Ordering Your Private World (book review)

You can look all neat and tidy on the outside, you can talk a good game and even have some short-term success. But if you aren’t growing on the inside, all that good looking outside stuff will eventually come crashing down. This is exactly what Gordon MacDonald addresses in his revised and updated book Ordering Your Private World.

MacDonald shares a quote from Ezra Pound which captures the theme of this book: “If a (person) has not order within him, he cannot spread order about him.” Amen!

Here’s what I love about Gordon MacDonald’s heart. This book is a revised and updated version of his original work. The first edition sold more than a million copies! MacDonald could have sat back and collected his royalty checks, but instead, he has kept growing, kept learning, kept on ordering his own private world, and wasn’t content until he could share his ever-growing insights with a whole new generation.

MacDonald is quite candid about the collapse of his own inner world, and how he had to work to restore and rebuild that. Throughout this book you will read more of his personal stories, as well as accounts from historical people (both famous and relatively unknown), and you will learn from numerous biblical examples as well.

Ordering Your Private World will help you reassess your priorities, learn how to take control of your time, help you find the best supports for your inner world, see through a biblical lens, and learn what it truly means to take a rest.

This book will be beneficial for everyone who wants to ensure their inner world is strong enough to support their outer world, but I would especially recommend this book to those in leadership positions. Leaders tend to be much more hard-charging and results-oriented people, and as such may neglect their own inner world. But whoever you are, this book will be a valuable part of your life.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

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The Christian’s Secret Weapon

Over the past couple of weeks, people have been rattled by both real and imagined catastrophic events. We experienced a fabulous astronomical sight in a full solar eclipse, wept for our fellow citizens in Texas and Florida as hurricanes battered their businesses and homes, and then dealt with doomsayers who predicted the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Peter spent a lot of time right next to Jesus, soaking up His teaching and observing how Jesus lived. One thing Peter never saw in Jesus was panic.

So it’s not unexpected that Peter would write to followers of Jesus: Don’t fear what the world fears (1 Peter 3:14). Instead, Peter counsels his friends to keep their focus on Jesus.

Don’t run around in fear, but instead in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Some other translations say things like…

    • …revere Christ as Lord
    • …acknowledge Him as Lord
    • …worship Christ as Lord of your life
    • …keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ (see 1 Peter 3:15)

In other words: let Jesus Christ be your focal point.

When you live this way—focused on the eternal Jesus and not the temporary shakings on earth—Earthlings are bound to notice that there is something different about you. So Peter tells us to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have.

Hope—not wishful thinking, but a rock-solid, joyful, confident expectation!

This hope is the Christian’s secret weapon!

This hope is unshakable during difficult times. This hope is unshakable on death’s doorstep. This hope is unshakable when the end of the world is predicted.

The Christian who has a personal experience of the hope that Jesus brings is never at the mercy of the happenings in the world nor the arguments from non-Christians.

But Peter cautions us to never use this hope as a club. He tells us to make sure we never use hope as a means of feeling superior to others. Instead we are to speak to others about our hope gently, respectfully, and with a clear conscience.

So here’s my question to you, fellow Christian: Can those around you see your hope? When they’re fearful and running for cover, do they see you right alongside them, or do they see you standing firm in hope as you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Your hope is a powerful persuader for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!

Saturday In The Psalms—My Praise Is Beautiful

…praise from the upright is beautiful (Psalm 33:1).

God thinks praise from upright people is a beautiful thing! That’s great … for the person who is upright.

Whose life does God think is “upright”?

Well, God helps me with that too! “The Lord looks from heaven” and He sees me (v. 13), and “He considers all [my] works.” But before looking at my works, He develops the inside part of me from which my works flow—“He fashions [my] heart individually” (v. 15). I am not an assembly-line, mass-produced product. I am a unique, one-of-a-kind creation!

So how do I get God to spend this individualized attention on me? “Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him” (v. 18). Just standing in awe of His greatness—worshiping Him—asking for His kingdom to come and His will to be done—is the kind of invitation God delights in.

When I fear God it gets His attention and invites His individualized heart work on me. That makes me beautifully upright in His sight, and makes my praise pleasing to His ears. My praise glorifies God and increases my reverential awe of Him, which develops an even deeper fear of God … [and the cycle repeats!].

God delights in making my praise of Him delightful. I am a beautiful thing in His sight!


