At the request of one of our graduates, we are going to begin featuring a (not necessarily monthly) Book of the Month. Kelsey (the graduate) mentioned that she gained so much through her studies at Eternity, but now that she has graduated—and therefore is not being forced to read books—she is not in the loop on which books might be worth reading. I’m sure that many of you are in a similar boat. There are so many books out there, how do you choose which books you will read?
Hopefully you don’t trust us enough to be the lone voice in telling you what you should read, but our hope is that this feature will turn your attention to some books that we have found worthwhile, and maybe you will to. I don’t think I have ever read a book that I agreed with 100% (I feel compelled to add, “except for the Bible,” because I know some Bible college students are reading), so please don’t take these recommendations as affirmations of every detail of every book. We simply find these books helpful and think you might as well.
So our first ever Book of the Month is You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions
by Tim Chester. This book recently became required reading for our Discipleship and Counseling class. Chester is a trusted voice for us, and his book Total Church, co-authored by Steve Timmis, is also a must-read.
The title of the book sounds a touch self-helpish, and in a sense, that’s exactly what it is. But the key difference between your average Joel Osteen become a better you type of book and You Can Change is that Chester is incessantly gospel-focused. Addressing the sin issues in our lives is not about techniques, self-imposed disciplined, or therapy that only a highly trained professional can administer. It’s about the gospel:
“We become Christians by faith in Jesus, we stay Christians by faith in Jesus, and we grow as Christians by faith in Jesus…It’s not just that trying to live by laws and disciplines is useless—it’s a backwards step. It’s a step back into slavery, which ends up undermining grace and hope (Galatians 4:8-11; 5:1-5).”
Chester stays focused on the gospel as God’s power to free us from the sin that enslaves us. You Can Change is intensely practical, teaching us to identify the sin in our lives; assess it’s affects on our thoughts, lifestyle, and relationships; and pursue God’s power through the gospel and the Spirit of God to free us up to glorify God in these areas. Chester places our issues within a theological framework so that we can see how our sin relates to God, but he does so in terms that are very simple, easy to understand, and easy to follow.
So who would I recommend this book to? Well, if you struggle with sin, this book is meant for you. A book on its own won’t be a magic bullet to solve your problems, but if you approach this book thoughtfully and use it a means to draw closer to God in these areas of your life, I don’t doubt that it could have a huge impact on you. But this book is also very helpful for those who want to help other people think through their problems. Whether you are a professional counselor or just someone who cares about other people, You Can Change will help to prepare you to minister to the people around you.
I recently did a series of posts on sanctification, and I used some of Chester’s thoughts throughout. If you don’t want to read a whole book, you can pick up some of his insights in these posts:
- You’ll Never Outgrow the Gospel
- Stop Trying Harder
- There Is No Strategy for Sanctification
- Free, Yet Still Imprisoned
- Hi. My Name Is _______, and I’m a ________?
If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s a quick link: