Category Archives: Writing

Epic Resilient E-Book

This past week was the national staff conference for my ministry (Epic) which I had the privilege to direct with an awesome design team and the help of many. As part of the conference I helped put together an e-book from many of the different great writings from Epic staff this past year.

I hope you enjoy it if you ever get the chance to check it out. It’s starts with a series that we ran on the Epic Resource site called, “Nine Elements of a Servant Leadership Reproduction Culture” with an additional intro and conclusion to it.  Part Two is my friend and teammate Adrian Pei’s new article called “A New Kind of Charge: Reframing Contextualization and Mission.” Part Three is a collection of 23 blogs from Epic staff from 2011-2012. Then finally, there’s an article I wrote after coaching many of our staff last summer in an Introduction to Hermeneutics course on the connections between Hermeneutics and doing cross-cultural ministry.  It’s called “A Three Cultures Approach to Engaging Scripture and Cross-Cultural Ministry.”

Both mine and Adrian’s articles are drafts so feel free to pass on any thoughts.  All in all – 101 pages of resources from about 17 authors (all Epic staff and interns) in total.

The mobi version works if you have a kindle or a kindle app on some other device.  If you can’t upload it manually to your device, you should have a kindle assigned email that allows you to send it to your kindle app.  I included an epub as that’s a common format for many other ereading devices.

Right click and save as…..

Epic Resilient E-book Kindle Version (mobi)

Epic Resilient E-book    .epub format

And for the non e-reader folks….here the pdf version…




Daughters and Post-It Grieving

My daughter as many of you know is in first grade and learning the basics of reading and spelling and all that good stuff.  But it’s opened up a whole new arena to our relationship.

I was working in the garage one day and came home to find the note below….

I love that she can express this!

And we all handled our “displacement” differently, but clearly there was some grieving that needed to be done with the demolition of our kitchen floor and cabinets.  She left this for Grandpa in the midst of all of our drama.

Post-it Journaling

Us melancholy writers need to stay together!

But what a gift to have such honest expressions for connection no matter what might be going on!





Systems Theory and Friedman Summaries

As I return to my usual blogging terrain, I wanted to pass on a link to a helpful summary of Friedman’s Theory of Differentiated Leadership.

David Cox wrote up a good academic summary online here (direct link):

You can download a pdf summary of that summary right here.

My friend Jay Lorenzen also wrote up a good summary of “A Failure of Nerve” a while back and you get download a pdf summary of it here:

Jay posted some reflections on and applications of Friedman and Systems Theory to Movement Leadership in this blog post which is also quite good.

Finally, if you’re wanting to do some reading on Differentiated Leadership in the context of church, team, and ministry leadership check out my article at this link though it’s still in draft form,  Look for the downward arrow in bottom right corner to download after clicking the link.

Such good stuff that’s worth your time to learn the basics of systems theory.

Also, if you never watched this video overview of Friedman’s “A Failure of Nerve” then carve out some time for it.

Quick Review on Do the Work

I’ve only been finishing mostly novels of late, but I just finished Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work which Amazon offered free on kindle a while back.  I reviewed a similar book of Pressfields a couple year’s back entitled The War of Art here.

Do the Work is similar to The War of Art in that the main theme is about overcoming barriers and resistance to creative efforts or really any change effort requiring incredible self initiative.

This book is about a quarter of the length of The War of Art and more focused on the creative process itself – the beginning, middle, and end of a self-initiated creative or change effort.  The War of Art is a much more in depth treatment about the general dynamics of creative efforts, with much detail about the internal struggles and barriers towards progress and creativity.

Reading this book was one of my personal development action points for this fall as I was embarking on a large and easily overwhelming challenge of doing a lot of ministry fund raising this fall and this year.  If you are vocation requiring support raising or fund raising of any kind, this is a helpful book from a motivational standpoint, but The War of Art would probably be even more helpful.

But if you’re doing any kind of writing or creative effort or design work, this is a very helpful resource because it walks you through some of the key emotional aspects for people in the beginning, middle, and concluding seasons of an effort.  It can help you assess issues of fear and insecurity as you seek to create and make those type of contributions to the world that are inspired and come from your own passions.

The title captures the heart of the book – “Do the Work” in that there’s only one way to see creative work realized.  And that’s to push through the various sources of resistance and keep doing the work until you’re done.


New Article: Five Postures

The article I’ve been writing with some friends has finally been released!  This is a joint release among three of us who work in different ethnic minority settings.

Head to the following linkat to print or download “Five Majority Culture Postures Towards Ethnic Minority Ministry.”

Eventually I’ll post it in full here, but head to the above link to check it out.  This was one of the most challenging and emotional projects I’ve tried to take on, but really thankful for the end result and for the process we went through together in writing.

Check out the article and feel free to pass the word along via Twitter or Facebook or Email or whatever you like to do!


Celebrate With Me!

