I just finished reading "Soul Keeping," and I loved it. I can't wait to go through it with the small group. The author describes the problem with our souls, he shares how the soul overlays and interacts with all of our being, and then he provides practical solutions on how to keep the soul healthy, based on what the soul needs. This is a great tool for those who have never considered the state of their souls or why they should think about their souls after praying the sinner's prayer. It's also helpful for those who want to care for their souls but need some reminders on how to do that. I appreciated the poignant story of Dallas Willard's life and death, and how he embodied the author's view of a life well-lived.
I feel privileged to have met Pastor Ortberg many years ago but more importantly I am thankful that he shares his personal struggles within his books, DVD's, sermons and other teachings. Without a doubt we all have struggles and heartaches. With wonderful teaching books like Soul Keeping we are encouraged along our own personal path of growth and service to a place where we can feel more normal and able to serve.
I've read some reviews that say that the reader felt that this book is a tribute to Dallas Willard, or that Pastor Ortberg obtained a lot of the material for this book from Dallas. I've been reading John's books for some twenty years and also listening/watching the sermons that he has delivered over the past decade and what I've seen is a man that is growing in his service to God our Father. As a result I've also grown from his teachings.
Soul Keeping, Caring for The Most Important Part of You draws from several of John's previous books, his sermons and certainly from the deeply personal mentoring that he was fortunate to have received from Dallas. In my humble opinion this book is the very best that John has written! I first read the book a couple of months ago, purchased the companion DVD and watched/studied it and am now rereading the book which I likely will do many more times.
Thank you Pastor Ortberg for caring for our souls and for helping us learn how to care more intimately for our own souls. As a result we can all grow closer to our Father and in our service to Him in this place.
The Soul is quite the mystery isn't it? It is referred to very often in scripture and sung about in churches weekly, and yet defining the soul or locating it even can be a challenge. If you are feeling an emptiness and desire to see if your soul is calling to you, then this book is a great start. John Ortberg has written a lovely book, filled with kindness, humor and raw truth for any reader desiring to do exactly what the book says "care for the most important part of you". Ortberg takes the reader through his discussions with Dallas Willard and explains what he learned about the soul from Willard and then of course scripture as well. I appreciated how specifically and throughly Ortberg helps the reader self identify warning areas where the soul is concerned and also how the reader is not left empty but is given tools to learn how to care for themselves. This is a great read for any person desiring to grow deeper in their personal relationship with Jesus.
"Your soul is not just something that lives on after your body dies. It's the most important thing about you. It is your life." (19) Ortberg received that wisdom from Dallas Willard.
That led Ortberg on a journey to know his soul - and to write this book. What is your soul? How do you care for it? How do you keep it healthy? That's what this book is about.
A soul is healthy when there is harmony between the will, mind, body, and God's intent for all creation. Sin always causes dis-integration. The world we live in keeps us from attending to our souls. Our souls are fallen and needy. That need is meant to point us to God but we turn elsewhere.
Ortberg reviews what the soul needs. One need that particularly struck me was a center. When the soul is without a center we have difficulty making a decision, we feel constantly vulnerable to people or circumstances, we lack patience, we are easily thrown, and we find our identity in externals. That's just one of the nine needs about which Ortberg writes. He also covers how to identify enemies of the soul and soul-fatigue.
"I and no one else am responsible for the condition of my soul," Ortberg writes. (84)
This book is an important one for each of us as we make our way in life. Reading this book has given me much to think about. I'll be paying better attention to the health of my soul. I encourage you to do the same. Reading this book will help you.
Food for thought - if the quotes below resonate with you, you need to read this book!
"You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing total contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God." (85)
"Doing nothing does wonders for the soul." (136)
"Whenever you're disappointed, whenever you don't get your way, take that disappointment as a chance to practice soul-satisfaction in God." (161)
I received an uncorrected advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
Perhaps for me this is mistitled, I would have chosen "Soul Keeping; my life spent with Dallas Willard." Mr. Willard died May 8, 2013 and the author of Soul Keeping, John Ortberg spent many years under his tutelage. And so for as much as this book is about nurturing your soul, it's also a memoir of much of what Willard taught the author.
The first half of the book is an overview of what Dallas Willard taught the author and the second half of the book focuses on the need for a healthy soul.
We have Christian terminology that would say that when you become a Christian your "soul" is "saved." But beyond that, I don't know that there is a section of Christianity that bears responsibility for "soul upkeep."
But the health of our soul, is the health of our spirituality. It's the part of us that falls in love with God, it's the nurturing side of us that comes out of us through Christian service. A healthy soul knows when to be impartial and is humble and is slow to judge others.
I have read a few other Ortberg book that I have enjoyed a lot more. Undoubtedly he is on my favorite pastors and I certainly love Dallas Willard as well, I just don't know if I'd say this new book is a "classic" as of yet... I wasn't blown away by it, nor did it have earth shattering information that I didn't already know, I think it was just a nice read and a nice reminder.
Thank you to Zondervan for an advanced copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.