But none honors God like the thirst of desire,
Nor possesses the heart so completely with Him;
For it burns the world out with the swift ease of fire,
And fills life with good works till it runs ov’er the brim. … 

Oh then wish more for God, burn more with desire,
Covet more the dear sight of His marvelous Face;
Pray louder, pray longer, for the sweet gift of fire
To come down on thy heart with its whirlwinds of grace. … 

God loves to be longed for, He loves to be sought,
For He sought us Himself with such longing and love:
He died for desire of us, marvelous thought!
And He yearns for us now to be with Him above. —Frederick William Faber, Desire Of God

The Mystery & Meaning Of Marriage

John Piper’s insight of both the Old Testament and New Testament meaning of marriage is profound!

Here are the links to the Scriptures he references:

Piper’s conclusions:

  1. God modeled marriage on the covenant love between Christ and the church.
  2. Therefore, marriage has always been a witness (or a drama or a parable) of covenant love between Christ and the church.
  3. Therefore, the roles of husband and wife derive from the roles God designed for Christ and the church.
  4. Therefore, confusing or minimizing these roles obscures the meaning of marriage as a drama of the covenant love between Christ and the church.
  5. Therefore, let every husband seek to love and lead and nourish and protect like Christ, and let every wife love her husband and honor his Christ-like role, joining hands in Christ-exalting mission as God meant for the church to do.

8 Quotes From Josh McDowell On God’s Ideal For Sex

All of these quotes are taken from Josh McDowell’s book 10 Commitments For Dads

“Our desire and need for intimacy and relationship is rooted in the image of God as One (see Deuteronomy 6:4). Marriage and marital sex between a man and woman reflects His nature of oneness and unity.”

“Human sexuality involves every aspect of a person’s being—and sex is meant to connect us on every level.”

“Respecting the boundaries of sexual morality and the ‘stop’ signs for extramarital and premarital sex does bring protection and provision. Protection from: guilt, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual insecurity, emotional distress. Provision for: spiritual rewards, optimum atmosphere for child-raising, peace of mind, trust, true intimacy.”

“Sex as God designed it was meant to be lived within the context of healthy boundaries…. Following God’s design then allows a couple to experience the beauty of sex as it was meant to be experienced.”

“Purity is God’s boundary that provides for a maximum sex life and protects us from the negative consequences of sexual immorality [1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, 7].”

“Where did sexual purity come from? From the very character of God Himself. God says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). ‘All who have this I hope [of being like Christ when He returns] in Him purify themselves, just as [God] is pure’ (1 John 3:3).”

“We were created by God with the desire and longing to be that ‘one and only’ to someone else. That desire came directly from the very nature of God Himself … ‘He is the faithful God…’ (Deuteronomy 7:9).”

“Because true love’s priority is to protect and provide for the one being loved, God’s kind of love will not do things that are harmful to the security, happiness, and welfare of another person.”

You can check out my review of 10 Commitments For Dads here. I also shared some other quotes from this helpful book here.

Thursdays With Oswald—How God Prepares Us For His Service

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

How God Prepares Us For His Service 

     Preparation is not something suddenly accomplished, but a process steadily maintained. It is easy to imagine that we get to a settled state of experience where we are complete and ready; but in work for God it is always preparation and preparation. … 

     In writing to the Philippians Paul mentions two “perfections”: “not as though I…were already perfect” (3:12); “Let us therefore, as many be perfect…” (3:15). The first refers to the perfection of attainment; the second to the perfection of adjustment to God. … When we are sanctified, we are perfectly adjusted to God, but we have done nothing yet, we are simply perfectly fit to begin. … Think of Christ’s eyes fastening on us and pointing us out before God as He says—“Father, that is My work; that is the meaning of Gethsemane, that is the meaning of Calvary. I did all that man’s work in him, all that woman’s work in her; now You can use them.” … 

     When we are first put right with God, it is the great general principles that are at work, then God begins to make the conscience sensitive here and there. Don’t quench the Spirit. His checks are so tiny that common sense cannot detect them. … When He checks, never debate, but obey at once. … He does not come with a voice like thunder, with strong emphatic utterance—that may come ultimately; but at the beginning His voice is as gentle as a zephyr. At the same time it carries an imperative compulsion—we know the voice must be obeyed. The “go” of preparation is to let the Word of God scrutinize.

From So Send I You

When we invited Jesus into our lives to be our Lord and Savior, we are perfectly ready to be used in service for God.

Now begins the saint-ifying process. The Holy Spirit will gently, but insistently, point out what we need to address. The more sensitive we are to those “checks,” and the quicker we are to obey the Spirit’s prompting, the better prepared we are to answer God’s call to “go.”

Are you letting the Voice of God scrutinize you, so that you can be prepared to be used in service for Him?

