Book Review: The Life You've Always Wanted - Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg

The Life You've Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary PeopleThe Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I really did not like this book much at all. There were a couple of redeeming chapters, particularly the one about the discipline of celebration, taking time to celebrate God’s blessings in our lives. Aside from those couple of bright spots, though, I found it to be extremely “seeker-sensitive” (whatever that means) and self-help oriented. When I think about spiritual disciplines, the first thing that comes to my mind is a proper intake of the Word of God, but Ortberg spends little time discussing this and only about halfway through the book.

Theologically, I had several problems with the book. Ortberg seems to operate under the assumption that God is just begging and waiting for people to respond to him. He even uses Moses and the burning bush to illustrate that, his point being that, just as Moses could have walked by and ignored God, we too can ignore God and just keep going about our lives our own way. I believe in a sovereign God and that it was always God’s plan to uses Moses. He sprinkles this type of thinking throughout.

Finally, my biggest concern was the chapter on hearing from God. He seems to hold to the charismatic belief that we should try to train ourselves to hear the “still small voice” from God. I won’t go into an argument against that. If you are charismatic, then you’ll probably love the book. Regardless, he mentions at the very end of that particular chapter that there are dangers in attempting to hear God in this way… but then he just walks off and leaves the door wide open.

If you are truly looking for a book on spiritual disciplines, then I would highly recommend Donald S. Whitney’s book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. I would liken Whitney’s work to a fine cut gem, in the same way that Ortberg’s would be a dirt clod.

View all my reviews

The reputation of Christ and the beauty of the Gospel is far more glorious and worth fighting for than those momentary things that the enemy wants to leverage to disqualify those that God is leveraging for leadership within the body of Christ.

— D.A. Horton

Since the State is the most visibly powerful human institution, atheism removes a concept of some higher court of appeal beyond the State. The State becomes “divine” by default – the highest court of appeal, the highest moral authority. Not every atheist is a statist. But where atheism predominates, the State steadily encroaches on men’s freedom, for they are left with no higher authority to appeal to or to provide them with the moral justification for resistance to tyranny. Where the fear of God is absent, the fear of the State is a convenient and universal substitute.

— Gary North. Unconditional Surrender: God’s Program for Victory. Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1988. 21. Print.

“It is virtue, then, direct virtue, which is the hard and valuable part to be aimed at in education. If virtue is not settled in the student, to the exclusion of all vicious habits, all the education in the world will do nothing but make the student worse or more dangerous.”

John Locke
quoted by R. L. Dabney in On Secular Education