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I am not the me I want to be. You are not either. Both of us desire to become better people. But what does better mean? And how do we become better? In his latest book, John Ortberg answers both questions with gentle wit and spiritual insight.

Ortberg is pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California, and author of several books, including Love Beyond Reason; The Life You've Always Wanted; If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get out of the Boat; and God Is Closer Than You Think--all of which I highly recommend.

The Me I Want to Be is about spiritual formation, which Ortberg defines as "the process by which your inner self and character are shaped." Many people use the word spiritual in distinction from, or even contradiction to, physical. Two unfortunate consequences of this distinction are that it separates spirituality from everyday life and then narrowly equates spirituality with the spiritual disciplines. Ortberg rejects this distinction. Your whole life is spiritual, not just the praying, Bible-reading, and church-going part. And while spiritual disciplines are indispensable, they are not the only way God forms your inner self.

For Ortberg, a spiritually formed person is a flourishing person. He writes: "Your deepest longing should be to be alive with God, to become the person God made you to be, and to be used to help God's world flourish." Spiritual formation, then, involves your relationship with God, your growth in Christlikeness, and your mission to the world God is redeeming.

How do you become a flourishing person? "The only way to become the person God made you to be," Ortberg writes, "is to live with the Spirit of God flowing through you like a river of living water." Spiritual formation is not about trying harder, which only results in fatigue, failure, and guilt. Rather, spiritual formation is about discovering and moving with the flow of the Holy Spirit in your spirit, mind, use of time, relationships, and experiences.

For Ortberg, the Holy Spirit does not replace you, he redeems you. Spiritual formation is not about becoming wholly different than who you are now. It is about taking who you are now and refining you in God's image. Two examples: Drawing on the work of Michael Mangis, Ortberg talks about "signature sins." He writes, "the pattern of your sin is related to the pattern of your strengths." When you operate in the flow of the Spirit, God does not eradicate your strengths in order to eradicate your sins. Rather, he works out your sins to help you build on your strengths.

Another example: Many people believe that a spiritually well-formed person will go into some kind of vocational ministry. Ortberg strongly disagrees. The Bible is a book written by workers about workers for workers," he writes, and by workers he means people who are not vocational ministers. "Most adults spend about half their waking lives at work," he goes on to say. "Your work is a huge part of God's plan for your life, and God intends the Spirit to fill and energize workplaces. Work that gets done in offices and elsewhere...desperately requires the guidance and energy of the Spirit." Spiritually formed people will be pastors, evangelists, and missionaries, of course, but also lawyers, doctors, and plumbers. The first person in the Bible to be described as "filled with the Spirit of God" was Bezalel, who was not a priest, but an artisan.

Ortberg does not neglect spiritual disciplines in this book, but he does reframe the way we think about them in a very helpful way. Take prayer, for example. We think of prayer as a discreet activity that we participate in for a set number of minutes (or hours) each day. But Ortberg frames it differently. "The goal of prayer," he writes "is to live all of my life and speak all of my words in the joyful awareness of the presence of God." Looked at this way, it becomes much easier to see how we can pray without ceasing and do everything to the glory of God. Our life as a whole, not just a set number of minutes a day, is prayer, an ongoing conversation with God.

As a Pentecostal Christian, I am greatly cheered to see an evangelical Christian talking so much about the Holy Spirit. Ortberg's book is a reminder that all Christians are the beneficiaries of the regenerating and sanctifying work of God through the Holy Spirit, and we have much to learn from others about these issues. Ortberg does not address the issue of baptism in the Spirit, however, which is the only downside to the book from a Pentecostal perspective.

Read it anyway! It will help you become the "me" God wants you to be.
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on January 30, 2010
I've been on this intimacy journey these past 12 months as God keeps drawing me to Himself. I've read many helpful books along the way and John Ortberg's book is a refreshing practical guide to walking an intimate life with God.

