Tag Archives: John Ortberg

Three Books That Will Help You Care for Your Soul

Caring for our soul is the most important thing a person should do. Notice the significance Dallas Willard places on the soul:

What is running your life at any given moment is your soul. Not external circumstances, or your thoughts, or your intentions, or even your feelings, but your soul. The soul is that aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions of the self. It is the life-center of the human being. It regulates whatever is occurring in each of those dimensions and how they interact with each other and respond to surrounding events in the overall governance of your life.

Our soul is like an inner stream of water, which gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other element of our life. When that stream is as it should be, we are constantly refreshed and exuberant in all we do, because our soul itself is then profusely rooted in the vastness of God and his kingdom, including nature; and all else within us is enlivened and directed by that stream. — Renovation of the Heart

With that in mind, here are 3 books (including the one referenced above) that will help you better care for your soul:

reno     SoulKeeping         StirBookCover

Erich’s notes about these 3 books…

  • You absolutely must read every thing Willard has written. In this book, Dallas outlines the  general pattern of changes in the six key aspects of a person’s life (thought, feeling, will, body, social context, and soul). You can find more great resources by Dallas here: Dallas Willard Ministries
  • Outside of the Bible, Soul Keeping by John Ortberg is the second most significant book I’ve read to date (The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard is number 1). You can connect with John and his resources here: John Ortberg
  • I had the chance to meet Mindy Caliguire at a recent Groups Conference. Her 2 classes focused on the importance of Soul Care. You can connect with Mindy and her resources here: SoulCare

Your turn… What are some other resources you’ve found helpful on this topic?

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Three Assumptions Regarding the Soul’s Life With God

Soul Keeping by John Ortberg has quickly jumped on to my short list of “must read” books (you can find a list of the 3 books that have impacted my life the most here).  In chapter 10, The Soul Needs to Be With God, Ortberg talks about 3 assumptions we should put to the test when it comes to the soul’s life with God:

  • 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.’ …God wants you to focus on him. To be with him… Every day is a collection of moments, 86,400 seconds in a day. How many of them can you live with God? Start where you are and grow from there. God wants to be with you every moment. The psalmist say, ‘I have set the LORD always before me.’ Paul says, ‘We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’ They speak to the need for our souls to be completely and thoroughly with God. But as both of these verses suggest, it does not happen automatically. ‘Set’ and ‘take captive’ are active verbs, implying that you have a role in determining where your soul rests.”

  • The best place to start doing life with God is in the small moments.

“I don’t know about you, but when I stand on a bluff overlooking the ocean or watch the sunrise over the peaks of a mountain range, it’s easy to be ‘with God.’ …Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between… Which is why we need to deliberately look for God in the ordinary moments of everyday life. When I wake up, I invite God to “Be with me this day.’ Then I try to consciously experience him walking next to me. Not in a magnificent worship experience, but in the ordinary and mundane.”

  • People will look different when I see them with God.

“People are a huge part of the ‘with God’ life, because we have to live with people. We have to interact with them. How we get along with people says a lot about where our soul rests. When we are living with God, we will see people as God sees them. If I’m aware God is here with me, and God is looking at you at the same moment I’m looking at you, it will change how I respond to you.

Your turn… Take a moment to share how these have been true in your life.

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Three Books by John Ortberg

John Ortberg is another one of my favorite authors. I mentioned one of his books in a post focusing on the 3 books that have impacted my life the most.  He has written a number of other great books. His latest book was released yesterday. With that in mind, I want to mention it and highlight two others you should check out:

“The soul is NOT ‘a theological and abstract subject.’ The soul is the coolest, eeriest, most mysterious, evocative, crucial, sacred, eternal, life-directing, fragile, indestructible, controversial, expensive dimension of your existence. Jesus said it’s worth more than the world. You’d be an idiot not to prize it above all else. Shouldn’t you get pretty clear on exactly what it is? Shouldn’t you know what it runs on? Wouldn’t it be worth knowing how to care for it? Two things are for sure. One is: you have a soul. The other is: if you don’t look after this one you won’t be issued a replacement. This book will help you discover your soul and take your relationship with God to the next level.”

“How do you explain a love that has no explanation? What will happen if you let it touch your heart? God loves you not because you are flawless, not because you are a perfect person, but just because you are. In Love Beyond Reason, John Ortberg reveals the God you’ve longed to encounter: a Father head-over-heels in love with you, his child, and intensely committed to your highest joy. Ortberg takes you to the very core of God’s being to discover a burning, passionate love that gives, and gives, and gives. He explores the life-changing ways this love has expressed itself through Jesus. And he shows how you, like Jesus, can love your mate, your family, your friends, and the world around you with the same practical, transforming love. Dispelling your fears and misconceptions of God, Love Beyond Reason brings you face-to-face with the Love that frees and empowers you to love.”

