“Some 1500 years ago, the warrior-chief of a primitive Germanic tribe bluntly questioned a visiting missionary. “Why should I believe in this Jesus that you tell me about?” The man of God answered, “Because in Jesus Christ you will find wonder upon wonder— and all true.”” -David Powlison
Tag Archives: David Powlison
Measure of Preaching
“Is the truth you know good enough for crowds on Sunday morning but not good enough for individual strugglers on Tuesday afternoon?” -David Powlison
Ways to Pray
- Sometimes we ask God to change our circumstances: heal the sick, give daily bread, protect from suffering and evil, make our leaders just, convert friends and family, make our work prosper, provide me with a spouse, quiet this storm, send rain, give us a child.
- Sometimes we ask God to change us: deepen my faith, teach us to love each other, forgive sins, make me wise, make us know you better, help me to sanctify you in my heart, don’t let me dishonor you, help us understand Scripture, teach me to encourage others.
- Sometimes we ask God to change everything by revealing himself more fully, magnifying his glory and rule. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, be exalted above the heavens, let your glory be over all of the earth, come Lord Jesus.
Mistakes in Prayer
“Visitors to many of our churches might be pardoned if they get the impression that God is chiefly interested in perking up our health, yet not very good at it! The prayer list in many churches is filled with chronic illnesses, though deep down we know that everyone will die sooner or later, usually from progressive ill health. Too often pastoral prayers, prayer meetings, and prayer lists dishearten and distract the faith of God’s people. Prayer becomes either a dreary litany of familiar words, or a magical superstition. It either dulls our expectations of God, or hypes up fantasy hopes. Prayers for the sick can even become a breeding ground for cynicism: wouldn’t these people have gotten better anyway as nature took its course or medicine succeeded? Prayer can also become a breeding ground for bizarre ideas and practices: a spiritualized version of our culture’s obsession with health and medicine; naming and claiming your healing; a superstitious belief that the quantity or fervency of prayer is decisive in getting God’s ear; the notion that prayer has its own “power”; questioning the faith of a person who doesn’t get better.” -David Powlison
We Need the Church
‘The Lord’s people are called to help each other grow up. We are called to know and be known by each other. We are called to counsel each other, to be change agents in each other’s lives.’ -David Powlison
Listening and Repentance
“Willingness to listen is itself a significant aspect of repentance and renewal.” -David Powlison
Talkers Not Listeners
“We live in a day when airing one’s opinion matters more than listening intently.” -David Powlison
Change is in the Details
“When you get to know a person well, you know both the panorama and the details. But biblical change walks out in the details. The patterns, themes, and tendencies of our lives are what we see when, figuratively, we view our lives from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. From one hundred floors up, Manhattan and the Hudson River spread serenely before you. But the action and noise of life happens at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, and when we take the Lincoln Tunnel home to Hoboken. The big stories of our lives are worked out in a running series of small scenes. This is how God has made it to be, but this is something that counselors and preachers often don’t understand. When you counsel (or preach) in great and good generalities, people will nod, but they rarely change.” -David Powlison
Grace Changes the Heart, Or Else It Isn’t Good News
“What is the alternative to obedience and holiness of life? It is no treat to be forgiven adultery, and yet remain adulterous. It is no glory to God to forgive anger, and yet leave a person irritable, explosive, and self-righteous. It is no honor to the gospel if anxiety can be forgiven, yet someone remains a nervous wreck. It is no advance for God’s kingdom to forgive self-centered people, if they do not learn how to consider the interests of others. It does no good to the world or the church if a forgiven warmaker does not learn how to become a practical peacemaker. Grace takes a lazy, selfish, thieving person, and pushes him in the direction of becoming hard-working and generous. God will remake a liar into an honest man and a shrewish complainer into a kind, constructive woman. These are long journeys, but the direction of grace is towards obedience to God’s law of love. None of these changes mean perfection until Jesus returns. You will always need mercies to be renewed every morning. But there is substantial healing amid the ongoing struggle. It isn’t always dramatic. Small choices count. But the Spirit will produce his fruit in us, and biblical counseling serves such practical changes.” -David Powlison
Music Can Lead You Home
Frederick Faber’s hymn, “Hark! Hark, my soul!” contains a wonderful line, “The music of the gospel leads us home.” -David Powlison