8 Quotes From Gordon MacDonald In “Ordering Your Private World”

In the quiet solitude of our inner lives is where real growth takes place. Or said another way: if we won’t make time to order our private world, our public world will be limited in its scope and effectiveness. Gordon MacDonald unpacks some fantastic principles to help us in his newly updated and expanded book Ordering Your Private World. Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy these quote from Gordon MacDonald.

“There is a busyness that reflects a plan of activity, a pattern of priorities, and a sense of purposefulness. It is a good and satisfying busyness through which one grows and increases competence. But there is also a busyness (a destructive busyness, actually) that reflects a chaotic way of life—a way of doing in which one is simply responding to the next thing in the day. The next thing! It makes no difference whether it has significance; it’s just the next thing, and one does it because it’s there to do.”

“A soul—our spiritual space—is empty when one tries to do soul-based things but makes little or no effort to keep that soul filled.”

“Driven people boast of their drivenness. They have forgotten how to play. Spiritual activity seems a waste of time. They are usually too busy for the pursuit of ordinary relationships in marriage, family, or friendship, or even to carry on a relationship with themselves—not to speak of one with God. Because driven people rarely think they have accomplished enough, they seize every available minute to attend more meetings, to study more material, to initiate more projects. They operate on the precept that a reputation for busyness is a sign of success and personal importance. Thus, they attempt to impress people with the fullness of their schedules.”

“Our careers, our assets, our natural and spiritual gifts, our health—are these things owned, or merely managed in the name of the One who gave them? Driven people consider them owned; called people do not. When driven people lose those things, it is a major crisis. When called people lose them, nothing of substance changes. The private world remains the same, perhaps even stronger.”

“It is worth taking time to ask how Our Lord’s command of time is demonstrated. … The first thing that impresses me is that Jesus clearly understood His mission. … A second insight into Jesus’ personal organization of time is that He understood His own limits. … Jesus included a third important element in His strategy of time budgeting, for He set time aside for the training of the Twelve.”

“Unmanaged time flows toward my weaknesses. Unmanaged time comes under the influence of dominant people in my world. Unmanaged time surrenders to the demands of all emergencies. Unmanaged time gets invested in things that gain public acclamation.”

“The unthinking Christ-follower does not realize it, but he is dangerously absorbed into the culture about him. Because his mind is untrained and unfilled, it lacks the ability to produce the hard questions with which the world needs to be challenged. The private world of a Christ-follower will be weak, defenseless, and disorganized if serious attention has not been given to this sector of intellectual growth.”

“We do not develop our intellects merely for our own personal advancement, but we put our thinking power to work for the use of others. … As my mind grows, it may make possible the growth of others.”

We Should Be Better Christians

clouds-and-water“We should be better Christians if we were more alone; we should do more if we attempted less, and spent more time in retirement, and quiet waiting upon God.

“The world is too much with us; we are afflicted with the idea that we are doing nothing unless we are fussily running to and fro; we do not believe in ‘the calm retreat, the silent shade.’ As a people, we are of a very practical turn of mind; ‘we believe,’ as someone has said, ‘in having all our irons in the fire, and consider the time not spent between the anvil and the fire as lost, or much the same as lost.’

Yet no time is more profitably spent than that which is set apart for quiet musing, for talking with God, for looking up to Heaven. We cannot have too many of these open spaces in life, hours in which the soul is left accessible to any sweet thought or influence it may please God to send.” —Lettie Cowman

Charles Spurgeon On Quiet Confidence

C.H. SpurgeonIn quietness and in confidence shall be your strength (Isaiah 30:15).

“It is always weakness to be fretting and worrying, questioning and mistrusting. What can we do if we wear ourselves to skin and bone? Can we gain anything by fearing and fuming? Do we not unfit ourselves for action and unhinge our minds for wise decision?

“We are sinking by our struggles when we might float by faith. Oh, for grace to be quiet!

“Why run from house to house to repeat the weary story which makes us more and more heart-sick as we tell it? Why even stay at home to cry out in agony because of wretched forebodings which may never be fulfilled? It would be well to keep a quiet tongue, but it would be far better if we had a quiet heart. Oh, to be still and know that Jehovah is God!

“Oh, for grace to be confident in God! The holy One of Israel must defend and deliver His own. He cannot run back from His solemn declarations. We may make sure that every word of His will stand though the mountains should depart. He deserves to be confided in; and if we would display confidence and consequent quietness, we might be as happy as the spirits before the throne.

“Come, my soul, return unto thy rest, and lean thy head upon the bosom of the Lord Jesus.” —Charles Spurgeon

Be Quiet With God

I was preparing for a prayer gathering at our church and reading some insights on prayer from noted author and pastor E.M. Bounds, when I read this passage:

E.M. Bounds“It is not an easy task for the lips to try to pray while the heart is absent from it. The charge which God at one time made against His ancient Israel was, that they honored Him with their lips while their hearts were far from Him. The very essence of prayer is the spirit of devotion. Without devotion prayer is an empty form, a vain round of words. Sad to say, much of this kind of prayer prevails, today, in the church. 

“This is a busy age, bustling and active, and this bustling spirit has invaded the church of God. Its religious performances are many. The church works at religion with the order, precision and force of real machinery. But too often it works with the heartlessness of the machine. There is much of the treadmill movement in our ceaseless round and routine of religious doings. We pray without praying. We sing without singing with the Spirit and the understanding. We have music without the praise of God being in it, or near it. We go to church by habit, and come home all too gladly when the benediction is pronounced. We read our accustomed chapter in the Bible, and feel quite relieved when the task is done. We say our prayers by rote, as a schoolboy recites his lesson, and are not sorry when the Amen is uttered. Religion has to do with everything but our hearts. It engages our hands and feet, it takes hold of our voices, it lays its hands on our money, it affects even the postures of our bodies, but it does not take hold of our affections, our desires, our zeal, and make us serious, desperately in earnest, and cause us to be quiet and worshipful in the presence of God.” —E.M. Bounds (emphasis added)

The Bible says that early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus went off by Himself to a solitary place to pray. Do you find a quiet, uninterrupted place to be alone with God, or is your prayer time busy?

