When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg 
Rediscovering the Wonder:

 

Fasting is meant to humble us, to make us understand how small and frail and needy we really are.  It should increase our sense of dependency, not become a way of lauding our spiritual superiority.   

oWithout gratitude, our lives degenerate into envy, dissatisfaction, and complaints, taking what we have for granted and always wanting more.
oJust as we all have a missiona way of contributing to Gods kingdom that we were designed and gifted forwe also have what might be called a shadow mission.  My shadow mission is what I will do with my life if I drift on autopilot.  It consists of the activities toward which I will gravitate if I allow my natural temptations and selfishness to take over.  Everybody has a shadow mission.
oMaterialism is for most of us Gods main rival.
oWe are called to contentment.  Contentment does not come when we acquire enough.  It is a product of the way we think.

 

•Here is a curious thing: Brokenness a broken heart, a broken spirit molds our character closer to the character of God than anything else.  To experience defeat, disappointment, lossthe raw ingredients of brokennessmoves us closer to being like God than victory and gain and fulfillment ever can.

•One of the worst manifestations of pride is self-deceit.  Self-deceit is the unwillingness, even the inability, to face our own evil, and if we do face it, we cant accept the real reasons for it.  Instead, we have a large repertoire of lies to tell ourselves to ease our consciences, to save face, to explain away.

•Psalm 51:6: Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

•(About the above scripture) No clearer summary of holiness has ever been spoken.  Holiness is just that.  It is truth in the inner parts, Gods wisdom spoken into the inmost place.  When we search the deepest, most hidden regions of ourselves, we find truth, Gods voice speaking.

•Real holiness is truth in the inner parts, Gods wisdom spoken in the inmost place.  Real holiness is being naked and not being ashamed.  Real holiness is coming into the light.  Real holiness is telling ourselves the truth, no matter what.  Real holiness is calling sin by its real name.

•Most of our drivenness and anxiousness comes from not really knowing what we must do.  So we do a lot of things.  We do them all with grim, fretful haste.  We do them with panic but no zeal.  We have to, after all, get this done and get on to the next thing.  Were not really sure what it is we must do, so theres no time to pause over, to savor, to reflect on anything.

•The deeper difference between Jesus ethic and that of the Pharisees was this: The Pharisees had an ethic of avoidance, and Jesus had an ethic of involvement.  The Pharisees question was not, How can I glorify God?  It was How can I avoid bringing disgrace to God?  This degenerated into a concern not with God, but with selfwith image, reputation, procedure.  They didnt ask, How can I make others clean?  They asked, How can I keep myself from getting dirty?  They did not seek to rescue sinners, only to avoid sinning.  Jesus, in sharp contrast, go involved.  He sought always and in all ways to help, to heal, to save, to restore.  Rather than running from evil, He ran toward the good.

•We instinctively define Christians by what they are not, by what they avoid.

•The question Christ would have us ask is not, How will this or that act affect my witness?  His question is What can I do have effective witness?  His question is What can I do to have effective witness?  There is a vast and fundamental difference between those two questions.  One is an ethic of avoidance and the other is an ethic of involvement.

•I contend this: Scratch the most vigorous, authentic Christians you know, and he or she will bleed lovelove for God, love for others, and a deep conviction about Gods love for him or her.  And the opposite: Scratch the sourest, most sedentary Christians you know, and he or she will bleed guilt.

•Holy habits are that: the disciplines, the routines by which we stay alive and focused on Him.  AT first we choose them and carry them out; after a while they are part of who we are.  And they carry us.

•But grace and effort are not opposites.  Grace and earning are opposites.  Working for you salvation is heresy.  Working out your salvation is basic Bible.  Grace and effort are allies.  There are 8 New Testament scriptures that tell us that because God has already given us all things, we therefore must make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification; make every effort to enter through the narrow door, make every effort to keep unity; make every effort to be holy; make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with Him.

 

RETURN TO MAIN

•Confession is when we quit all the deal making, the sidestepping, the mask wearing, the pretense and preening, and we get bone-deep honest before God: I am the man!

•But now heres a subclause: In order to present our real selves to God, we need to be honest with ourselves about ourselves, and honest about ourselves to at least one other trusted and godly person.

•In general, its best to speak when tempted for selfish reasons to be silent, and its best to be silent when tempted for selfish reasons to be speak.  When you are tempted to justify, explain, excuse, exalt, gossip, or scoldits a good signal to button up.  And when you are tempted to just lay low, let things sort themselves out, dont rock the boat, dont say anything that might cause troublethats a good signal to speak out.  Both speaking and silence should be costly, and at their heart should be self-giving.

