Judah Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Jesus Is ______, explores what it looks like to cultivate a healthy soul in the midst of a busy life and points readers to the soul’s only true home and place of rest and fulfillment: God.
“How’s your soul?”
It may seem like an odd question, but it’s what pastor and bestselling author Judah Smith chooses to ask his friends, rather than “How are you?” It’s a way to look past the externals and consider what’s going on inside, in that essential part of us that is often overlooked in the struggle to make our way through everyday life.
In the rush of living moment to moment, many of us find ourselves simply surviving, struggling daily with frustration, restlessness, boredom, and ever-fleeting joy. But if we would pause, we’d find that the things that matter most in life, what we are searching for in our busyness—stability, peace, hope, love—are rooted in the health of what Judah calls the “inside you.”
In How’s Your Soul?, Judah explores that “inside you.” Sharing his own, often humorous, mistakes and foibles, he helps us find our way through the emotional roller coasters of life to discover the soul-healing essentials of rest, responsibility, restraint, and relationships, all rooted in what he calls the soul’s only true home—God himself.
How’s Your Soul? is an invitation to find lasting emotional satisfaction and stability by bringing our feelings into alignment with God’s truth, moving beyond simply surviving, and learning how to live each day with eternal significance.
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About the Author
Judah Smith is the lead pastor of Churchome, formerly named the City Church. Churchome is a thriving multisite church noted for its cultural relevance, commitment to biblical integrity and faith, and love for Jesus. Judah is known around the United States and the world for his preaching ministry. His fresh, practical, humorous messages demystify the Bible and make Christianity real. Judah is also the author of the New York Times bestselling book Jesus Is _____ and coauthor of I Will Follow Jesus Bible Storybook.
Read an Excerpt
How's Your Soul?
Why Everything that Matters Starts with the Inside You
By JUDAH SMITH
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 Judah Smith
All rights reserved.
HOME SWEET HOME
I despise traveling.
To be clear, I love arriving. Who doesn't like arriving? Arriving is exciting and exhilarating and sexy. But unfortunately you can't arrive without traveling. And traveling — the process of getting from point A to point B — can be a bit painful, particularly if it involves any form of mass transit. And by mass transit I mean traveling in herds with other humans.
Now, I have nothing against people. I love people. I'm a pastor, after all. But there is something about being sealed in a metal cylinder in the sky for hours on end with hundreds of strangers that is just ... challenging. And claustrophobic. And maybe slightly terrifying.
That's why when I fly, I often pull a hoodie over my head and shut out the world. And it's also why, after any long trip, a peculiar emotion floods my being when I walk into my house.
It's the feeling of being home.
There's No Place Like Home, say doormats everywhere. Welcome Home. Home, Sweet Home. Home Is Where the Heart Is. Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat. Your Home Is Your Castle.
You get the idea.
There is no sensation on the planet quite like coming home. I'm sure you've felt it too. Your home may not be exquisite, it may not be extraordinary, it may not be extensive — but it's yours. Whether you own it, rent it, built it, or borrowed it, it's your home. Even if you have roommates and you all share a house, that one bedroom is your space. Your home is your sanity and your sanctuary. It is where you are fully yourself.
Home is therapeutic. I love coming home.
In particular, I love coming home to my own bathroom and my own toilet. That might be too honest, but we might as well start this book off right.
After being on the road for days and dealing with assorted public restrooms and hotel rooms, I will literally smile at my toilet. "Hey there, little buddy. Nice to see you. I've missed you."
You know the best part about using your own toilet? No seat covers needed. Is there anything more tedious, ridiculous, and inhumane than being in a public restroom and trying to figure out how to punch out the middle of those seat covers without sending the whole thing down the drain? I realize that in relation to the grand scale of the cosmos, and in light of the human plight and world peace and global warming, this is probably a petty problem. But in the moment, it's real.
At home, though, your toilet is clean, sanitary, and inviting — unless you have children who are potty training, in which case I actually recommend seat covers. And disinfectant. And hazmat suits. Or just give up and use public restrooms, because they will probably be cleaner.
Besides friendly bathrooms, here's something else I like about coming home: drop spots. As in, spots where you drop stuff. These are specific locations where you deposit whatever you are carrying the second you walk in the door.
Drop spots are one of the more underrated elements of home, but we all have them. Usually these drop spots are not planned. They evolve. Right here is where I put my keys. Over there is where I put my bag.
While I'm on the topic: Wives, you need to understand that a man has his drop spots, and they are important. I know they might be in the center of the room, but that is planned. That is calculated.
