John Ortberg: All The Places To Go…How Will You Know?

John Ortberg All the Places to Go

“‘Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way'” (Viktor Frankl, p, 8).

“Open doors in the Bible never exist just for the people offered them.  They involve opportunity, but it’s the opportunity to bless someone else.  An open door may be thrilling to me, but it doesn’t exist solely for my benefit.  An open door is not just a picture of something good.  It involves a good that we do not yet fully know.  An open door doesn to offer a complete view of the future.  An open door means opportunity, mystery, possibility — but not a guarantee” (pp. 9, 10).

“We do not always get to know which door we are supposed to go through….This has been an ironic and often painful part of my life.  God opens doors but then doesn’t seem to tell me which ones I’m supposed to go through….And I struggle with them.  I think maybe that’s part of why God works through open doors.  They help us struggle with our real dreams and motives” (pp. 11, 12).

“[God] doesn’t say we should ask which door to go through but for the tools to choose wisely.  God’s primary will for your life is not the achievements you accrue it’s the person you become….God’s primary will for your life is that you become a magnificent person in his image, somebody with the character of Jesus” (pp. 16, 17).

“Very often God’s will for you will be to ‘I want you to decide,’ because decision making is an indispensable part of character formation” (p. 16).

“And God is in the open-door business.  This means a new way of looking at God.  He prefers yes to no.  He loves adventure and opportunity.  This means a new way of looking at life.  I do not have to be afraid of failure.  I do not have to live in fear over circumstance.  Each moment is an opportunity to look for a door that opens up into God and his presence” (p. 16).

Open-Door vs. Closed-Door People
  • “Open-Door People Are Unhindered by Uncertainty” —
    • “As a general rule, with God, information is given on a need-to-know basis, and God decides who needs to know what, when” (p. 29).
    • “Open-door people are comfortable with ambiguity and risk.  Or, if not comfortable with it, at least they decide not to allow it to paralyze them” (p. 32).
    • “Going through open doors means being willing to leave my idols behind” (p. 34).
  • “Open-Door People Are Blessed to Bless”
    • “Going through an open door always requires a spirit of generosity.  And generosity flows out of an attitude of abundance, not an attitude of scarcity” (p. 36).
    • “Mission began with God.  God has a mission.  That’s why he made for himself a people, but his mission came before people.  His mission came before the Bible.  He gave his mission a Bible.  he gave his mission a people.  God’s mission, God’s project, is to bless.  Open doors are an invitation to be part of the missio Dei.  The reason we love mission statements is we’re made in the image of a missional God. His mission is to bless out of his great abundance.  And that’s your mission too.  Just to bless.  Where should you do it?  Wherever you go” (p. 37).
  • “Open-Door People Resist and Persist”
    • “Open-door people resist discouragement in the fact of obstacles and persist in faithfulness despite long periods of waiting” (p. 38).
    • “If you’re not dead, you’re not done” (p. 40).
  • “Open-Door People Have Fewer Regrets”
    • “As we get older, we come to regret those actions that we did not take” (p. 42).
  • “Open-Door People Learn about Themselves”
  • “Open-Door People Are Not Paralyzed by Their Imperfection”

“It turns out that this epidemic of comparing our lives to others’ that social media has escalated has led to a new electronically spread disease.  Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT, calls it FOMO: fear of missing out” (pp. 58, 59).

“The real, deep reason that FOMO exists is that we were made for more and we are missing out.  Only the “more” isn’t more money or more success or more impressive experiences I can write about on Facebook.  My hunger for more turns out to be insatiable if I try to satisfy it by wanting more for me” (p. 63).

“I wonder what you’re choosing.  I know we live in a society that will tell you, ‘Be reasonable.  Be prudent.  Build a successful career.  Be secure.  Use all your time and energy and resources.’  You can do that if you want to — great resume, great benefits — or you can bet everything on love” (p. 67).

“Anytime you step through an open door, your story and Jesus’ story begin to get mixed up together, and you become part of the work of God in this world” (p. 77).

Faith, Magic, and Science

“Many people in our day would say that faith and magic are like each other because they share a belief in the supernatural, whereas science does not.  But in a deeper way, magic and science belong together.  People who believe that magic or science contains the deepest truths about existence hold that our biggest problems are ‘out there.’  Both science and magic offer power we use to remold our outer world to our satisfaction.  Faith tells us that what most needs to be transformed is not our outer world but out inner selves.  Faith is no about me getting what I want in my outer world; it’s about God getting what he wants in my inner world” (pp. 83, 84).

Door #1 or Door #2?

“If I’m facing a choice and I want to find God’s will for my life, I don’t begin by asking which choice is God’s will for my life.  I need to begin by asking for wisdom” (p. 108).

  • Seek Wisdom
    • “The Bible has a word for people who choose doors well, and that word is wise.  Not lucky.  Not wealthy.  Not successful.  Wisdom in the Bible is not the same thing as having a really high IQ, nor is it restricted to people with advanced educational degrees.  Wisdom in the Bible is the ability to make great decisions” (p. 109).
  • Don’t Wait for Passion
    • “Don’t wait for passion to lead you somewhere you’re not.  Start by bringing passion to the place where you are” (p. 113).
  • Practice on Small Decisions
  • Simplify
    • “Open-door people tend to simplify their lives so they can save their finite supply of willpower for the decisions that matter most” (p. 116).
  • Discern Your Problem
    • “Your identity is defined by the problem you embrace.  Tell me what your problem is, and I’ll tell you who you are” (p. 117).
    • “You need a God-sized problem.  If you don’t have one, your current problem is you don’t have a problem.  Life is facing and solving problems.  When God calls people, he calls them to face a problem.  The standard word for the condition of being truly problem-free is dead” (p. 118).
    • “What is breaking your heart?  The walls, like the walls in Nehemiah’s Jerusalem, are broken in this world all around us.  Child hunger, the abortion of countless lives, human trafficking, lack of education, extreme poverty, millions of people who don’t even know who Jesus is.  There are so many broken walls.  Door #1 or Door #2?  Your serious concern for one of the world’s serious problems may tell you” (p. 119).
  • Why Are You Still Here?
    • “What’s your problem?  If you don’t have a problem, you need a God-sized problem.  Why are you still here?  The reason may look dramatic.  It may not.  It doesn’t need to be anything that feeds grandiosity, but we were made for the open door” (p. 121).
  • Ask Wise People
    • “One of the best pieces of advice I ever got many years ago was to ask a few wise, trusted people in my life to be kind of a personal board of directors for me.  I asked them if we could have a conversation about once a month for an extended period of time, an hour or two, about what matters most: my soul, my family, my marriage, the work I’m doing, my relationships, my emotional life, my finances” (p. 123).
  • Experiment
    • “Discerning open doors is never the same as finding guaranteed success.  God actually called many people to walk through doors that would lead to enormous difficulty and not external reward.  Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet for a reason.  John the Baptist lost his head.  In Silicon Valley, where I work, venture capitalists will often make it a rule never to invest in someone who has not failed with serious amounts of money and time.  Why?  Because they know that people learn through failure, that where people do failure avoidance, they will never achieve the kind of courage and risk taking that lead to bold innovation.  Why do we think that God is concerned with helping us live lives of failure avoidance?” (pp. 127, 128).


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