“The Me I Want to Be will help you discover spiritual vitality like never before as you learn to ‘live in the flow of the spirit.’ But if God has a perfect vision for your life, why does spiritual growth seem so difficult? John Ortberg has some intriguing answers to that question, and he has organized his thoughts and God’s words into a straightforward and timely guide for living your best life. This book will show how God’s perfect vision for you starts with a powerful promise. All those who trust in God “will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8). Ortberg urges you to recognize your brokenness, understand that God is the project manager, and follow His directions. The author first helps gauge your spiritual health and measure the gap between where you are now and where God intends you to be. Then he provides detailed tasks and exercises to help you live in the flow of the Spirit, circumventing real-world barrierspain and sorrow, temptations, self-doubt, sinto flourish even in a dark and broken world.”

Your turn… Take a moment to share your thoughts about these and other books Ortberg has written.

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Three Books About Jesus

No other person in the world has had an impact on humanity more than Jesus. You can see his influence all through the pages of Scripture (especially as you dig deeper into the 4 gospel accounts of His life). We would all do well to spend lots of time reading and reflecting on Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John on a regular basis. In addition to the gospels, here are 3 books about Jesus you should take a look at:

“Virtually every other “Jesus biography” begins with the nativity account in Bethlehem. In this groundbreaking book, Sweet and Viola begin before time, in the Triune God, and tell the complete interconnected story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus: A Theography is the first book ever written to combine historical Jesus studies with biblical theology, crafting together one breathtaking saga that tells the Jesus story in both Old and New Testaments. This flagship book demonstrates clearly that every bit of Scripture is part of the same stunning drama, what the authors refer to as the theography of Jesus Christ.”

“Jesus’ impact on our world is highly unlikely, widely inescapable, largely unknown, and decidedly double-edged. It is unlikely in light of the severe limitations of his earthly life; it is inescapable because of the range of impact; it is unknown because history doesn’t connect dots; and it is doubled-edged because his followers have wreaked so much havoc, often in his name. He is history’s most familiar figure, yet he is the man no one knows. His impact on the world is immense and non-accidental. From the Dark Ages to Post-Modernity he is the Man who won’t go away. And yet . . .you can miss him in historical lists for many reasons, maybe the most obvious being the way he lived his life. He did not loudly and demonstrably defend his movement in the spirit of a rising political or military leader. He did not lay out a case that history would judge his brand of belief superior in all future books. His life and teaching simply drew people to follow him. He made history by starting in a humble place, in a spirit of love and acceptance, and allowing each person space to respond. His vision of life continues to haunt and challenge humanity. His influence has swept over history bringing inspiration to what has happened in art, science, government, medicine, and education; he has taught humans about dignity, compassion, forgiveness, and hope.”

“Journey with Chuck Swindoll through the life of Christ—from His divine birth, to His miracle-filled ministry, to His sacrificial death, and to His glorious resurrection and ascension. You’ll grow to know the Savior like you’ve never known Him. Jesus, the greatest Life of all, has much more to teach you.”

Erich’s note: you might enjoy the whole Great Lives from God’s Word Series by Swindoll.

Your turn… What are some other books on the life of Jesus we should take a look at?

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Three Books That Have Impacted My Life the Most

I’ve read a lot of books through the years. Outside of the Bible these 3 have impacted my life the most:

Is Jesus part of your daily life—here and now? Or, by failing to take him seriously, have you relegated him to the realm of the “hereafter”? In The Divine Conspiracy, biblical teaching, popular culture, science, scholarship, and spiritual practice are weaved together to capture the central insights of Christ’s teachings in a fresh way and show the necessity of profound changes in how we view our lives and faith.

Christians for the most part consider the primary function of Christianity to be admittance to heaven. But a faith that guarantees a satisfactory afterlife, yet has absolutely no impact on life in the here and now, is nothing more than “consumer Christianity” and “bumper-sticker faith.” In an era when so many consider Jesus a beloved but remote savior, readers of The Divine Conspiracy will explore a revolutionary way to experience God—by knowing Him as an essential part of the here and now, an integral part of every aspect of our existence.

Erich’s note: This book came out in 1998 and has been considered a masterpiece by many ever since and it’s impact will continue to grow even after the recent “passing” of Dallas Willard on May 8, 2013 (you can view his memorial celebration here). This book focuses on the true meaning of Christian Discipleship and Spiritual Formation. The thing that first resonated with me when I read it several years ago was the discovery that the eternal kind of life begins now (the gospel is about living now, not just for dying / for “someday”). These 3 chapters are priceless: Chapter 2) Gospels of Sin Management; Chapter 8) On Being a Disciple, or Student, of Jesus; and Chapter 9) A Curriculum for Christlikeness. The middle section of this book explores the Sermon on the Mount in great depth. As Richard Foster says in the foreword, “It helps me see that the teachings of Jesus are intelligent and vital and intently practical.” Disclaimer: it is not an easy, quick read but it is well worth the time and effort. I’m sure you’ll find yourself going back to it as frequently as I do.

