Category Archives: Ortberg Podcast

John Ortberg Podcast from Menlo Presbyterian Church

12 Steps and Getting Unstuck

This is the series on the Christian lessons from the 12 step movement.

It provokes a number of questions for me – a lot of them that this is good, but then we have to look at what we are saying when we say this essentially theistic movement with its roots in Christian tradition (and in particular the Oxford movement, which is much criticised by John Stott among others) has some big lessons for us.  Once again, where is God in the place that is good but doesn’t name itself Christian.  Or does 12 steps also in a way have to admit it’s own faults and need of redemption, or is that a bit too meta.

Anyway, this is really interesting to look at, because the thing that so many of us want above all is change. Continue reading

Love is spelt T-I-M-E

Ortberg – January 11th 2015

I have been struggling with Ortberg of late – not finding the same enthusiasm.  Perhaps this happens with every preacher over time and you must move from novelty and entertainment to value, meaning and relationship (I have a relationship with John Ortberg, even if he doesn’t with me).


Anyway, there is something of a return to form (or a return to listener engagement) here, with a sermon on TIME.  There is the stunning insight that the three years of discipleship with Jesus and the 12 adds up to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours.  But is the Willard inspired piece no experience (life is a set of conscious experiences) and intimacy (shared experience) that really bowled me over.  There was also a lovely reworking of Warren’s aphorism – The best use of time is love, and best way of showing love is time, and the time to love is now.


Gift and Regifting

This is the sermon from January 18th, transcript is here.

This is all motivated going through giving as a key love language, and that if anything is the love language of God, then this is it.

Many ideas come from Peter Leithart’s book “Gratitude: An Intellectual History”.

It says that Jesus is the most influential person in the history of giving, undermining the Roman system of Patronage (quite a lot of detail on this here) which was all about calculated giving, and giving to create an oppressive sense of obligation.  Jesus was completely removed from this idea, and that in this agape took on Rome, and agape one.

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The Shocking Secret Happy People Learn

September 21st 2014 – Transcript here.

Philippians 2.

Ortberg talks about the strata in Roman society and the way that the to humble yourself was almost unheard of, and yet the great secret is that happy people are people who have stopped trying to get up the social ladder.  Talks about how remarkable it was that Christ humbled himself.

Talks about how we try get upgraded and asking for a downgrade is almost unheard of, and yet this is what Jesus does.


Making Great Decisions

This is Ortberg on the 8th June 2014, transcript is here.

We make 70 decisions a day, 25,000 a year and 1.7million in a life time.  Decisions and the wisdom to make them are one of the most vital things in our life.

Begins with the story of Solomon, and wisdom being the thing that we ask for the most.

I really loved the use of James 1:5 – if any of you lacks wisdom then ask God – that God is in the business of not resolving circumstances with easy answers, of sending us postcards, of creating unthinking clones; God is not in the circumstance generating business as much as he is in the character generating business.

Uses the story of Elijah in 1 Kings to talk about the dangers of making decisions when you are fatigued (although not sure that quite fits with the passage, as Elijah doesn’t make any decisions, and doesn’t do what God ends up asking him).

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The cost of not honouring

This is John and Nancy Orberg on the 11th May 2014.  Transcript is here.

They talk about their maternal line, noting the links that have been passed down the generations, the struggles that these people did, the funny things that they did, the influence that they were in faith, and the way that they gave a foundation for the lives that John and Nancy now live, as well as the difficulties that they have had to experience.

The key mnemonic for honouring is Honesty, Acceptance and Gratitude.

Key texts are the fifth commandment and Ephesians 5 – that it may go well with you in the land, that this is just an ordinary rule of life.

The new truth about you

Easter Sunday at Menlo Park, 2014

20th April 2014 – Transcript is here

Talks about a dynamically arresting new news which grips the disciples, then talks about Peter’s sermon in Jerusalem in Acts 2, and then a very arresting and gripping moment in which people are invited to be baptised.

The passage about news links in with Ecclesiastes 1, and the “nothing new” formula there.

For three years, the disciples would have been asked “What’s new?” and the answer would have been Jesus”, then on Friday, it would have been disaster and then on Saturday, nothing new, and then on Sunday, everything new, and talks about being gripped about something which is profoundly new. Continue reading

You don’t know the truth about you

On looking at our blind spots and coming to terms with who we really are.

9th March 2014 and transcript is here:

Talks about David and Bathsheba and our infinite capacity for self deception:

Talks about the scriptures and also brilliant picture of Eustace from CS Lewis, and how he is painfully transformed.

Plunge into the pool of grace which stings and smarts and makes us better.