top3 for May 5, 2023

Before you head off into this Kentucky Derby weekend, here are three things that I have read and been thinking about this week. Hope they are as helpful and challenging to you as they have been for me. Have a great weekend!


Who knows what ruinations have been prevented in our lives by God’s very disciplines that cause us so much pain: troubles that teach us patience or force new humility or prevent wrong choices! Who can know?

The Sense of the Call by Marva J. Dawn

Such a good thought for this week. I regularly journal thankfulness for where I have seen God at work. I have talked about how gratitude as a barometer of spirituality and I believe it is something we can cultivate by intentional practice. But what about the things that didn’t happen that could have? For instance, what about the safe car trips to the store and back without incident? What about the missing out on temptation because we were involved in a church service on Sunday morning or a prayer time Saturday evening?

Marva Dawn is on to something in the above quote. Spiritual disciplines are not always the most exciting or interesting things to do. But in the practice, we may very well be keeping ourselves from other things that are flat out not good for us no matter how exciting or interesting they may seem.

James 4:7 says, “resist the devil and he will flee.” I think that is part of what we are doing when we don’t lose heart in our prayers, study of Scripture, focus on the public and private acts of worship and so many other spiritual practices.


In what ways does my current pace of life and leadership enhance or diminish my ability to allow God’s will and presence full scope in my life?

Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero


Busyness seems to be a badge of honor…most especially for clergy of which I am surely guilty! How many things can we pack into a day? How many things can we say “yes” to? While being busy creates a rush, for me at least, it also creates a distraction from my relationship with Christ. I’ve noticed that the busier the day the less I pray. The more pressing my schedule the less that I journal. Some of that is just a fact of only have so many hours in a day. The key, for me, is to assess whether my busyness is impacting my relationship with Christ and others. Do I have energy for the disciplines of prayer and Scripture? Or does my weekly schedule sap me from all energy? If so, I’m too busy.

There is always something else that can be done. Wisdom is knowing when to say enough is enough. It takes courage along with wisdom however. As courage moves us to take the steps to actually slow down. I know folks who know their days are too crammed but do nothing about it for the fear of missing out or letting someone down. As a matter of fact, I am those folks. I pray we would have the wisdom to know and the courage to go slow.


“Our cross is the point of our unlikeness to the image of Christ, where we must die to self in order to be raised by God into wholeness of life in the image of Christ right there at that point. So the process of being conformed to the image of Christ takes place at the points of our unlikeness to Christ, and the first step is confrontation.

Invitation to a Journey by M. Robert Mulholland Jr.

The first step toward sanctification is confrontating the areas in our lives which do not resemble Christ. For those of who do not wake up looking for confrontations, this can be uncomfortable even to the point of unwillingness. But even more behind the scenes is knowing what in your life that does not resemble Christ. That takes one part self-reflection and the other part Christ-reflection. Knowing oneself is but the beginning. For if we don’t know the mind of Christ we won’t know whether what we see in ourselves is like Christ or unlike him. This is why we were set in community to do the work of sanctification. If left to my own self-reflection I may, or may not, be able to see my unlikeness to Christ. I need others willing to show me the ways of Christ and still others to point out my ways.

One more reminder that church, and in particular being part of a small group, is not optional for those who desire to follow Jesus. Church may not be convenient. It may be messy. But there is no way around it.