Some quotes from David Powlison's Speaking Truth in Love, which I read a bit of this week:
"JC Ryle said that coming to a vital Christian faith starts a lifelong quarrel inside a person: 'You and sin must quarrel, if you and God are to be friends.' Imagine, I must quarrel with myself if I am to befriend God! To deal firmly with yourself is the hard way, the narrow way ... and the only good way. Perhaps I should say it more strongly. To enter into yourself is the brutally wonderful, painstakingly delightful way. It sometimes feels like death, but always comes up life. The alternatives sometimes feel like life but always come up death." (p. 36) I love that, "brutally wonderful, painstakingy delightful... it sometimes feels like death, but always comes up life."
"Does it make you angry that Jesus intends to revise your personal goals in order to 'break your schemes for earthly joy'?" (p. 37). OUCH!
"Past grace gives you the ability to fearlessly see yourself in the mirror of God's gaze, and gives you a reason to become different." (42) Past grace is a category of grace that we could use a lot more of -- that's why the Bible is always exhorting us to remember what God has already done for us. "Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."
"Grace is not only a mercy to sinners, but a mercy to sufferers." (43) Thank God.
"What is the place of Christ's good news in biblical counseling? this is rather like asking, 'What is the place of water and carbon in human physiology?' The gospel of Jesus is the fundamental stuff of biblical counseling. Counseling that lacks Jesus, however skillful, is not wise. Counseling based on what God does and says will itself be composed of grace." (44). Praise God that despite my lack of skill, I can still offer people the hope of the Gospel and trust that God will use that truth to change lives.
"When you counsel, you are representing, incarnating, and bringing a living Redeemer to people who need him." (47) A high calling, and the reason that we also need to be trusting that living Redeemer to increasingly transform us into His image.
"I find that the state of my own faith, repentance, and obedience is the single most significant factor affecting the counseling I do." (50) Humbling, scary and motivating, all at once. I think this might be some of what Paul had in mind when he told the young minister Timothy, "Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come" (1 Tim 4:7b-8)