This week we each resolve to embark on a personal change project. This is a good thing. Perhaps there is much wisdom in trading one dramatic resolution for 10,000 little ones.
And since January is a great time to pause, reflect, and start a new course, let’s do it right with some true character development. (Hope and perspective win over cynicism and living in defeat any day. What we need is hope-filled perspective on reality and the future.)
In the last year I’ve come to trust and recommend a little book by Tim Chester, You Can Change.
Here’s the table of contents, along with a free chapter of You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions:
- What would you like to change?
- Why would you like to change? (free PDF)
- How are you going to change?
- When do you struggle?
- What truths do you need to turn to?
- What desires do you need to turn from?
- What stops you changing?
- What strategies will reinforce your faith and repentance?
- How can we support one another in change?
- Are you ready for a lifetime of daily change?
- Browse the whole book online for free.
“Jesus is the perfect person, the true image of God, the glory of the Father. And God’s agenda for change is for us to become like Jesus.” (p. 14)
“Making us like Jesus was God’s plan from the beginning. God ‘predestined’ or planned for us to be like His Son (Romans 8:29). Before God had even made the world, His plan for you and me was to make us like Jesus. And everything that happens to us is part of that plan. One day we will share God’s glory and reflect that glory back to him so that he is glorified through us (v. 30).” (p. 15)
‘The Puritan Thomas Watson said that sanctification, the process of change, “is heaven begun in the soul. Sanctification and glory differ only in degree: Sanctification is glory in the seed, and glory is sanctification in the flower.’” (p. 20)
“You will cleanse no sin from your life that you have not first recognized as being pardoned through the cross. This is because holiness always starts in the heart. The essence of holiness is not new behavior, activity, or holiness. Holiness is new affections, new desires, and new motives that then lead to new behavior. If you don’t see your sin as completely pardoned, then your affections, desires, and motives will be wrong. You will aim to prove yourself. Your focus will be the consequences of your sin rather than hating the sin itself and desiring God in its place.”
“Many people change their behavior, but their motives and desires are still wrong; so their new behavior is no more pleasing to God than their old behavior.” (p. 28)
“God sent His Son to buy our freedom. We’re no longer slaves with a slavemaster. Now we’re children with a Father.” (p. 31)
“We become Christians by faith in Jesus, we stay Christians by faith in Jesus, and we grow as Christians by faith in Jesus.” (p. 43)
“Telling a slave to be free is to add insult to injury. But telling a liberated slave to be free is an invitation to enjoy his new freedom and privileges.” (p. 49)
“The Father is intimately involved in our lives so that our circumstances train us in godliness. The Son has set us free from both the penalty and the power of sin so that we now live under the reign of grace. The Spirit gives us a new attitude toward sin and a new power to change. The combined forces of the Trinity are at work in our lives to set us free and make us holy.” (p. 53)
“Justification is a change of my status in God’s sight; sanctification is a change of my heart and character.” (p. 56; both because of Jesus and ours through faith in Him)
Live in the words of Paul in Romans 8:32—
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us, how will he not also with him freely give us all things.”
Identity is the key to change. Who are you? Who has God designed you to be? How will you embrace His will in 2011, linking your little story to His Big Story?