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When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box Hardcover – August 1, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Pastor and bestselling author Ortberg (God Is Closer Than You Think; Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them) offers a thoughtfully written instruction manual for Christian game players of all ages. Using games as a metaphor, Ortberg presents carefully considered tactics for succeeding in life from God's vantage point. Each chapter weaves the rules of gaming with the Christian journey: understanding the object of the game (being spiritually rich toward God); the setup (keeping score, taking turns, preventing regret); how to play (with rules, gratitude and a mission); hazards (competition, greed, losing); and winning (choosing the right trophies). Christians will especially appreciate Ortberg's wise counsel on being the kind of player other people want to sit next to, as he exhorts readers to learn to lose with grace, win with grace and forgive with grace. Perspective is key; after all, when the game is over, it all goes back in the box. Ortberg demonstrates some finesse in bringing together the extended game imagery with various real-life stories that are by turns comical and poignant. With excellent tools for personal and group study alike, this book's strategy offers a win-win solution. (Sept.)
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Review

'...a thoughtfully written instruction manual for Christian 'game players' of all ages. Using games as a metaphor, Ortberg presents carefully considered tactics for succeeding in life from God's vantage point. Each chapter weaves the rules of gaming with the Christian journey: understanding the object of the game (being spiritually 'rich' toward God); the setup (keeping score, taking turns, preventing regret); how to play (with rules, gratitude, and a mission; hazards (competition, greed, losing); and winning (choosing the right trophies). Christians will especially appreciate Ortberg's wise counsel on being the kind of player other people want to sit next to, as he exhorts readers to learn to lose with grace, win with grace and forgive with grace. Perspective is key; after all, 'when the game is over, it all goes back in the box.' Ortberg demonstrates some finesse in bringing together the extended game imagery with various real-life stories that are by turns comical and poignant. With excellent tools for personal and group study alike, this book's strategy offers a win-win solution.' -- '...a thoughtfully written instruction manual for Christian 'game players' of all ages. Using games as a metaphor, Ortberg presents carefully considered tactics for succeeding in life from God's vantage point. Each chapter weaves the rules of gaming with the Christian journey: understanding the object of the game (being spiritually 'rich' toward God); the setup (keeping score, taking turns, preventing regret); how to play (with rules, gratitude, and a mission; hazards (competition, greed, losing); and winning (choosing the right trophies). Christians will especially appreciate Ortberg's wise counsel on being the kind of player other people want to sit next to, as he exhorts readers to learn to lose with grace, win with grace and forgive with grace. Perspective is key; after all, 'when the game is over, it all goes back in the box.' Ortberg demonstrates some finesse in bringing together the extended game imagery with various real-life stories that are by turns comical and poignant. With excellent tools for personal and group study alike, this book's strategy offers a win-win solution.' (PW Religion BookLine)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; First Edition edition (August 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310253500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310253501
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Ortberg is senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. He is the bestselling author of Who Is This Man?; The Me I Want to Be; Know Doubt; When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box; God Is Closer Than You Think; The Life You've Always Wanted; Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them; If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat; Love Beyond Reason; and (with Kevin Harney) the multimedia curriculum Old Testament Challenge. Now that their children are grown, he and his wife, Nancy enjoy surfing the Pacific to care for their souls.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When the Game Is Over It All Goes Back in the Box is a book on life by John Ortberg, a Presbyterian pastor. His argument is thus: you will die, and when you do, you will lose all the stuff you have. Therefore, instead of focusing on things you cannot keep, focus on things you can.

Ortberg says that the object of life is, as Jesus said, to be rich toward God. Pleasing God is part of this; part of it is putting a greater priority on personal relationships. This also turns out to be the place where we find true fulfillment. Ortberg's main target is those who say they will work less and spend more time with their families "when things settle down." His message is this: things never settle down until it's too late.

The book is written with an amusing game theme. Ortberg borrows a lot of anecdotes from a lot of different authors, which is fine. He gives credit where credit is due. Ortberg has a surprisingly good sense of humor. Sometimes his jokes are pretty corny, but on the whole he seems like a funny guy. My only criticism of his writing is a small one: several chapters tend to run a little long (the reader has gotten the point and is ready to move on).

There is criticism due the publisher: on nearly every other page, there are excerpts from the text blown up in boxes on the same page. Perhaps this is done for those flipping through the book in a shop, or for those who skim, but for the actual reader, it is incredibly annoying and distracting.

On the whole, When the Game Is Over It All Goes Back in the Box is an accessible, engaging, humorous book on Christian living and eternity. This is obviously a Christian book, but the theologizing does not get heavy-handed, and Ortberg does not beat the reader over the head with the Bible. It can benefit any Christian as well as nonchristians who are feeling unfulfilled.

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Format: Hardcover
This book both encouraged me and challenged me at the same time. I've actually bought 3 additional copies & given them to friends of mine!

John's style in this book is engaging, but also pushed me to think deeply about how I'm living. The stories he tells pull you in... and then cause you to reflect on how the topic might be playing out in your own life.

I also appreciate how it's more than "John's best thoughts on living" -- but it points back to Scripture time & again. And in doing so, often unveils a dimension of the Bible in a way I'd not considered before.

There were quite a few times I'd interrupt my wife while I was reading it, and say "you've gotta hear this section". Prompted some great discussion. Basically... I loved it.
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Format: Hardcover
When the Game Is Over It All Goes Back In The Box by John Ortberg is an inspiring, enlightening, life-changing book. Since I am an avid gamer, the cover art drew me in immediately. But it was the author's wit and practical advice that captured my attention and kept me reading. It begins with the greatest opening line since The Purpose Driven Life, and guides you through a series of strategies designed to teach the reader how to "play the game" of life.

Filled with wit and humor and moving stories, I laughed out loud one minute and found myself tearing up the next as a poignant illustration was presented to show how so many of us miss the important stuff by concentrating so intensely on temporary rewards. The author then offers practical tactics for modifying our "To Do" lists so we can reconnect with what's really important in life.

Not only did I take from this book several ideas for improving my life and relationship with God, but also the desire to make a difference in the lives of those around me as John Ortberg and his Grandmother obviously have.
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Format: Hardcover
John Ortberg is an engaging and entertaining writer with a message. He likens life to a game. When the game is over, all the pieces go back in the box (casket) and what truly matters is not what you've won playing the game, but how you play. You can't live life without focusing some on death. While the basis of the book can easily be summed up in the old adage of life is like a game and it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play, Ortberg gives fresh meaning to it based on scripture and Jesus' teaching. This is truly a thought-provoking book and one that needs to be read by all Christians.
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Format: Hardcover
This book reminds us of what we already know but continually forget-that there are things that matter, and things that don't matter, and we easily become confused about priorities. This book is a great read for any 20-something who is setting priorities for how they will live their life, and a must read for any 50-something who needs to be reminded to focus on what counts for those years that remain.

Five Stars!
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Format: Hardcover
I've never written a review of a book before....I couldn't help but write one for John Ortberg's "Back in the Box." I sat down at 2:30pm to start reading. After breaks for time with my son, time with my husband, time to fix dinner, time for TV, time for some housework, I STILL finished the book before going to bed at midnight. It was that level of "can't put it down." I'd finish a chapter, put it down to do something else, and be drawn right back to it as soon as I could get there. Fresh, humor-filled, real, thought-provoking, spirit-nudging, action-prodding. Highly recommend it for ANYone.
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