Read an Excerpt
INTRODUCTION 6 MINUTES
What's to Come
God has created each of us to be his masterpiece, yet not one of us is fully satisfied. No matter what we've accomplished, we each bear a sense of disappointment in who we are, what we've done, how we've done it, or what we haven't done. We can't escape the nagging realization that something is missing, that all is not quite as it should be.
And the truth is, our human condition isn't what it should be. We long to be all that we can be but have failed to be the people God created us to be. Consequently, we are missing out on the life he intended us to live.
But there is good news: the fallen state in which we now live isn't all there is. The Christian gospel insists that the transformation of the human personality really is possible. It happens whenever we become intensely serious about learning from Jesus how to arrange our lives. So we're going to explore what spiritual transformation is about and discover how we can open ourselves up to be transformed by God.
Let's begin by considering a few questions related to spiritual transformation. These questions are on page 10 of your Participant's Guide.
Questions to Think About As time permits, ask participants to respond to two or more of the following questions.
1. To be transformed means to be changed, and transformation is taking place all around us all the time. What examples of transformation ---of any sort---come to mind?
This open-ended question will help participants realize that transformation means to be changed and that change occurs constantly. Everyday examples of transformation might include: the renovation of a run-down factory into a beautiful office complex; the change that takes place in a small lakeside town that becomes a resort destination; the change in physique and confidence of a skinny boy as he grows into a competitive athlete; the sparkling, magical beauty of a bleak winter landscape blanketed by deep snow; the restoration of a classic car. Of course transformation can be equally dramatic on the negative side: the beachfront after a severe hurricane, or a riverbank community after a major flood; the destruction of a beautiful city during wartime; the once-strong but withered body of a drug addict or alcoholic. All of these are examples of transformation.
2. What is required for transformations such as those you have mentioned to occur?
It is important that participants realize that transformation doesn't happen on its own or by accident. In order for something to be transformed, force must be applied or action must be taken. Transformation is the result of deliberate (and often sustained) effort. Spiritual transformation is the result of training.
3. Although we use the term spiritual transformation, we often use it casually without giving it much thought. Describe what spiritual transformation means to you.
Allow participants to describe what they think spiritual transformation is. Some may describe it in terms of following biblical commands, others in terms of specific outward behaviors, and others in terms of changed attitudes.
4. What do you consider to be the indicators of spiritual transformation? How can we tell if another person has experienced a spiritual transformation?
Expect some interesting discussion on this one! Some Christians use external, superficial indicators to show that they are spiritually changed people. These may include not smoking cigarettes, not wearing certain clothing, not listening to certain kinds of music, going to church services often, staying away from certain types of 'sinners,' etc. Others may focus on 'doing good,' spending time in Bible study, or giving time and money to the church as indicators of spiritual transformation. Still others may point out that spiritual transformation is an internal process that can't be fully discerned through external behavior.
Let's keep these ideas in mind as we view the video. There is space to take notes on page 11 of your Participant's Guide.
VIDEO PRESENTATION: 'IT'S 'MORPHING' TIME' 13 MINUTES
Participant's Guide page 11. Video Observations
Life: disappointment and hope
We shall 'morph' indeed
Trying harder versus training wisely
GROUP DISCOVERY 29 MINUTES
If your group has seven or more members, use the Video Highlights with the entire group (5 minutes), then complete the Large Group Exploration (11 minutes), and break into small groups of three to five people for the Small Group Exploration (8 minutes). At the end, bring everyone together for the closing Group Discussion (5 minutes).
If your group has fewer than seven members, begin with the Video Highlights (5 minutes), then complete both the Large Group Exploration (11 minutes) and the Small Group Exploration (8 minutes). Wrap up your discovery time with the Group Discussion (5 minutes).
Please turn to page 12 of your Participant's Guide.
• 5 minutes As time permits, ask one or more of the following questions, which directly relate to the video the participants have just seen.
1. What is the hope of the Christian gospel as John Ortberg describes it?
SUGGESTED RESPONSE: The hope of the gospel is much more than just getting into heaven when we die. Jesus came to earth so that we might have an abundant life here and now. We all long for such a life, but on our own it is always beyond our reach. The Christian gospel insists that authentic spiritual transformation really is possible. We can genuinely grow in love, peace, and joy when we are being transformed by God.
2. An important concept in The Life You've Always Wanted is that we are always being transformed; we are always changing for better or for worse. This happens physically and, although it's less obvious, spiritually. How might some of our daily practices cause us to be 'formed' spiritually in one direction or another?
SUGGESTED RESPONSE: Similar to the way in which our daily health habits---what and how much we eat, how much we exercise ---form us in a particular direction physically, our daily spiritual habits form us as well. Obviously the traditional spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, meditation, solitude, and the like can be part of the spiritual transformation process. Choosing to approach life in accordance with the fruit of the Spirit also can move us toward positive spiritual transformation. Seeking to bring every thought 'captive' to Christ can be another way to be 'formed' in the likeness of Jesus. In the negative sense, overlooking or minimizing what we consider to be 'little' sins can form us as well. Focusing our minds on the concerns of life---food, shelter, wealth, power---as opposed to the concerns of God's kingdom can also shape us spiritually.