John Ortberg and spiritual growth

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John Ortberg kicked off Catalyst 2010 pre-labs, speaking on how spiritual growth happens.

How does spiritual growth happen?

1. It starts with a reminder that there is a God.  And it is not you.

2. Remember that transformation requires at least as much grace as salvation.

We tend to cycle between guilt, trying harder, feeling fatigue, quitting, then feeling guilt.

3. Living in grace is learned behavior.

In most churches, we have reduced grace to the forgiveness of sins.  It’s so much bigger than that.  God was a gracious God before anybody sinned.

What if the Spirit really is like a river, available and flowing all the time? (John 7:38-39)  If so, then spiritual formation can’t be a program…it should be happening all of the time.  Our job is simply to jump into that river and figure out what is blocking us from jumping in.

4. Growth is hand-crafted, not mass produced.

What would drown a cactus would dry out an orchid.  What would feed a mouse would starve an elephant.  God never grows two people the same way.  He’s existent from eternity, but has never had a relationship with you.

There is no one-size-fits-all spiritual formation, so don’t simply measure someone’s devotion to God by their devotional life.  If we measure spiritual growth by devotional activities, then the Pharisees win!

Here are two questions to ask yourself:

  1. Am I growing more or less irritable these days?
  2. Am I growing more or less discouraged these days?

A word to moms of preschoolers: maybe you can grow more spirutally by engaging in acts of love and selfless acts of service than by memorizing the whole book of Jeremiah.

5. God’s desire is to create the best version of you.

An acorn will grow into an oak…though the oak may be healthy or not.  Redemption is always the redemption of what God has already created.  The goal isn’t to grow and become somebody else, but rather to grow into who God created you to be.

When Jesus says, “Seek first the Kingdom,” he’s not heaping a burden, but telling us where the life is.

The world isn’t likely to respond to a Gospel of transformation proclaimed by untransformed people.

What blocks the work of the Spirit in your life?

 

Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://smallgroupleadership.blogspot.com/ Mike Mack

    Thanks for sharing this, Ben. What a great reminder about what spiritual growth really involves!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Yeah, it was a powerful talk at Catalyst. Great way to launch things off.

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  • JStecz

    Would have loved if this was part of the Thurs. & Frid. schedule at Catalyst 2010. Couldn’t get there for the pre-labs and this is sooo what’s missing in our context. We serve well but not so sure how we’re doing with the spiritual formation emphasis. We are moving forward though to carry out the great commission though!!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Have you read Ortberg’s latest book? I think that he drew lots of his talk from the book.