Category Archives: Books

Book Review: “Then Sings My Soul” book 3

Robert Morgan has written several different volumes in this series. Personally, I own and have read volumes 1, 2, and 3 in the series, but have not read any of the “special edition” books.

Volume three in this series is slightly different from the first two. Both volumes 1 and 2 took one page to give a short history of either a hymn or its writer, with about 150 hymns in each book. In this volume, Morgan often lets the story go for several pages, providing more depth to the information. Further, this volume differs because the beginning of the book provides a brief walk through what Morgan called “The History of Hymnody.” Anyone interested in the history of religious music will find this section, while very short, to be a good summary.

As one who loves to sing, but who also enjoys knowing where hymns come from, I find these short histories to be refreshing and uplifting. Morgan’s words are brief, but very informative. Personally, I like the longer format to these histories, in contrast to the longer notes in previous volumes. As with previous volumes, the reader will also find a wonderful mix of songs that are very familiar with those that they may have never heard of before. This only adds to the charm of the book, as the reader wants to find more hymns to learn.

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NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze.com in exchange for this review. I do not have to provide a positive review.
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The Big Announcement: 24:15 Publications

Today, we are so excited to let you know about a brand new endeavor we are undertaking. Obviously, as one who blogs so often, I enjoy writing, but blog posts are short-format. I also enjoy writing longer-format materials.

Like books.

So, for some time, I have started a writing regimen that has led to the formation of our own family publishing company. Today, we are thrilled to let you know about 24:15 Publications.

We take the name from Joshua 24:15, where that great leader told the people of Israel, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We want to help you and your family learn more about God’s Word so you can truly serve Him.

What makes our “publishing” company unique is that we are not actually doing any publishing of our own. All of our books are available through Amazon in a print-on-demand format. Some books will also be available on the Kindle. We will have some of our books in hand, but our goal is to drive people to our Amazon page so they can get whatever they want, whenever they want.

What We Have Available Right Now

In addition to “opening” today, we are starting 24:15 Publications with not one…not two…but THREE volumes! One of our goals was to have different types of books available, so we waited to start until we had three. All three of our books are very different.

So, what is available right now? I’m glad you asked. Here are the three books that are currently available for purchase.

1. Blessings from Revelation. This book is our first in our “Notes from the Preacher” series. These books are taken from sermon series or Bible classes that I have presented. This first offering deals with the seven “beatitudes” found in the book of Revelation. It is, of course, seven chapters in length and has 88 pages. This book is just $6.00.

2. The Epistle of Joy. We wanted to offer deeper Bible study books that any Christian could follow. Some like commentaries, while others like devotional books. So…we created “Commenotionals.” And our first offering in this series is a look at the book of Philippians. We like to think of these books are commentaries for the rest of us. Using footnotes for deeper Bible study, these books are still very readable and helpful. This volume contains 8 chapters and 136 pages. It costs just $9.00.

3. The “I” in Sin. Designed for Junior and Senior High Bible classes, our “I.E.A. Essentials” series is actually what got 24:15 Publications rolling in our minds. These are not typical class books. The goal is to simply give the teacher an Introduction, Explanation of the text or topic, and Application to share. Then, the teacher is to bring his or her own knowledge and study to help fill out the lesson. Our first offering in this series is a study of the word pictures for sin found in the Old Testament book of Hosea. Featuring 13 chapters and 94 pages, this book is only $4.50.

Wonderful! Where Can I Get These Books?

You may have noticed that we have not included any links to purchase the books yet. That’s because we also have taken the time and expense to create a brand new website for 24:15 Publications. We would like you to take a few moments to go take a look around the new webpage before going on to Amazon.  The webpage still needs a few little tweaks, but we are very proud of it. It will show you more about the types of books, as well as the individual titles we have available.

So, take a moment and visit our new website here: 24:15Publications.com

Finally, How about Something Free?

About 3 weeks ago, we started a monthly email newsletter from this blog. Over 50 people got that first issue, and as I write this there are over 60 signed up to get the next one in late December. The first issue contained a tease at the bottom for a free giveaway to every person–yes, every person–who was signed up for the newsletter by that late December date.

Why are we including this today? Because the giveaway will be our fourth book, which will be a available in just a couple of weeks.

That’s right, every single person who signs up for our free monthly newsletter will get a link to download a pdf version our next book, Understanding the Love Chapter, when the December issue of the newsletter comes out (Friday, December 28). So, if you have not signed up, you’ll want to get on the list. After that date, the book will be $5.50. If you are not on the mailing list, simply click here to join.

Conclusion

So, there you have it. Our huge announcement. We are truly excited, but our prayer is not to sell a bunch of books. Our prayer is that anything you gain from these volumes helps you in your walk with Jesus Christ.

Welcome to 24:15 Publications!

 

Why I Read So Much

Why I Read So Much

I’ll be honest: when I was in school, I hated to read. I guess it was because so much of our reading was what we were required (forced) to read, and I didn’t find much of it all that interesting. Rarely did I find time to read anything that I really enjoyed (except for Beckett Baseball Card Magazine when I was a kid).

Now, though, I read constantly. From books to blogs, from websites to bulletins, I am constantly reading. Also, I have started trying to encourage others to read, and to read things of different lengths. It’s fine to read blogs (especially this one!), but you also need to allow your brain to focus on long-format reading in the forms of books or plays.

This year, I have a goal of reading 50 books cover-to-cover, and unless something drastic happens I will exceed that goal (I finished book #43 earlier this week). Additionally, I subscribe to around 90 blogs. Admittedly, I don’t read every article from every blog, but I read most of them.

The question is, “Why?” Why do I read so much? Here are a few reasons that might encourage you to read more.

1. Knowledge. This is the first thing that anyone would think of. I would guess that over 95% of my reading is non-fiction, and the basic reason is that I want to acquire knowledge. When Leah and I want to know better how to build our family, we read. When I want to learn more about anything, from the Bible to baseball, I read.

2. Viewpoints. One of the best ways to not just hear, but understand, a differing viewpoint is to read. If all you do is watch the news, you are only getting a few seconds of a point of view. However, if you will take the time to read widely and deeply about certain beliefs or personalities, you begin to understand where that belief comes from. That’s not to say you have to agree, of course, but it helps you make an intelligent and fair assessment.

3. Fun. I read mostly what I want to read. Most of the books I read are on the Bible or related topics, because I am interested in it. I also read books about sports, finances, marriage, and other things, because I get enjoyment from it. I really believe that most people would enjoy reading if they read books about subjects they enjoy. If you are a musician, read about music. If you are into crafting, read books about that. Don’t think you have to read what’s on the best-seller lists if it’s not something you are into.

4. Portability. Reading can happen anywhere. I nearly always have my Bible and a book with me. When I do not, I have my Kindle or my smartphone (with a Kindle app and my blog reader) handy. I have read waiting in line, at the park, in hospital waiting rooms, and in tons of other places. Not every productive hobby is as portable, especially in our modern age, as reading.

QUESTION: Why do you enjoy reading?

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Photo credit: artotem on Creative Commons

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Have a Kindle? Enjoy “Moments that Matter”

Have a Kindle? Enjoy “Moments that Matter”

The cover of the tract I authored

Today’s post is to let you know about a really neat project that I have been blessed to be part of. Recently, brother Jonathan Jenkins from Katy, Texas, got in touch with me and asked it I would write a tract. That may sound like no big deal, but the format is really interesting, and I think there is potential here to reach many people with the truth of God’s Word.

Brother Jenkins is editing these tracts, but they are really e-tracts, because they are only going to be available on the Kindle. I think this is a wonderful way to promote the Gospel! Here are some facts about this series:

1. The series of tracts is called “Moments that Matter,” and the subtitle is brilliant: “Short Answers to Eternal Questions.”

2. Each tract is around 3000 words or so, so they are about the length of one chapter of a regular book. Someone could read the entire tract in about 15 minutes or less in most cases.

3. The tracts cost 99 cents…but here’s the beautiful part. Every so often, each tract will be FREE on the Kindle for one week, and Jonathan is letting people know about that through the Facebook page for Moments that Matter. So, someone could simply search for free materials on the Kindle (like I do quite often!) and come across these tracts. At first, it looks like 2 tracts per week will be free, but our hope is that this number of regular free materials grows as the catalog of tracts grows.

4. If you are studying with someone, remember that you can “gift” a Kindle book (or tract) to that person through Amazon, and it will show up on their device. This is a great way to give someone material very inexpensively (even free).