I go to the same spot every time I'm looking for my orange bag. Sure, that spot is essentially in the middle of the kitchen, but that's where I put my bag. And if it's not there, I'll yell forlornly, "Where is my orange bag? Why is my orange bag not here? I left it here. It should still be here."
And the voice of reason and order who shares my home with me will say, "It's in the closet where it belongs."
"But ... no ... that's not where it belongs. That's not the drop spot."
Story of my life.
Anyway, home is where you have drop spots. Home is where you smile at the toilet. Home is where you are greeted by nostalgic smells. Home is where you belong, where you let down, where you finally take off the Spanx.
For the record, I haven't worn Spanx in a long time. To God be the glory.
It is amazing how necessary home is. You can travel the world, but you can only be gone so long before you crave home, before you genuinely need to come home. Emotionally and psychologically, I think we all need an identified space, a literal place that we call home, in order to stay sane and healthy and balanced.
We all need to come home. And that leads me to the point of this entire book.
IS IT WELL WITH YOUR SOUL?
A while back I was thinking about this concept of home. I started wondering, If my physical body needs to regularly go home in order to be healthy, what about my soul? Does my soul have a home? If this tangible, three-dimensional, external body needs a space to simply let down and be itself, what about the inside me?
Then I asked myself one last question: When was the last time my soul was at home?
They were odd questions. Random musings in a moment of melancholy. But they ended up taking me on a journey that changed my approach to God and life. It became an exploration and discovery of how to live the healthy, fulfilled life that I believe God wants us to have.
The more I studied the ramifications and implications of the soul in Scripture, the more I realized our souls are central to our existence, and a healthy soul is paramount to a healthy life.
You can have millions in the bank, a Maserati in the driveway, and more Instagram followers than the pope, but unless your soul is healthy, you won't be happy. The pope actually is on Instagram, in case you were wondering. But I don't think he's on Snapchat. Too bad. I would add him if he had an account — that would be amazing.
But you get the point.
Conversely, you might be struggling through the most painful, confusing circumstances of your life, but if your soul is in a healthy place, you will be okay. You will find the strength and hope you need to weather the storms.
There is a letter in the New Testament known to us as 3 John that references the health of our souls. It was written, not surprisingly, by the apostle John. This was the John who labeled himself "the disciple that Jesus loved" in the gospel of John. I wrote about him and his nickname in my book Life Is _______. He had no problem believing that he was special, that he was loved and accepted, that he was God's favorite. He defined himself by how much God loved him. I think if every one of us adopted that attitude, it would solve a lot of the internal turmoil we face.
On a side note, I think I'm going to adapt and adopt his nickname for the Seattle Seahawks. "The team that Jesus loves." Has a nice ring to it.
John wrote 3 John to a man named Gaius, who was a Christian, a friend, and possibly a church leader. John wrote, "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul" (verse 2).
The Message Bible paraphrases the verse like this: "We're the best of friends, and I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health — that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul!"
It's a tiny verse in a tiny epistle, tucked away at the tail end of the New Testament — but don't let that fool you. Embedded in this verse is a truth that we will spend the rest of our lives understanding and applying: Each of us has a soul. And that soul should be healthy.
I've read this verse quite a few times in my life, and I've heard it preached about more than once. If you are a Jesus follower and have been around church awhile, you probably have too.
Usually the application is this: God wants to bless you. God wants to give you health. God wants to give you enough money for your needs, plus some extra to share with others. God wants to prosper you externally just like he's prospered you internally.
Those applications are good and true. I agree with all those things. But in this application, we often take for granted that our souls are healthy. That's a given. We assume that once we are saved, forgiven, and accepted by God, the "inside us" is taken care of. We have peace with God, so we must have peace with ourselves. We are right before God, so we must be right inside ourselves ... right? And we move on to the rest of the verse.
But is it well with our souls? Is the inside us really steady and stable and secure? Do we ever stop to think about that?
I believe with all my heart that God desires that we have happy, awesome, successful lives. But I am a bit concerned that in our excitement about prospering in our "everyday affairs," as The Message puts it, we can end up glossing over the part about the health of our souls.
And that is a problem.
First and foremost, God wants our souls to be well. That's why John prays that it would go well with our physical, external selves just as it goes well with our souls.
Actually, this verse seems to imply that until our souls are healthy and prospering, nothing else can prosper. In other words, our health and wellness don't move from the outside in, but from the inside out.
We can be the most popular, prosperous, pretty people around, but inside we can still be empty. Until our souls are at peace, until our souls are stable, until our souls are healthy, those external things won't bring us the satisfaction we long for.
Are our souls healthy? That is the question we should be asking.
Our physical bodies get a lot of attention, of course. We get annual checkups. We go to the dentist. We sign up for hot yoga and CrossFit and Pilates and pretend we like them. Similarly, our bank accounts and vehicles and children and lawns get regular attention. We invest in healthy finances, healthy families, healthy education, and healthy bodies.
But we rarely, if ever, focus on our souls. We don't have routine soul checkups. We don't go around asking each other, "So, how's your soul?" But maybe we should.
I love the idea that things can go well with our souls — that our souls should prosper. Deep inside, isn't that what we are all looking for? We have an innate, intuitive sense that we were designed to be at peace both inside and out. Somehow we sense that happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction, joy, rest, and love are supposed to be the natural state of the human race.
But often our reality lags far behind that ideal. There is pain around us and chaos within us. We struggle to stay at peace. We fight to find happiness. We long for inner rest. We feel out of alignment on the inside, and we aren't quite sure how to set ourselves straight.
Our typical fix when we find problems on the inside is redoubling our efforts on the outside. Maybe you've tried this.
It's far too easy to make life all about the outside me, the external me, the physical me. We fall into the trap that if we can be healthy, wealthy, popular, productive, and influential, then life will be good. So we throw ourselves into the chase, thinking that internal happiness will come from external success. If we just try hard enough, if we just wait long enough, if we just reach the next level, we will feel at peace.
There are two common outcomes to this approach, and both are rather depressing. Excuse my pessimism while I make a point — I promise things will get more cheerful in a moment.
In the first outcome, you try as hard as you can to fix whatever circumstances are messing with your happiness, only to discover eventually that you can't. You can't overcome the leukemia. You can't change your cheating spouse. You can't bring back the loved one you lost. You can't get the job you've built your future around.
So you give up. You resign yourself to a reality that you'd rather avoid. You start living for the weekend. You take up a hobby or maybe an addiction. You figure out ways to escape. You live for moments of happiness that punctuate an otherwise frustrating existence.
The second outcome might even be worse. In this scenario, you actually achieve your goals.
How can that be worse? you might ask.
Because you get what you always wanted, only to discover that it doesn't make you feel any better. Your bank account is full, but you are still empty. And not only that, now the only hope that you could achieve satisfaction is gone, because if anyone on earth should be happy, it's you — and you're not. So what reason is there to go on living?
As I said, I'm making a point here. I don't mean to imply that all humanity is lost, hopeless, and suicidal. But as I've pastored people over the years, I've seen these two scenarios play out more times than I can count.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
When God designed life, he had far more in mind for us than simply surviving. Our existence isn't meant to revolve around escaping reality. We shouldn't live for the weekend, for retirement, or even for heaven.
Those things are great, of course. And living with the end in mind — especially heaven — will help us shape our present. I'm actually going to talk about that later in this book.
But the more I read the Bible and the more I get to know Jesus, the more I realize that this life — even with all its quirks and turns and tragedies — is meant to be amazing. Not because circumstances are always perfect, but because our souls have found their homes in God. Fulfillment comes from having a healthy soul, and as we'll see in a moment, our souls stay healthy when they regularly return home.
THE INSIDE YOU
Before we continue, let's return to the foundational question of what exactly we mean when we refer to "the soul." We've already said that it basically is who we are on the inside, but I want to dig a little deeper. The term soul is notoriously hard to define. How can we quantify and categorize something that is invisible, subjective, and untestable? We can't see our souls, so we tend to have trouble even describing them, much less actively caring for them.
And yet, on some level, we are always aware of our souls. We continually monitor whether we are experiencing peace or anxiety, joy or desperation, fulfillment or emptiness.
We say things like, "I really need a vacation" or "This job is sucking the life out of me" or "When I go hiking, I feel alive. I feel renewed." (I would never in a million years say that last one, just for the record. I don't do well with dirt or sweat or the great outdoors in general. I'm more of a mall guy. I buy hiking boots because they look amazing, not because I intend to actually hike in them. But I'm trying to relate to a broader audience, so I threw it in there. You're welcome.)
Anyway, statements like these reflect our souls. They are expressions not just of external, physical conditions but of internal realities. We know that deep inside of us, there is an inner us. We each have an invisible personality and being that is actually more real than our visible, tangible bodies. Even if we can't define it, we know there is something on the inside. We are more than simply the sum of our body parts and brain synapses.
