So you fell in love with Jesus and you want to follow him. You’ve been trying really hard to be a better person, but you still fail. Every time you do, you decide you’ll try even harder to control your temper or your lust or your gossiping tongue.

It seems to come so natural to other people. The “really spiritual” people just seem to always have it together, to always know what to say, to have the right answer. They seem to be perfectly balanced no matter what life throws at them. Could you ever be like that?

Well…probably not, because they are not really as perfect as they appear.

But you could be transformed. Not just better, but brand new.


Stop Trying Harder, and Start Training Smarter.

Using John Ortberg’s book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted as a template, we’ll see how God wants to change us from the inside out, as we begin “training for godliness” using the Spiritual Disciplines.

Each week, we’ll try on one or two spiritual practices, which if practices regularly, will eventually enable us to do with God’s help, what we cannot currently do by sheer willpower alone.

Think of it this way, there are hundreds of things that I cannot do today no matter how hard I try, like run a marathon, play Beethoven on the piano, or hit a 90 MPH pitch; but I could do all of those things if I spent the next year training every single day to do them. In life, John Ortberg says, “We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish by TRYING, and underestimate what we can accomplish through TRAINING.” You and I are capable of much more than we ever thought possible if we submit to strategic and consistent training.

            Nowhere is this truer than our spirituality. Galatians 5:22 says a life surrendered to God should be overflowing with “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control.” And we’re trying hard to be that. TRYING to control their temper, TRYING to understand the Bible, TRYING to be joyful, TRYING to love their enemies, TRYING to quit, TRYING to be better, TRYING, TRYING, TRYING…

            John Ortberg writes in The Life You’ve Always Wanted:

“For most of my life, when I heard messages about following Jesus, I thought in terms of trying hard to be like him. So after hearing (or preaching, for that matter) a sermon on patience on Sunday, I would wake up Monday morning determined to be a more patient person. Have you ever tried hard to be patient with a three-year-old? I have—and it generally didn’t work any better than would my trying hard to run a marathon for which I had not trained. I would end up exhausted and defeated.

(Ortberg, John. The Life You’ve Always Wanted (p. 43). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.)

Each week, we’ll have a Personal Training Guide, with daily Bible Readings and Suggested Weekly Reading from The Life You’ve Always Wanted.

To receive daily text messages of our Bible Reading and Prayer plan, please email your cellphone number and provider to secretary@oaklandpresbyterianchurch.org


More information on the spiritual disciplines and their correllated fruits are available in this PDF.

This Great Sermon by John Ortberg of Menlo.Church (Audio/Video/Transcript available)

This Set of Videos Featuring Richard Foster, Author of Celebration of Discipline.


These talks by Dallas Willard:

Books for Further Reading:

The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg

Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard

Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence