Today’s post comes from Linda Mercer, and it serves as an encouragement to consider joining us for our summer book study of “The Me I Want to Be” by John Ortberg. Through small group conversation and personal reading and reflection, we hope to encourage and challenge each other by loving God with our minds this summer. Find more about our summer study or sign up to participate at yateschurch.org/M2B. Linda writes:
We are familiar with John Ortberg as a writer. In our first summer book study two years ago, we studied another of his books, “All the Places to Go.” And, many of us, have read other books he has authored as well.
He is a master story-teller who draws in the reader as he teaches spiritual truths. He very often uses himself as he illustrates these truths in a very honest, sometimes humorous and sometimes vulnerable way. I have found that some of these stories remain with me long after reading the book is done.
Ortberg also has a way of bringing scripture alive as he weaves it into his story telling. In “The Me I Want to Be,” I saw Joseph’s relationship with his brothers with new insight. I saw Caleb’s viewpoint on entering the Promised Land with a renewed perspective. I am confident that you will as well.
In “The Me I Want To Be,” Ortberg consistently references the word “flourishing,” and the phrase “in the flow of the Spirit.” He describes how we might flourish into the unique person that God has “hand-crafted” us to be. And under his direction, we examine ways to discover God’s Spirit by letting our thoughts lead us to God and understanding what drives the use of our time. We dig deep into ways to deepen our relationship with God and with others, and to be transformed as we walk in the “flow of the Spirit.”
I mentioned earlier the power of the stories that Ortberg uses – I’d like to share one with you that truly touched both my husband, Larry, and me. This particular story is in the unit on renewing the mind, the chapter is entitled “Think Great Thoughts.” It follows a narrative about monitoring and setting your thoughts on things above, and the scripture from Romans 8:5, “Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
The story begins . . . about a friend named “Danny” . . .
“My friend Danny was exploring in the caves of Iowa. The man guiding took him deep underground then said he would lead Danny through a passageway into a spectacular chamber. The passageway was small enough that Danny had to stoop at first. Then as it grew still smaller, he had to get on his hands and knees. Eventually the only way to go forward was to lay on his back and push his body forward with his feet. Then the ceiling was so low that when he inhaled he could not move at all! He had to stop, inhale, and exhale, and only then was his chest low enough to allow him to move. By this point it was physically impossible to back out. . . .
“Danny is a sky-diving, mountain-climbing, hang-gliding thrill-seeker, but there in that cave he felt sheer panic. He was terrified. He tried fighting his fear, but he kept picturing his dead body moldering in the cave. Finally, he told his guide he was about to lose it, and the guide said, calmly, ‘Danny, close your eyes and listen to my voice. I will keep talking, calmly, and guide you through this. We will be okay. I have been here before. I will get you to the other side. But you must listen to my voice. It will not work for you to let your thoughts run wild. Just focus on my voice.’
“Danny did so. What freed him from panic and fear was not trying hard to quit thinking fearful thoughts. It was listening to another voice . . . The Spirit longs to flow in our minds all the time. . . . We set our minds on those thoughts that equip us for life.
“God’s gift of your mind is unbelievably lavish. . . .
“Your thoughts have enormous power over your life.” (pages 96-97, The Me I Want to Be)
Precious Lord in heaven, thank you for the gift of our mind. Whatever our circumstances, please help us to listen for your voice so that your Spirit will flow through our minds. In Jesus’ name, amen.
— Linda Mercer
Visit yateschurch.org/M2B for more info about the book study or to sign up.