Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pray for David Powlison

I was saddened to learn last night (via Justin Taylor) that David Powlison, my favorite author on the subject of biblical counseling, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Girl talk blog posted the following email from David Powlison to C. J. Mahaney:
I've just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. After some further tests, we'll discuss treatment next Monday, and it seems likely I'll be soon for surgery.
Perhaps you saw John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Cancer" that he recently posted. I've added a paragraph of my own to each of his 10 paragraphs, doubling it in length. It is in light of this that I hope for prayer, for healing, for growth in faith and love, and for this latest news to be spread! I pray especially for God to work the spiritual grace of 'endurance,' that holy, vibrant bearing up under weaknesses. A body whose fragilities continually reveal a lack of physical endurance and resilience provides a God-designed proving ground for me to learn the true inner endurance, that I too often lack, and that I long for the Spirit to teach me.
Feel free to share whatever of this note seems to you to be constructive. I value so much the love of the brethren.
You can download David Powlison's annotated version of John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Cancer" here. Please pray for him.

One of the things I so appreciate about David Powlison is his ability to illuminate familiar problems in daily life with Scriptural truths. Not one to settle for dispensing vague generalizations or trafficking in abstractions, he brings the specifics of the gospel into potent contact with the specifics of our lives, thereby helping us to see new and more profound applications and implications of the gospel.

Bringing the particulars of the gospel together with the particulars of a person's life is the subject a recent article by Powlison at 9Marks Ministries. He
suggests two questions to keep in mind when seeking to help someone: "What is this person facing in life?" and "What does the Lord say that speaks directly into what you are facing?" Concerning the value of these questions he writes:

Both questions enable us to work together on what counts. Ministry is always in the business of helping people make connections they haven’t been making. It’s always reinterpreting what’s going on, in order to identify the redemptive opportunities in what seem like the same old ruts. It traces out previously unseen practical implications of life in Christ. It’s always remaking minds, hearts, and lifestyles that are still misshapen. These questions will help you to say the timely, significant, and appropriate words that help bring to pass such a discipling of lives.
He goes on to show how these questions can also help us better understand how Scripture operates:
The Word is not a textbook of normative and propositional truths. It does not operate like a systematic theology text, dense with abstracted propositions logically arranged. And it is not a treasury of verse-sized proof-texts. A topical study using a concordance is often not the best way to understand something biblically. The Bible is not a how-to book, a self-help book, or inspirational reading. Scripture does not work like some handbook chock full of abstracted principles, advice, steps, sayings, and cheering anecdotes. Instead, the Word of God reveals God’s person, promises, ways, and will in action onto the “stage” and into the “story” of real human lives. Our two questions attune us to that; they arise from becoming attuned to that. In our discipling ministry, we should seek to work in much the same way that Scripture works. We are discipling the same kinds of people who originally received any particular chunk of the Word. So let’s get the living God into the daily watershed moments!

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