- Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I was born in South Holland, Illinois, outside of Chicago and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan when I was in the third grade. Both of my parents are strong Christians. I can't remember a time when I didn't think of myself as a Christian. But obviously I've had lots of growing up to do over the years. I went to Hope College in Holland, Michigan and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary out in the Boston area. In 2002 I married Trisha Bebee. Later that summer I got ordained in the Reformed Church in America and moved to the little Dutch hamlet of Orange City, Iowa where I served as an associate pastor at a large church there for two years. In 2004, I took the call to be the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, right across the street from Michigan State University (Sparty on!). I love my church and am glad to be serving here. Trisha and I have three kids with another one due June 18.
- For those who are not familiar with your book yet, can you summarize in a few words the main point(s) of your new book?
This is the will of God, your sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3).
- How did you come to your convictions about decision making and God’s will? Were you taught these things at a young age?
I don't remember being taught anything explicitly, but somewhere along the line I picked up the conventional view of God's will. I thought of it like a bullseye I needed to hit or a choose your own adventure novel. Christians were supposed to discern God's will for their lives or risk missing God's best. In seminary I heard a sermon on how God didn't expect us to wait for our impressions to tell us what to do. I found this new approach to God's will very freeing, and it made a lot of biblical sense.
- In your book, you outline many misunderstandings/abuses for finding God’s will. Where do you think these misunderstandings come from? They seem to be a sort of the default setting for most Christians. I know this was certainly true of me in my past. Why do you think this is?
I think you are correct that it is the default position for most Christians, at least younger ones. My hunch is that it starts when we are in high school or college and start facing a myriad of choices. Because we have so many opportunities in the West, we feel overwhelmed with having to choose just one. Naturally, we pray about it. Or we ask another Christian for help. I think we get pointed in the direction of guidance instead of looking at our lives through the lens of wisdom. Wisdom implies God will refine me, change me, teach me, and help me make good decisions according to his word. Guidance implies God has a right turn and a wrong turn for me. If I don't hear God's directions carefully, I'll end up in the wrong place for my life. The problem with this approach is that it makes God a sneaky God, it gets us preoccupied our plans rather than our character, and it binds us in chains of subjectivism, indecisions, and passivity.- Have you received much resistance to the things you teach here? If so, what do that look like?
For the most part people find the newer (I would say more biblical) approach freeing. But people don't always like it. Once in awhile a Calvinist (which I am proudly) will fret that this approach undermines God's sovereignty. But I'm not saying that God isn't in control of our lives. In fact, I'm arguing that because of a firm trust in providence, we can live our lives with less anxiety. Others have not liked my de-emphasis on "the one" theory of marriage. Some Christians like to think of marriage as the perfect fitting of two unique puzzle pieces, the only ones in the universe that could fit together. But this view of marriage is sub-biblical and unhelpful. Finally, some Christians of a more charistmatic bent have wondered what room I leave for the Holy Spirit in our lives. I try to deal with the issue of the Spirit's supernatural work in our lives in chapter 6 of the book. I'm a big fan of the Holy Spirit. We just need to understand how he intends to work in our lives.- What new book(s) are you currently working on?
I'm trying to finish up a book on the Heidelberg Catechism which will hopefully be out the beginning part of next year. I'm also trying to pull together a compilation book on the essentials of evangelicalism. I'm just finishing a sermon series on Leviticus. Maybe I can turn that into a book (assuming someone would want to read it!). I'd like to call it "Diseases, Discharges, and Dead Animals: The Gospel According to Leviticus."
Stay tuned, because tomorrow I'll be running a giveaway contest where you can win a free copy of Kevin's new book. I would highly recommend it, especially for young people.