Ortberg emphasises we all have a unique journey which is important to reflect on. How many times are we drawn to have our prayer times along the beach, or spend days fasting, or doing such and such, just because we've heard these practical ways have helped others to develop greater intimacy with God? Seek out God in our own individual way, He'll lead us, if we have the desire and the will to find it.

Ortberg takes us through various aspects of our life: thought life, temptation, worrying, spiritual life, relationships and work. He adopts a good mix of sound scripturally-based instruction, psychology with research results (yes, there are lab rat results provided in some chapters), analogies, examples and practical steps to step us through how we can enhance each area of our life to draw closer to God.

The book starts strong and continues in that vein for the majority of it. I found it flattened out a little through the middle, however, that maybe because he covered similar themes to that which I've spent a lot of time thinking through already. But the book ends with a bang. The last 2 chapters in particular dealing with trials and "asking for mountains to climb" are just superb. The life story of a Evelyn "Granny" Brand is wonderfully inspiring.

If you are someone who has a longing to be "alive with God, to become the person God made you to be, and to be used to help God's world flourish" and am seeking some instruction on how to achieve such, then buy this book, devour it and start putting into practice some of the ideas Ortberg proposes. I've already started implementing some, particularly, those relating to my thought life.

Congratulations John on a terrific book filled with such insight, passion and desire to help others achieve intimacy with God.
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on January 26, 2010
I've been pleasantly surprised by this book. After years of reading books of this nature, you start to realize that some of them say the very same thing as the last one you read. Not so with Ortberg! This book is not only biblically sound, it is hilarious. If you like a good anecdotes mixed in with your scripture, I'd highly recommend this book. Every time I sit down to read a chapter or two, I chuckle, I'm forced to pause and ponder the points Ortberg is making, and I feel like I've learned something by the time I put it down. 5 stars!!!
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on October 10, 2010
I will admit that this book wasn't what I thought it would be. It was OH so much more!

I spent a good, long time reading this book. I really tried to take in all that the author was relating. I see this book as an exhortation to really delve into those urgings from the Holy Spirit in your life. Those urgings are there for a reason. Following them will help to change you into the you God wants you to be....which is the me I want to be.

Mr. Ortberg's sense of humor is a dry wit. Those little funny sayings are filtered throughout the book. You almost expect to see the classic sideways smiley face at the end of the sentence. :) Course, sometimes, that little smiley face would let you know that he was indeed being funny. A few times, I had to re-read a few sentences to be sure.

I have not gone to the website to take the monvee spiritual growth assessment yet. There is a code for you to access this site for a free trial in the back of your book.

This book is a challenge to Christians to truly follow Christ. To seek Him and what He wants for your life. I heartily recommend this book...just be prepared to be challenged...and to spend the time while reading it to seek what God is telling you.

*I was given a copy of The Me I Want To Be by Zondervan Publishers in exchange for my honest review*
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on March 24, 2014
I liked Ortberg’s style of writing from the beginning. He’s easy to follow. I really got into the book in chapter three titled Discover the Flow. I have been reading about flow for decades and made it the theme for four of my novels. I really started nodding my head in agreement when I read the story of one of the world’s greatest violinists playing unannounced in a metro station in Washington, DC. He played six of his most beautiful songs on a violin worth several million dollars, but hardly anyone took notice. Only one woman stopped when she recognized him. Ortberg quotes Jesus, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance.” The author says “The Master is still playing, but listening is optional. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear. This story also illustrates another of my favorite topics—perception vs. reality. The foot traffic perceived the world’s greatest violin player as a street bum, so they treated him accordingly.

Another favorite topic is introduced later. “But the ancients were not bored. We are the ones who get bored because the capacity to focus our attention, to delight our minds in sustained thought, has been weakened by our dependence on external stimuli.” Amen.

