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“To bless someone means to offer happiness or praise to them.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 175). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

Oh how our kids need that.Oh how our mate needs that.Oh how our parents need that.Oh how our friends need that.Oh how our God wants that.
I like how John puts it.He says, “When you say ‘Blessed are you, O Lord,’ you are not only expressing gratitude, but you are saying, ‘I want to make you happy and praise you, God, with my gratitude for what you have done.’ It’s a subtle reminder that gratitude is good for both the person expressing it and the one receiving it.”
John also says, “Gratitude does not always come naturally. You will not always feel grateful. But you can take the time each day to remember the benefits you received, see your benefactor, and thank him for his benefits. As Thornton Wilder put it, ‘We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious o…

“You can’t be grateful for something you believe you are entitled to.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 171). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

We so easily get into this trap of entitlement.I mean even Christians can mistakenly believe that we are entitled to stuff but all that we have is because of His grace.John continues this thought by saying, “and without a grateful heart the soul suffers. Because the soul needs gratitude.”
I find it so easy at this Season to feel that we deserve gifts.I mean I expect my family to give me gifts.It’s Christmas but that is not the reason for this Season. Yes we celebrate a gift that was given but we were very undeserving of that gift.
John continues.He says, “Here’s the deal: The more you think you’re entitled to, the less you will be grateful for. The bigger the sense of entitlement, the smaller the sense of gratitude. We wonder why in our world we keep getting more and more and more and k…

“Try a little experiment. It will take all of two days, but it will teach you an important soul lesson.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 169). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

Here is what John says to do… “Today, when you greet people, begin your conversation with a little complaint. The Bible calls that grumbling, as in ‘Do everything without grumbling.’ It might be a complaint about something in your life: your health, your job, money problems, the fact that you don’t have a spouse, the fact that you do have the spouse that you have. It might be something about the person you’re greeting. You don’t like how they’re dressed. Or you just don’t like their personality, or maybe you’re jealous. Just greet a friend or colleague with something like, ‘Man, did I have a horrible night’s sleep.’ I’d be thrilled if you couldn’t think of anything.”
He continues, “Tomorrow, try to greet people with a word of gratitude. I hope this is a lot easier for you than today’s …

“A lot of people are dissatisfied with their jobs.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 163). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

John tells of a study on this by a research group affiliated with the University of Chicago and they recently listed the ten least happy jobs in the world and the ten happiest jobs in the world.He said, “What they found was the ten least happy jobs actually were more financially lucrative and offered higher status than the ten happiest jobs. The difference? People in the happiest jobs had a higher sense of meaning. Less money, less status, but a higher sense of meaning.”
He then goes on to say, “The main thing you bring home from your work is not a paycheck. The main thing you bring home from work is your soul. Work is a soul function. We’re made to create value.”
Solomon, the writer of the Old Testament book Ecclesiastes in the Bible says, “There is nothing better for a person than tha…

“We demean people when we forget they have the depth and dignity of a soul.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 157). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

We are going through some tough times racially right now in our country.And we are forgetting that each person on each side has the dignity and depth of a soul.I live in a city where there are many homeless who walk the sidewalks each day with their hand out and I find it difficult to not forget they have the depth and dignity of a soul.Some of you have the same problem with a Democrat and others a Republican.But John here is reminding us of something that is so easy for us to forget.And that is we demean people when we forget they have the depth and dignity of a soul.
John continues his thought with “Even the people I don’t like have souls. The soul cries out for connection. To love someone with your soul means your will, your choices, your mind, your thoughts, your feelings, your bod…

“The soul is seen when it reaches out in love.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 153). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.(Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

“There are two great words in the Bible, Dallas said, that describe the posture of our souls toward other people. One is to bless. The other is to curse. We are creatures with wills, and in every encounter with other people we will what is good for them, or we fail to do so: we will what is bad. We cannot help ourselves.”John heard Dallas Willard say these words.
John then continued this thought with, “Blessing is not just a word. Blessing is the projection of good into the life of another. We must think it, and feel it, and will it. We communicate it with our bodies. Blessing is kind of like an ancient dance of the Hokey-Pokey; before you finish you have to ‘put your whole self in.’ Blessing is done by the soul.”
I have problems smiling for a camera but I don’t with other people.The opp…

“I cannot live in the kingdom of God with a hurried soul.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 134). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

Now it is important to see the difference between being busy and being hurried because as John says. “Busy-ness migrates to hurry when we let it squeeze God out of our lives.Note the differences between the two:
Busy Hurried A full schedule Preoccupied Many activities Unable to be fully present An outward condition  An inner condition of the soul Physically demanding  Spiritually draining Reminds me I need God Causes me to be unavailable to God”
We need to keep in focus our need for God our total dependence upon Him.He is our source.Our significance comes in our relationship with Him not our activity for Him.As John says, “The grace of significance liberates me from the need to hurry.”
Yes we will be busy but not necessarily hurried.
So how does your week look?

