The Life You've Always Wanted Leader's Guide: Six Sessions on Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People

The Life You've Always Wanted Leader's Guide: Six Sessions on Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People

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What does the spiritual life really look like?

If you're tired of the status quo – if you suspect there's more to Christianity that what you've experienced – John Ortberg invites you to join him on a road to transformation and spiritual vigor that anyone can take. The Life You've Always Wanted video-based Bible study guide you down the ancient path of the spiritual disciplines.

This Leader's Guide give you the clear, step-by-step instructions you need to maximize interaction, support, and insights within your group. Most of the preparation has been done for you – just follow the easy-to-use lesson plan, complete with helpful tips. Because this book includes the full text of the Participant's Guide, it's the only guidebook you need to track page-for-page with your group.

Cultivate new intimacy and confidence in prayer. Discover the freedom of secrecy. Taste the benefits of slowing life's frenetic pace. Learn how to be guided by the Holy Spirit… and more.

Sessions include:

  1. It's Morphing Time
  2. Slowing Down and Celebrating
  3. Praying and Confessing
  4. Meditating on Scripture and Seeking Guidance
  5. Practicing Servanthood, Finding Freedom
  6. Going the Distance with a Well-Ordered Heart

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310255871
Publisher: HarperChristian Resources
Publication date: 08/15/2004
Edition description: Leaders Gu
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John Ortberg is the senior pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (MPPC) in the San Francisco Bay Area. His bestselling books include Soul Keeping, Who Is This Man?, and If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get out of the Boat. John teaches around the world at conferences and churches, writes articles for Christianity Today and Leadership Journal, and is on the board of the Dallas Willard Center and Fuller Seminary. He has preached sermons on Abraham Lincoln, The LEGO Movie, and The Gospel According to Les Miserables. John and his wife Nancy enjoy spending time with their three adult children, dog Baxter, and surfing the Pacific. You can follow John on twitter @johnortberg or check out the latest news/blogs on his website at

Stephen and Amanda Sorenson are founders of Sorenson Communications and have co-written many small group curriculum guidebooks, including the entire Faith Lessons series.

Read an Excerpt

The Life You've Always Wanted Leader's Guide

Six Sessions on Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People
By John Ortberg Stephen Sorenson Amanda Sorenson


Copyright © 2004 John Ortberg
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-25587-2

Chapter One


6 Minutes


Participant's Guide page 9.

Welcome participants to The Life You've Always Wanted session one, "It's 'Morphing' Time."

What's to Come

God has created each of us to be his masterpiece, yet not one of us is fully satisfied. No matter what we've accomplished, we each bear a sense of disappointment in who we are, what we've done, how we've done it, or what we haven't done. We can't escape the nagging realization that something is missing, that all is not quite as it should be.

And the truth is, our human condition isn't what it should be. We long to be all that we can be but have failed to be the people God created us to be. Consequently, we are missing out on the life he intended us to live.

But there is good news: the fallen state in which we now live isn't all there is. The Christian gospel insists that the transformation of the human personality really is possible. It happens whenever we become intensely serious about learning from Jesus how to arrange our lives. So we're going to explore what spiritual transformation is about and discover how we can open ourselves up to be transformed by God.

Let's begin by considering a few questions related to spiritual transformation. These questions are on page 10 of your Participant's Guide.

Questions to Think About

Participant's Guide page 10. As time permits, ask participants to respond to two or more of the following questions.

1. To be transformed means to be changed, and transformation is taking place all around us all the time. What examples of transformation-of any sort-come to mind?

This open-ended question will help participants realize that transformation means to be changed and that change occurs constantly. Everyday examples of transformation might include: the renovation of a run-down factory into a beautiful office complex; the change that takes place in a small lakeside town that becomes a resort destination; the change in physique and confidence of a skinny boy as he grows into a competitive athlete; the sparkling, magical beauty of a bleak winter landscape blanketed by deep snow; the restoration of a classic car. Of course transformation can be equally dramatic on the negative side: the beachfront after a severe hurricane, or a riverbank community after a major flood; the destruction of a beautiful city during wartime; the once-strong but withered body of a drug addict or alcoholic. All of these are examples of transformation.

