David Powlison on Literature

cj-powlison--studio2Over at the Sovereign Grace blog, my friend C.J. Mahaney has posted the transcript of his dinnertime conversation with biblical counselor David Powlison. A few weeks back I mentioned this conversation on the blog. C.J.’s posts contain further details.

Dr. Powlison’s literature recommendations included two “pastoral” titles:

And six “dark realism” titles:

For more background on the pastoral usefulness of these literary works, please read C.J.’s interview posts:

David Powlison on Literature (1)

David Powlison on Literature (2)

Core sins

What is the core sin of the human heart? Is it pride? Is it the sin of unbelief? Theologians have debated this topic for centuries. But According to Dr. David Powlison, the sins of pride and unbelief are really “two doors into the same room.” And he adds a third door—the fear of man.

These three core sins are interrelated, and it’s not difficult to see how. Pride is the act of installing myself as the king of my own autonomous kingdom. Unbelief is the act of erasing God from my kingdom (functionally, if not deliberately). Fear of man is the act of installing other sinners as big players in my kingdom (When People are Big and God is Small).

And it’s no surprise that all of the lies and lusts of our hearts are to be found rooted in these three core sins. These lies and lusts are expressions of the three core sins.

3 questions to ask your spouse

This past week I was mostly in downtown Baltimore at the NEXT 2009 conference. The conference seemed to be a success. It was a great opportunity to meet up with friends, many I get to see in person only once a year (or less).

But the previous week we had the pleasure of hosting biblical counseling guru David Powlison in Gaithersburg. As you can imagine, the week was filled with rich biblical wisdom and applicable elucidations of biblical truth. I’ve set aside time over the next couple of days to return to my notes and to meditate further on what I learned. I’ll be posting some of these meditations.

One topic Powlison addressed: How to spark substantive conversation with your spouse?

Powlison suggested three categories of questions to ask your husband or wife. Each of these categories can be asked on a daily basis. And each of these categories are simple and broad, but certainly provide helpful reminders. Here are the three:

1. What are your present burdens?
The Bible tells us that we are born for trouble (Job 5:7). So what is the trouble? A sin? A responsibility? An issue at work? A particular conflict? What weighs you down? What was your lowlight of this day? These burdens are the “heat of life.”

2. What are your present joys? What were your highlights from the day? These joys are the “dew of blessing.”

3. What is your calling? This could include the mundane tasks, or broader life-purpose questions. What are your duties for this day? What do you need to do? What are your goals for this day? For example, a parent could say, “Today, I don’t want to lose my temper with the kids.” It could be as simple as this.

These three categories are helpful in getting to substantive conversation with your spouse. And Dr. Powlison alluded to, this list can be useful in talking with your children as well. The answers to these three categories of questions will help us better know how to serve and care for those in our lives.