“Soul-fatigue damages our relationships with the people in our lives.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 131). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

John shares, “The soul was not made to run on empty. But the soul doesn’t come with a gauge. The indicators of soul-fatigue are more subtle: • Things seem to bother you more than they should. Your spouse’s gum-chewing suddenly reveals to you a massive character flaw. • It’s hard to make up your mind about even a simple decision. • Impulses to eat or drink or spend or crave are harder to resist than they otherwise would be. • You are more likely to favor short-term gains in ways that leave you with high long-term costs. Israel ended up worshiping a golden calf simply because they grew tired of having to wait on Moses and God. • Your judgment is suffering. • You have less courage. ‘Fatigue makes cowards of us all’ is a quote so ubiquitous that it has been attributed to General Patton an…

“For Jesus, identity and acceptance come before achievement and ministry.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 127). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

When Jesus came out of the water when He was baptized by John the Baptist a voice from above said, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”John Ortberg says, “Jesus depended on God’s acceptance because he faced massive human rejection. God’s acceptance is stronger than human rejection, but it was not just for him. And the same is true for us..”
John says, “The alternative to soul-acceptance is soul-fatigue.”We live in that world don’t we?You see, as John says, “The soul craves rest. Our wills sometimes rejoice in striving; our bodies were made to (at least sometimes) know the exhilaration of tremendous challenge; our minds get stretched when they must focus even when tired. But the soul craves rest. The soul knows only borrowed strength. The soul was made to rest in G…

“All human beings face challenge and pain and demands.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 127). Zondervan. Kindle edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

And I’m sure that is true of you especially at this time of the year. We’ve survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday but there are still more days to come.
John tells of a Christian psychiatrist named Frank Lake and that he worked with many people who wanted to serve noble causes, but the stress and demands and difficulties got to them, and soon they became drained and bitter and cynical and discouraged.Life can do that.But he got together with the great Swiss theologian Emil Brunner and they looked at the life of Jesus and wondered how He handled it.
They saw that “Jesus faced enormous stresses and difficulties and pain. Yet he never got sarcastic or cynical or unloving or burnt out. No one took away his joy.”What did He do that made such a difference?
“When they looked at Jesus’ life, th…

“Easy is a soul word, not a circumstance word; not an assignment word.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 126). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

There are a lot of verses in the Bible that we love to quote.On the surface we think we know what they mean but in reality we need to go below the surface.Matthew 11:30 is one of those verses.In the NIV it says, “For my yoke is easy and myburdenislight” and when our circumstances are difficult then we get confused and our faith is hurt.
But John here shares that,“Easy is a soul word, not a circumstance word; not an assignment word. Aim at having easy circumstances, and life will be hard all around. Aim at having an easy soul, and your capacity for tackling hard assignments will actually grow. The soul was not made for an easy life. The soul was made for an easy yoke.”That is so important for us to see.
John starts this section by saying, “In the Bible, God never gives anyone an easy job…

“The ‘with God’ life is not a life of more religious activities or devotions or trying to be good.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 121). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

Now that doesn’t make sense some might say.I thought it was all about doing more religious activities and trying to be good.But John says, “The ‘with God’ life is not a life of more religious activities or devotions or trying to be good. It is a life of inner peace and contentment for your soul with the maker and manager of the universe.”
He continues, “God wants to make every moment of my life glorious with his presence. This is the core of the ‘with God’ life. It’s not just that he wants to be with us, but that he desires to make our lives ‘glorious.’ That’s not a word we use often, but it’s a great word when we think of the effect being with God can have on our souls. It means basically that he wants to fill our souls with beauty, splendor, wonder, and magnificence. It’s what makes …

“When we reach out to God, we are lifting our souls up to be nurtured and healed.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 104). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

This season of the year has so much potential to bring pain.We didn’t get invited to that party.We didn’t get that gift that they know we really wanted.We don’t have enough money to get home for Christmas.So many things that can bring us pain but it all comes down to what we are reaching out to for our happiness.
John says, “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.”
He then says,…

“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 t…

“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 qu…

“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 …

“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 s…