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You Can Change: God's Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions
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You Can Change: God's Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  1,414 ratings  ·  115 reviews
It's about heart change, not behavior change. That's the conviction of Tim Chester as he seeks to help everyday Christians "connect the truth about God with our Monday-morning struggles." This interactive book, laid out in workbook fashion, is for newer Christians struggling with sin and for more mature Christians who have plateaued in their faith as they seek to find ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 31st 2010 by Crossway Books (first published June 20th 2008)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  1,414 ratings  ·  115 reviews

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J.S. Park
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
The danger in Christian books about change is the bogeyman of legalism. Some of the "classic" Christian literature is nothing more than a manifesto of Do's and Don't's that have nothing to do with the Bible, much less Jesus. Tim Chester does not avoid these familiar pitfalls: half of his work is a brilliant call to holiness while the other half is counterintuitive to his own goals. It makes for a frustrating read that at times connects deeply but often succumbs to being another screaming ...more
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
First sentence: What would you like to change?

Premise/plot: Is Tim Chester's book your typical self-help book? Far from it. It approaches change not from a self empowerment perspective but from a Spirit empowered one! In other words while he encourages you to focus on where you personally want to change, it is very much a book about the sanctification process. It explores essential Christian ideas: sin, temptation, repentance, holiness, etc.

My thoughts: I really thought this was well written.
Nathan Moore
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think this is my favorite book on Gospel change. Better than Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change, and even better than How People Change. Chester is a wonderful writer and balances clarity, brevity, and the inclusion of biblical detail well. This is now my go-to book on the subject.
Jonathan Penn
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is practical without being legalistic. A must read for Christians as we battle sin daily and seek to sow in the Spirit. One day we will reap what we sow.

I believe more of who God is after reading this book. He is good, great, gracious, and glorious.
May 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Generally helpful book. Appreciated the emphasis on the power available through God's means of grace. The discussion of "legalism" was inconsistent and self-contradictory when compared with the larger context of the book. For this reason, I gave it 3 instead of 4 stars.
John Neil
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Don't judge a book by its cover/cheesy title. This book was biblically grounded and a great read. heyoo.
Chad Warner
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Chad by: Kelly Warner
An extremely helpful tool in helping one change through biblical self-examination and reliance on Christ. It includes many hard-hitting questions. Chester frequently quotes the Bible and solid Reformed theologians. He summarizes the book by saying,
This book points to Jesus and explains how faith in Jesus leads to change, what theologians call sanctification or becoming more like Jesus.
The book is structured as a "change project"; you choose an area you need to change (a sin you need to
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
I find the title to Tim Chester's book to be obnoxious and cheesy. In fact, I felt embarrassed reading it at Starbucks.

Yes, I'm a snob.

I find Chester's writing lacking, as he is prone to make sweeping generalizations and statements about absolute truth that are not absolute. Example: Chapter 5 begins with the statement that "Behind every sin and negative emotion is a lie." That is a sub-heading for the chapter and something to which Chester returns throughout the chapter and the book.

Had he not
May 04, 2013 added it
Shelves: nonfiction
I finished this book last week with my pastor and his wife, and have been, frankly, avoiding my review. Why?

Because I didn't like it, but I don't have any real reason for why I didn't like it beyond it was hopeful, and I was not.

As a general rule I do not like spiritual self-help books. I don't like books that talk to me, and try to "counsel" me. I'd rather read a book that's directed at the third person, and feels less personal. One that doesn't feel like it's trying to preach to me
Rev Ricky
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a good book about gospel powered sanctification. We sin because we desire other things more than we desire God, or because we do not want the hope that is offered to us in the Gospel.

Chester explains that Holiness is what would truly complete us as humans. God wants our ultimate happiness, and we must trust him for how to find it. Therefore, the path to change means we must turn away (repent) from the false things we believe about God, and from the idols we pursue instead of God, and
Tim Woody
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
At first I thought this book was going to be cheesy Christian self help. The first few chapters could even be summarized by the catch phrase WWJD. But then it took a turn, and focused on where change really starts. The free gift of salvation and grace changes our hearts and redirects our desires. Life in Christ is a life of competing desires, and we should desire Christ. In turn our behaviors change. That is overs simplified and the book gives practical advice as well but the meditations were ...more
Matt Moran
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great book on fighting sin through faith and repentance. I would recommend this to anyone in any type of small group leadership.
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent and practical book, that I plan to re-read.
Micah Hester
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite books of truth. I go back to the principles in here often.
Kurt Sears
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
You Can Change sounds like the title of an awful self-help book about the power of positive thinking. The book, however, is far from what you'd think. It calls out sin as sin and asks you the question, "What do you want to change in your life?" As a person who has always struggled with various sins throughout my life, I've always had a hard time figuring out how to overcome the sinful patterns God revealed to me. This book does a great job at getting you to understand that change doesn't start ...more
Teodora Miceva
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great book! It is packed with deep truths about God (Gospel) and practical advice about holy living. The book breaks down all the reasons why we sin and goes back to the root problem - we sin because we believe lies about God, which we are told by the world, the devil and our own sinful desires. It is not just about changing your behavior, it is about ceasing to believe those lies in the first place, and then doing what you can to stop feeding your mind with those lies... There is a lot more ...more
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, ebook
A practical and challenging guide. I really liked the prompts each chapter ended with, encouraging you to apply scripture to your own life; your own "change project", while consistently using scripture to point us toward God as the origin and continuation of all good change in us.