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So far, tracts have been published or are in the process of being edited by Drew Kizer, Dan Jenkins, Eric Owens, Dale Jenkins, Jeremiah Tatum, Bruce Morton, Jonathan, myself, and the staff at Apologetics Press. Other writers are also involved, but are still working on their first submissions to the series.

Here is how you can enjoy this great new idea:

1. If you are on Facebook, make sure you “Like” the Moments that Matter page. That will add it to your Facebook news stream, so you can see when new tracts are published, or when certain tracts become free to download.

2. Even if you do not have a Kindle, you can read these tracts. Go to this page and download a Kindle reader for your computer, tablet, or smartphone (it’s free). If you have never done this, I highly recommend it. Free is a great price!

3. Start your “collection” with a FREE tract by Jonathan called “Am I Saved?” Here is the link to that tract. Since it’s free, get one for yourself, and then “gift” it to someone you are studying with.

4. Go ahead and spend 99 cents and buy the tract I authored (or you can wait until it’s free, of course…haha). It’s called “How Will I Be Treated when I’m 120 Years Old?

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With the growth of e-readers and the relative ease of finding free material, I think this is a great “market” to be in, and I’m thankful that Jonathan thought of this. It is an honor to be involved in the project, and it is my prayer that many tracts will be written and that many souls will be reached through these efforts.

…and, yes, Jonathan, I’ve been working on my next submission, too!

Book Review: “Raising Real Men”

Book Review: “Raising Real Men”

Raising Real Men

Hal and Melanie Young

$15.00 (paperback) / $9.99 (Kindle)

I was honored to be contacted by the Youngs and asked if I would review their book. It has been a joy to read.

Raising Real Men is a highly practical book, showing how this family is raising six sons (and one daughter, poor girl!). The Youngs regularly present some of this material in seminar/workshop form, but the book is well-done and easy to read.

One of the aspects I appreciated the most in this volume is the emphasis on true masculinity as God defines it, not as the world defines it. The boys are taught to be mannerly, but are also allowed to be rough-and-tumble. Going against the grain of many in our modern world, they are taught to defend ladies and to always seek to be a hero to women. Personally, I want my son to learn that lesson. He needs to seek to always be a gentleman who reaches out to help women of all age, not because they are “lesser,” but because it’s just the kind thing to do.

The Youngs have a strong Christian leaning in this book, which I appreciate. One thing I wish were done is that Scripture references are done as endnotes to the chapters. Personally, I like them as a part of the text itself (done parenthetically), but this is just preference. There are many references to Old Testament passages, especially dealing with wisdom literature. These timeless traits need to be inculcated into the lives of our children.

For many of you, one “turn off” of the book is that there is a strong emphasis on homeschooling. The Youngs are very direct from the outset, that their book is just trying to tell what they have done, and that includes homeschooling their children. We homeschool our two children as well, so this was helpful information for me, but if you do not homeschool, you may find it to be a bit much.

Overall, this is a very good book with a much-needed emphasis. In a world that has seemingly forgotten what real masculinity looks like, it is past time we parents started reinforcing God-given maleness into our sons. This book is a good “how-to” for parents wanting to do just that.

[NOTE: To visit the Young’s website and blog, click here.]

Book Review: “Game On”

Emmitt Smith, the Hall of Fame running back, wrote this book as a way to help people live within their purpose in life. Smith’s strength in this book is helping people live focused lives. In fact, that is basically the basis of the book.

Using his own experience as the basis for most of the book, Smith shares some of the times in his life when it didn’t seem like he would be the one to accomplish something, but he shows how he made it. Maybe the funniest part of the book is Smith discussing how he became a surprise champion on Dancing with the Stars. Through every chapter, the reader is focused upon one aspect of how to achieve great things.

The weakness of this book is the usage of Scripture. While the book passes as a Christian living book, there is almost no Scripture. Personally, I felt that there was so little that it would almost be better if there were none, and the book was just an autobiography or a leadership book.

If you are a football fan, you’ll find several stories that you will enjoy. If not, there is enough of the other parts of Smith’s life that it will keep nearly any reader interested. This is an average book, but one I’m glad I read.

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NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for this review. The review is fully my opinion.