Listen, O My Soul

Listen O my soulDavid wraps up the 35th Psalm with a thought that is familiar to him—

My tongue will speak of Your righteousness and of Your praises all day long. (Psalm 35:28)

Praise is good for the soul! But in the midst of enemies gloating over David, hating him without reason, devising false accusations against him, and making plans to do him in (see verses 19-21), where could David get the strength to sing about God’s goodness?

As I said, it’s the last verse where David declares his unending praise. This verse is the result of seeing God move. But much earlier in this psalm David says, “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation’” (v. 3).

Before David could speak it, he had to hear it! He had to quiet himself in the midst of all the assaults on him to hear God say, “I AM your salvation!”

Not “my ears,” but “my soul”: the very center of my being, my mind, my emotions. I need the I AM to reassure the soul He created that He is still there. Unless I hear that assurance at the core of my being, I can only go through the motions. True worship comes from a real, personal encounter with the I AM.

O, listen my soul! Hear your Savior speak the assurance of His salvation. Only then can I open my lips in endless praises all day long.

Thursdays With Oswald—Solitude

This 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.

Oswald Chambers


     Solitude with God repairs the damage done by the fret and noise and clamor of the world. … The disaster of shallowness ultimately follows the spiritual life that takes not the shining way upon the Mount of God. Power from on high has the Highest as its source, and the solitudes of the Highest must never be departed from, else that power will cease. 

From Christian Disciplines 

We live in a go, go faster, then go some more world. Everything is urgency and immediacy. It is vital for Christians to find times of solitude to tune out the clamor and tune in to God’s Voice.

The prophet Elijah was one who learned that God was not in the noise, but in the still, small Voice (see 1 Kings 19:1-13). Are we quieting ourselves enough to hear His Voice? If we don’t, we run the risk of spiritual burnout, just as Elijah experienced. Find Make some time for solitude this week.

Endless Noise

The Psalmist said it this way, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

The Apostle Paul said, “Study to be quiet” (1 Thessalonians 4:11).

And the prophet Elijah learned that God was not in the big crashing, jarring noises but in “a still small Voice” (1 Kings 19:12).

We are bombarded by noise. Are we missing God in all the noise? When was the last time I was quiet? Quiet enough to hear His still small Voice?

Nearly 80 years ago T.S. Eliot wrote a poem called Choruses From The Rock. Check out this passage—

The endless cycle of idea and action,

Endless invention, endless experiment,

Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;

Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;

Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.

All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,

All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,

But nearness to death no nearer to God.

Where is the Life we have lost in living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries

Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.

Can You Hear Him Now?

Wow, my life is busy! Sometimes I feel like a starter’s pistol goes off first thing in the morning, and I’m on a dead sprint all day long.

<BANG!> Get everyone up … get dressed … make breakfast … feed the pets … pack lunches … get everyone out the door on time … work at the church … meetings … errands … En-Gedi Youth Center … after-school activities … grocery store … make dinner … clean up … more meetings … homework … <WHEW!>

That’s why I have made it a long-standing habit to spend some quality quiet time in the morning. It’s time well-spent reading my Bible, sipping some tea, and just listening for God’s unmistakable Voice.

The Apostle Paul advised us to study to be quiet (1 Thess. 4:11). Make it a habit to tune out the noise and business.

Francois Fenelon said it this way —

“God does not cease to speak, but the noise of the creatures without, and of our passions within, confines us and prevents our hearing. We must silence every creature, including self, that in the deep stillness of the soul we may perceive the ineffable voice of the Bridegroom. We must lend an attentive ear, for His voice is soft and still, and is only heard of those who hear nothing else.”

I hope you will choose to make some time to hear His Voice today, and everyday.

Uncomfortably Quiet

Yesterday we dove into part two of our series The Stranglehold Of Worry by looking at anxiety. The medical dictionary defines anxiety as “worry compound by our own self-doubts about our ability to cope with worry.” Wow, talk about a double whammy!

You’re already worrying about something, and then you worry about what you’re worrying about!

Or for many people, anxiety boils down to worrying about what others are thinking about what you’re worrying about.

There’s a story in Luke 10 where Dr. Luke notices Martha’s anxiety. She is trying to be the best hostess she can for Jesus and His disciples, but it has gone beyond that. She is worrying about what Jesus thinks about her hospitality. She’s tied up in knots. What makes it even worse for Martha is that her sister (who was helping Martha get everything ready for the meal) is sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to Him speak.

Jesus tells Martha, “You are all worked up over trying to make a good impression. You are worried and upset. Look at Mary: she’s sitting quietly and listening to Me.”

Sitting quietly…

We don’t do that very well, do we? Our lives are bombarded with noise. In fact, when Jesus tells Martha she is worried, the Greek word means overly-busy. That’s how too many of us try to cope with worry, but the noise and busyness just lead to more anxiety.

We closed our service on Sunday in a very unusual, very uncomfortable way. We were silent. No music, no singing, no closing prayer. Just sitting silently at Jesus’ feet and listening to Him. It was uncomfortable but so beneficial.

Listen to King David:

I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.

It might be uncomfortable, but it is just what the Lover of your soul ordered. Find some time to switch off the radio, leave the mp3 player and cell phone behind, and get someplace where you can just sit quietly at Jesus’ feet and hear the loving words He has to say to you.

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