Psychology attempts to define and deal with the inside us, and considering the complexity of the task, I think it does a great job. I have no problem with psychologists, psychiatrists, philosophers, counselors, mentors, or coaches. I've been to professional counseling on more than one occasion, and I'm sure I could use a few more visits. My wife, Chelsea, would agree.
But for those of us who are Jesus followers, we are especially interested in what the Bible has to say about our souls. We want to learn how to have healthy souls all the time. We want to know how to respond to the ups and downs of life. We want to figure out how to process the fact that our football team lost the Super Bowl by throwing an interception on the 1-yard line and now we can't seem to get out of bed or really even find a reason to live at all. Hypothetically speaking, of course.
The Bible mentions the word soul hundreds of times, which is an indicator of how important the subject is to God. The Old Testament often uses the word heart to express a similar concept. We are not given one specific definition, however, that fits every scenario.
Commentators who are blessed with far more brain cells than I was given have attempted to quantify and define the soul in exhaustive detail. I'm not going to try to repeat what they say here. Nor am I going to split theological hairs about the difference between the terms soul and spirit. Sometimes the two seem to be differentiated in Scripture, and sometimes they seem to be synonymous. I'm pretty sure God has it figured out, so I'm not going to lose sleep over it.
I think the phrase "the inside you" does a good job communicating the biblical meaning of the soul. King David wrote, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!" (Psalm 103:1). Note the little phrase "all that is within me." My soul is the center of who I am. It is the inner me, the real me, the invisible me that transcends the physical me, the part of me that in some sense will live eternally in heaven.
Excerpted from How's Your Soul? by JUDAH SMITH. Copyright © 2016 Judah Smith. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ONE: HOME SWEET HOME, 1,
TWO: ORIGINAL HOME, 17,
THREE: SURPRISED BY MY SOUL, 39,
FOUR: AN ANCHOR FOR MY SOUL, 61,
FIVE: IS LOVE GOD OR IS GOD LOVE?, 79,
SIX: A QUIET SOUL, 99,
SEVEN: AN EFFECTIVE LIFE, 119,
EIGHT: NEW YOU, 135,
NINE: INSIDE JOB, 155,
TEN: HEAVEN, 173,
About the Author, 195,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is seriously one of the best books I have ever read. It touched my heart and soul. It is perfect for anyone and everyone that feels holes in their lives. Emptiness. Judah Smith is such a current, modern pastor and author. You will be blessed by this book!
Judah Smith is one of the few pastors whose books I will keep coming back to, and I think this one is my favorite of his. His voice is full of humor and fun, yet he still hits all the deep points. I loved the subject of this book, and what he touched upon. I feel this idea--of your soul, and truly allowing it to rest--is not one talked about as much as it should be in the Church, and I love how he chose to tackle it. Pastor Judah's books are never theologically heavy; he writes in a way both new and old believers will understand. But that doesn't mean he ever loses the meaning or depth of what he is saying either. I have a feeling this is one I will keep coming back to.
This book does the job of asking you the question in the deeper sense. How’s Your Soul? genuinely asks how is your soul. We often do a good job of taking care of ourselves on the surface. We make sure we’re happy in some way. That we have the comfort we need. But this book challenges us to look down into our souls and find the underlying issues we have. Judah Smith’s beginning analogies of being home is a perfect explanation of why our souls need to be taken care of. The purpose of the book is not just to give your soul a break, but to look deep down and fix your problems so your can truly experience peace. I absolutely love the tone the book took and it’s much deeper than you’d expect. If you’re at a crossroads in life, especially where you really can’t pin down why, this book is perfect.
