top3 for July 30, 2021

Before you head off to enjoy the weekend, here is a list of three things that I’ve been reading or pondering this week.


The most basic way to make people care is to form an association between something they don’t yet care about and something they do care about.

From Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how we learn. How do new ideas make an impact in our life? As one who preaches regularly, I am mindful that talking about an idea is the start but having that idea make an impact is the goal. The Heath brothers remind us/me that knowledge accrues. We associate something new with something old. This tie gives us something to hold onto. That is why regular time in Scripture is so important. Block by block we build a network of knowledge that relates to, strengthens, and deepens as it accrues.


Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:12

This is King David’s prayer after being confronted by Nathan about his infidelity with Bathsheba and murder Uriah. David prays for forgiveness and the tangible impact of it. Not for only the eternal impact but the day to day one. That he may once again experience joy and that he may be given a willing spirit capable of keeping him out of sin. You get a sense that David never wants to be back in this situation he created for himself and others again. How do we pray after a major failure? Like David…who prayed for forgiveness for eternity and power for today.


There is no force in the world better able to alter anything from its course than love. You can get someone to remove his coat more surely by a warm, gentle sun than with a cold, blistering wind.

John Ruskin

I am committed to a leadership style which prioritizes carrots over sticks; chooses honey rather than bitter herbs. That is probably why this statement from the 19th century English critic captured my attention. I also think it is quite a contrast to the cancel culture that swirls all around us. Ruskin says that love helps us change our course. He makes the assumption that sometimes we need to change. Wait a second? Doesn’t love just mean I take the attitude that “you do you”? Not quite…

1 Corinthians 13 says “love never fails”. Love is not only a noun – it is a strategy that will bring about change. Something happens whereby we are different when love is present.

Love never fails because it is first welcoming and then transformative.

Love, throughout Scripture, is the commitment by one to meet another where they are and then refuse to leave them there. Imagine if God forgave David (see #2 above) and then didn’t empower him to change his adulterous and murderous ways. That wouldn’t be love but rather whitewashing. Simply painting over something that is rotten out of convenience. But the rot would still be there and the results would continue to devastate. What David needed was not whitewashing but true love. Forgiveness for his past and power to change his ways for today.

Both aspects must be present for it to be love. Welcoming without transformation is tolerance. Transformation without welcoming is manipulation. Both of these fall far short of the true power of love.

Love therefore must be the both/and of welcome and transformation. That is a far cry from “you do you.”