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The Life You've Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People (Expanded and Adapted for Small Groups) Hardcover – September 29, 2002
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'John Ortberg takes Jesus' call to abundant living seriously, joyfully, and realistically. He believes human transformation is genuinely possible, and he describes its process in sane and practical ways.' -- Richard J. Foster, Author
'What John learned is transferable to all of us ordinary people---because all his truths are from the Bible. His transparency, honesty, and ability to laugh at himself will show you, his reader, how you, too, have this God-given potential [for change] in you.' -- Evelyn Christenson, Author
'A readable, helpful study of things that Christians have practiced for centuries that modern people need to apply today.' -- D. Stewart Briscoe, Elmbrook Church
'John, in his winsome 'let's sit down and talk about this' style, has crafted a powerfully convicting book on the process of spiritual transformation.' -- Dr. Joseph Stowell, Moody Bible Institute
'John Ortberg opens to us the age-old wisdom of the spiritual disciplines. In a practical, witty, and deeply insightful way, he not only creates in us a hunger for transformation, but paints a brilliantly attractive picture of the life that God can live through us.' -- Archibald D. Hart, Ph.D., Professor
From the Back Cover
You Can Live a Deeper, More Spiritual Life Right Where You Are. An expanded edition with a new chapter on prayer and discussion questions The heart of Christianity is transformation---a relationship with God that impacts not just our 'spiritual lives, ' but every aspect of living. John Ortberg calls readers back to the dynamic heartbeat of Christianity---God's power to bring change and growth---and reveals both the how and why of transformation. With a new chapter on prayer and added discussion questions, this expanded edition of The Life You've Always Wanted offers modern perspectives on the ancient path of the spiritual disciplines. But this is more than just a book about things to do to be a good Christian. It's a road map toward true transformation that starts not with the individual but with the object of the journey---Jesus Christ. As with a marathon runner, the secret to winning the race lies not in trying harder, but in training consistently---training with the spiritual disciplines. The disciplines are neither taskmasters nor an end in themselves. Rather they are exercises that build strength and endurance for the road of growth. The fruit of the Spirit---joy, peace, kindness, etc.---are the signposts along the way. Paved with humor and sparkling anecdotes, The Life You've Always Wanted is an encouraging and challenging approach to a Christian life that's worth living---a life on the edge that fills an ordinary world with new meaning, hope, change, and joy.
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Still Ortberg is great and the material is the best I know to introduce people to spiritual practices as training tools to allow God to transform people toward to maturity.
I just don't know whether I would advise anyone to try to use the DVD and participant's guide "as is" for a 6 week small group curriculum.
In making his assessment of the current state of the church, Ortberg (2002) quotes William Iverson who wrote: "A pound of meat would surely be affected by a quarter pound of salt." (p. 33.) He contends that Christians are not bringing about the changes in the world that Jesus spoke about and concludes that it is because very few people actually morph into the Chris-like beings we are instructed to become. Ortberg reveals that the reason Christians are not worth their salt in the earth, is that we have been trying instead of training. He points to the disciplines of studying the Bible, prayer, being joyful, and unhurried as training methods that must be practiced in daily life. He also includes a section on servant hood, and confession before he sums it all up with a discussion on the role of the Holy Spirit as He leads us into transformation. The book ends with a chapter on suffering which deals with coming to terms with unanswered prayers and persevering through our suffering.
Ortberg has a totally different approach, which had a very different impact on my life. Instead of telling us to work harder, pray more, get up earlier, etc, he shows us how to view the daily activities in our own lives as spiritual disciplines. He explains that the phase of one's life is no excuse for not growing spiritually. For example, a mother of small children might not be able to schedule large amounts of solitude and quiet time, but rather can learn to see her daily tasks as the "discipline of the mundane".
The most ordinary situations of our lives contain spiritual activities. Reading this book made me feel more hopeful, because it did not equate spiritual growth with the ability to spend countless hours in solitary prayer, rather it describes how to train ourselves to use our own life circumstances as a path to maturity. The measure of a spiritual discipline is not how many chapters of the Bible you read, or how many hours you kneeled, but how much you grew in love.