top3 for September 6, 2019

Here are three things that I’ve read this week, have been thinking about, or were particularly inspirational/challenging for me. My hope is that maybe something in these three will spark something in you as well.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!


Burnout is a state of emptiness that reveals the nothingness from which I was trying to give.

Parker Palmer from Let Your Life Speak, p. 49

We cannot give what we do not possess. We can pretend for a little while but in the end it will catch up to us in the form of bitterness, tiredness, and disconnection. This is a great reminder that the best thing we can do for others is care for ourselves. Out of the well-spring of our own filling from God do we have what is necessary to give to others.


So precision requires not only close and patient observation, but also daring imagination and what Keats called “negative capability” – the capacity to dwell in paradox or ambiguity without straining after resolution. To inhabit, as it were, two dimensions or points of view at once, and calmly.

Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn McEntyre

I picked up this book a few years ago and it continues to inform my use of language and in particular my need for specificity in communication. For you see…I am prone to ambiguity and vagueness and cliche. There, I said it! And it is this that I fight regularly in all forms of communication from writing to preaching. What I’ve found is that in my haste I settle for descriptions that are vague and cliches that make things quick and easy to explain. I am being constantly reminded to take my time and really use the skill of observation which must be developed like any muscle.

The last part of the sentence above is key for me. My rush is usually to tie things off in a nice bow and move on. Rather than rush and close the loop, I am trying to stay open in thought and observation much longer. This is in my interactions with others as well as study of the Scripture.

Maturity is defined in some circles as being capable of sitting in the tensions of life as well as differing perspectives as a non-anxious presence. Keats gets at this much better than I do in the above quote. Stop rushing into closure and just sit and observe and allow the process of marination to do its proper work.


Speaking of caring for ourselves. Some of you may be aware of my habit of working out particularly in the morning. It was not always a way of life for me, but it has become that way in the past decade. For the past year I traded extra days of cardio for three days of working with weights. Nothing heavy mind you, just light weights and high reps (number of times you do the exercise).

And quite frankly it has taken about a year for me to feel any difference. And I’m convinced there is no outward appearance change! Now, maybe that is because I am doing it all wrong…or maybe it just has taken that long for my body to respond. The lesson for me is to keep doing the things we know are good for us even when the results are not evident.