John Ortberg: The Life You’ve Always Wanted

The Life You Always Wanted

“The Christian gospel insists that transformation of the human personality really is possible.  Never easy.  Rarely quick.  But possible” (p. 9).

“We are called by God to live as our uniquely created selves” and we do this best when we “live increasingly as Jesus would in our own unique place — to perceive what Jesus would perceive if he looked through our eyes, to think what he would think, to feel what he would feel, and therefore to do what he would do” (p. 14).

“You were created to be a masterpiece of God….God made you to know oneness with him and with other human beings” (p. 15).

“‘The kingdom of God has come near’….These words of Jesus announce the great ‘turn’ in the history of the world….The good news is especially that this world — the kingdom of God — is closer than you think.  It is available to ordinary men and women.  It is available to people who have never thought of themselves as religious or spiritual.  It is available to you.  You can live in it — now.   This means in part that your story is the story of transformation.  You will not always be as you are now; the day is coming when you will be something incomparably better — or worse.  C.S. Lewis expressed it this way:  ‘It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and mos uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.  All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations…There are no ordinary people'” (p. 17).

“This is why Jesus came.  This is what spiritual life is all about.   This is your calling — to become what Lewis calls an ‘everlasting splendor'” (p. 18).

“Everything turned on Moses’ [our] ability to ‘turn aside’ — to interrupt his daily routine to pay attention to the presence of God” (p. 18).

You are what you are — but that is not all you are.  You are what you are, but you are not yet what you will be.  I will be with you” (p. 19).

“The possibility of transformation is the essence of hope” (p. 20).

“[The] single belief most toxic to a relationship is the belief that the other person cannot change” (p. 20).

“Paul used this word in his letter to the Galatians: “…until Christ is formed in you.”  He agonized until Christ should be born in those people, until they should express his character and goodness in their whole being.  Paul said they — like us — are in a kind of spiritual gestation process.  We are pregnant with possibilities of spiritual growth and moral beauty so great that they cannot be adequately described as anything less than the formation of Christ in our very lives” (p. 20).

“Spiritual growth is a molding process. We are to be to Christ as an image is to the original” (p. 20).

“When morphing happens, I don’t just do the things that Jesus would have done; I find myself wanting to do them.  They appeal to me.  They make sense.  I don’t just go around trying to do right things; I become the right sort of person” (p. 21).

“The first goal of spiritual life is the reclamation of the human race” (p. 21).

“This deep pattern is almost inescapable for religious people: If we do not become changed from the inside-out — if we don’t morph — we will be tempted to find external methods to satisfy our need to feel that we’re different from those outside our faith.  If we cannot be transformed, we will settle for being informed or conformed” (p. 31).

“[Jesus] named a fundamentally different way of identifying who are the children of God: “Do they love God, and do they love the people who mean so much to him?….This is why the religious leaders of Jesus’ day so often fouoght with him about circumcision, dietary laws, and the Sabbath.  Jesus was not just disagreeing with them on how to interpret the Law.  He was threatening their very understanding of themselves as the people of God” (p. 32).

“But what makes something a boundary marker is its being seized upon by the group as an opportunity to reinforce a false sense of superiority, fed by the intent to exclude others….A boundary-approach to spirituality focuses on people’s position: Are you inside or outside the group?  A great deal of energy is spent clarifying what counts as a boundary marker.  But Jesus consistently focused on people’s center: Are they oriented and moving toward the center of spiritual life (love of God and people), or are they moving away from it?  This is why he shocked people by saying that many religious leaders — who observed all the recognized boundary markers — were in fact outside the kingdom of God” (pp. 33, 34).

“The real issue is what kind of people are we becoming” (p. 39).

“Ironically, often the thing that keeps me from experiencing joy is my preoccupation with self.  The very selfishness that keeps me from pouring myself out for the joy of others also keeps me from noticing and delighting in the myriad of small gifts God offers each day” (p. 60).

“Joy is God’s basic character.  Joy is his eternal destiny.  God is the happiest being in the universe….As products of God’s creation, creatures made in his image, we are to reflect God fierce joy in life” (p. 63).

“After teaching on the need for obedience, Jesus told his friends that his aim was that they should be filled with joy, but not just any kind of joy: ‘I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (p. 63).

“There is a being in the universe who wants you to live in sorrow, but it is not God” (p. 64).

“We are invited to rejoice in every moment of life because every moment of life is a gift….We don’t earn it, can’t control it, can’t take a moment of it for granted.  Every tick of the clock is a gift from God” (pp. 64, 65).

“Joy is strength.  Its absence will create weakness” (p. 86).

“‘Normally, our success is overcoming temptation will be easier if we are basically happy in our lives’ [Dallas Willard]”, p. 66).

“True joy, as it turns out, comes only to those who have devoted their lives to something greater than personal happiness” (p. 68).

“Each of us knows a few people who are joy carriers.  When we are around them, they breathe life into us.  Prize them.  Thank them.  Above all, get intentional about being with them” (p. 69).

“The New Testament writers were engaged not so much in some form of positive thinking as in what might be called ‘eschatological thinking.’  That is, they viewed all events in light of the Resurrection and the ultimate triumph of the risen Christ” (p. 73).

“How could all these people rejoice when everything had gone wrong?  Because in spite of the mess, the bride still got the groom.  At the end of the day, that was all that mattered” (p. 74).

“Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day” (p. 77).

“It is that we become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.  We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them” (p. 77).

“Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible.  Love always takes time, and time is the one thing hurried people don’t have” (p. 81).

“History belongs to the intercessors — to those who believe and pray the future into being.  Interceding is what Jesus is doing now….His teaching ministry lasted three years.  His intercessory ministry has been going on for two thousand” (p. 94).

“Biblical prayer is impertinent, persistent, shameless, indecorous” (p. 95).

“The disciples noticed Jesus looked forward to prayer and actually hungered for it.  They saw that somehow prayer fed Jesus’ soul the way food fed their stomachs” (p. 96).

“In simple prayer, I pray about what is really on my heart, not what I wish was on my heart” (p. 100).

“[Perhaps] the greatest work of all [in prayer] is the knitting of the human heart together with the heart of God….For where there is much prayer there is much love” (p. 106).

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