Ordering Your Private World
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Ordering Your Private World

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Product Description

We have schedule planners, computerized calendars, and self-stick notes to help us organize our business and social lives every day. But what about organizing the other side of our lives---the spiritual side?

One of the great battlegrounds of the new century is within the private world of the individual. The values of our Western culture incline us to believe that the busy, publicly-active person in ministry is also the most spiritual. Tempted to give imbalanced attention to the public world at the expense of the private, we become involved in more programs, more meetings. Our massive responsibilities at home, work, and church have resulted in a lot of good people on the verge of collapse.

In this timely update of his classic Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald equips a new generation to live life from the inside out, cultivating the inner victory necessary for public effectiveness. Includes study guide.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2007
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.38 (inches)
ISBN: 0785288643
ISBN-13: 9780785288640

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Publisher's Description

We have schedule planners, computerized calendars,and self-stick notes to help us organize our business and social lives everyday. But what about organizing the other side of our lives—the spiritual side?

One of the great battlegrounds of the new century is within the private world of the individual.The values of our Western culture incline us to believe that the busy, publicly active person in ministry  is also the most spiritual.

Tempted to give imbalanced attention to the public world at the expense of the private, we become involved in more programs, more meetings. Our massive responsibilities at home, work, and church have resulted in a lot of good people on the verge of collapse.

In this timely update of his classic Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald equips a new generation to live life from the inside out, cultivating the inner victory necessary for public effectiveness.

“With much enthusiasm I recommend this book to all of you who, like me, need order in your private world.”

—Charles Swindoll, Chancellor, Dallas Theological Seminary

“This book was the primary instrument that God used to motivate me to integrate spiritual disciplines into my daily walk with Christ . . . I shudder to think where I’d be today had I not read it.”

—Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor,Willow Creek Community Church

Author Bio

Gordon MacDonald has been a pastor and author for more than fifty years.  He serves as Chancellor at Denver Seminary, as editor-at-large for Leadership Journal, and as a speaker at leadership conferences around the world. His books includeBuilding Below the Waterline, Who Stole My Church, A Resilient Life, and Ordering Your Private World.  Gordon and his wife, Gail, live in New Hampshire.

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  1. bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Taking care of your soul
    October 27, 2017
    bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    This review was written for Ordering Your Private World.
    Some Christians do not pay attention to the state of their souls. The result may be a very disappointing faith journey. MacDonald shares when he came to the realization that the state of his soul did not point to a promising future. His soul was empty. He had not paid attention to keeping it filled. He determined to order his private world and lets us in on what he learned.

    MacDonald initially wrote this book decades ago. Now now he is 78 years old. He has added to this updated edition what he has learned since the initial release of the book.

    This process of ordering our private world is a long process. It is a deliberate and disciplined choice. MacDonald does remind us that guarding our heart, another way of describing ordering our private world, is a core biblical issue.

    A number of topics are covered. MacDonald looks at being driven and how it differs from being called. He covers having a sense of mission and other suggestions on managing time. He writes of the importance of being a listener and reader. He suggests the daily exercise of confession. He encourages Sabbath rest.

    I love his section on the cost of mental flabbiness. Many have not taught themselves how to think. They have not "set themselves on the lifelong pursuit of the growth of the mind." (89) They grow dependent upon the thoughts and opinions of others. He reminds us that we have the mind of Christ and should exhibit excellence of thought.

    I like this exploration of how to keep the soul in good shape. There are not structured lists of things to do but rather thought provoking observations and suggestions. This is a good book for Christians who feel there is something missing on the inside. You'll get ideas for a diagnosis and suggestions for the cure. There is a good study guide included for reflective writing and group discussion.

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
  2. Diana Harkness
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Time Management and Spiritual Disciplines
    October 16, 2017
    Diana Harkness
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3
    This review was written for Ordering Your Private World.
    I had never desired to read Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald when I first saw its title in 1984. Perhaps that was because I dont like taking orders. Or maybe because I have little order in my life. You might think I live in chaos if you surveyed my desk or any other flat surface in my home. Or it may have been because I believed that my private world was in order or, even if it wasnt, I had no ability to bring such order. Or perhaps I likened this book to another book on organization I had purchased which I could not bring myself to read past the first chapter, and finally discarded. In 2017, however, I noted the words Revised and Updated above the title and decided to give Ordering Your Private World a chance, harboring the faint hope that perhaps even I could have order in my life or at least in my lifes private world.

