Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ordering Your Private World

I have read several articles by Gordon MacDonald but this is the first book on his I have read. In his book, Ordering Your Private World, he teaches many principles about your spiritual life being in order. I hope you will enjoy and be challenged by the quotes below:

Sadly, we do not have a Christian culture today that easily discriminates between a person of spiritual depth and a person of raw talent. Like the wheat and the tares of Jesus' parable, they can be difficult to distinguish. The result is that more than a few people can be fooled into thinking they are being influenced by a spiritual giant when in fact they are being manipulated by a dwarf. p.6

. . . keeping or guarding the heart . . . is a deliberate and disciplined choice a man or woman must make. Am I being heard? We must choose to keep the heart. Choose! Its health and productivity cannot be assumed; it must be constantly protected and maintained. pp. 23-24

Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold. p. 24

Are we going to order our inner worlds, our hearts, so that they will radiate influence into the outer world? Or will we neglect our private worlds and thus permit the outer influences to shape us? This is a choice we have to make every day of our lives. p. 24

Although he wasn't trying to make a uniquely Christian point, I nevertheless find the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson quite provocative. "It is easy in the world," he wrote, " to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." p. 25

Charles Spurgeon once said, " Success exposes a man to the pressures of people and thus tempts him to hold on to his gains by means of fleshly methods and practices, and to let himself be ruled wholly by the dictatorial demands of incessant expansion. Success can go to my head and will unless I remember that it is God who accomplishes the work, that he can continue to do so without my help, and that he will be able to make out with other means whenever he wants to cut me out." p. 34

Here in North America we now live in what I call the era of the visionary church. Almost every pastor is judged on the basis of whether he/she has a vision. And this usually means a vision of how the church can grow, grow, grow. The pastoral care of the people - which for hundreds of years has been the aim of a church - is less important in comparison to the gathering of more people. Because more people means more programs, more building, more employed staff. Doubtless this is not all bad if it results in bringing unchurched people into the kingdom of God. But one wants to watch a lot of this "vision" and ask how much of it is satisfying the need of a driven leader who has to see things expand at all costs. p. 35

Driven people get things done, but they may destroy people in the process. p. 36

For an inner life fraught with unresolved drives will not be able to hear clearly the voice of Christ when He calls. The noise and pain of stress will be too great. p. 44

Many churches are fountains gone dry. Rather than being springs of life-giving energy that cause people to grow and to delight in God's way, they become sources of stress. p. 45

Driven people often project a bravado of confidence as they forge ahead with their achievement -oriented life plan. But often, at the moment when it is least expected, adversities and obstructions conspire, and there can be personal collapse. Called people, on the other hand, posses strength from within, a quality of perseverance and power that are impervious to the blows from without. p. 58

Look again at the men Christ picked: few if any of them would have been candidates for high positions in organized religion or big business. It is not that they were unusually awkward. It is just that they appeared to be absolutely ordinary. We have to keep reminding ourselves: No headhunter in his or her right mind would have vetted most of them for leadership in the kingdom of God. But Christ did, and that made all the difference. pp. 58-59

The task of a steward is simply to properly manage something on behalf of the owner until the owner comes to take it back. p. 61

For his (John the Baptist) crowds may be our careers, our assets, our natural and spiritual gifts, our health. So - and think before answering! - 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 has changed. The private world remains the same, perhaps even stronger. p. 62

. . . time must be properly budgeted for the gathering of inner strength and resolve in order to compensate for one's weaknesses when spiritual warfare begins. p. 84

Would we involve our time in doing what people most liked for us to do? Or would we buckle down and give our attention to what was most important . . . p. 93

It once seemed enchanting to be at the head table of some politician's prayer breakfast or to be interviewed on a Christian radio program, but it may not have been a high priority use of time. p. 93

. . . even man and women of great talent and energy have to run the complete course before they can claim the victory. To be in front at the first turn is meaningless without the endurance to finish strongly. pp. 104-105

Such mindlessness can be seen in an unbalanced - and ungodly - family, where one person intimidates all other family members into letting him or her do all the decision-making and opinion-forming. We have many examples of churches where laypeople delegate the thinking to a highly dominant pastor. The epistle of 3 John speaks against a man named Diotrephes, a lay leader who, like Jim Jones, had virtually everyone under his control. The Christian simply surrendered their thinking to him. p. 106

Our worlds are filled with the noise of endless music, chatter, and busy schedules. In most homes there is a stereo in almost every room, in every car, in each office, in the elevator. When I The act of meditation is like turning the spirit to heavenly frequencies. One takes a a friend at his office I am offered music over the phone until he comes to answer my call. There are cell phones with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony theme for a ring, Walkmans with mega-bass, and MP3's all invading the mind with noise. Pretty noise, most of the time. But nevertheless noise. With the intrusion of so much noise, when can we withdraw and monitor the still, small voice of God? p. 151

The act of meditation is like turning the spirit to heavenly frequencies. One takes a portion of Scripture and simply allows it to enter into the deepest recesses of self. There are often several different results: cleansing, reassurance, the desire to praise and give thanksgiving . Sometimes meditation on something of God's nature or His actions opens the mind to new guidance or a new awareness of something the Lord may be trying to say to us. p. 168

I have had many opportunities by now to see that the things I want God to do in response to my prayers can be unhealthy for me. I have begun to see that worship and intercession are far more the business of aligning myself with God's purpose than asking Him to align with mine. p. 177

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