Category Archives: Books

Inside My Mentoring Group

In late 2011, I posted that one of my goals for 2012 was to start a mentoring group for young adult guys. I had a couple of guys who were somewhat interested, but it did not materialize.

6963288842_4c241ed9d3_zBut I really wanted to do this, so I changed how I approached asking guys to join in. Instead of a wide-open, anybody can apply approach, I started keeping a list of guys I specifically wanted to be part of the program. They are young men in whom I see a great deal of potential. I have a true passion for seeing younger men grow and mature into strong leaders for God and for family.

It has worked. Four accepted the invitation to be in the program in 2013, and a couple others are looking at 2014 already.

What Do We Do?

These guys agree to a very strict code of participation each month. They must do three P’s each time we meet: be prompt, be prepared, and participate. I provide them with a discussion outline for the next meeting, and they must have it ready to go. Honestly, I am blown away by how frank and open the discussions have been.

Part of that openness comes from one very important aspect of the group: what happens in the group stays in the group. (By the way, that is why I will not talk of any specific discussions in this post.)

Each month, the members (including me) are required to do the following:

  • Read one assigned book and make notes on the sheet I give out for that book. While reading provides us with the background for our discussion, this is far more than a book club. It is highly personal. We make life applications and challenge each other to be better men, workers, husbands, fathers, and students. [The list of books is at the end of this post.]
  • Memorize two assigned Scriptures. The passages from the Bible are fitting for the subject for that month. Sometimes it is only a verse or two, while other times it is several.
  • Participate in the discussion.

Besides these monthly requirements, each participant is required to do the following:

  • Attend Spiritual Renewal Weekend (part of Polishing the Pulpit) in August. While there, they must keep notes from at least 3 of the sessions they attend and turn them in at our September meeting.
  • Meet one-on-one with me for a meal twice during the year. We recently amended this slightly, so that those who are married could meet “two-on-two” with Leah and me if they wanted. These are simply informal meals to get to know one another a little better and to help with specific struggles or decisions.
  • Agree to lead a mentoring group in the future. It does not  have to follow this same way of doing things, but the participant has signed a form saying he will do this in the future at least one time.

We meet each month for a meal at our house, then we have our meeting, which usually last 90 minutes. The time truly flies, because there is so much discussion, and we are truly having fun.

I really can’t express to you how much this group is helping me, and I know it is helping the guys who are involved. If you would like more information about this program, contact me with any questions you may have.

Resources

Books we are using in this year’s program (all links except January’s book are to Amazon print version of the books. For this program, I do not recommend Kindle, because you will want to make a lot of notes):

Spiritual Renewal Weekend

I also highly recommend the book Mentor Like Jesus by Regi Campbell if you are thinking of leading a group like this one. It is a quick, but excellent read. You can get it for $11.35  here.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on this sort of program? What other recommendations do you have? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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Photo credit: Ryan Li on Creative Commons

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Tech Tip: Remembering Kindle Highlights

I love my Kindle! I read from it almost daily, and probably read about 50%-60% of the books I read from cover-to-cover on it.

As I read, though, I like to make some highlights. However…what do you do with those highlights once they are done?

I have struggled with that for quite some time, but here is what I am starting to do now. I hope it is helpful to you if you have struggled with this, too.

To purchase a Kindle for just $69, click on the picture. Just $69!!!

To purchase a Kindle for just $69, click on the picture. Just $69!!!

STEP ONE: Finding the Highlights

Amazon does a great thing in putting all your Kindle highlights in one place, but they make it a bit difficult to find. The best thing to do is to bookmark the page with your highlights, but if you forget to do that, here’s how you can find them.

1. Sign into Amazon

2. Then, in the url bar, type in kindle.amazon.com/your_highlights

Once you are on that page, Amazon shows all your highlights from all your books, starting with the newest ones.

STEP TWO: Archive on a blog

This is an extra step, I know, but it is one that I am doing, because I want to share these resources with others.

So, I created a Tumblr blog called “Resources from Adam Faughn.” Click here to see it, or here to follow it by rss.

If you do this, people who follow that blog will get to see all your favorite quotes. It’s a great way to share resources! Feel free to follow mine.

STEP THREE: Send to Evernote

If you are not using Evernote, you need to! It is the best way I have found to keep up with all the zillions of different things you find, but you don’t know where to keep. I recently crossed over 3000 notes in my account, and I use it to store all sorts of illustrations, sermon ideas, quotes, maps, pictures…and on and on.

I plan to clip my Tumblr posts into Evernote, and since the posts have tags (e.g. family, preaching, Matthew, etc.), they are then already tagged and searchable.

NOTE: One thing that I need to tell you is that I don’t make a ton of highlights. I’m not sure this system would work if you are a very heavy highlighter. But it’s a way I’m trying, and I think it will work.

QUESTION: How to keep up with your Kindle highlights and notes?

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Book Review: 20,000 Days and Counting

Subtitled The Crash Course For Mastering Your Life Right Now, this book is a quick read that will cause you to think. In fact, since the book is about making the best use of your time, the writer, Robert D. Smith, wanted the book to be quite brief. The volume can be read quite thoughtfully in less than two hours.

Coming to the realization that he had lived nearly 20,000 days, Smith went on a retreat by himself and tried to think about, if he had 20,000 days left, what would he most like to accomplish? In reality, answering that question did not take long, because he knew what his most valued things in life were. The trick, of course, was just to do those things!

This book asks many challenging questions, but the overall thrust of this volume is very simple. It is to live to your priorities each day. Each chapter addresses that singular theme from a different angle. You may think, then, that this is a boring or very repetitive book, but that is not true. Due not only to its brevity, but also to the different angles of each chapter, you will find yourself enriched and challenged.

Of course, by making us think of days instead of years, this book really gives a strong challenge, but it is a Biblical challenge (cf. Psalm 90:12). I highly recommend this book.

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To order a Kindle copy for just $8.54, click here.

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I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze.com in exchange for this review. The review does not have to be positive, but only must reflect my opinion on the volume.

Book Review: “Life Promises for Couples”

Written by the author of The Five Love Languages, this short volume is meant to be a devotional-type book. Just 200 pages in length, each of the facing pages shares (on one page) about two or three Scriptures, then (on the facing page) a short thought based upon those Scriptures to  help your marriage.

One of the strengths of this book is that it covers a multitude of areas in the marriage relationship. When I first started the book, I was concerned that it would just be a “retread” of Chapman’s famous “love languages,” which I have read before. While those five common thoughts are clearly seen in the book, the reader will find this to be a very different book, both in type but also in material.

The book is laid out in such a way as to cause one to read it slowly. I tried to just read a  handful (maybe 5) of the devotionals at a time, since the subject matter jumps from concept to concept. In doing this, I found the book helpful and very encouraging.

This little book would make a wonderful gift for a newlywed couple, or for your spouse, as it will help anyone see the importance of marriage. In giving the book away, though, don’t forget to take the time to read it yourself!

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I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for this review. I did not have to provide a positive review.

Tyndale Blog Network

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.
I review for BookSneeze®

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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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.