    From the beginning, the Authors Note encouraged me with these words: I am still challengedevery day!by the notion of ordering my private world. So, Gordon MacDonald who wrote about bringing order to our private world did not even have his own private world in order many years later. Its both encouraging to know that organization is a problem for a successful person, but also discouraging to realize that after all these time, he is still challenged by the effort.

    The Preface provides additional discouragement. The author is married, has children, and one day suddenly realizes that his professional life, family life, and spiritual life are in shambles and he has no ready answers. His natural talents and gifts enabled him to do well in his profession, but they had masked the reality that his spiritual life was weak and shallow. He suffered a complete breakdown. And then Jesus said to him, Now you know what its like to live out of an empty soul. To live. Out of an empty soul. Isnt that a bit like kicking someone when theyre down? But we must remember that Jesus didnt say Yay, Peter! when Peter walked on the water. Instead, when Peter feared he would drown, Jesus reached out a hand and said You of little faith, why did you doubt? Is Jesus reaching out a hand to you in this book? Maybe.

    I plowed ahead into the first chapters because the issue is important. What do we do with our souls? How do we exercise soul care? Body care is relatively simple. We eat right, exercise, and sleep an appropriate number of hours. But what about our soulish part? What about that undefined space where Gods Spirit resides? What do we do about that? As I listen to acorns drop and the squirrels rustling aside the fallen leaves to search for them and plant them, I wonder how we find and nourish our souls during our own dark nights and cold days. Heres what the author found: If our private world is weak, we become empty shells, rotten nuts. Like the squirrels in autumn, we must formulate a plan to find the best nuts and secure those in a cache for leaner times. It requires work in advance of the need, and quality rather than quantity.

    Our plan must be wide. No squirrel concentrates only on one tree. We must take direction from those wiser than us: from the Bible and Biblical mentors. We must maintain control of our passions and gifts or we will become self-centered in an uncontrolled pursuit of more, more adulation, more high-level connections, more, more, more. We will rush after the goal rather than paying attention to the process and see people only as a means to our end. We will discover disloyalty everywhere and nurture our anger rather than giving it to God. Indeed, we may become so busy hurrying after what is of little worth, that we have no time or desire to play and or to exercise spiritual activities. Sound like anyone you know? A prime example from the Bible is King Saul.

    Saul begins as a warrior king who spirals downward. Like Saul, when we pursue our passions above all else, we forget that we are called out ones, people with a purpose that is larger than ourselves and which supersedes our passions. We know the One who called us and do not assume ownership of either our work or the people we work with. Called people know when to move forward and when to fall back and release.

    According to the author, how do we implement our called-out purpose? Control our timelike Jesus we must know when to pray, when to act, when to sleep (yes, even sleep can be a soulish activity, for in that sleep, what dreams may come!), and to understand our limits. Like John the Baptist we cannot hold onto a position forever. At some point we will be called to release our activity, our calling, just as John released his crowds, his disciples, and his reputation to Jesus.

    How do we control time? According to the author, if we do not control our time, we become disorganized, feel poorly about our work, and lack intimacy with God. How did Jesus do it? He understood his purpose, his mission. Jesus understood his limits as a human being, and a man, and a Jew in a time of Roman occupation. He listened and observed. He worked within His limits and within His culture. And he made time to be with a few important people (his disciples). Who are the people who are important to you? Do you make time for them? Listen to them? Who are you spending the most time with? Maybe its time for a change.

    How do we change? Recognize that unmanaged time flows toward our weaknesses and we spend time doing thing that are not helpful. And because we are not managing our time, someone else may mange it for uswe may be unduly influenced by dominant people. When we fail to manage time, we end up putting out fires and neglecting what we really need to do. Our unmanaged time is used to bring us immediate gratification and not for what is most important. Time is best managed when it is budgeted far in advance. If an activity is set for a certain date, all that precedes that activity can be accomplished in the most effective manner. But, if we try to be consistently spontaneous, we will invariably forget something important.

    However, even if we do everything right, there may come that dark night of the soul, that desert experience that leaves us adrift in a lake of sand. Jesus made a point of spending time in deserted places. What happens there? Our senses are heightened. Away from noise and the call of the ordinary, we can experience the extraordinary. We may be able to hear God more clearly. We may view life from a different perspective. We learn dependence. And in the bleakest of desert times, we are accorded freedom to hear thoughts that lead us in a new direction, that give us a different plan, that help us prepare.

