Wednesday, February 18, 2015

All the Places to Go by John Ortberg

"All the Places to Go
How Will You Know?
God has placed before you
an open door.
What will you do?" (Ortberg, 2015)

Does this passage sound almost familiar? It will for many fans of the beloved Dr. Seuss, well known children's writer.  If you still not familiar with the reference, then no doubt, with one look at the cover of John Ortberg's new book,  All the Places to Go: How Will you Know, its likeness to the Dr. Seuss book is unmistakable. Drawing on the popularity of Dr. Seuss', "Oh The Places You Will Go", often used to apply to one's life choices and career choices after graduation, Ortberg has applied the idea to one's spiritual calling in life. The title, as well as the book cover will be certain to draw in many readers- those dedicated to their faith, yet find themselves to be hesitant when faced with difficult life choices.  Using examples of scripture- the author shows how God can use the weak, the timid and those who lack faith, to accomplish great purposes and goals in life.  The empowering message is certain to give renewed purpose and life to even the most apathetic or timid readers.  From the first chapter, the author illustrates the concept that you need not be strong or wise to have an important God directed purpose in life.  Using the scripture from Revelation, written to the church in Philadelphia, the author explains that despite having "little strength", that God has placed an "open door that no one can shut". (Ortberg, 2015 p. 4) He continues on to say that something that might be interpreted as an insult- the reference to having "little strength" is actually an empowering example for all of us to illustrate that we are not expected to have extra special qualities to be have access to "open doors".  Secondly, the author continues on to explain that God rarely presents an open door simply for us to remain in the safety net of our current status quo. Knowing our limitations, God still expects us to take a chance and to step out of our comfort zone.

Anyone who has ever read a Dr. Seuss book is  familiar with his beloved and unique writing style, reminiscent of the schizophrenic alterations observed in the speech patterns of those diagnosed with schizophrenia.  Ironically the pen name includes reference to a medical professional, when patient would have been more accurate (but that topic in of itself would take up it's own blog post). Seuss' books: The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who and Hop on Pop are filled with peculiar speech patterns: flight of ideas, neologisms (made up words), echolalia (word repetition), clang association (meaningless rhyme) and word salad.  Anyone else who would dare to writing in his style would probably be asking for a psychiatric diagnosis. One may never know if indeed, this beloved and gifted children's write had schizophrenia. Ironically, Ortberg chooses the Dr. Seuss platform to deliver a spiritually significant message to a new generation of readers.  In contrast to Dr. Seuss, Ortberg's writing is systematic and orderly.  He presents the reader with a background of biblical heroes from varied imperfect backgrounds who had open doors to choose from.  He uses these stories to illustrate how the reader may very well have their own open doors to choose; difficult, gut wrenching, soul searching, life choices.  The author discusses personality traits and spiritual suggestions to empower the reader to become attuned to God's purposes and to follow after the open doors. 

This book is like a spiritual self help book, empowering any reader who find himself at the cross roads in life, faced with a difficult decision or possibly stagnant. This book is easy to read and easy to follow; and best of all motivating.  I think this makes a good choice for any one young or old; it is for anyone who is looking for something greater out of life.  It may give timid personalities that extra little push they need to pursue their dreams.  As a blogger I received this book published by Tyndale for the purpose of writing this review.

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