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“However long we’ve been Christians, we all have areas of our lives that need transforming.” The very fact that this comment from the back cover of Real Change rings true in our ears testifies to the need for the book. Real Change offers readers a map they can use to navigate through lifestyle changes. It is designed primarily for group use, but individuals can still adapt its content if they invite another person on their journey of change.
Nicholls and Thorne use the model developed at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) as the framework for a series of six weekly sessions. This model is drawn primarily from Jeremiah 17:5-8. This passage describes Judah’s spiritual state in terms of two trees: one tree is a barren thorn bush in a salty wasteland and the other a lush fruit tree growing near a stream. People who live as if God doesn’t matter become like the thorn bush. People who trust in the Lord’s promises, commands, and purposes become like the fruit tree by the stream. Even when the heat comes, they flourish.
Model - Systems - Trees - Hearts - People
In this model, the “root systems” of these two trees represent the “hearts” of people. In biblical terms, the heart is “the decision-making center of who we are”; it generates our “desires, thoughts, and actions” (p. 10). The root system of the thorn bush corresponds to a “heart of stone” (Ezek. 36:26; cf. Eph. 4:18), from which evil responses come (Mark 7:21-23). The root system of the fruit tree corresponds to a “heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26), from which good responses come (Luke 6:45).
Finally, the CCEF model incorporates key elements from the New Testament which fill out more of the biblical portrayal of change. First, there is the cross of Christ, a third “tree” that represents “all the promises of...
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