Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Life You’ve Always Wanted

This is one of my reading assignment that I drag on for a little too long. Below is my personal summary of this book by John Ortberg.

Our spiritual life is not measured by the regularity of our journal entries. God can use it to lead us into life but with that but our spiritual life is measured by our growing love for God and people. Spiritual discipline is any activity that can help me gain power to live life as Jesus taught and modelled it. Ortberg gave the example of a lady who sees “quiet time” as spiritual devotion but does not count time spend caring for her children as a spiritual act.

One of the basic laws of life is rhythm – night/day, winter/summer, wake/sleep, time of consolation/time of desolation. Both season are inevitable and can bring unique growth. Holiday = holy day.

Knowledge does not equal to spiritual transformation. A person whose knowledge of the bible can be 10 times greater than an average unchurched person but is that person 10 times more loving, patient and more joyful? When we read the bible, the goal is not for us to get through the Scripture but to get the Scripture through us. Sometimes that means sticking to one psalm or even one word long enough to learn what we need to learn.

We should ruthlessly eliminate hurry from my life. Life is cluttered when we are weighed down by things that we have failed to say no to. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln achieved the depth of thought he did because he grew up with so little to read. William Herndon, his biographer claimed that Lincoln read less and thought more than any man in his sphere in America. Today, we have largely traded wisdom for information, depth for breath. We want to "microwave" maturity.

Prayer is learned behaviour. Nobody is born an expert at it. No one ever masters prayer. “Lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.” -C.S. Lewis. Our minds may wander during prayer but it may be the very thing our heart most needs to speak to God about. Some things may not seem spiritual but no point praying about things that are noble but not really in our hearts. Nothing kills prayers faster than pretending to be noble.

One of the hardest things in the world is to stop being the prodigal son without turning into the elder brother. It is easier to hear about serving than to actually serve: Ortberg gave the example of a person who gave excuse not to do something by going for a rally to teach and inspire to that very thing.

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