HOW’S YOUR SOUL? Why Everything That Matters Starts With The Inside You By Judah Smith When you meet someone, you usually say or they say to you, “How are you/” or “How are you doing?”, these are standard greeting used every day. What if you asked or was asked “How‘s your soul?”, how would you or others react? Our soul is the most important part of us and the condition of the soul is what we need to be concerned about. In this book, Judah Smith describes the soul, the importance of the soul and what we need to do to improve our soul. The following quote is from the back cover of the book: “A quiet soul is far more valuable than fame and fortune. A level soul, a balanced soul, a genuine soul---that is a gift from God.” The soul is our connection with God and needs to be kept in a healthy relationship with God. Judah uses humor and offer examples from life that will help you to have a healthy soul. He offers scripture and an easy way to understand what is needed to improve your soul. I found the book easy to read and interesting and believe it could be used in Bible study, group discussions and enjoyable to all. I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggersbook review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
No but, how are you really? How’s Your Soul? Judah Smith’s book asks the deep question of ‘how is your soul?’. We aim to succeed in worldly things like owning a house, having okay kids, money, healthy bodies, healthy minds, which are all great but how often do we check on our insides? How do we measure how healthy our souls are? Judah’s book helps us to fixate on the health of our insides, because all that prospers on the outside can only prosper as much as our souls can. We can have everything our heart desires and be the most loved person on the planet, but if our souls are not healthy we still feel empty. We are merely living for our flesh. This book gets you thinking beyond how you feel about things happening on the surface and helps you to return home with God, and to live life to the fullest with a healthy soul. Living in God is the only way we can live fully as He has intended us to live. He wants us to enjoy life, enjoy family, enjoy your hobbies, to enjoy things around you! Judah’s book asks pondering questions that guide the reader into starting a healthy soul focused lifestyle. We don’t often focus on our soul as much as we do our bodies and finances. When the core of our soul prospers, the rest of our life will follow. Start enjoying life to the fullest! How is your soul? Really though. -Easy read, if you don’t read much, like me (guilty) its GOOD -Hilarious, his book is lighthearted but filled with pondering questions -Backed up with scripture Personally: I’m starting to see life in a new way. I start with focusing on my soul, and then everything else falls into place. I’m motivated to be healthier, I’m motivated to do other things that align with God’s desires for me. I start to enjoy things around me instead of feeling guilty about enjoying life that God has offered me. I can hear God more clearly, worry less about things out of my control and fully worship God for who he is in my everyday life.
Reading How's Your Soul by Judah Smith helped me: 1. Evaluate how I'm really doing 2. Pointed me back to being filled up by Christ alone. 3. Ask others "How's your soul?" instead of just saying "How are you doing?" How's Your Soul is a quick and enjoyable read about the value of finding rest and enjoyment for your soul--in Christ. Judah's wit, relatability, passion for God and his transparency made reading this book and applying these principles to my life seem more attainable with God's help. As a pastor, I've often found myself more concerned for the state of the souls of the people in our congregation and in my best efforts to help them find rest for their souls--- I've often neglected my own. This book is a fresh reminder that the health of our soul and finding that enjoyment and rest in God will help us worship God with our entire life and soul, which will lead to an overflow of Christ's love and grace in our relationships. I highly recommend this book for everyone but especially for pastors.
You may have asked yourself: "Where do I go when life overwhelms me? Where do I go when all I want is an escape?" You're not alone. Here, you will discover how to have a quiet soul despite all the noise and distractions around you. Do yourself a favor by getting a copy of this book. Feel free to share it with many others, too. I didn't expect that a book (with a cover like this one) about the condition of our souls would make me chuckle for countless times. This book may contain God-glorifying wisdom but smack dab in the same book are funny stuff that you can't resist. Ps. Judah Smith is just hilarious! Speaking of comical stuff, the part of the story that involves Pastor Jude is my favorite! Nyahaha... Future readers, watch out! I highly recommend you don't read it in a library. You'll surely be sent out. I love the author's transparency. He's just so honest and generous to share even his mishaps, which most normal people won't have the audacity to bring into the open. I'm so delighted to have known some personal facts about Ps. Judah Smith. Know of an author who doesn't read much? Ps. Judah Smith, it is! And this makes me wonder why he writes oh so well. God works in mysterious ways really. The author has his admirable way of making things comprehensible. This book doesn't only have the power to touch hearts but is also founded on the Word of God, so you can never go wrong by picking up this one. This amazing book also reveals a few misconceptions we have but sometimes are not aware of; it corrects them by pointing us to Jesus Himself. This book also made me fall in love with Jesus all over again, which makes it perfect for those who have lost their "first love." This will help you get it back. You're welcome! This book reminded me of the wonderful things God has done for me. I have lost count of how many highlights I have made on the book. I would love to share everything if that were possible, but let me quote a few: "Our souls are home when they return to God." "Your feelings come and go, but God remains the same, and you will praise him again. It’s only a matter of time." "There was a time not too long before when you thought you’d never make it, that the storms and waves were going to win. But you held on, and God got you through." "I want more of Jesus so that I can love the way he loves." "Quietness and rest are found not in control but in surrender." "A quiet soul is far more valuable than fame and fortune. A level soul, a balanced soul, a genuine soul— that is a gift from God." "Whatever you do, don’t give up. You have a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, and he will see you safely to the other side."