42. Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg


I have read two other John Ortberg books (well three, if you count Living in Christ's Presence which is a transcript of a conference he did with Dallas Willard), and I always enjoy them. He has a very casual and easy writing style. This is a foundational book if one wants to understand the care of the soul. It is also very sweet because it is somewhat of an ode to his mentor, Dallas Willard. It chronicles their relationship over the years until Dallas' death in 2013. 



We often joke that John Ortberg is "Dallas for Dummies" as sometimes Dallas is difficult for people to understand. (But so worth the investment of time to get to understanding.)  Much of this book is a simpler version of book #41 on my 2017 reading list, The Renovation of the Heart. I adored that book, and I adore this book as well. They are both worth an investment of time with this book perhaps being a good place to start as it is more accessible. I also highly recommend, The Good and Beautiful God which I am currently reading and EATING UP! YUM! YUM!

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The book starts out with an analogy that is explained in this YouTube video:




The stream is your soul. And you are the keeper. 


Then it goes on to talk about care of the soul. So rich.

“A very simple way to guard your soul is to ask yourself, “Will this situation block my soul’s connection to God?” As I begin living this question I find how little power the world has over my soul. What if I don’t get a promotion, or my boss doesn’t like me, or I have financial problems, or I have a bad hair day? Yes, these may cause disappointment, but do they have any power over my soul? Can they nudge my soul from its center, which is the very heart of God? When you think about it that way, you realize that external circumstances cannot keep you from being with God. If anything, they draw you closer to him.”  

“Our problem is that this world does not teach us to pay attention to what matters. We circulate résumés that chronicle what we have accomplished, not who we have become. The advertisements we watch, the conversations we hold, the criteria by which we are judged, and the entertainment we consume all inflame our desire to change our situation, while God waits to redeem our souls.”

“Whether with an entire day, or periods of time set aside every day, your soul needs rest. Not a change of scenery or a spiritual retreat — those are fine and may contribute to rest. But to remain healthy, our souls need solitude with no agenda, no distractions, no noise. If someone asks you what you did in your “time apart,” the correct response should be, “Nothing.” Doing nothing does wonders for the soul.” 

“Your soul is what integrates, what connects, what binds together your will, then your mind (those thoughts, feelings, and desires going on all the time), and then your body (with all of its appetites, habits, and behavior). God designed us so that our choices, our thoughts and desires, and our behavior would be in perfect harmony with each other and would be powered by an unbroken connection with God, in perfect harmony with him and with all of his creation. That is a well-ordered soul.”

“When we reach out to God, we are lifting our souls up to be nurtured and healed. A soul centered in God always knows it has a heavenly Father who will hold its pain, its fear, its anxiety. This is spiritual life: to place the soul each moment in the presence and care of God. “My soul cleaves to you, your right hand upholds me.” It is much harder than it sounds to keep our souls centered on God. We hold on tightly, but often to the wrong things. But staying centered on God — his word, his ways — is the essence of life for the soul.”


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