Living With Jesus Today Juan Carlos Ortiz Creation House, Carol Stream, IL 173 pages
- Critical read
- Must read
- Good read
- Read if you want
- Read something else
Why you should read this book: Juan Carlos Oritz, a long time a pastor in Argentina and internationally-known speaker, was a unique and engaging resource for those wishing to find the simple fulness of following Jesus with one’s entire being. Coming from a Latin American country that at that time was struggling socially and economically, Oritz approached the faith in a manner completely free of the politics of the day. Instead, he focused on straightforward and practical applications for the plain truths of the Bible. His message resonated across geographic, political and cultural boundaries. The two books prior to this one, “Disciple” and “The Cry of the Human Heart,” were game-changers in the spiritual lives of millions.
Ortiz gave himself fully to the work of imparting transforming truth in a highly personal way. Rather than delivering a sermon and then moving on to the next gig, Oritz would often spend days with the audiences for the purpose of sharing his life message. I twice had the privilege of hearing him for a week of messages in a mid-size church in a small town in Idaho. When he was not speaking (often he delivered both morning and evening), he was free to talk over coffee or a meal with any who wanted to stop by. Those were precious times. Some years later he spoke in a church in the farm town to which I had moved in California and agreed to stop by my house for lunch and a visit with a few of my friends. He was always open and giving of himself.
Point: The point of the book is that our God is characterized by His openness and willingness to have fellowship with His children. What Ortiz was on the human level, our God is on the human-divine level. In our desire to keep God at a safe distance with our religiosity, structures, schedules and programs, we as a church in North America have missed one of the most prominent themes about Him in the Bible. Our God just wants to spend time with us individually, daily, conversationally and intimately. The book delves into numerous ways in which He makes Himself available to us and desires for us to respond to Him personally and intimately. Every day can be a day of “living with Jesus,” if we will lay aside our religiosity and divided-heart thinking and respond to the dozens of openings He gives us.
So much of what we do as Christians today come straight from the old covenant or is a mixture of old and new covenant thinking. Ortiz points out many of the ways such mistaken theology and practice hold back individual believers and entire congregations from realizing the fulness of an intimate relationship with our God.
Impact: I have shared this book with a number of my friends, and the reports from them are very similar. They report that they have never read an author who makes the practice of the conscious presence of our God so simple, easy to understand, practical, and applicable. Ortiz makes conversational communion with our God clear and amazingly simple, using every-day examples to illustrate how easy it is to fellowship with our Creator.
Quotes: “Look at yourself in the mirror…. You are an expression of the glorified, eternal Christ who lives within you. Begin to believe that about yourself and you will start to experience His life as a daily reality.”
“This is a problem for us evangelical Christian people. It is hard for us to know the present-day Lord Jesus Christ because we have made an idol of the story of His 33 years on earth almost 2000 years ago. Now a knowledge of Christ in the flesh is good. I am not saying anything against it. And I don’t think Paul was speaking against it when he said that he was no longer concerned about knowing Christ after the flesh. To know Him after the flesh is good providing you go on to knowing Him. But for Paul, he preferred to know Christ as He is.”
“God is a person, inviting friendship. He wants to sit beside you and say, “Son or daughter, I love you.” He wants you to tell Him that you also love Him. He sent Jesus to earth for this very reason – to open access for us so that we could be His friends.”
Similar: Similar books on this topic area include “The Sacred Romance” by John Eldredge, “The Pursuit of God” and “The Pursuit of Man,” both by AW Tozer, and two books by the same title, “God is Closer Than You Think,” but by different authors, Juan Carlos Ortiz and John Ortberg. If you order one, be prepared to receive the other in the mail. That happened to me, which is how I discovered the Ortberg iteration. Great book, by the way. I will review some of these soon. All Ortiz books are out of print, but if you look around on the various clearinghouse sites, you can find them used and in good shape.
Seriously, find this book and read it.