•Deuteronomy 8 indicates that there are three main purposes behind a God led and Spirit-driven experience of hunger (Fasting).  God orchestrates and engineers hunger to humble His people, to test them and to teach them.  A fast is a God-led or Spirit-driven hunger whose purpose is to humble us, to test us, and to teach us.

•Fasting is meant to humble us, to make us understand how small and frail and needy we really are.  It should increase our sense of dependency, not become a way of lauding our spiritual superiority.  It is not, a demonstration of superhuman strength.  It is exactly the opposite; a demonstration of very human weakness.  If fasting or any other spiritual disciplineis not producing in us genuine humility, if it only proves breeding ground for self, its gone awry.

•Prayer and waiting are intrinsically linked, joined at the hip.  Prayer makes no sense apart from waiting.  Prayer is about being made in the likeness of Christ.  Conformed, reformed, transformed.  If prayer was only about getting thingsgetting even, getting rich, getting well, getting justicethen we would call it something else.  We have lots of names to describe the quest and method for getting those things; magic, medicine, capitalism, lobbying.

•Waiting is, in Gods paradoxical economy, not the cause of weariness, but the pathway to renewal.  God intends for waiting to invigorate and replenish us rather than debilitate and deplete us.  He desires that it would have exactly the opposite effect it often does.  But how so?  Only if waiting is actually a shortcut or catalyst for some deep purpose of God, something intimately close to His heart, something tightly aligned with His creational and redemptive purposes.

oWise people build their lives around what is eternal and squeeze in what is temporary.  Not the other way around.oThis is our predicament.  Over and over again, we lose sight of what is important and what isnt.oWe all want God, Anne Lamott writes, but left to our own devices, we seek all the worldly thingspossessions, money, looks, and powerbecause we think they will bring us fulfillment.  But this turns out to be a joke, because they are just props, and when we check out of this life, we have to give them all back to the great prop master in the sky.  Theyre just on loan.  Theyre not ours.  They all go back in the box.oThe object of life, according to Jesus, is breathtakingly simple: Be rich toward God.  Dont spend your life playing Master of the Board.  Its a suckers game.  You cant beat the house.  But you can be rich toward God.  Your lifewith Gods helpcan be a source of pleasure to the God of the universe.  oBeing rich toward God means:oGrowing a soul that is increasingly healthy and good.oLoving and enjoying the people around you.oLearning about your gifts and passions and doing good work to help improve the world.oBecoming generous with your stuff.oMaking that which is temporary become servant of that which is eternal.oSavoring every roll of the dice and every trip around the board.oOne of the main reasons we are tempted to get more invested in our work than in our relationships is that in our vocations its easier to keep score.oServing in self-giving love is the most God-like thing a human being can do.oSpend as much time caring for the inner you as you spend on the outer you.  However much time you spend exercising, cleaning and dressing the outer you this week, spend at least that much time on the inner you.oSurrender to God is not passivity or abdication.  It is saying yes to God and life each day.oEveryone should carry two pieces of paper with him and look at them every day:oYou are as dust and ashes.oFor you the universe was created.oHere the daily decisions that create your life: what will you feed your mind?; what thoughts will you dwell on?; whom will you have conversations with?; where will you direct your desires?; how will you take care of your body?; when will you choose to be interrupted, and when will you choose to stay on task?; what will you eat?; how will you spend your time?oWhen we give casually, we receive casual joy.  When we give effortfully, thoughtfully, creatively, we get immense joy.oMy eye, hand, and foot are not the problem.  The problem is my heart.  Integrity is much bigger than simply avoiding breaking the rules.  It is becoming the kind of person who does the right thing.  Integrity does not mean I get really good at not doing the things I really want to do.  It is not using lots of willpower to override my desires.  It means I become the kind of person who actually wants to do what is right.oI was part of a survey that asked thousands of people what kept them from knowing and loving God better.  The number one answer was Im too busy.  Its ironic that the early followers of Jesus could not be stopped by persecution, poverty, prison, or martyrdom.  But were stunted by something as trivial as too much to do.oThe danger is that you will lead a respectable, decent, non-scandalous, busy tired, human-powered life.  That is unspeakably sad.  We all want to pursue the kingdom of God.  We just dont have the time.oGod never calls us to do something and fails to give us enough time to do it.oThe great secret joy of lifethe prize that we think getting richer will bring usis the ecstasy of gratitude.  Gratitude is how those rich toward Godrich in being, not just havingplay the game.

 

•Our sanctification does not depend as much on changing our activities as it does on doing them for God rather than for ourselves.

•Confession is presenting our real self to God.  Its bringing before God not the person we hope to be, but the person we actually are.

•The touchstone of whether youre rightly engaged with any discipline is to ask, Is my love getting stronger, deeper, and richer?  Something is wrong if you find that any discipline or habit you practice is making you arrogant, self-righteous, contemptuous, and judgmental.