Thursday, November 27, 2014

“The soul needs a future.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 112). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

I think that is an important thought for us to realize on this Thanksgiving Day.  I like how John puts it, “God planted eternity in our hearts so that we would not stop seeking life beyond ourselves.”  That is why the act of giving thanks no matter your situation is so necessary in handling life.  Our soul wants you to understand that this is not the end, we have a future.

We are going to spend time with one set of our kids today.  Now I don’t think that Margaret will remember all the pain that had happened when Brett was born or our daughter in-law, Marissa will think about the pain when Ashlyn and Addison were each born.  Yes there was great pain in the moment, terrible pain but as John says, “What starts in pain, ends in joy.”  I know they are so thankful for the lives through their pain that they brought into this world.  Our kids have brought such joy and we are so thankful for them. 

Understand that the soul needs a future, you need a future.  The difficulty that you may be going through right now is not the end.  That is where thanksgiving comes in and that is where hope lifts us to a new level.

So let’s stop and be thankful for what is ahead.  John says, “To paraphrase a line from a movie: There will be great pain, and there will be great joy. In the end, joy wins. So if joy has not yet won, it is not yet the end. Jesus is crucified. The pain is overwhelming — not the end. Jesus is risen — the joy is overwhelming.”  And because of His great pain we have an unbelievable future that He has gone to prepare for those who believe in Him.

So what are you thankful for today?  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

“There are two main enemies that lead to a soul disconnected from its center.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 105). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

John says, “One is sin. Sin cannot coexist with a soul centered on God. If I choose to live in bitterness, or to indulge lust, or to deceive my wife, I am choosing to keep God out of my thoughts.”

And then he says, “The other disconnect is what might be called the ‘troublesome thought.’ This soul-enemy is actually much more pervasive. It’s not necessarily a sin. It’s simply a way of thinking that does not take God into account. The troublesome thought begins with any normal concern you might have. For example, you open your quarterly statement from your 401K and notice that instead of gaining, your fund lost a few hundred dollars. Certainly reason to be concerned, but then you begin a succession of thoughts that practically consume you: Will I have enough to retire? What if the next quarter posts another loss? Should I pull my money out of this fund? By entertaining these thoughts, you are allowing something to squeeze God out of your life. It’s one thing to pay attention to your retirement account, but when you leave God out of the equation, your soul loses its connection.”

He then says, “A soul disconnected from its center is like an unplugged computer. It is like a fish left on the banks of a river that would give it life. Eventually it crashes. It dies. The soul cannot be centered without God.”

Somehow we need to guard our soul.  We need God in our lives.  He is the One who makes the difference.  Remember, “Sin cannot coexist with a soul centered on God” and “when you leave God out of the equation of your life, your soul loses its connection.” 

So how is your soul doing?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

“A soul without a center lacks patience.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 101). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

We are one month away from Christmas.  Talk about a time that we need to keep our soul centered on God.   This is not usually a time that we are patient but a time that we can be in a total rush.  And that is so true in the church.

I used to be a Youth and Music Pastor.  I usually during this season would be working toward a major Christmas concert in my music area and working toward a major activity for Christmas Eve in my youth area.  What that meant was I got sick between Christmas and New Year’s.

So I also think it is important for us to put Christ into our Christmas as Christians. 

We had a fun time Thanksgiving night last year.  We went shopping.  It was a mess but it was a great time to get deals and we did.  But it was total chaos.

But I think if we really put Christ into our own Christmas, we may slow down a little bit and be a little more patient.  I think our activities have a way of taking Christ outside of our Christmas.

You see Christ came as a gift and if we center our soul about Him then we will first of all give thanks and then give love.  It is not a time to get but a time to give.  And then let’s see how really patient we are.

So what are you thankful for this week?

Monday, November 24, 2014

“The difference between talking to yourself and talking to your soul is that the soul exists in the presence of God.”


A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 92). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

We hear a lot about the need for positive self-talk.  But John shows the need for soul talk and he shares, “you will see in the Psalms and elsewhere people speaking to their souls because when you speak to the soul, it naturally turns to prayer because in the soul God is always present.”

I like what John said earlier that “Habits eat willpower for breakfast.”  We need more than will power, we need God’s power in so many areas of our like and that comes through prayer. 

John says, “The next time you blow something — when you’re frightened, when you’re dissatisfied — instead of mindless self-talk, speak to your soul: ‘Why are you afraid, O my soul?’ At first it might seem a little silly, but remember, you are the keeper of your soul. Only you.”

He continued, “Not long ago I got really angry at somebody. Finally I literally stopped in my tracks because I was so immersed in anger and said, ‘Soul, why are you so angry?’ Something interesting happened. I found that I just began to pray, and it was like God saying to me, ‘John, you are not your anger.” It’s like my soul had a place to stand with God, and we could talk sensibly about my anger, even as it ebbed from my soul.”

Listen, “our soul is like an inner stream of water that gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other area of life.”

This is a very good insight that will make a daily difference in our life.

Why not try it today?

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?