One big caveat: I wish he'd left off the "negative emotions" subtitle/attempts to address them, as he does not seem particularly nuanced or experienced in that regard. While, fortunately, more of his focus IS on
Joshua Moran
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading most of Tim Chester’s book and found it to be both thorough and convicting. He walks us through how to step into one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith, that of grace and holiness.

We need more books on holiness that aren’t legalistic. This is one of those. He helped me to see the emotions behind our sin and what our deep motivations are when we find ourselves in sin.

I found the book to be a great compilation of a lot of things I’ve heard (and Tim even quotes
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book on the Reformed view of sanctification and how to practice it for true personal change.

Some helpful quotes:
(1) Chapter 1: What would you like to change?
-pg. 18: The secret of gospel change is being convinced that Jesus is the good life and the fountain of all joy.
-pg. 23: The message of this book is that change takes place in our lives as we turn to see the glory of God in Jesus. We 'see' the glory of Christ as we 'hear' the gospel of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). Moral effort,
Josh Trice
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a powerful book. It is not a self-help book (as the title may lead you to think). In fact, this book takes all the power away from the self (the reader) and rightly attributes it to the Lord. It is not with our power, but Christ's action, that we have the ability to change.
Hope is a constant theme in this book. It is the centrality on God's great exchange, mighty sacrifice for us, in which this book is centered. It is our only hope. This book all at once negates the power of the reader
Thomas Creedy
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m a moderate-to-large fan of Tim Chester’s books, and I’ve recently re-read one of his older ones that I’ve found deeply helpful. I’ve recently been becoming more and more aware of some negative and sinful patterns in my life, and the affects that this has on my relationship with God, people around me, and even myself. A trusted friend gave me You Can Change, and it has been a really helpful tool for moving away from sin and negativity, and towards Jesus.

Full review over at my blog:
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
Meh. While I loved the scriptures he chose to reference, I really struggled with getting through this book. The organization was often difficult for me to follow; in fact, I liked the book much better when I stopped trying to follow the flow and read each chapter as a stand-alone. I feel like a better editor might have really helped this book.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This could be the best book on sanctification that has ever been written. Theologically sound and in the tradition of the Puritans, yet profoundly practical and down to earth. Well-written and engaging. It ticks all the boxes and, alongside Walter Marshall's volume on Sanctification, should be read by everyone - especially Christians. Really good.
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I went through one chapter of this book a week with some ladies from my church and ended with a transformed heart and posture towards God. If you are going to read this book, I highly recommend breaking it down chapter by chapter with a group of people to fully engage, reflect, and journal about the concepts laid out by Chester. You will not be the same by the end!
Andrew Ivester
This is one of the more impactful books that I have read, not only in 2018, but in the whole of my Christian walk. This book is challenging, as well as grace-filled. Chester's writing always drips with clarity and application. This is a must read, not just for church leaders, but for every Christian.
Rick Walton
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Must Read for Every Christian

Biblically sound, rich in wise counsel, and believes in the gospel of Jesus to change lives! You will be presented with Scripture and Christians, who over the centuries sought for real change in their lives.
Kevin Larson
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best

It’s at least the second time that I’ve read this book. Such a terrific book about hope for change. It is an excellent beginning counseling book. It is great for discipleship. Highly recommended.
Taylor Belt
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I highly highly highly highly recommend this book to anyone who truly believes that there's "no hope of changing through Christ". Tim is a GREAT author and this is the first book of his that I have read.
Jacinta Sheridan
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
Brilliant. So helpful. The gospel of grace alone is capable of of changing my heart, through the work of the Holy Spirit. This book helps me to understand that, and cuts my heart with God's word, the sword of the Spirit.
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Helpful book. Good emphasis on both the need for actively fighting daily the small battles and yet aware that we live in the grace of God. Interesting that Tim Chester highlights the distinction between wesleyan and Keswick holiness which is rarely noted.
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Dr Tim Chester is involved in The Crowded House, a church planting initiative in Sheffield, UK. He was previously Research & Policy Director for Tearfund UK, and has been published widely on prayer, mission, social issues and theology. He is married to Helen and has two daughters.
“Tell someone to stop sinning and at best they may do so reluctantly and partially. But give them a vision of knowing God and his glory, and they’ll gladly root out all that gets in the way of their relationship with God (Hebrews 12:1–3).” 2 likes
“External activities can’t change us, says Jesus, because sin comes from within, from our hearts. Our rituals might change our behavior for a while, but they can’t change our hearts. And so they can’t bring true and lasting holiness. We need heart change.” 0 likes
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