The older I get, the more I realize that our world really is in chaos. The people in it are in chaos, and this includes the Christians. Those who profess Christ can make some of the weirdest, UN-Christlike decisions. My dad says when he got to the age Rambo and I are at right now, a whole lot of their friends’ marriages fell apart, their kids went off the deep end, and they basically self-destructed. I have been the unhappy witness to some of this as well lately. I’ve pondered the key to avoiding this same fate, and know it’s really about transformation. REAL change, on the inside.
To raise kids who love God above everything else, to unconditionally love our spouses, and to leak this love out to the rest of the world, is an impossible endeavor without the transformation Jesus brings; first at the moment of salvation, and then in the continual, daily choices we make every day to follow Him wholeheartedly. There are many fortunate folks like myself who were raised “in church,” and have a legacy of Godly parents and grandparents. There are many first-generation Christians who are breaking negative cycles created by those before them. All of us need help from time to time.
May I recommend an excellent read? This one is called The Life You’ve Always Wanted, by John Ortberg. I first read it back in the late 90′s when I was a fresh-out-of-college, young married person. It deeply impacted me then, and continues to do so every time I read it.
The subtitle is “Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People,” which frankly sounds a bit dull. I think to judge a book by its cover doesn’t do this one justice. (Not sure why the “t” had to be a bird, either!) Get past the cover, and you’ll discover an extremely down-to-earth, motivational, and practical bit of writing. If the key to raising Godly kids, being a Godly spouse, and showing the world Jesus is change from within, I need all the help I can get. The author talks about this transformation as “morphing.” (Yes, think of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.) He says, “When morphing happens, I don’t just do the things Jesus would have done; I find myself wanting to do them. They appeal to me. They make sense. I don’t just go around trying to do right things; I become the right sort of person” (Ortberg p. 23). He does a nice job of introducing and expounding on the importance of several spiritual disciplines without making them about legalism.
If you’ve read any other book reviews I’ve done here, you know that to me a book without humor is as boring as a sock drawer. John Ortberg sprinkles humor and wit throughout the wisdom and “re-postable” quotes and stories this book contains to make his points. (I think I just made up the word “re-postable.” It’s amazing how this age of social media has necessitated the creation of new words. The word “hashtag,” anyone?)
Considering the potential heaviness of the topics, The Life You’ve Always Wanted is a pretty quick read. The main points are memorable, the applications are practical, and its contents are timeless. (Even if we did leave the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers in the 90′s.)
The Bible is always the most important place to turn to when talking about transformation. It should be used as a sieve to shake everything else we read or hear through. That is to say, we can’t always take what others have written as “the gospel truth.” But just as He did all those years ago, I believe God still inspires men to write His truths. Which books have you read that He has used to speak to you?