Rob Bruce has written a neat new book called Be Transformed by His Spirit. It’s actually more like a manual than a typical book.
I caught up with Rob recently to discuss his book. Read it and grab a copy.
Instead of asking, “what is your book about,” I’m going to ask the question that’s behind that question. And that unspoken question is, “how are readers going to benefit from reading your book?”
This manual is a complete guide for believers to understand their identity in Christ. It provides a Biblical perspective about “who we really are by beholding who God really is.” Foundational principles equip believers to navigate through life’s difficult seasons. Our culture assaults us with deceptive and distorted images of who we are or who we should be. Gods highest purpose for us, however, is to “be conformed into the image of his Son” (Romans 8: 26). Although, every believer will benefit from its content, those who are struggling with low self-worth and self-concept, addictions and relationships will benefit as they see themselves in Gods mirror. Finally, those who need to break free from legalism will learn how to experience God’s grace through the Fathers love and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Tell us a bit about the experiences that shaped the insights in the book.
My family history was one of physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Becoming a pastor did not remove these issues- it only exacerbated them. So when I lost my posting in a city church, I was devastated since I had no experiential concept of who I was in Christ. I was a Christian, a pastor and a mess. By 1995 I was trapped in a cycle of debilitating depression, lost ministries, workaholism and emptiness. My identity and worth were completely centered in my position and work. In my desperation, this Pentecostal snuck into a Bapticostal church to understand the principles that I have outlined in part of this manual.
I was simultaneously and dramatically impacted by the work of the Holy Spirit and an understanding of my true identity. I began to write the book during this season of profound brokenness and a new revelation. God was breaking off my idolatrous grasp for ministry. I devote one chapter to understanding how the Cross transformed our identity. I applied all of the truths to my life as I wrote it, so it is very user friendly. Similarly, I have used ‘Transformed’ in my counselling practice. This has been a 15 year project, so its principles have been forged through my life experience and filtered through my Christocentric Biblical worldview and other notable authors.
How is your book different from the many other books on the same subject?
This is not another self- help book on ‘how to’ become a better Christian. Rather, it is about understanding who God has already made you as his dearly loved child. It presses the religious release valve and takes the pressure off of performance- oriented believers by emphasizing relationship rather than hyper- religious activity.
On that same note, I had three major goals in mind as I prepared this manuscript. First, it had to be Biblically accurate which meant it would be conceptually simple. That’s the grace message. Although it benefits all believers, it had to be basic enough for defeated believers to comprehend it. Second, I also realized that sometimes it’s difficult to wrap our heads around principles alone. I am a visual learner, so in each chapter I include simple graphics to illustrate the content.
For example, the overall theme is about our identity in Christ and is illustrated through Paul’s analogy of a mirror (2 Cor.3:17, 18). Lastly it had to be practical. It follows the Pauline pattern of purpose, perspective, principles and practice. Each chapter has an application and the last chapter has a focus on relationships. It has a fill in the blank seminar format with the statements listed in the back of the manual which also sets it apart.
Give us two or three insights from the book that would be helpful to Christians.
Every person has an innate need to construct their own identity. As Christians, we’re all tempted daily to interpret our self-image from the social, religious, and cultural mirrors that surround us (to name just a few). How do we do that? We behold and we become. For example, I could ask you: How will you become like your spiritual hero? You look at that Christian in order to become like them.
Likewise, 2 Cor. 3:18 NASB says that we “beholding as in a mirror the Glory of the Lord, are being transformed into that same image…” Transformation begins with our focus on the Glory of Christ. It’s that simple. Simplicity is important because when I’m hurting I can’t handle anything complicated. A 10 step self -help program to change would be just too overwhelming. This is a one step program. However, the book approaches our identity from many different angles so that its simple concept will sink in.
Second, most Christians self -image and self-worth is in the tank. I challenge your readers to ask a fellow believer “where do you think God would put you in your relationship with him on a scale of 1 to 10?” Most clients answer me “I’m a three or a four.” Then I ask them where do you think the Father puts Jesus? They always say “10.” So I point out that they are in Christ. Then I ask “If he is a 10, and you are in him, where does that put you?” I love to see the lights go on. Understanding this simple truth takes the striving out of our faith. So the manual is full of scriptures that explain this concept.
Third, the greatest transformation happens with in us in the context of relationships. It is a fallacy to believe that progressive transformation e.g. “from glory to glory” (v.18) can be experienced by us as a lone- rangers. We function most fully when we treat one another in ways that all honor the Imago Dei in each of us. Jesus, the visible- image of the invisible – God provides the clearest picture of how we can relate to one another. The books primary text states “but WE ALL … are being transformed …” (2 Cor. 3:18) transformation happens in community. The last chapter in the manual describes how we can love our ‘beloved enemies’ and so reflect the reality that we are the sons of God. The acid test of our spiritual maturity is how we respond to those who reject us.
What has the response been to the book so far?
My clients love it. Facilitators of addiction support group’s use it as well. Whether my clients are struggling with low self-worth, grief, marriage difficulties or can’t seem to get their spiritual life together- we use it to discuss their issues. They use the manual for homework and return the next week. So it is very practical. I have publicly taught its principles as well and the response has always been very favorable. It is very rewarding to see people healed from their hurts as the Father pour’s his love into their hearts upon hearing these truths.