13 More Quotes From “How Great Is Our God”

Scholars, tradesmen, politicians, theologians, pastors, and martyrs—all have spoken or written about the greatness of God over the past two millennia. In How Great Is Our God we are treated to a sampling of these writings. Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy this second set of quotes.

“Some of us, no doubt, have to live outwardly solitary lives. We all live alone after fellowship and communion. We die alone, and in the depths of our souls we all live alone. So let us be thankful that the Master knows the bitterness of solitude, and has Himself walked that path. Jesus Christ’s union with the Father was deep, close, constant; altogether transcending any experience of ours. But still He sets before us the path of comfort for every lonely heart: ‘I am not alone, for the Father is with Me.’ If earth be dark, let us look to Heaven. If the world holds no friend, let us turn to Him who never leaves us. If dear ones are torn from our grasp, let us grasp God.” —Alexander Maclaren

“The blessedness of individuals must not be determined by the value of their known wealth, but according to the voice of their conscience within them.” —Ambrose

“If God gave you not only earth but heaven, that you should rule over sun, moon, and stars, and have the rule over the highest of the sons of men, it would not be enough to satisfy you, unless you had God Himself.” —Jeremiah Burroughs

“Father in Heaven! What is a man without You! What is all that he knows, vast accumulation though it may be, but a chipped fragment if he does not know You!” —Soren Kierkegaard

“Great are You, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Your power, and Your wisdom is infinite. You awaken us to delight in Your praise; for You made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless, until it rests in You. They that seek the Lord shall praise Him: for they that seek shall find Him, and they that find shall praise Him. I will seek You, Lord, by calling on You; and will call on You, believing in You; for to us You have been preached.” —Augustine

“In the Old Testament, there are twenty times as many references to the second coming of Christ, as to His first coming. … The Cross must ever precede the Crown. He came with the Cross, fulfilling Isaiah 53; and now He is coming with the Crown, the Messiah and King.” —Aimee Semple McPherson

“The Word is the one Shepherd of things rational which may have an appearance of discord to those who have not ears to hear, but are truly at perfect concord. … For all the Scripture is the one perfect and harmonized instrument of God, which from different sounds gives forth one saving voice to those willing to learn, which stops and restrains every working of an evil spirit.” —Origen

“So desperate is the need that we have no time to engage in vain babblings. While we are discussing the exact location of the church of Galatia, men are perishing under the curse of the law; while we are setting the date of Jesus’ birth, the world is doing without its Christmas message.” —J. Gresham Machen

“If the Christian plan is true, then all others are false. If others are true, then there was no need of the sacrifice on the Cross.” —Albert Barnes

“I want through the day to walk with God; God has taken charge of me, He is going with me Himself; I am going to do His will all day in His strength; I am ready for all that may come.” —Andrew Murray

“When the time for the Advent of the Antichrist approaches, people’s minds will grow cloudy from carnal passions, and dishonor and lawlessness will grow stronger. Then the world will become unrecognizable. People’s appearances will change, and it will be impossible to distinguish men from women due to their shamelessness in dress and style of hair. 

There will be no respect for parents and elders, love will disappear, and Christian pastors, bishops, and priests will become vain men. At that time the morals and traditions of Christians and the Church will change. People will abandon modesty, and dissipation will reign. Falsehood and greed will attain great proportions; and lust, adultery, homosexuality, secret deeds, and murder will rule in society. 

At that future time, the churches of God will be deprived of God-fearing and pious pastors, and woe to the Christians remaining at that time; they will completely lose their faith because they will lack the opportunity of seeing the light of knowledge from anyone at all.” —Nilus the Elder (d. 430 AD) 

“It is the Bible itself that drives us out beyond ourselves and invites us, without regard to our worthiness or unworthiness, to reach for the last highest answer. … We need only dare to follow this drive, this spirit, this river, to grow out beyond ourselves toward the highest answer. This daring is faith; and we read the Bible rightly when we read it in faith. The Bible unfolds to us as we are met, guided, drawn on, and made to grow by the grace of God.” —Karl Barth

“Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God or the devil? That God reigns supreme in Heaven, is generally conceded; that He does so over this world, is almost universally denied—if not directly, then indirectly. More and more are men relegating God to the background. … Therefore we need not be surprised that men exclude Him from the realm of human affairs. … In light of this [Isaiah 55:8-9], it is only to be expected that much of the Bible conflicts with the sentiments of the carnal mind, which is at enmity against God.” —Arthur Pink

You can check out the first set of quotes I shared from How Great Is Our God by clicking here. Stay tuned: more quotes coming soon!

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