    And heres my main quibble with Ordering Your Private World: the book is disorganized. I dont know if its because new material was added without rewriting the old material, but it is most evident in my outline as I search back and forth for topics that fit together. This was one difficult book to follow. So far, this review has taken you through the first seven of 15 chapters. The final eight chapters deal with spiritual disciplines such as endurance, mindfulness, silence, solitude, reflection, meditation, prayer, friendship, and rest. Only Chapter 13 on prayer was one into which I could sink my teeth.

    Prayer is difficult. Gordon MacDonald asks Why do we have trouble praying? Yes, why? It should be second nature for those of us who carry Gods spirit within us, but its not. Gordon MacDonald has the answers and if we absorb these and let them work in us, we will realize that prayer is a vital necessity for ordering our private world. Yes, worship and intercession feel unnatural. They are not part of everyday life in America. Nor is it normal to worship what we cannot see and to intercede with One we cannot physically encounter. When we pray, we act contrary to our culture and it creates a dissonance within usa dissonance that may keep us from prayer.

    Praying exposes our weaknesses. Even as we proclaim our dependence on God, we tacitly declare our independence and self-sufficiency. We are Americans, after all. We overcome, we endure, we succeed. We are DIYers. At some point, however, we have to learn that we cannot do everything, that we are not as strong as we think we are, and that we lose relationship with others when we do not ask them to help us and with God when we dont depend on Him.

    And perhaps, prayer seems irrelevant when no matter how much we pray, or how little, the results or dont happen anyway. We have become fatalists. We see prayer as only a means to an end result. But prayer is not about getting results. Prayer is aligning our thoughts, motives, and desires, indeed our whole selves, with God so that we may participate in his work in the world. We pray to seek His will, not to impose our own on Him. But just as we struggle for independence wouldnt we like a world fashioned after our own passions? Indeed, this is the very struggle we have in prayer. Not my will, but Thine.

    And once we have, but how feebly, prayed to the point where we are aligned with Gods will, then, and only then, notes Gordon MacDonald can we effectively intercede for another in prayer.

    Ordering Your Private World was a useful book to read for time management and an overview of spiritual disciplines. For an in-depth ordered view of the disciplines, I recommend Celebration of Discipline: The Path To Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster. Ordering Your Private World also made me more mindful about how I use time. Recognizing that unmanaged time flows toward my passions causes me think twice before I perform any activity. Is it useful? Will it bring improvement? Or am I just doing what I like doing to the excess? And what about you? You must recognize your own times of maximum effectiveness and have criteria for time usage. Ask yourself, does it advance a cause, is it useful for others, is it helpful to your Christian life? Will it bring you closer to God? Will it allow you to rest, relax, or play? Take the best from multiple good choices. And, when you are able, budget time far in advance so you can effectively use the intervening time to efficiently prepare for the future event.

    A wise presenter once told me that if his audience took only one new idea, tool, or perspective from his talk, he felt that he had done a good job with his topic. Ordering Your Private World is a tool to use to step out and begin your exploration of time management and spiritual disciplines. Anyone can take away at least one new idea, tool, or perspective from this book. Or your time may be better spent reading the Bible and paying attention to how Jesus lived, reading a good business book (perhaps the classic 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey), finding a good personal time management book, and reading Celebration of Discipline which covers spiritual disciplines and why they are important.

    I received this book free through a book review 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 Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255.
  3. Stop! Read this book!
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Ordering Your Private World, New and Improved
    October 5, 2017
    Stop! Read this book!
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This review was written for Ordering Your Private World.
    Gordon MacDonald has revised and updated his classic book that has taken literally a million people on a journey to get serious about living. In this revised version, MacDonald has gone even further than his original work because he is no longer just the author, but has repeatedly become the practitioner of his own methods. Faced with hitting a wall of growth in the Christian life, Gordon MacDonald took his own advice and began to grow again. He shares with us, once again, how this can be possible for any follower of Jesus Christ.

    MacDonald uses incredibly poignant illustrations for pointing out not only the needs we all face, but also the solutions for meeting those needs. For instance, he likens the private world, some call it heart, soul, mind, or some other label, to a potential void beneath an otherwise seemingly normal operating life. Like the sinkholes that occasionally make the news, a person is going along doing their normal life and then wake up to find their whole life has fallen into a hole. How did it happen? Who is to blame? MacDonald suggests neglecting the private world, which he would say involves all of the areas previously listed, is the cause. With nothing to hold up the outer life, it falls into the hole where the character, life, spiritual life, and heart should have been.

