June 3, 2019

See How They Grow & Simple Guides

Parenting, family, faith, and future & guides to study the Bible for yourself.

Adventist Review Editors

68 1 4 3See How They Grow

Growing With: Every Parent’s Guide to Helping Teenagers and Young Adults Thrive in Their Faith, Family, and Future, Kara Powell and Steven Argue, Baker Books, 2019, 297 pages. Hardcover, US$22.99. Reviewed by Stephen Chavez, Adventist Review.

It’s no secret that young adults are an endangered species in Christian churches across most denominations in the industrialized world. And it’s true not because some book reviewer says so. That statement is true because it’s based on careful, documented, sociological studies done on Christian young adults and their spiritual habits and practices.

The Fuller Youth Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary has been involved in such research, and has spent time, energy, and financial resources to develop strategies to help Christian youth and young adults embrace their Christian heritage and make it a vibrant, essential part of their life experience.

The book Growing With is a practical guide for parents and other influential adults who accompany youth as they transition into situations in which they make more of their own decisions, as they—the adults in their lives—make fewer decisions for them. The authors, Kara Powell and Steven Argue, faculty members at Fuller, use their own experience as parents to provide real, everyday examples of this process.

One of the book’s significant strengths is the research that supports each point. Powell and Argue are not simply theology professors repeating theories or maxims—they are Christian sociologists making points that are grounded in both the Bible and in certain social realities.

The book’s four sections—parenting, family, faith, and future—are reminders that raising responsible adults is a process with many components. We learn by doing, and the process often involves trial and error. We do the best we can, but ultimately we have to allow for the fact that our children have to make their own decisions. Another of the great features of the book is that the authors are as transparent in admitting their failures as they are in celebrating their victories.

While it’s tempting to throw up one’s hands in surrender to the many forces that seem intent to rob our children and grandchildren of their spiritual birthright, Growing With is a carefully reasoned, well-documented, truly readable prescription for dealing with the steady and intractable secularization of our society. If your children already have children, this book is an essential resource that has much to offer.

We want future generations to embrace Christianity because the future of our movement depends on the resources—spiritual, personal, and financial—that their presence provides. But we also want them to grasp sound, biblical Christianity, because that is where they meet the Savior, experience salvation, and learn to embody the values Christ came to impart.

68 2 2Simple Guides

A Simple Guide to the Book of Isaiah (2017), A Simple Guide to Paul’s Epistles (2015), A Simple Guide to the Book of Revelation (2018), Jeff Scoggins, Skapto Publishing. Hardcover, US$16.99 (Isaiah), $22.99 (Epistles), $26.99 (Revelation). Reviewed by Stephen Chavez, Adventist Review.

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You don’t have to be a pastor to study the Bible, but it helps. Every pastor knows the pressure of digging deep into the Scriptures in search of refreshing  and relevant messages to share week after week. Those who do it well bless their congregations with insights that are biblically based and applicable to the everyday situations in which most of us live.

Jeff Scoggins’ specialty is missions. He has served both in the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and in the Office of World Mission. He has also served as a pastor to congregations in Minnesota and received a Master of Arts in pastoral ministry from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. In one of his classes about the book of Revelation a professor’s notes became the inspiration (with the professor’s permission) for Scoggins’ first book: You Can Understand the Book of Revelation (2013).

Since then Scoggins has added three more books to his portfolio. The word “simple” in each title is intentional and quite descriptive. Nobody reading these books will imagine that they were written by some academic for the sake of fellow professionals. Not that they don’t contain good theology throughout, but because they’re so readable, so understandable. Why use a $3 word when a 50-cent word says the same thing? The author’s years in pastoral ministry have packed these volumes with language that is easy to read and easy to digest.

A Simple Guide to the Book of Revelation is most like Bible commentary, with verse by verse explanations and comments. Scoggins’ other two books, about Isaiah and Paul’s letters, take a broader, more general approach. But all three are useful guides to uncovering the meaning and contemporary significance of the Bible authors’ messages.

These books are self-published, meaning that the author has not gone out of his way to market them, other than to see that they appear in a few Adventist Book Centers. But they are available at your favorite online book seller.

These books reveal the author’s passion for serious Bible study, and they will likely inspire others to cultivate a similar passion.