Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

I’m pleased to announce that on November 10,2022 I published Next Step Devotions, a collection of 366 discipleship lessons based on passages from every New Testament chapter. This project was more than two years in the making, and it feels great to finally have it available for purchase on Amazon. As I write this, it continues to be ranked #1 among Amazon’s new releases in the category of New Testament Meditations.

Here are the key features of Next Step Devotions:

  • 366 devotions based on Bible passages from all 260 New Testament chapters;
  • “Next Step” prompts at the end of each devotion to encourage growth through personal reflection, further study, and practical application;
  • Space after each devotion for notes;
  • Suggestions for using the book individually and with groups;
  • Endnotes with citations of helpful additional resources;
  • Scripture Index to easily find devotions that reference specific Bible passages;
  • Subject Summary that captures in a phrase or sentence the main point of each devotion, helping the reader quickly find topics of interest;
  • Read the entire New Testament in a year by reading the related passages;
  • Timeless truths communicated in a fresh, understandable way.

My prayer is that God will use this book to grow individuals in their Christian faith, and that he will lead groups and even entire churches to use it to spur one another in the direction of being more faithful followers of Jesus.

Along with the new book, I have also launched a new website that will replace this one – I will post regularly to the blog on that site. I also moderate a Member Forum there where all site members can post and comment and live chat with one another and with me. Membership is free, of course. You can also subscribe to the site for news and updates related to website additions, new publications, events, and special offers.

Many thanks to those who have followed this blog for years. It was my pleasure to provide nearly 650 blog posts here and to enjoy the comments and support of many for more than a decade. I invite all of you to join the new adventure at And if you want a guided, helpful way to grow as a disciple of Jesus, I hope you’ll read Next Step Devotions. May God bless you on your journey.


booksI read with interest this week a brief note from the Harvard Business Review blog regarding a recent study of pronouns used in books published in America between 1960 and 2008.  According to the study:

  • Use of singular pronouns like “I” and “me” increased 42% over the time period.
  • Use of plural pronouns like “we” and “us” declined 10%.
  • Use of second person pronouns like “you” and “your” quadrupled.

Given the large quantity of books in the Google Books database used in the analysis – 766,513 such books – the data point to an interesting trend.  The more challenging question, though, is what to make of it.  What conclusions can or should we draw from the analysis?

The researchers hypothesized that “pronoun use will reflect increasing individualism and decreasing collectivism in American culture.”  They believe their study results “complement previous research finding increases in individualistic traits among Americans.”  That seems fair.  Unfortunately, you have to pay to subscribe to a journal in which the results are published to see all the data (something I won’t do purely out of protest in this age of widely available, free information on the Internet), so the brief HBR article and study abstract is all I know about it.

What are the possible reactions to the data?  I can easily imagine three:

  • Some will say, as the researchers suggest, that individualism is on the rise and collectivism is on the decline.
  • Some will jump at the opportunity to castigate younger generations as more self-centered than older ones (although those doing so will conveniently forget their own self-centeredness and the fact that it isn’t today’s youngest Americans who are writing the books that were analyzed).
  • Some may claim that the data may be interesting but not necessarily indicative of any definitive personal, societal or cultural conclusions as opposed to mere changes in accepted writing style.

From this 56-year-old’s perspective whose life spans closely the time frame studied, I have mixed emotions about the study results.  It certainly rings true that American society is more individualistic in some ways today than in times past.  For example, there are fewer children in families (children have a way of forcing parents to think less of themselves and their plans than of their children), infrequent extended family gatherings (too little time or interest or too great a distance between members), greater geographic dispersion of families (many times in response to following career or educational opportunities), and more personal career-focused lifestyles and decisions.

However, I can point to other ways in which society is far less individualistic and more inclined to promote collective action, such as in people taking less personal responsibility for their lives and expecting dependence on government and others for support.

One reason I struggle with interpreting the results of the study is that we should be careful not to equate individualism with self-centeredness.  Most would generally categorize individualism as a positive thing whereas self-centeredness is deemed to be more negative.  Therefore, it makes a huge difference in whether we interpret something like pronoun use as either individualism or self-centeredness.  They are not the same thing.

