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No gain without pain

By Stephen Nicholls

‘This is your last hill – and I can tell you, you are going to be crying. But hey you want to make a move, you want to change’. So says my American virtual spin class tutor over the speakers as I strive to keep up. The idea is to give you motivation to keep going when things are tough and you feel like giving up.



But why is change so hard for us? You might ask ‘Why after 32 years do I still not squeeze the toothpaste tube properly’ or ‘Why do I still binge eat?’ ‘Why do I still look at porn?’ ‘Why do I still get angry with my husband?’ ‘Why can’t I trust God rather than be anxious all the time?’ etc.

Small or massive change seems to involve pain and struggle with small incremental steps forward and some backsliding. It all seems painfully slow at times.

Which is a good introducing to David Powlison’s book ‘How Does Sanctification Work?”

In the introduction David Powlison says ‘..most of this book will come down to street level living…….’ and he spends the first half of the book showing that there is no ‘just do this’ approach that works and God treats us all differently with each of our stories having a freshness and variety to them.

The meat of the book is a great chapter on ‘How people change?’. Dr. Powlison talks about five elements in the change process and how they link together : ‘Truth changes you: Suffering and struggle changes you: Wise people change you: God changes you: You change’ with a helpful diagram to show how these five elements fit together. He then goes on to look at practical examples and the dynamic of change.

I asked the question as I read the book ‘Could it really be that God is using these five elements including difficult experiences, the counsel of other Christians to change me?’ In the mess and struggle of life it doesn’t always feel like that.

If like me you often need reassurance and to be renewed in hope that God is changing you by his grace this book is for you.

The final chapter of the book includes a great quote from BB Warfield and a beautiful description of the Christian’s ‘Journey’ to final glory.

‘May a loving sympathy beat and batter these stubborn hearts of ours into fitness for our heavenly home…… You are no longer an isolated individual, divided off from others, an island of self-reliance. You are becoming a person bound together for life with your brothers and sisters…. We are one in Christ. We are heading home. We will see his face. And all will be well.’

A good introduction to the ‘Real Change’ course starting early next year?



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