Monday, July 20, 2009

how we change (2) overview

I've grown more during the last 12 months than I remember growing during the 12 years before that. I'm sure this isn't true! - I know how God has used motherhood, temptation and suffering to refine me - but that's what it feels like.

I've learnt so much about God's grace and how it changes our hearts.

Blogging and a return to ministry after years of baby-care has brought many issues to the surface, like pride, perfectionism and people-pleasing. At times I've felt overwhelmed by anxiety, stress and discouragement, which has forced me to dig deeper into the gospel.

The other catalyst for change, under God's mercy, has been the books I've read. Martyn Lloyd-Jones helped me remember the Puritans' wisdom about preaching to myself. Ed Welch's books and talks unearthed the issues beneath my addictions, fear, legalism and people-pleasing. Tim Lane and Paul Tripp encouraged me to grow in the heat of suffering. Elyse Fitzpatrick, my sister in Christ, has walked beside me through struggles with greed and worry. Tim Chester's You Can Change brought it all into clear focus.*

What has affected me so profoundly? Two truths that I already knew:

  • that below every sin are the lies and idols of my wayward heart
  • that only the grace of God in Christ and the work of his Spirit, not rules and programs, can change my heart and transform my life

Really, it's no more than God's age-old key to change:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Col 2:6-7)
I like the structure of You Can Change, so as we explore how God changes us through his grace, it's this structure that we'll be following (with a couple of detours, I'm sure!). Here's the topics he covers:

1. What would you like to change?
2. Why would you like to change?
3. How are you going to change?
4. When do you struggle?
5. What truths do you need to turn to?
6. What desires do you need to turn from?
7. What stops you changing?
8. What strategies will reinforce your faith and repentance?
9. How can we support one another in changing?
10. Are you ready for a lifetime of daily change?

Nicole has already blogged her way through You Can Change, and as always, her blog posts are thoughtful and helpful, so I won't double up. I'll share with you the personal story of how this book has shaped my thinking and life. I've just written and led a seminar on this material, so some reflections from my seminar will make it into these posts. Along the way, I'll include insights from writers like Tim Keller and Elyse Fitzpatrick.

Please join me on the great adventure of digging deep into the grace of God and how it changes our hearts.

* The books which have had a big impact on me include Martyn Lloyd-Jones's Spiritual Depression, Ed Welch's Running Scared, When People Are Big and God is Small, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave and Issues in Biblical Counselling, Tim Lane and Paul Tripp's How People Change, Elyse Fitzpatrick's Idols of the Heart, Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety and Love to Eat, Hate to Eat, and Tim Chester's You Can Change.

If you'd like to see or use my seminar, How Change Happens, please contact me.

images are from stock.xchng

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