Friday, November 21, 2014

“Our capacity to live in denial about the law of consequences is huge and is damaging to the soul.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 91). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

It is so easy to live in a state of denial isn’t it?  Such as…

…I can eat a dozen Cinnamon Rolls from Winchell’s and it won’t affect my weight.
…I can have an affair but it won’t hurt my marriage.
…I can let my temper fly and it won’t hurt my relationships.
…I can have an attitude at work and get away with it.
…I can spend, spend, spend and I won’t get into debt.
…I can never go to church or never read my Bible and it won’t hurt my relationship with Christ.

But no matter how much you believe those statements your denial of the law of consequences will be huge and damaging.

Now there is also a positive side to this law of consequences.  If I live by or use the law of consequences for my good then it will have a positive effect in my life.  Such as… 

…If I eat healthy, watch the amount I eat and exercise regularly then my weight will respond positively.
…If I do all I can to show love, to spend time with, to listen and respond to my spouse in an understanding and caring way, then my marriage will grow stronger.
…If I keep my spending and desires under control then I will be financially secure.
…If I go to church, hunger to know more about Him and what He wants and do what He wants, then my relationship with Him will grow.

A key to living life to its fullest is to understand the principle of cause and effect and live by it.  If I live by the fact that if I do certain things then certain things will happen both in a negative way or a positive way that will go a long way to living my life to its fullest. 

Paul says over in Galatians 6:7-8 (Msg), “What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.”  In other words, what you plant you reap.

So are you living a life of denial of the law of consequences?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

“When my mind focuses on that which is good, the integrating power of the soul calls to my will to choose it, and my body to live it.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 77). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

Here we see the importance of focus and how it can make such a difference in our behavior and how we handle life.

John tells of an experiment with 450 students at UCLA.  “Researchers divided them into two groups and asked one group to remember some trivial memory: ten books you had been assigned to read in high school. They asked the other group to try to remember the Ten Commandments. The students in the ten books memory group engaged in typical widespread cheating. The students in the Ten Commandments group did not cheat at all. Merely the act of trying to remember the Ten Commandments made them think, ‘I was made for something better.’ This despite the fact that not a single student in the Ten Commandments group was able to recall all of the commandments.”

Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul.”  And from this John says, “That doesn’t mean moral rules can transform a human being, but it does mean the soul was made to love and do the will of God.”

Focus, focus.  “When my mind focuses on that which is good, the integrating power of the soul calls to my will to choose it, and my body to live it.”

So do you focus on that which is good?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

“The greatest predictor of mortality among senior citizens in our day ends up being their grandchildren…”


A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 74). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.) 


Here is the end of this thought, “…ends up being their grandchildren’s GPAs.  Let me show you what he is talking about.  “Sin’s ability to disintegrate the soul is the subject of a book by a Duke professor named Dan Ariely. In The Honest Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves, Ariely is astounded by how widespread people’s tendency is to cheat, be self-centered, lie, and be deceitful. He discovered that we are driven by two primary motivations. One, we want to receive selfish gain. We want to avoid pain. We want it so much that we are willing to lie or cheat or deceive for it. We want what we want, and we’re willing to cheat to get it. Two, we want to be able to look in the mirror and think well of ourselves. That means we all want to view ourselves as basically good, honest, honorable people. Clearly these two motivations are in conflict with each other.”

“Ariely’s book clearly gives empirical verification for what you and I know happens all the time. Here is a tiny example I hope you cannot relate to: Ariely says, ‘Over the course of many years of teaching, I have noticed that there typically seems to be a rash of deaths among students’ relatives at the end of the semester. It happens mostly in the week before final exams and before papers are due.’ Guess which relative most often dies? Grandma. I am not making this stuff up.”

He goes on, “Mike Adams, a professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, has done research on this. He has shown that grandmothers are ten times more likely to die before a midterm and nineteen times more likely to die before a final exam. Worse, grandmothers of students who are not doing well in class are at even higher risk. Students who are failing are fifty times more likely to lose Grandma than nonfailing students. It turns out that the greatest predictor of mortality among senior citizens in our day ends up being their grandchildren’s GPAs. The moral of all this is, if you are a grandparent, do not let your grandchild go to college. It’ll kill you, especially if he or she is intellectually challenged.”

If we would just be honest instead of making up some excuse for what we didn’t do.

How really honest are you?


  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

“If the Devil can’t make you sin, he will make you busy, because either way your soul will shrivel.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 59). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

John continues, “Our world will divert your soul’s attention because it is a cluttered world. And clutter is maybe the most dangerous result, because it’s so subtle.”  And then, “The busy soul gets attached to the wrong things, because the soul is sticky. The Velcro of the soul is what Jesus calls ‘desire.’ It could be desire for money, or it could simply be desire for ‘other things.’”

