How People Change

How People Change

I first got introduced to the scariest moustache in the world about 18 months ago through the work of CCEF (see links). So, I thought I would take the time to review one of his books today. It is called, ‘How People Change’ and I would put up a nice book cover of it but I can’t seem to get one to stick and paste! Mike, who will maybe read this later could possibly do this for me!

Anyway, this book is a great read on many levels, not the least of which is that it challenges the heart and assumptions of how we respond to stress in our lives, how we respond to other people and how we can change our sinful habits through serious, heart driven repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Tripp’s contention (one of them at least) is that many of us fail to see that our greatest problems arise from ‘within’ and not from ‘outside’ of us. He talks about a ‘gospel gap’ in these terms: too many of us view the good news as about something in the past (forgiveness) or something to do with the future (hope) but we forget about how practical it is to help us to live God glorifying lives in the present.

There are so many stand out sentences and paragraphs and chapters that it is almost overwhelmingly impossible to do it full justice in a little blog posting. Consider this: ‘The heart is the steering wheel of every human being. Everything we do is shaped and controlled by what our hearts desire.’ (p14) New? No. Profound? No. But it just packs such a powerful punch that it is hard to explain why. For Tripp, the battle for our desires is not exclusively fought in the big things thing of life but in the little moments of everyday life like driving the car or queuing for the shopping. What I like about this stuff is that he never descends into simple moralising. We don’t have a list of ‘how to’s’ or ‘7 spiritual keys to unlocking real heart change’ (good title for a book that) but rather a simple, gentle, persistent urge to return to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and a continual checking of our own hearts and motives.

We are at war within and the temptation to want to fix the externals of life without dealing with the internals is often how we try to grapple our crises. Perhaps my favourite part of this book is a thread which runs throughout it’s entirety. Our problem in this world is not a lack of self-esteem (secular crap fed to most of the addicts I work with) but an issue of idolatry. We worship ourselves and our desires more than we worship the Living God, and woe betide anything that gets in the way. Or hearts are the problem and this book offers us a skillfully crafted way in which we can look at them more minutely.

Above all, I love this book because it points us back to the cross again and again. And it holds out the great promise of grace and hope and mercy to us. I will be recommending others from this stable in the future but for those interested in offering a biblically consistent, gospel faithful counsel to fellow sinners and sufferers, this is a great read. Buy it.