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When I started Every Lil Step, I planned on reviewing a chapter a week of John Ortberg’s The Life You’ve Always Wanted, a book I’m reading and leading a small discussion group on through my church. But then the great bug debacle of 09 got in the way. So instead, I’m going to pick up where I’m at now and then rewind to earlier chapters here and there when I can. And my reviews are of course nothing compared to the book itself, which I definitely recommend it as a “must read” for anyone looking to grow in their walk with God.

The basic principle of the book is that transformation should be the goal of every follower of Jesus Christ – and that transformation is possible.  Not through our own efforts (or “trying” as he puts it) but through the deliberate process of “training” – which we do by undertaking spiritual disciplines that allow us to grow in our relationship with God and therefore grow as his people. It is then that we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. And the whole point of The Life You’ve Always Wanted is that the whole point of life is transformation – so that we actually find ourselves wanting to live the way Jesus would live in our place and then DOING it.

The books that I read in the discussion groups I lead or take part in usually end up looking like workbooks. I underline, make arrows, and jot down notes in the sidebars. There’s just way too much in each book that speaks to me personally to even begin sharing it all. But one of my favorite paragraphs in The Life You’ve Always Wanted is in the opening chapter, when Ortberg writes, “The truth is that the term spiritual life is simply a way of referring to one’s life – every moment and facet of it – from God’s perspective. Another way of saying it is this: God is not interested in your ‘spiritual life.’ God is just interested in your life. He intends to redeem it.”

That one really forced me to look at my life and how I might separate my “spiritual life” from the “rest” of my life. It also forced me to ask myself if there are any discrepancies between who I am “at heart” and who I am “in real life”. Believe me – there are more than a few. (This story for instance has always amazed me. I think about it on almost a daily basis. At heart, I’d like to have the guts to do something big and amazing like this starting today. “In real life,” I don’t even donate to this cause yet. All “reasons” or “justifications” aside, it’s an example of the gap between who I’d like to be and who I am right now. Hopefully all of the steps I take can help me close the gap a little more each day). Since reading Ortberg’s comments on it, I’ve tried to replace the term “spiritual life” with “life” in my vocabulary. Simple semantics that have had a real impact on how I’m living my life since reading that.

Luckily for me, Ortberg also reminds us that the story of the human race is one of hope and that transformation is a lifelong process we can all take part in if we just keep our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts open to what it is God is doing in our lives and asking of us along the way. Spiritual disciplines are simply those activities that help us live our lives as Jesus would in our shoes. For most Christians, the disciplines he talks about are probably something we already do on a regular basis. But reading The Life You’ve Always Wanted has been a great way for me to take stock of just what roles these activities play in my life and how I’m growing and changing for the better along the way. So starting tomorrow, I’m going to hop in at Chapter 9. And then from there, I’ll jump around to touch on how this book has been changing ME as I read it. To anyone following along, thanks for reading. And I definitely welcome any feedback along the way.

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Link of the Day:  At a Distance by Karen Ehman [Proverbs 31 Ministries Daily Devotional]. This really tied into exactly what I was thinking as I wrote this. So looks like I can take some notes on Peter as well to become the “bold, world-changing servant of God” I want to be. This also ties into one of my memory verses this week: 1 Peter 4:10 “God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” Synergy!

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