriptures on many an occasion. Interestingly enough, both to my good and my detriment. (Thank God for His grace !) Swavely should have discussed more how Scriptures speak to us today;how they give us guidance. How do the scriptures communicate to us today ? -to do X or to do Y.

4. I think that to the list of things to avoid in terms ofmaking decisions, I would also add - negative thoughts. Far too often Xtns make decisions based on negative thinking. They give their negative thinking more authority over Scriptures. However this is out of scope, I guess.

5. I find myself more than a bit skeptical over his claim that God's sovereign will, and providence (which is part of Gods Sovereign Will) cannot be known and therefore cannot be a basis for our decision making process. My inkling is that God does in fact let us in on His Sovereign Will on rare occasion. This is not normative, but I do believe that it happens. And if it happens, it happens side by side with Scriptures. I.e. the semantic content of what He reveals will not be extrabiblical in scope.

6. I am really really iffy about his use of the term "coincidence" to describe what might possibly be of God. This is because I am more used to hearing atheists use the term. Perhaps I have misunderstood him here.

So this is a summary of the book. I strongly recommend reading the book. At times, it will move you out of your comfort zone, as it did me. However do you want to live life properly or shoot yourself in the foot ? My recommendation is that you first skim read the book really quickly, so that you can begin to start applying what it teaches. Then you read it again much more slowly and contemplatively.

So grow in wisdom ! Grow in your understanding of God's word ! Align your desires with God's ! Go for gold ! Make the right decisions, and live a life that is pleasing in Gods sight.

God Bless !

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