Oh I know there are situations, priorities that takes time to do.  But the key is, do we use them as an excuse and in turn let them slowly rob our soul of its closeness to God.  “I’m too busy to have a quiet time.”  “I work so hard during the week so I don’t have time to spend in a focus time at church.”  And our soul slowly shrivels even without us realizing it.

“I am working so hard to provide for my family.  I’m sorry I can’t spend time with them but I’m sure they understand.”  I used that as an excuse in a period of time in my life and I was in the ministry and I slowly lost my love for my family and for my God.  So I had to step out of the ministry for a period of time to fall in love with my family and with God.  You may not have to do that but you may need to reorganize your life.

Satan is so smart and he really does know you.  But God also knows you and He has given you the amount of time you need in order to do His will.  But you need to stay close to Him so your soul won’t shrivel.  It is all about living by God's priorities not our desires.  

So how is your soul doing?

Monday, November 17, 2014

“We mistake our clutter for life.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 59). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

I understand that.  I was talking with a friend today about the difference in my life today.  The fact that I am retired means that I have more control over my life.  I now do what really matters to me.  What about you?  Are you doing what really matters to you?  You can do that and still get paid.  It is all about priority.

As John puts it, “If we cease to be busy, do we matter? A person preoccupied with externals — success, reputation, ceaseless activity, lifestyle, office gossip — may be dead internally and not even recognize it. And our world has lots of ‘other things.’ You can get them from infomercials; you can buy them online; you can collect them in your garage and put them in your will. It takes a little, such a tiny little uncluttered space to give the seed some room to grow. The cluttered soul is closer to being saved than it knows.”

Take some time from your busy hectic life and strive to look for what really should matter and then just do those things.  And it starts with relationships.

By the way, I went to church yesterday and had lunch with my family.  That is what matters to me in living my life for God.

So what really matters to you?

Friday, November 14, 2014

“I am so wrapped up in the hurt I have received that I do not notice the hurt I inflict.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 55). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

I appreciate John’s honesty in this thought.  The total thought is, “The world diverts my soul-attention when it encourages me to think of myself more as a victim than as a human. I am so wrapped up in the hurt I have received that I do not notice the hurt I inflict.”  And I know if we are also honest we could say the same thing about ourselves.

We get so self-focused but there are little things that we can do that can change this focus.  He says, "A friend of mine sent me a few sentences from an article she saw online on 'How to Stay Christian in College': . . . make small sacrifices. Make a vow to wake up and go to breakfast every morning, even if your first class isn’t until eleven a.m. Choose a plain cheese pizza rather than pepperoni. You’ll be surprised how these tiny sacrifices work an interior magic, shifting your focus ever so slightly away from yourself. Once you’re a little bit to the side, God can come to the center."

He then says, "Underneath the hardness is often fear. The fear of being rejected. The fear of looking foolish. The fear of being hurt. The fear of broken pride. But souls can be saved when the soil gets soft. It takes a little, just a tiny little bit of softness in the soil to give the seed a chance. The seed is strong — stronger than you can imagine. One tiny seed can break up a sidewalk if it can find a little room to breathe."

Why not start today doing the small stuff that will heal your hurting heart and that will turn it from becoming a hard heart. That is where your pain can turn on the people you love.  Don’t let it get to that point. 

Also understand as John says, "The hardened soul is more vulnerable to being saved than it knows."

So what hurt is causing you to hurt others?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

“Despite the rise of the mental health profession, people are becoming increasingly vulnerable to depression.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 46). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

A Study in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that in the twentieth century, people who lived in each generation were three times more likely to experience depression than folks in the generation before them. 

Now why is that?  John writes, “Martin Seligman, a brilliant psychologist with no religious ax to grind, has a theory that it’s because we have replaced church, faith, and community with a tiny little unit that cannot bear the weight of meaning. That’s the self. We’re all about the self. We revolve our lives around ourselves. Ironically, the more obsessed we are with our selves, the more we neglect our souls.”

Now there are chemical imbalances that bring about depression.  That needs to be checked but a self focus goes a long way to bring it on.  So many people live in a world that totally revolves around themselves and not their soul.

John continues, “All of our language reflects this. If you’re empty, you need to fulfill yourself. If you’re stressed, learn how to take care of yourself. If you’re on a job interview, you have to believe in yourself. If you’re at the tattoo parlor, you must learn to express yourself. If someone dares to criticize you, you have to love yourself. If you’re not getting your own way, you have to stand up for yourself. What should you do on a date? You ought to be yourself. What if your self is a train wreck? What do you do then? Self is a stand-alone, do-it-yourself unit, while the soul reminds us we were not made for ourselves.”

John quoted former opera singer Scott Flaherty where he said. “Imagine singing, ‘Then sings my self, my Savior God to thee,’ or ‘Jesus, lover of my self.’ Innately we know that the self is not the soul, even as we do everything we can to preserve it.”

We have somehow changed our focus from our soul to our self and we are suffering the emotional consequences of it.

So is it self or soul that is the focus of your life?