You can live a deeper, more Spiritual life right where you are. The heart of Christianity is transformation—a relationship with God that impacts not just our “spiritual lives,” but every aspect of living. John Ortberg calls readers back to the dynamic heartbeat of Christianity—God’s power to bring change and growth—and reveals both the how and why of transformation. As with a marathon runner, the secret to winning the race lies not in trying harder, but in training consistently—training with the spiritual disciplines. The disciplines are neither taskmasters nor an end in themselves. Rather they are exercises that build strength and endurance for the road of growth. The fruit of the Spirit—joy, peace, kindness, etc.—are the signposts along the way.

Erich’s note: This book actually introduced me to Dallas Willard as Ortberg even notes in his preface that a private working title for this book was Dallas for Dummies. Willard had an enormous impact on Ortberg’s life (read what Ortberg wrote after Willard’s death). I love how it focuses on spiritual disciplines in a fresh, ordinary way. You’ll discover this helpful and significant principle for transformation: “There is an immense difference between training to do something and trying to do something.” You will find this to be an easy, practical and life-changing book to read.

Max Lucado takes you through the drama of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—bringing to life Peter’s denial, Pilate’s hesitancy, and John’s loyalty. Relive the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, from the foggy garden of Gethsemane to the incandescent room of the resurrection. No Wonder They Call Him the Savior leads you up the hill of mankind’s highest hope and reminds you why he deserves to be called our Savior.

Erich’s note: I grew up in a very conservative church in Ashland, MS. I had a great experience there and it was there where by spiritual life began to form. But it wasn’t until I was a freshmen in college that I began to first learn about grace and it was this book by Max Lucado that begin to revolutionize how I saw Jesus and experienced God’s grace. Max has written many great books since this one back in 1986 but this one will always have a special place in my heart. If you haven’t ever read yet it check it out. If you have, it might be time to read it again.

Your turn… What 3 books have had the most impact on your life so far? Also, if you’ve read any of these take a moment and share some thoughts about them.

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Three Sermon Podcasts You Will Enjoy

Let me say right up front that it was hard to narrow this list to 3 so I’m sure I’ll share a few more in coming weeks (I’ve mentioned a few of them at the bottom of this post if you want to check them out too). I listen to about 20 different podcasts on a regular basis (I know, I’m weird like that). The Carolinas are represented well in this list as 1 is from South Carolina and the other 2 are from Charlotte, NC. I’m going to exclude my preacher’s podcast (Rick Atchley @ The Hills) from this list since I listen to him live every week. If you don’t you should add him to your playlist (I highly recommend his recent series on Revelation, probably the best I’ve ever heard on that book). So, without any further ado, here are the 3 I think you would enjoy listening to on a regular basis:

Perry is the founder and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina (a multi-campus move of God on a mission to reach more than 100,000 people in SC). He is a gifted communicator and teacher, convicted about speaking the truth as plainly as possible (he can be very blunt and his messages are full of humor and truth). God has given him a vision and a passion for helping people meet Jesus, and each week he shares God’s word and its practical application in our daily lives. His first book, UNLEASH, is also a great read. Check this series out first: Adam & Eve. His next series that begins on July 14 is called REDNECK.

Steven is the founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church based in Charlotte, NC. He is also the New York Times® Best Selling author of Greater and the national bestseller Sun Stand Still. You’ll enjoy his books and messages. Check this series out first: The Expectation Gap. For a unique message that is compiled from talks Steven has done around the world this past year check out Pound the Ground.

Jonathan leads the liars, dreamers, and misfits of Renovatus: A Church for People Under Renovation, in Charlotte, NC, where he lives with his wife Amanda. He is the author of the book Prototype. I absolutely enjoy listening to Jonathan. I discovered his podcast one day when Steven Furtick mentioned him being his “favorite preacher.” He might become your favorite too. Check this series out first: A Song of Ascent (a series on David)

UPDATE, 9.11.13: Jonathan started a new series this past week called PARABLE. You really should check it out. Here is a description of this series: Jesus was the master storyteller, and you are invited to come and sit by the fire to listen to his stories.  These stories are full of wonder, intrigue, enchantment, truth, beauty…and layers upon layers of deep meaning.  These are startlingly human, three-dimensional stories that bring the kingdom of heaven into color in our real lives.  They are stories from a time that is not our own about people we do not know–and yet ultimately stories about us.  

You can watch or listen to all 3 of these guys from their church’s website or search for them on your favorite podcast APP (by the way, these guys preach anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour plus at times).

Your turn… What are some of your favorite sermon podcasts?

Here are some of my honorable mentions that I’ll say more about in future posts: Andy Stanley, Judah Smith, Craig Groeschel, Dave Clayton, Toby Slough, Chris Hodges, Robert Morris, John Ortberg, Erwin McManus, Mark Batterson, Jonathan Storment, Matt Chandler, and Tim Keller to name a few more (and make sure you check out Rick Atchley from my home church).

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