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Take Heart: Daily Devotions to Deepen Your Faith

David Powlison, New Growth Press, 2022

For anyone that has had any involvement in biblical counselling or pastoral care, the name David Powlison would be more than familiar.  Born and raised in Honolulu in 1949, David studied social relations at Harvard, and after graduating went onto work within a psychiatric hospital setting.  The 1960’s were both a trying and challenging time for anyone involved in the care and support of those with mental disorders.  It was during this time that David got to know Christ, through the influence of one of his great friends, Bob Kramer.  Following on from this, Powlison joined Kramer in completing a degree at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.  This was a huge turning point in Powlison’s life and building on the works of Jay Adams and others; he saw the sufficiency of Scripture and the power of the gospel as being paramount to transforming lives.  Powlison also served as a founding member of the Biblical Counselling Coalition, he was executive director of the Christian Counselling & Education Foundation (more familiar to many of you as CCEF), and was senior editor of the Journey of Biblical Counselling for many years.

Throughout the early years and history of the biblical counselling movement, David Powlison played an important role with direction, addressing challenges and making the broader community aware of biblical counselling.

In this latest work published by New Growth Press, titled Take Heart, Devotions to Deepen Your Faith, both you and I have the privilege of benefiting from Powlison’s wise and sound counsel.

This book contains 366 one page devotionals.  Each page is dated and begins with a Scripture passage, followed by a three to four paragraph reflection on the verse.  If you are a bit familiar with Powlison, you would know that through his life, and especially in the last twenty years, he experienced many challenges and seasons of difficulty, including open heart surgery, cancer surgeries, chronic fatigue, and then his battle at the end of his life with pancreatic cancer. Powlison’s journey through these challenges are put to words in these devotions, as a testimony of walking with God through suffering.

This really is a special book, suitable as a family or personal devotion as we all journey through the different seasons in life.  It’s also a great companion for office bearers, and those involved in pastoral care, as we walk alongside our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  Many of the devotions are topical and are specific to the different types of struggles and challenges that we all face.  But it’s not all about suffering and challenges.  A thread woven throughout the book focuses on our union with Christ and the blessing and comfort it is to have Jesus in our life no matter what we are facing. Its highly recommended and I’ll finish this review by sharing a devotion with you:

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  Why even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” LUKE 12:6-7

The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5) If you think about your bad anxiety reactions – the unhealthy worry, fretting and churning – you will notice that more often than not, you have forgotten that the Lord is near.  When you worry and obsess, you are living as if just you and your struggles are going one on one.  If you remember, in even the worst circumstances, that the Lord is near, then you have a rock on which your heart can rest. You can have hope that is bigger than any threat, even death.  You draw near to the God who is close.

After all, this Lord created the whole universe and controls every moment of your life.  He counts the hairs on your head and notices when each one of them falls. You are living in his world.  And this Lord is not only the all-powerful Creator of the world, but he has also experienced first hand the anxiety-producing fragility of life.

This Lord is near you.  He is raised from the dead.  He will raise you with him.  When you know that this is true, then you have hope bigger than any loss.  What you have been given intros Lord and what you will be given on the day when you see his face is greater, weighs more, and has more lasting power than anything you might lose here on earth.

When you know that Jesus is near, the worried, obsessed, sinful anxiety dissipates.  The caring, concerned, trusting sort of anxiety grows, and you grow in faith and love.

Craig Vanderschaaf
Trellis Counselling – Operations Manager

*Take Heart – Devotions to Deepen Your Faith by David Powlison (New Growth Press 2022) is available for purchase from Pro Ecclesia Bookshop.