The pastors at my church quote John Ortberg a lot. This kind of bugs me. Is John Ortberg one of the greatest Christian thinkers of our time? Really? If the pastor is going to quote someone, I want it to be Walter Brueggeman or Wolfhart Pannenberg or someone like that. If I'm in a good mood I might even put up with Walt Wangerin. But John Ortberg?
Then recently it dawned on me just how much of a snob I am. I mean, I'd never even read one of John Ortberg's books. What right did I have to look down my nose at him? So I went on to Book Mooch and mooched one of his books so I could look down my nose at him with a clear conscience. :-)
I went with The Life You've Always Wanted because I like books about the spiritual disciplines. It had a blurb from Richard Foster saying it was an OK book, so that was a good sign. I like Richard Foster. Browsing through the book, I found some references to Bonhoeffer and Kierkegaard. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.
In the preface, Ortberg acknowledges his dependence on the work of Dallas Willard, who I also like, and says his private working title for the book was "Dallas for Dummies." From what I can tell so far, that's not a bad self-assessment. So I didn't expect to find anything radically new here, but thought maybe it would be like chatting with my pastor about spiritual disciplines over cookies. Maybe I'd pick up a tip or two.
Here's the first great tip I've come across: sleep is a spiritual discipline.
This is something I actually should have noticed before. Last year I took a retreat at Mount Angel Abbey (which happens to be one of my favorite places in the world). I had no plan for the retreat -- no program. I took my Bible and a couple of books. I planned to just read and attend prayer services. But as I sat down in my guest room to read, I found myself nodding off. So I decided to just go with that. I ended up spending about half my time sleeping during that retreat. It turned out to be one of the best retreats I've experienced!
But I didn't learn the lesson. I needed to read it in a book a year later. Maybe now I'll remember.