2. What is required for transformations such as those you have mentioned to occur?

It is important that participants realize that transformation doesn't happen on its own or by accident. In order for something to be transformed, force must be applied or action must be taken. Transformation is the result of deliberate (and often sustained) effort. Spiritual transformation is the result of training.

3. Although we use the term spiritual transformation, we often use it casually without giving it much thought. Describe what spiritual transformation means to you.

Allow participants to describe what they think spiritual transformation is. Some may describe it in terms of following biblical commands, others in terms of specific outward behaviors, and others in terms of changed attitudes.

4. What do you consider to be the indicators of spiritual transformation? How can we tell if another person has experienced a spiritual transformation?

Expect some interesting discussion on this one! Some Christians use external, superficial indicators to show that they are spiritually changed people. These may include not smoking cigarettes, not wearing certain clothing, not listening to certain kinds of music, going to church services often, staying away from certain types of "sinners," etc. Others may focus on "doing good," spending time in Bible study, or giving time and money to the church as indicators of spiritual transformation. Still others may point out that spiritual transformation is an internal process that can't be fully discerned through external behavior.

Let's keep these ideas in mind as we view the video. There is space to take notes on page 11 of your Participant's Guide.

Video Presentation: "It's 'Morphing' Time"


Participant's Guide page 11.

Video Observations

Life: disappointment and hope

We shall "morph" indeed


Trying harder versus training wisely

Group Discovery


If your group has seven or more members, use the Video Highlights with the entire group (5 minutes), then complete the Large Group Exploration (11 minutes), and break into small groups of three to five people for the Small Group Exploration (8 minutes). At the end, bring everyone together for the closing Group Discussion (5 minutes).

If your group has fewer than seven members, begin with the Video Highlights (5 minutes), then complete both the Large Group Exploration (11 minutes) and the Small Group Exploration (8 minutes). Wrap up your discovery time with the Group Discussion (5 minutes).

Please turn to page 12 of your Participant's Guide.

Video Highlights 5 minutes

Participant's Guide page 12.

As time permits, ask one or more of the following questions, which directly relate to the video the participants have just seen.

1. What is the hope of the Christian gospel as John Ortberg describes it?

Suggested Response: The hope of the gospel is much more than just getting into heaven when we die. Jesus came to earth so that we might have an abundant life here and now. We all long for such a life, but on our own it is always beyond our reach. The Christian gospel insists that authentic spiritual transformation really is possible. We can genuinely grow in love, peace, and joy when we are being transformed by God.

2. An important concept in The Life You've Always Wanted is that we are always being transformed; we are always changing for better or for worse. This happens physically and, although it's less obvious, spiritually. How might some of our daily practices cause us to be "formed" spiritually in one direction or another?

Suggested Response: Similar to the way in which our daily health habits-what and how much we eat, how much we exercise-form us in a particular direction physically, our daily spiritual habits form us as well. Obviously the traditional spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, meditation, solitude, and the like can be part of the spiritual transformation process. Choosing to approach life in accordance with the fruit of the Spirit also can move us toward positive spiritual transformation. Seeking to bring every thought "captive" to Christ can be another way to be "formed" in the likeness of Jesus. In the negative sense, overlooking or minimizing what we consider to be "little" sins can form us as well. Focusing our minds on the concerns of life-food, shelter, wealth, power-as opposed to the concerns of God's kingdom can also shape us spiritually.


Excerpted from The Life You've Always Wanted Leader's Guide by John Ortberg Stephen Sorenson Amanda Sorenson Copyright © 2004 by John Ortberg. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface 7 How to Use This Guide 9
Session 1: It’s “Morphing” Time 15
Session 2: Slowing Down and Celebrating 53
Session 3: Praying and Confessing 93
Session 4: Meditating on Scripture and Seeking Guidance 127
Session 5: Practicing Servanthood, Finding Freedom 163
Session 6: Going the Distance with a Well-Ordered Heart 199

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

'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

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