I’ll go out on an unscientific limb and say that I do not believe the study results indicate that we are more self-centered than before.  Why?  Because I don’t believe the human heart has changed throughout the history of humankind.  Every one of us was at some point a self-centered little child who thought the world revolved around him or her.  Some of us eventually realize the error of that perspective – some do not.  As a Christian, I don’t think the human heart is any worse (or better) by default now than in 1960 A.D. or 1960 B.C.  Humankind is selfish by nature and in need of a spiritual heart transplant by the One who created the human heart.

The pronoun study is interesting, but the interpretation is up for grabs.  It certainly reveals a literary trend, but one that is difficult to transfer to broader cultural conclusions.

What do you think it means?  Tell me in a comment.

By the way, for those keeping track at home, here is a count of various pronouns use in this post:

First person singular pronouns: “I” (10), “I’ll” (1), “me” (2) = 13 total
First person plural pronouns: “we” (5), us (3) = 8 total
Second person pronouns: “you” (3), “your” (1) = 4 total
Third person pronouns: “him” (1), “her” (1), “they” (1), “themselves” (1), “their” (5) = 9 total

Handwritten LetterA little over two years ago, I decided to periodically write hand-written letters to my sons to capture some memories, personal father-son thoughts and other things important for me to say to them.  I wanted to take the time to write them out by hand and personally deliver or mail them because I wanted the personal touch throughout – nothing printed from a computer or sent in an email.

Each of the letters has had a different focus – from early memories of their birth and childhood to discussing some aspect of their current life to the year in review to detailing what I believe as a Christian.  While I had visions of writing them more frequently, I’ve only mustered four to each son over the past 24 months.

The idea first came to mind when I heard about a program called Letters from Dad that some men’s groups at churches follow.  I decided to do my own thing rather than follow some other program, however.

I intend to continue writing these for all the years I am able.  It is my hope that of all the physical things I might be able to pass on to them, that they will cherish these as much or more than anything else.

If you’re looking for something to pass on to your children or other loved ones, I suggest you consider an old-fashioned, handwritten letter.  Put your soul into what you write and let it serve as a meaningful legacy long after you’re gone.  For new parents especially, how awesome would it be if your children had a letter from you for each year of life you shared together?  Even if it’s way too late for that (as in the case with my children ages 32 and 29), you can start now and make the most of the writing time ahead.

Leap year lesson #363 is Write letters to your loved ones.

To Blog Or Not To BlogAmazon claims that the average length of all books sold there is 64,000 words. If you Google a question about the average number of words in a book, you’ll find sites with a variety of stats, usually based on the type of book and age of the audience. For example, a novel for adults might typically be in the 80,000 – 120,000 word range. Other genres can be substantially more or less.

Many people fantasize about writing a book at some point in their life, although most never get around to starting one, much less finishing or getting published. To do so, you must have a subject worthy of the time and commitment, do the necessary research to know the subject matter, be incredibly disciplined, be skilled at writing in a way potential readers will be eager to consume, fill a gap not currently met by others, and be willing to do the administrative and marketing work that goes with being published. That is a daunting task. I tip my hat to others for doing so even once, and especially to those who repeat that process time and again. The world is a better place because of their work and creativity.

Like many, I’ve wondered about writing a book, but have no real prospect for doing so. That is why I found the average of 64,000 words for Amazon books interesting. After a year of daily blogs of about 360+ words each, that totals around 132,000 words, or roughly the equivalent of two average-length books. Daily short blogs are not in the same camp as one comprehensive book on a subject, but there is still satisfaction that the past year has produced a dynamic, real-time account of daily chapters from my professional and personal life.

I’ll have more to say in coming days as I reflect on the year’s writing, but the purpose of this post is to encourage all of you who ever dreamed of writing a book to start blogging instead. It will develop the habit of writing, satisfy the desire for a creative outlet, and perhaps provide direction for the future of your writing – book or not.

Leap year lesson #358 is If you want to write a book, start blogging.