How People Change

We’re gearing up this fall for a church-wide growth group emphasis using the How People Change DVD Seminar Curriculum.

You can hear more about this during our congregational meeting this Sunday during the 9:30 hour.

Here’s one description of the material:

In the How People Change Seminar Paul Tripp and Tim Lane explore the truth of the gospel and apply it to life in a fallen world. Through their teaching, they clearly explain and enhance the truths from the How People Change Study Guide that help people to understand how Christ’s life, death, and resurrection can and does change the details of their lives. Through twelve, 30-minute sessions participants will be challenged to experience the deep-down change that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings and given the tools to understand the basic principles in the companion study guide.

For a taste of what’s in store, take ten minutes to view the video below.

Please pray with us for God to use this to shape our lives for change all the more by the power of the gospel.

The Not-So-Dreaded "P" Word

By “P” word I mean potential.

I used to dread hearing from others, “You have so much potential.” This implied in my mind far too painfully that I still had a long way to go in more ways that I could imagine.

Lately I don’t hear that so much any more. I suspect getting older has something to do with it. If I haven’t reached my potential by age 58, well, it’s probably too late.

But today I found myself contemplating an old-friend verse of Scripture that puts the “P” word in a different light, one that a follower of Jesus and a treasurer of His gospel never outlives or grows.

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This text declares some radical things. By faith in Christ we gain more than the benefits of the cross; we get united to Christ in His death. So much so that we no longer live. That is to say that Christ doesn’t just make us new and improved persons, but that he makes us utterly different at the core.

Lane and Tripp, in their book How People Change, drive home the significance of this truth for understanding the exciting prospect of gospel potential:

When you grasp the fundamental nature of this change within you as a believer, you will begin to grasp your true potential. You are not the same as you once were. You have been forever changed. You no longer live under the weight of the law or the domination of sin. Christ’s death fulfilled the law’s requirements and broke the power of sin. You do not have to give in to sin. You can live in new ways amid the same old situations, because when Christ died physically, you died spiritually. This constitutional change is permanent! Do you view yourself with this kind of potential for a new life in Christ?

Suddenly the “P” word doesn’t look dreadful. It looks downright delightful.

How People Change – Our Real Problem

Vacation for me, among other things, means time to read. Lots of leisurely, lovely, luxurious time to devour a book from cover-to-cover without lots of stops and starts.

I got to do that this past week in NC with How People Change (Tim Lane & Paul Tripp, New Growth Press, 2006, 258 pages).

I liked it and I hated it at the same time.

I liked it because of its practical aim. The goal of this book is to help you grasp the implications of the good news of Jesus Christ for your identity and the daily trials and temptations you face (p. 36). Who doesn’t face daily trials and temptations? Who doesn’t at times feel stuck within a malaise of difficulties that seem to leave a believer powerless and decidedly unspiritual? I know I do.

I found lots of good stuff here, biblically-based and practically-applied principles for addressing how God works through the heat of trials to reveal the thorns of our flesh to lead us to the cross of Christ to bring forth the fruit of the gospel. That’s the book in a nutshell.

I hated it because it put me on a path of examining my heart that revealed way too much of its sinfulness. Don’t you hate that?

This book reminded me of one of the truths I have struggled most to accept in the process of my personal sanctification. In the immortal words of Pogo, We have met the enemy and he is us!

While external conditions can be very influential in our lives and should not be ignored, the Bible says that they are only the occasion for sin, not the cause. Difficulties in life do not cause sin. Our background, relationships, situation, and physical condition only provide the opportunity for the thoughts, words, and actions to reveal whatever is already in our hearts. Our hearts are the ultimate cause of our responses, and where the true spiritual battle is fought … [while] we must never minimize our suffering – ours or anyone else’s … we must make the important distinction between the occasion for sin and the ultimate cause of sin. This will determine what you think the solution to the problem will be …The bible says that my real problem is not psychological (low self-esteem or unmet needs), social (bad relationships and influences), historical (my past), or physiological (my body). They are significant influences, but my real problem is spiritual (my straying heart and my need for Christ). I have replaced Christ with something else, and as a consequence, my hearts is hopeless and powerless. Its responses reflect its bondage to whatever it is serving instead of Christ. Ultimately my real problem is a worship disorder.

So during my week of vacation in NC the Lord confronted me with my impatience, my hero-worship, my love of comfort, my sense of entitlement, oh I could go on. But how depressing a thought is that?

Thank God Lane and Tripp take the reader to the gospel, my only hope and your only hope.

If you are feeling stuck and won’t mind the pain to get to the gain of the gospel, get a copy of this book and read it before you go on vacation so you don’t ruin your vacation.