top3 for August 13, 2021

Before you head off to your weekend, here is a quick hitting list of three things that I’ve read and been thinking about this week. I hope they will be as helpful to you as they have been to me.


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.

Psalm 111:10

Practicing the fear of the Lord. Not just fearing the Lord, but actually practicing it is the beginning of wisdom. Maybe put another way – following comes before understanding. Will I take a step out of obedience (ie. fear) even when I do not have all the info or understand all the details? I believe we see that principle in the lives of the disciples. Come follow me…that was Jesus’ instruction and his promise was I’ll make you fishers of people. No way Peter understood what that meant while in the boat with his brother Andrew. But as the years passed he would grow to understand exactly what it meant. The same is true for you and me. Step out in faith when you hear the call. Trust that understanding will come in time.


In putting together Christian books and magazines for popular reading and in composing, preaching, hearing, and thinking about sermons, the story is the same: it is assumed that our reaction to realities is more significant than any of the realities to which we react.

Grounded by the Gospel by J.I. Packer

This one is more for any preacher-types reading the blog. A reminder that the truth we preach (revealed by the Holy Spirit of course) is more important than the reactions we receive. It is difficult to hear because I like to be praised. Can I admit that? I like to be well thought of. I enjoy hearing the “good sermon preacher” in the greeting line at the door. But I have to remember to prioritize truth over popularity. This quote reminds of what Paul said to Timothy,

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

2 Timothy 4:3 NIV

There must be two willing parties for this to be true: hearers and speakers. The only side of the equation that I can work on is the latter. Don’t be a tickler is the word for this preacher.


Pruning of reputation and self-righteousness. I need to be pruned from having to be right, which easily becomes self-righteousness

The Leadership Ellipse by Eugene Peterson and Robert Fryling

Can you tell this was a tough week for my ego? Or rather I should say a good week for it. Pruned from having to be right. I don’t believe that the writers are saying that there isn’t truth that we should seek but rather we should do it in humility. The need to be right is vastly different than the desire to receive a revelation from God for the building up of others. One is about my ego – the other about the common good.

I’m starting to keep a tracking log of the number of times I change my mind as a result of updated or new information. Not just changing my mind for what to have for dinner…I do that constantly…but for substantive things as a result of new info from trusted sources. I want to make sure that my motive is driven not by the need to be right but by the desire to be useful.