Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Life You Always Wanted

John Ortberg is a well-known, prolific writer.  But, I think this is the first one of his books I've read.  It's subtitled "Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People."  Lots of insights!

- The character Popeye is a model of disappointment.  As a way of explaining or excusing his shortcomings, he constantly says "I am what I am."  He has no hope of improvement.  We, through Christ, have hope of becoming more than what we are ... of becoming what God intends for us to be.
- We all have little judgmental voices inside of us.  When we meet someone, we immediately categorize and rate them.  We need to stop this behavior of judging others.
- Am I training to be like Jesus or trying to be like Jesus?  Ortberg compares it to a marathon.  Without training, I could never complete a marathon.  No matter how hard I tried.  We must train to be like Jesus ... through study and discipline.
- We must arrange life so that sin no longer looks good to us.
- You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.
- It is one thing to speak to God.  It is another thing to listen.
- Spiritual guidance is not "insider information."  When we seek guidance from the Bible or advice from friends, we often want them to prophesy about the future, rather than offer us true guidance.
- We spend a lot of time and energy on "impression management," trying to control how others perceive us.  We say things like "I rarely watch TV, but last night I saw this show ..."
- The enemies of simplicity are multiplicity and duplicity.  We must pursue one thing only.
- When reading the Bible the key question is not "how much" but "how" we read it.
- The goal is not for us to get through the Scriptures.  The goal is to get the Scriptures through us.
- Our goal should not be a "balanced life," in which our life is divided into a pie graph with categories such as physical, financial, spiritual, recreational, vocational, etc.  Such a paradigm implies that only one aspect of our life is spiritual and that the rest of our life is non-spiritual.  Instead, our faith and spiritual life should permeate all aspects of our life. 
- It is unlikely that we will deepen our relationship with God in a casual or haphazard manner.  There will be a need for some intentional commitment and reorganization in our lives.
- Colossians 3:17 tells us "whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.  We should meditate on that Scripture all day and alter how we do everything so that it is in the way Jesus would do it.  This means when we do laundry, watch tv, play with our children, engage in social media, shop, eat, drive, etc.
- What starts as a confession often ends up as an excuse: "I didn't mean to yell at you, I was having a bad day."  When we confess we must accept that we made a choice to do or say something which was wrong.  A choice, even if there were mitigating circumstances.  We still made a choice.
- Ortberg tells the story of a father who tells his son for thirty-nine yeas all the wonderful things they will do once he gets his schedule "under control."

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