I just noticed that this blog just had a landmark moment – it passed 25,000 hits! That’s only a drop in the bucket for the internet, but it’s worth celebrating for a personal blog.A percentage of that is no doubt family and those that feel obligated by blood to read.  Another percentage are random visitors that end up here by accident.  But most of those hits are those of you that have been tracking the blog somewhat consistently over the last few years so thanks for subscribing and/or reading and commenting.  Totally appreciate you and it’s fun to write things that at least a handful of people out there actually read.Here’s what I’d like to ask you to do as your act of celebration with me! Take 1 minute and if there’s a favorite post you think of or a couple posts that you really liked and you think they would be great posts for someone who visits the site to be directed to in the “top rated posts” section, then go rate that post with 5 stars in the new rating function in the blog! And moving forward when you read such a post, start rating them when you think others would really enjoy it.You can search in the search bar for a post, use the category listings, or the tag cloud in the right hand column to find perhaps the grouping of posts that you typically like the most.I’d love for you dictate what visitors to the blog get a chance to click on or read if they are checking out the top posts to see if there’s anything on this blog of value 🙂So please hook Bloggin’ Beav up with some Bloggin’ Stars so that the top rated posts gets off the ground as a user generated list of some of the top posts here at this site.Thanks for reading and for making blogging more fun!

I Search Myself

Before I proceed I must warn you that this post will be without a doubt the most narcissistic I have ever published.  Consider yourself warned.  Here goes…

Sometimes I like to search myself.

I actually love searching myself.

I hope that doesn’t sound too dirty or creepy, but of course I’m talking about my blog.

Sometimes an issue comes up in my mind and I ask myself, “I wonder if I have a thought on that topic?”  Then I search my blog using the search box on the right and I can find out what I think about it – if I have posts related to that topic in my archives somewhere.

One of the great benefits to blogging over time is that you end up generating enough material to provide a good reservoir of content of your thoughts, opinions, and insights on a variety of topics.  I do not remember quickly 90% of what I’ve written or argued or represented in this blog in the past and every once in a while I need to search myself to trace my streams of thought on an issue over time.  I can get refreshed on different insights or applications or I can take a more bird’s eye view of an issue as I’ve thought about it before.

Searching yourself provides an element of reflection similar to what some experience as they read through an old journal.  You look back on thoughts and opinions and sometimes, with hindsight or a broader perspective, those thoughts change or evolve or spark new thoughts for future reflection. The longer you blog, the longer of a record you have of how you’ve processed through the things that are typically most important to you.

Sometimes I just get inspired.  Who better to fire yourself up than…yourself 🙂  (read narcissism here)  A better way of putting it is that over time the one person who is going to consistently write things that are going to connect with your interests, passions, and life journey is you.  I post things because I find them interesting or motivating or significant.  I don’t retain all those things all the time in my mind so in a way I’m generating a resource of things that connect to what I find most important in life and leadership.  It’s one of the perfect places to find material that I find interesting because I can’t remember half of what’s there and I originally generated those posts for a reason.

So there it confession…I like to search myself.Sometimes I like to search other people too and  I would consider it an honor if someone else wanted to search me too.  I don’t expect people to search me though.  But if no one searches me, that’s ok because….

I search myself.

For other posts on my approaches to the blogging enterprise check the below links:

How I BlogWhat I Blog

Why I Started to Blog

What I Blog About – My Blog Identity

I’m moving on from my last post on why I started blogging to share some thoughts on what I blog about and my blog identity.  There’s a lot of advice out there for new bloggers about how you should shape your voice and find a niche.  That’s helpful if you have a specific game plan for what you’re wanting to do.  But when I started I had no game plan and no agenda.  I had the intention to blog about anything and everything I wanted to.

I like writing about leadership, ministry, and several other things, but I classify my blog as a personal blog rather than a leadership blog or ministry blog.  For me, the moment I start thinking about my blog as a leadership blog it starts feeling like a job and not part of my personal journey of learning.  It would also become increasingly inappropriate to post awesome you-tube videos or photos of my 2 year old son dancing in his big sister’s tutu or clever Chicago Cub artwork.  In short, my blog would lose its therapeutic element and only add to my neurosis.

I love the freedom to post whatever I want – no matter how stupid, personal, or even semi-intellectual.  Maybe one day I’ll graduate to a “big-boy” blog, but what I have going works for me and adds to my quality of life rather than detracts from it.  Hopefully it adds something positive to those that read consistently or sporadically, but at least there’s at least one person benefiting greatly (me!).

While half of my content is random or family oriented, the other half provides more of what might make up a more intentional effort to add some unique thought to the general leadership or ministry community.  I like doing big picture book reviews.  You won’t catch me doing a detailed book review because you can probably google those or find it on amazon, but I’ll share my bottom line thoughts on what value a book has for leadership or ministry.