Ortberg writes that we should discover our strengths and not focus on our weaknesses. “Trying to improve our weaknesses is like trying to teach a rabbit to swim or a snail to race.” He also delves into flow again when he give us rationale and understanding about why we need to work and how work can put us in the flow. This book is worth your time.
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on March 21, 2014
I love this book! I take it with me everyday just in case i have moment to read. I was very disappointed that I could not get the survey done to which it refers in the first chapter! I was actually able to get in, answer the questions and complete everything else, but never got the email with my information. When I tried to go and take it again is when I found out the sight was down. have no idea how I got in the first time cause it's been down years!
Anyway, the book has given me ways of looking at what I do in a different light. The one thing that grabbed me right away was the fact that we can't measure our spiritual growth by how many meetings, bible studies, training, services, etc. we attend or participate in. Our true measurement is in how we reflect the love of Christ. Do we have that wonderful joy - even in the midst of stuff. Is it getting easier to love the unlovable? Is it getting easier to bounce back when we've been knocked down....that's what I took away.
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on April 22, 2011
I was moved today to follow my gut feeling to go into a little Christian bookstore before going grocery shopping. God's been trying to get my attention for the last little bit, popping up in conversations, having people knock on my door, being the main topic of very late night television. And I like the "idea" after all I do believe in God and I like to think that I'm a decent person, but I've got to be honest my past attempts to go to church didn't do anything for me, I didn't feel welcomed, the hypocrites abounded, the folks were outlandish, I wasn't "worthy", or the message was rigid and made me feel like if I didn't believe, look, act, etc like everyone else there then God didn't want me because I wasn't like those people.

And today I found the me I want to be. I completely disagree with the reviewer who only gave this book 1 star and said to just read the Bible. I mean honestly, sometimes (lets be completely honest here) the Bible is dry as dry can be if you don't "get it" or if you've had people trying to shove the word down your throat when what one really needs is the spirituality and a good example of it in action. A person isn't going to "get it" until something inspires them, I'm not saying that I am even there now but at least John Ortberg put God and His plan for my life into a concept that I could relate to.
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on November 16, 2015
This is an insightful book that makes you think about who you are, your motives, and what you're hiding from yourself. Some books are just shallow, surface level books that make you feel good, or seem like they're being written for a middle school audience, which, unless that's who they're actually directed toward, does not actually give the reader something to chew on. This book talks about issues that I'm sure all of us face, such as trying to fit a certain mold of "perfection", when really God made you who you are because He wanted you to be that way. He gave each of us specific gifts and talents to be used in a special way, and if we just suppress them because we fell like we need to be more introverted, more extroverted, more like this person or that person then we're missing the point. It talks about how "comparison kills spiritual growth", how "even you can't tell yourself how to change, because you didn't create you", and how God's "plan for shaping you will not look like his plan for shaping anyone else." It is a very good book, especially for those who struggle with guilt, perfectionism, trying to fit into a certain mold and constantly failing.
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on August 1, 2015
I was intrigued by the title of this book. I wasn't exactly sure I could become "God's best version of myself," but I wanted to be more than what I was. And I found that John Ortberg's book offered terrific guidance on that and a host of other spiritual matters and problems. I highlighted the text while reading it and found myself with more than 10 pages of notes at the end, which I'm looking forward to reviewing.

Ortberg says: God’s plan is for you to become the best version of you, but right now there are two versions of you. There is the you God made you to be—and there is the you that currently exists. What do you do with the gap?

We have now reached the foundational idea of this book: The only way to become the person God made you to be is to live with the Spirit of God flowing through you like a river of living water.

What follows is excellent advice for anyone on growth, spirituality, change, obedience, communion with God, monitoring your thoughts, difficult people, problems, worry, and much more. I found it well worth my time, and I hope you enjoy it too.
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on September 29, 2014
I really enjoyed this book. I have read lots of his books and find them very applicable and different. He explains a lot of the context of the Bible that I didn't know before. And he helps you make connections that normally weren't made.

For example, no prominent figures in the Bible had religious jobs but had secular positions. He uses this to explain that God encouraged you to work hard at your job and be happy. I knew this already, but the connection really needed to be made for me. Anyways this is one small example of what I mean.
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