You can live a deeper, more spiritual life right where you are.
The heart of Christianity is transformation—a relationship with God that impacts not just our spiritual lives but every aspect of our daily lives. John Ortberg calls listeners back to the dynamic heartbeat of Christianity—God’s power to bring change and growth—and reveals how and why transformation takes place.
The Life You’ve Always Wanted offers modern perspectives on the ancient path of the spiritual disciplines. But it 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 person at the journey’s end—Jesus Christ.
As with a marathon runner, the secret to finishing a race lies not in trying harder, but in training consistently—training with the spiritual disciplines. The disciplines are neither taskmasters nor ends 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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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
"We Shall Morph Indeed"
The Hope of Transformation
Now, with God's help, I shall become myself.
I could not quiet that pearly ache in my heart that I diagnosed as the cry of home.
I am disappointed with myself. I am disappointed not so much with particular things I have done as with aspects of who I have become. I have a nagging sense that all is not as it should be.
Some of this disappointment is trivial. I wouldn't have minded getting a more muscular physique. I can't do basic home repairs. So far I haven't shown much financial wizardry.
Some of this disappointment is neurotic. Sometimes I am too concerned about what others think of me, even people I don't know. Some of this disappointment, I know, is worse than trivial; it is simply the sour fruit of self-absorption. I attend a high school reunion and can't choke back the desire to stand out by looking more attractive or having achieved more impressive accomplishments than my classmates. I speak to someone with whom I want to be charming, and my words come out awkward and pedestrian. I am disappointed in my ordinariness. I want to be, in the words of Garrison Keillor, named "Sun-God, King of America, Idol of Millions, Bringer of Fire, The Great Haji, Thun-Dar the Boy Giant."
But some of this disappointment in myself runs deeper. When I look in on my children as they sleep at night, I think of the kind of father I want to be. I want to create moments of magic, I want them to remember laughing until the tears flow, I want to read to them and make the books come alive so they love to read, I want to have slow, sweet talks with them as they're getting ready to close their eyes, I want to sing them awake in the morning. I want to chase fireflies with them, teach them to play tennis, have food fights, and hold them and pray for them in a way that makes them feel cherished.
I look in on them as they sleep at night, and I remember how the day really went: I remember how they were trapped in a fight over checkers and I walked out of the room because I didn't want to spend the energy needed to teach them how to resolve conflict. I remember how my daughter spilled cherry punch at dinner and I yelled at her about being careful as if she'd revealed some deep character flaw; I yelled at her even though I spill things all the time and no one yells at me; I yelled at her--to tell the truth--simply because I'm big and she's little and I can get away with it. And then I saw that look of hurt and confusion in her eyes, and I knew there was a tiny wound on her heart that I had put there, and I wished I could have taken those sixty seconds back. I remember how at night I didn't have slow, sweet talks, but merely rushed the children to bed so I could have more time to myself. I'm disappointed.
And it's not just my life as a father. I am disappointed also for my life as a husband, friend, neighbor, and human being in general. I think of the day I was born, when I carried the gift of promise, the gift given to all babies. I think of that little baby and what might have been: the ways I might have developed mind and body and spirit, the thoughts I might have had, the joy I might have created.
I am disappointed that I still love God so little and sin so much. I always had the idea as a child that adults were pretty much the people they wanted to be. Yet the truth is, I am embarrassingly sinful. I am capable of dismaying amounts of jealousy if someone succeeds more visibly than I do. I am disappointed at my capacity to be small and petty. I cannot pray for very long without my mind drifting into a fantasy of angry revenge over some past slight I thought I had long since forgiven or some grandiose fantasy of achievement. I can convince people I'm busy and productive and yet waste large amounts of time watching television.
These are just some of the disappointments. I have other ones, darker ones, that I'm not ready to commit to paper. The truth is, even to write these words is a little misleading, because it makes me sound more sensitive to my fallenness than I really am. Sometimes, although I am aware of how far I fall short, it doesn't even bother me very much. And I am disappointed at my lack of disappointment. Where does this disappointment come from? A common answer in our day is that it is a lack of self-esteem, a failure to accept oneself. That may be part of the answer, but it is not the whole of it, not by a long shot. The older and wiser answer is that the feeling of disappointment is not the problem, but a reflection of a deeper problem--my failure to be the person God had in mind when he created me. It is the "pearly ache" in my heart to be at home with the Father.
One of the most profound statements I have heard about the human condition was one I first encountered when I was only five years old. It was spoken by my hero, Popeye the Sailor Man. When he was frustrated or wasn't sure what to do or felt inadequate, Popeye would simply say, "I yam what I yam."
Table of Contents
1. “We Shall Morph Indeed”: The Hope of Transformation
2. Surprised by Change: The Goal of Spiritual Life
3. Training Vs. Trying: The Truth About Spiritual Disciplines
4. A “Dee Dah Day”: The Practice of Celebration
5. An Unhurried Life: The Practice of “Slowing”
6. Interrupting Heaven: The Practice of Prayer
7. “Appropriate Smallness”: The Practice of Servanthood
8. Life Beyond Regret: The Practice of Confession
9. The Guided Life: Receiving Guidance from the Holy Spirit
10. A Life of Freedom: The Practice of Secrecy
11. An Undivided Life: The Practice of Reflection on Scripture
12. Life with a Well-ordered Heart: Developing Your
Own “Rule of Life”
13. A Life of Endurance: The Experience of Suffering
Appendix: Study Guide
What People are Saying About This
'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 peoplebecause 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