Thinking Out Loud

April 21, 2014

John Ortberg: The Care and Feeding of the Soul

Reviewing John Ortberg’s Soul Keeping has been like getting back in touch with an old friend. Although I never heard John live at any of the times I was at Willow Creek, I am a huge fan of his writing. Media such as the If You Want To Walk On Water You Have To Get Out of The Boat DVD small group series revolutionized my thinking about how video-based resources can revitalize home Bible studies.

Soul KeepingSoul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You (Zondervan) is truly five books in one.

From the first chapter, you realize instantly that this book is in part a tribute to Ortberg’s friend and mentor Dallas Willard. The impact that Dallas and his wife had on John cannot be overstated. The book may well whet your appetite for reading works like Hearing God, The Divine Conspiracy, Spirit of the Disciplines, or Renovation of the Heart.

Second, the book betrays — more than I’ve seen in previous Ortberg books — his training in clinical psychology. I learned much about how we’re wired from reading this, and there are sections I intend to re-read.

Third, the book is very autobiographical. Married life for John and Nancy hasn’t been the stuff of Christian romance books. They have had their tensions and stresses. There is a raw transparency here that I truly appreciate, and thereby John “earns the right to be heard” with equal authority to his academic training.

Fourth, this is very much a doctrinal book, filled with scripture references and an understanding of the distinction between words like will, spirit, emotions and soul.

Fifth and finally, this is very practical how-to type of book that therefore belongs both in the Christian Living section of the bookstore, and the Self Help section. If you miss the advice this has to offer, you need to start back at the beginning.

I really hope that this book becomes infectious. It has so much to offer on so many different levels.

May 29, 2013

Wednesday Link List

great-commission-revisted

Wednesday List Lynx

Wednesday List Lynx

Atoning every Wednesday for stealing content the other six days a week; since 2008.

  • Is the Pope Catholic? Pope Francis sure shook things up with a statement this week that was perhaps as traditional as it was radical.
  • Philip Yancey, in The Jesus I Never Knew quotes Walter Wink: “If Jesus had never lived, we never would have been able to invent him.” Here’s a tribute to Wink, an author many of us don’t know, who passed away last year.
  • Huffington Post says Joel Osteen’s extensive use of social media makes him a Digivangelist. Except for those nights when email prayer requests are returned to senders
  • The Roman Catholic Church in Venezuela is running out of wine for mass, and the wafers for communion are facing a price increase. Shortages in the country are affecting everything including toilet paper.
  • There’s been a resolution in the conflict between New York City schools, and religious groups wanting to rent space in schools on weekends.
  • If your statement of faith is crafted with such precision that it really only applies to your church, you might be bound by theological legalism.
  • Brian Zahnd writes, “I have more in common with the Egyptian Muslim who prays five times a day than with the European secularist who never prays.” You are what you pray.
  • Found a great article this week on Genesis 1, which wasn’t written to counter Darwinism, but was written that people might believe
  • The cartoon at the top was sourced at Greg Boyd’s blog, where it is credited to Jay Sidebotham.
  • Here’s a great church snapshot: “…25% of St. Jude’s adults have a PhD. Another 25% have done or have a family member who is doing prison time. PhD’s and prisoners. That is St. Jude’s in a nutshell.”  Read more
  • Sorry to learn of the passing of Chris Daniel, the force behind the Old Christian Music blog, a great source of information about the Christian rock of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Someone new may be taking over the site.
  • When your Mormon friend says “Jesus,” and you say “Jesus,” you’re talking about two entirely different people.
  • Nick Vujicic does the impossible and talks about his faith in a stadium rally in Vietnam, a country highly restrictive in terms of religious freedom.
  • A Texas couple are giving away their $4 billion fortune rather than leaving it for their three children.
  • Video clip of the week: Larissa Heatley pays tribute to her grandfather, Dallas Willard.
  • The Christian school at the center of the 4th grade dinosaur test — now ubiquitous online — is dealing with the subsequent publicity
  • Artists to watch: From season 11 of American Idol, Colton Dixon. Here’s a sample from YouTube.
  • As much as 30% of all internet activity may be porn-related; and it seems that it doesn’t matter where your city rates on the religiosity scale.
  • On June 3rd, one of the all-time original Christian bloggers, Tall Skinny Kiwi is preparing to move on to a new social media platform.
  • And lastly, there’s this book

Try to have your link suggestions in by 6:00 PM on Monday, since we start preparing The Feast of Linkage ahead of time.

At My God Is

September 21, 2010

What Practicing Spiritual Disciplines Has in Common With Practicing the Piano

An excellent post today from Chaplain Mike over at the Internet Monk blog:

Let’s say I’m in a room with three adults, all seated at pianos. I want to find out their ability to play the instrument. I ask them all to play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” The first has trouble. The keyboard is unfamiliar. She stumbles around and finally finds a few notes that resemble the simple tune. The second and third pick out the notes right away.

Then I ask them to play a four-part hymn from a hymnal. I hand each the same book. Once again, the first struggles, stopping with each chord and passing note to look at her hands, then back up at the music. She finally gives up. The second plays the notes as written. The third also plays the tune, but enhances the hymn with additional chords and rhythmic patterns.

Finally, I turn to these three friends and say, “OK, for your final challenge, I would like to hear you play Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.” The first laughs. She barely knows who Bach is, and has never heard of this particular piece. The second has heard of it, but has no idea how to play it. The third pauses, sets her hands on the keyboard, and begins playing the opening aria.

All three of these friends have a relationship with the piano. One is an obvious beginner, still trying to grasp the basics. The second is a competent pianist. She can read music and play from a book. The third is much farther advanced. There is no hesitation about picking out simple tunes. Not only can she read and play from a score, she has the ability to improvise and explore a song’s possibilities. And she has obviously studied and mastered classic pieces of the repertoire. In fact, she can play complex works on the spot, upon request! They all “know” the piano. Only one has the capacity to make music at any given moment, solely from the resources that lie within her.

The goal of spiritual formation is to be a person that would do what Jesus would do, say what Jesus would say, think and feel what Jesus would think and feel, at the moment when it is required—the moment of crisis or need or opportunity. As Dallas Willard so helpfully reminds us, the question “What would Jesus do?” is not enough. Instead, we must be driven beyond that query to ask, “Why would Jesus do what he would do?” and, “How can I live and walk in relationship with God as Jesus did, so that I too might do as he would?”“

…you’re a third of the way through the article…don’t stop now…keep reading…

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