Soul darkness

St. John of the Cross wrote on what was termed “the dark night of the soul.” It is a sense of deep loss. God has seemed to move off a bit. The darkness hides him. The silence is loud.

We need to voice out the loss. We like psalms of restoration, but we need to sing psalms of lament in the darkness.

“Eugene Peterson once wrote that before we can love our enemies, we have to pray our hatred.” — John Ortberg, Soul Keeping 

We have times of disorientation and there are psalms to help us “vent” our way through the darkness.

We get the opportunity to have a test of our “joyful confidence in God.” (Ortberg)


The everyday life with God

“Your problem is not the first fifteen minutes of the day (what we would want to call “devotions”). It’s the next twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes. You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing total contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God.” (Dallas Willard quote in Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg)



The Soul and Pain

“Because the soul is the deepest expression of the person, the soul is the place of greatest pain. We do not speak of the dark night of the mind, or the will, or even the spirit. Only the soul. The dark night of the soul.” — John Ortberg, Soul Keeping. 

Just as I thought I was regaining control of my emotions in Ortberg’s book, he writes on the “dark night of the soul” and tells two heart wrenching stories about pain. One was about a worship leader who was one of the best known leaders in America at one point. In his late 40s he suffered a stroke and lost “everything.” A man who commanded thousands when he sang and spoke now had people lose patience when it took him too long to formulate two words in three minutes. When he would communicate with John after all of this, he would end his letters with “GOOD.” Where he was in life was better. He was hearing God better. Slow. Simple. GOOD.

And then he told about Dallas Willard being diagnosed with cancer. Dallas went through horrific procedures, but would always say, “Whatever happens will be wonderful.”

Ortberg writes these powerful words:

Watching Dallas walk this path was like watching a scout, who has been doing advance work anyway, begin to walk into a country where we will all one day arrive. He once said, “I think that, when I die, it may take some time before I know it.”

Dallas was walking through the valley of shadow of death saying, “Game on.”

The shadow had found a worthy adversary.

Addiction and worship

Addiction… is a kind of worship, a kind of counterfeit worship. For the soul was created to worship… There is no such thing as an uncommitted person. An addict is the supreme example of trying to satisfy the soul with all the wrong things. The more it’s fed, the more it craves. — John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

Soul Satisfaction

In a very self-driven world, looking out for the true betterment of others seems… odd.

I actually got into taking a few selfies this past weekend while we were out, so I’ll be showing those later… So… “YAY ME!”

We really are into celebrating ourselves.

Oddly enough, living for that self satisfaction is actually soul destroying. 

Jesus said if you devote your life to pleasing yourself, you will actually destroy your soul, whereas if you place honoring God above pleasing yourself, then your soul will be truly satisfied. (John Ortberg, Soul Keeping)

It’s there. Look it up.

An exercise to try, if you are interest in soul satisfaction:

The next time you’re in a competitive situation (work, relationships, kids’ ballgame, etc.), pray that the others around you will be more outstanding, more praised, and more used of God than yourself. Really pull for them. Rejoice in their success.

As Dallas Willard pointed out: “If Christians were universally to do this for each other, the earth would soon be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God.”


Being busy is not being hurried

In Soul Keeping, Ortberg points out what we already know: we’re busy.

Being busy is not the same as being hurried. Being hurried is much more harmful. You don’t always want to be busy, but you really don’t want to be hurried.

We have a full schedule
There are many activities
It’s an outward condition
It’s physically demanding
It reminds me I need God


We are preoccupied
We’re unable to be fully present
It’s an inner condition of the soul
It’s spiritual draining
It causes me to be unavailable to God

We know life is busy.

Don’t let life be hurried.


“Saving” Souls

It’s not about the destination that “save” a soul. It’s about the condition of the soul.

“If a car no longer works, it doesn’t matter much whether it ends up in a junkyard or the valet parking section of the Ritz-Carlton. we are not lost because we are going to wind up in the wrong place. We are going to wind up in the wrong place because we are lost.” — John Ortberg, Soul Keeping 

What’s your hurry?

There are times when reading through the Bible in huge chunks is needed. There are a few times when the “One Year Bible” is helpful. Most of the time, it’s not necessary.

The question is this: “What’s your hurry?”

Why do you think you can read that one chapter of Luke once, maybe twice, and know it? It will be there tomorrow. The other chapters in the Bible will be as well. They aren’t time released so if you don’t read them on a certain day they disappear.

Hurry is our enemy.

John Ortberg relates a story early in his ministry when he was asking Dallas Willard what he should do next in his walk with God. Ortberg was looking for a check off list.

Dallas said, “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

Ortberg said, “Okay, I got that one down. What else do you have for me?”

Dallas replied, “There is nothing else.”

Ortberg goes on to say:

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. There’s a difference between being busy and being hurried. Busy is a condition of the body having many things to do. Hurry is a condition of the soul in which I am so preoccupied that I cannot be fully present to God or a person. Jesus was often busy, but he was never hurried. (Living in Christ’s Presence)

A word needed today.