I love leadership content, but there’s tons of it out there so I’m not going to give my tips on vision casting or aligning.  I spend most of my thinking time in the realm of systems – congregational and family and a bit organizational.  I also have invested a fair amount of time exploring issues pertaining to the use of and stewardship of power in community and in leadership.  If there’s a unique element to my blog in light of most of what those in my world talk about and write on, this would probably be it.

So my blog identity pretty much just flows from me.  I’m not looking to impress folks (otherwise I wouldn’t write posts on Harry Potter), but just offload what’s going on in my head.

If you are are starting a blog and can’t figure out your identity or don’t have a specific purpose in starting your blog, I suggest just blogging about whatever you feel like and whatever you are enjoying thinking about or experiencing.  In time you might find a niche or you might just find out that you like the freedom of not having a niche.

If you’re feeling pressure, then something’s wrong and it’s time to rethink things.  It’s in those moments where I start posting pictures of my kids or other things that don’t require a lot of intellectual or emotional effort.  It’s fun, those are the things that keep my mother-in-law reading my blog, and it buys me time until something more substantial flows more naturally.  It works for me 🙂    What works for you?

Parable of the Two Brothers

Here’s a bit of a different type of post from me. I just wrapped up a class on the parables which I really enjoyed. One of the assignments was to take was we learned related to the way parables functioned and were often structured and develop a modern or contemporary parable. Creative writing isn’t my thing as I prefer the conceptual stuff, but it was a good exercise for me. I’m not going to provide any commentary on it. If you’re so inclined you can read it and share any thoughts you might have. Here it goes…

The Parable of the Two Brothers

There was once was a pair of brothers who lived on the street in the city. Each day was a struggle just to make it through the day with difficult and changing weather conditions, dangers of the streets, and the reality of having little to no money. They were able to survive in large part due to the efforts of an inner-city church that was committed to providing shelter when needed as well as meals for the hungry. Both brothers were extremely grateful and over time they became involved with the church and volunteered in outreach and care for the poor.

One day, after many months had gone by, a stranger approached one of the brothers and gave him an extremely valuable gem. He said, “This is an opportunity. Take it and use it wisely.” This brother was very thankful and excited that he could find some comfort from his day-to-day struggles just to get by. He also figured he could make a difference with his new wealth to help those who he had spent so much time with on the streets.

This now wealthy brother moved out of the city and as he was establishing himself in a nice community, he frequently gave large sums of money to the inner-city church that had helped him so frequently in his times of need. This wealthy brother offered to bring his brother with him to his new upper class home, but the poor brother did not want to leave the community to which he had grown attached and that had invested so much in him. The poorer brother asked the now wealthy brother why he had to move so far away from him and from the people that had become their community. The wealthy brother replied that he thought that he could do greater things and be wiser with his wealth if he learned how to be successful in business and relate to those people in society who could really get things done.

But as time went on, the wealthy brother found a new church and became connected to a new community of people. And as time went on, his trips back to see his brother and his former church were fewer and far between. Furthermore, the amount of money that he was giving to help those in his former way of life began to decline significantly as he began to increasingly invest his resources with a long-term outlook with the future in mind.

After a few years passed, the wealthy brother had stopped giving to his former church and his trips back to his old neighborhood and community stopped altogether. As he became more prosperous and successful in business, more involved in his church, and increasingly occupied by his new family he stopped helping his brother altogether and eventually he even forgot that he had a brother.

One day many years later, this rich man found himself back in the city for a business meeting upon which many of his future dreams depended. As he walked to a restaurant, he had a vague feeling of familiarity, but he shrugged it off. He then passed a church that was soliciting donations to help the homeless and poor of that community. A very familiar face asked him if he could make a donation to help those in need. The wealthy brother said that he could not and that he had to hurry to make it to the restaurant to meet with a very important business client.

When the wealthy brother arrived at his business dinner, his client surprised him when he started off stating, “It seems as if you have done well for yourself. Can I ask you one question? Have you handled your wealth wisely?” At that moment, his former life came rushing back and he recognized this older man as the very one who had given him his ticket out of poverty years ago. The wealthy brother proudly shared many of his great accomplishments, but then this elderly man asked him, “Has anything changed out there?” as he pointed outside to the very streets on which they had met years before. The wealthy brother was silent, for things on the street seemed worse than they did many years before.

The elderly man broke the silence saying, “Because you have forgotten your brother and not used your wealth wisely to aid those who have been in the same position you used to be in – homeless and hungry, I will not do further business with you and I will bestow the favor that you once enjoyed and I will bestow it on your brother.”

*My original version involved a lottery ticket, but I was informed by a conservative classmate that a true Christian would never accept a lottery ticket because it’s gambling. I expressed how it was clear we didn’t share the same convictions about the scope of behavior open to “true Christians.” I failed to tell him that if someone presented me with a lottery ticket, much less a winning one, I’d scratch that thing silly like it was going out of style.

I don’t gamble (as long as pool money for fantasy football and the ncaa tourney don’t count) and I’ve never bought a lottery ticket in my life, but that exchange has motivated me to at least invest 1$ in the future just to do it.