    Dealing with everything from confidence to trust to secret desires for recognition and appreciation, MacDonald delves into our private world in such a way as to cause every reader to wonder if he has been looking in the window to their souls. He encourages not just an introspection, but a circumspection and a humble submission to God's activity in one's life. He suggests have people around us that help us to see what we are truly like. He further suggests establishing a routine of healthy behaviors so that, when faced with a crisis, we are able to respond like we always have. Like the child piano player asked to play for the family picnic, there is no reason to panic or think that we need to produce a special performance, but merely that we react as we always have.

    This revised and updated version of Ordering Your Private World comes with a small group discussion guide. The questions are far from trite and require some honesty and thought, but are an excellent resource for getting a group of people together to read the book and study its implications for their lives. It also provides an excellent framework for accountability in everything from pursuing God's dream for my life to spiritual disciplines to taking our walk with Jesus more serious each and every day.

    For the reader who thinks that this is just another guilt trip book designed to show off our shortcomings, it is far from that. It is actually an encouragement from someone who has been there and been there and knows God can get us through.

    I was provided this book free to write this review, but would have purchased it anyway. They did not ask me to say anything positive or negative. Just to review it. I highly recommend it.
  4. Rob Oberto
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Ordering Your Private World - 2017 version
    September 29, 2017
    Rob Oberto
    Quality: 0
    Value: 0
    Meets Expectations: 0
    This review was written for Ordering Your Private World.
    I read Gordon MacDonald's Ordering Your Private World when it was first released in 1984. He had been our pastor at Grace Chapel for the prior two years, where everyone affectionately called him Pastor Mac. When the book was released, I was in the midst of frantic, high-pressured seminary training in preparation for a life of ministry; which he had inspired me, and many others, to undertake.

    I pre-ordered the 2017 release because it was promoted as "newly revised and updated," and that is exactly what it is. Gordon MacDonald expertly weaves 34 more years of successes, failures, and lessons-learned into this version. He also updates or removes dated references and illustrations.

    This book is about the need that each of us has to bring order to chaotic, busy, external lives, because exterior busyness can result in an empty interior soul. The author writes, "There is a temptation to ignore the existence of our private world because it does not shout quite so loudly when neglected. It can be effectively shortchanged for large periods of time before it gives way to a sinkhole-like cave-in," when the neglected private world can no longer hold the weight of our external worlds.

    Too many Christians are running on empty. Too many pastors are pumping from a dry soul. And the rest of us are just exhausted and forced to do the next thing that someone demands; whatever that happens to be. Our lives are out of our control. Gordon MacDonald was not immune. He has experienced his own sinkholes.

    Drawing from extensive examples, the author explains how he, through trial and error, learned to bring his public and private worlds into order. He learned which spiritual disciplines deepened and enriched his daily relationship with Christ, and which work strategies carved out time for meaningful relationships with his family. His personality type didn't make this easy for him, but he forced himself to do it anyway.

    The author's experience and timeless insights can help us learn to effectively deepen our relationship with Christ in the midst of demands that constantly pull us in different directions. Ordering Your Private World can help us to live a life that is devoted to Him in action because our hearts are devoted to Him in love.

    I wish I had read the first release more slowly because it is only now, with my own 34 more years of experience, that I see how I glossed over some the more spiritual practices in the last 30% of the book. Ironically, I glossed over those because I was too busy, too driven, and too proud to slow down and take someone else's advice; even someone I respected. Over the past six years, however, I've been on my own quest to find the deeper spiritual and practical life dynamics that work best for me. It's funny that I've unknowingly incorporated most of the same practices that Gordon writes about.

    The author is one of those few profound writers that come along every now and again. He has made some colossal errors in his life that he has written about elsewhere, but even from those we can learn. I encourage you to read this book slowly and with self-reflection. The key to an ordered private world, as Gordon describes it, is an open and surrendered heart to God.

  5. bloomn4god
    Tucson, AZ
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Ordering Your Private World
    September 24, 2012
    bloomn4god
    Tucson, AZ
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Great book for a ministry representative to STOP and take a quick inventory of life and spirit-man. Blessings,
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