The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg is a spiritual guide to the transformation of a person. The author claims that people are constantly transforming, and human transformation is the main goal of the spiritual life. Thus, the book’s purpose is to teach its readers how to use each activity and moment for morphing.
The term “morphoo” means the inner development of an individual. However, the author highlights the fact that there is a significant difference between its definition and use. According to the book, morphing time happens when people do not only try to do the correct things, those that Jesus would do, but also want to do them. This implies that they are becoming the right type of individuals. Ortberg (2002) ends his description of morphing time with these words:
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The good news as Jesus preached it is that now it is possible for ordinary men and women to live in the presence and under the power of God…It is not about the minimal entrance requirements for getting into heaven when you die. It is about the glorious redemption of human life – your life. It’s morphing time. (p. 29)
If one’s life is not marked by the sincere spiritual change, which is directed by God, he/she tends to seek the replacement ways which make a distinctionbetween such person and those who are supposed to be less spiritual. Therefore, the boundary markers are taken. They distinguish outsiders from insiders. In my experience, some groups of people, including also many churches, impose restrictions on freedom of speech, clothes, and involvement in a number of activities because of their stereotypical thinking. They give a false sense of dominance and safety. Ortberg emphasizes that Jesus focused on the heart instead of the visible signs.
The author also underlines the need for spiritual disciplines: “Following Jesus simply means learning from him how to arrange my life around activities that enable me to live in the fruit of the Spirit” (Ortberg, 2002, p. 49). Spiritual discipline is a traditional name for such kind of activities. The author says that spiritual disciplines are not a method to gain favor from God; they are neither an indicator of spirituality nor certainly unpleasant. In return, they provide people with the ability to love God and men, which is a real indicator of spiritual well-being.
These practices are valuable because they help persons transform and grow into the new life that God kindly proposes. Almost any activity can be converted into a “training exercise” for the spiritual life as any important change in life containing spiritual growth requires training.
The book gives the following signs of wise spiritual training: beginning with a clear decision, respect for the inevitability of peaks and troughs, account of the period of life, respect for gifts, unique temperament, and freedom of the Spirit. Wise training starts with a clear solution, not simply a drift. A person cannot cause transformation but open him/herself to it through certain practices. Moreover, everyone needs a different combination of experience, relationships, and practices for growth. Thus, there must be freedom in order to get know how God wants one to grow. Every season of life also has its challenges and opportunities for spiritual growth. There are the periods of desolation as well as the times of consolidation. Nevertheless, people should use each moment as a chance to learn. As for me, I try to find time for praying and reading Scripture in every period of my life despite it is good or bad time.
Therefore, the author argues that people cannot transform themselves. God does this. However, everybody can begin a conversation using spiritual training. God can bring humans into His kingdom through spiritual practices. That is why they are so vital. What is more important, one should use every moment and action for transformation, avoiding the boundary markers of spirituality at the same time. What person he or she will become is a real concern.
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