Book Review: “Enemies of the Heart”

Andy Stanley’s Enemies of the Heart is a re-release of his former book, It Came from Within. Stanley’s words in this book are highly practical, as the book deals with areas that every person seems to struggle with at times.

Stanley tries to deal with four areas–guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy–that not only harm our relationships with others, but that break us down from the inside. His book seeks to show not only that these things are real, but that they are truly problematic, and that these four areas will destroy us if we leave them untouched.

In my opinion, the best part of the book is the middle section, where the author shares what these four “enemies” do to us, and how they each have a connection with how we either “owe” something to someone else, or how they “owe” us something. (I’m being vague, because I don’t want to give away that part of the book.) These middle four chapters are a must-read.

Overall, the book is highly practical, but seems to lack the Biblical references that I expected going in. Having heard Stanley preach via podcast many times, this wasn’t too surprising, but I thought maybe his books would be a little different. Still, for a practical book, this volume is hard to beat.

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NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from Multnomah’s “Blogging for Books” program in exchange for a review. The review is fully  my opinion.

Book Review: “Our Last Great Hope”

Book Review: “Our Last Great Hope”

Ronnie Floyd’s latest book, Our Last Great Hope, is meant to awaken within evangelical Christians the need and necessity for fulfilling the Great Commission. Floyd served for one year as the head of a group within the Southern Baptist Convention that was charged with studying world situations and how best to approach taking the Gospel to the entire world. He wrote this book, not so much as a “report” from that committee, but from his heart that was awakened by seeing the situation.

Of course, there are some statements in the book that deal with doctrines that are false, but this book still needs to be read. As I read it, I kept finding quotes and longer sections that I was reading again and again, because they really were eye-opening and made me look into the mirror and ask, “Am I really doing my part?”

The book has two great strengths.

First, the book is worded very strongly. Floyd pulls no punches as to the need that is ever-growing, due to the increasing population of the world. This book will really make you think about the Great Commission.

Second, the book covers several aspects of how to fulfill the command of Christ. It does not just conclude that we should “get to it.” Instead, Floyd shares ways that individuals and congregations can look for open doors, in people, resources, and finances, to get to work.

I highly recommend this book.

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NOTE: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. The review is fully my opinion. The book was provided by booksneeze.com

 

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Review of “Plugged in Parenting”

Review of “Plugged in Parenting”

Written by Bob Waliszewski, Plugged in Parenting is designed to help parents in the digital age. Though backed with numerous statistics and examples, the book is still easy to read and is a quick read.

One of the positives of this book is that it doesn’t just present “troubles,” but shares with parents tools to help them equip their children to use technology both for information and entertainment. As one might expect, though, the book quickly points out many of the struggles parents face with the complete glut of technology in our children’s world.

As a reader might expect, the book mentions the website PluggedIn.com quite often, at times too much. While not meant as a “commercial” for the site, I still found the number times it was mentioned to be a bit much.

As I read the book, I was struck by how the book could hold up longer than some other books on the subject. While there were some specific examples, there were not as many as you might expect. I find this to be a good feature, as pop culture references and “cool” technologies change so often. I think this book, at least in its major principles, will last for some time to come.

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I received this book for free from Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to give a positive review on the book.

 

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Review of “Love You More”

Review of “Love You More”

Jennifer Grant’s story of international adoption was intriguing to me. As a parent of an adopted child, I love reading other adoption stories. This book did not disappoint. However, since our adoption was from within the United States, reading about an international adoption added to our knowledge of the subject.

Love You More is written by an obviously gifted writer, and the book truly shares the heart of one who wanted to adopt, but had to go through many of the usual “hoops” of an international adoption. The daughter they adopted, Mia, is from Guatemala, a nation that made adoptions quite difficult while Grant and her husband were trying to finish the process.

One of the unique parts of the story of Mia’s adoption is that the Grant family already had children of their own, but had always thought about adopting. The Grants both worked overseas and enjoyed certain parts of the world, so adopting internationally was part of their heart. That adds to the flavor of the story.

Another nice feature of the book is that Grant is willing to publish some of the emails she sent to friends and family through the process, which adds to the “human” side of the book. The book is an easy read, but will pull at your heart strings. I highly recommend the volume.

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I received a copy of Love You More for free from Booksneeze.com in exchange for this review. I was not required to publish a positive review.

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