That Rough Patch Called Transitioning To Adulthood

blog adulthood

I’ve been reminded of late just how tough that period in life where you have to figure out what you’re going to do when you grow up really is. I can remember that in my own life, but it seems so long ago that the memories are in black and white. My oldest, Briley, is at that place where she has to decide, and her brother, Caleb, the meticulous planner, is engulfed in it as well. Sadly, if anything, it’s harder to figure out these days.

An article in National Review by Oren Cass entitled “Teaching to the Rest” highlighted just how tough it is. According to the author, the 3 million recent high school graduates can be divided into approximately five equal categories. The first group didn’t even make it to high school graduation (remember one fifth of 3 million is 600,000!). The second group will pursue no further education. The third group will enroll in college but never graduate. The fourth group will graduate college, but will never work in the field they got their degree in. Only the final group will go through college and work in a field that they studied for. I don’t know about you, but those statistics shock me.

As you can imagine in that particular magazine, the article goes on talking about the political changes that need to be made in our educational system. The author’s ideas were wonderful, but excuse my cynicism in thinking that either the government or teachers unions would give his thoughts the time of day.

He alludes to, and you’ve probably heard it from other quarters as well, that there is a dearth of young people going into trades. In other words, a college education may not be the best case scenario as was universally believed when I graduated high school. Besides the fact that many public universities have lost their way and are so out of the mainstream that they actually steer young people away from success, there’s the issue that you might be financially worse off to go to college. On the one hand, many college students today embark upon their career with a disastrous financial situation because of college debt. A trade could be learned for a fraction of the cost with a similar starting salary but without the oppressive debt.

It grieves me to say this, but even for my children who want to follow my steps into the ministry, the possibility of making a full-time income from it over the course of their whole working lives seems unlikely. The rapid decline of Christianity in our day means that all in ministry may be tentmakers like Paul in the years ahead. That likelihood means even young people considering ministry will need a trade or profession to fall back on. I haven’t lost faith that the Lord can provide what’s needed for our calling, just that He he may actually start calling more to a bi-vocational ministry.

I’m totally sympathetic to my children. The gravity with which they view their choices for the future is commensurate to current events. I never want to be guilty of calling my children to the ministry or any other profession. My wife, Alicia, has already been warning our children of the need to have a trade for some time.

I’ve decided this rough patch of transition into adulthood is tough for parents too. You’d like to make it easier for them. You’d like for them to be able to pick it without reservations and feel perfectly at peace with their choices, but the reality is they go through all kinds of options. You have to balance telling them the ideas they have that probably will not work out well to not being overly controlling and telling them what they have to do with their lives. It’s tough. It’s times like this that I’m so happy that my children know the same Lord that I do. I’ve had times of not knowing the way and being afraid, and had to learn to wait on the Lord.

I guess this post is not really instructional. I really can’t see that I gave any good advice. But I guess I’m just putting in writing a plea to my children to trust the Lord with an acknowledgment that Daddy loves you and has confidence in you. I’m tempted to close my eyes and hide until the Lord grows your faith and leads you through this, but by faith let’s just go through it together.

Acts (IVPNT) by William Larkin

book acts ivp

This book is one of the longer and higher-rated commentaries in the IVP New Testament Commentary (IVPNT) series. Mr. Larkin balanced scholarly concerns and pastoral needs quite handsomely. Pastors will further appreciate this volume because of how well he draws out missionary concerns. He never strays far from seeing salvation and its proclamation as the heart of the Book of Acts.

He approaches his Introduction from a different angle than many such volumes. He begins by getting us thinking about what’s at stake in preaching Acts today and drawing out its contemporary relevance. To grasp Mr. Larkin’s approach in stating that Acts is all about world evangelization, he says, “whether lulled into complacency by universalism or into indifference by viewing missions as the specialty of certain persons, the church will be awakened by Acts, which declares that being on the move with the gospel witness across cultural thresholds is the church’s number-one job.”

From there Mr. Larkin goes into bridging the cultural gap between the first century to our day and giving some insight into the way Acts ought to be applied today. Next, he discusses historical setting, which includes author, date, and audience. His conclusions are conservative. He treads quickly through scholarly opinions about the purpose of the Book of Acts and addresses historical reliability along the way. The highlight of the Introduction is his explanation of the theology of the book. I appreciated the way he highlighted the overwhelming importance of the Resurrection of Christ and how he further drew out salvation and witnessing.

The commentary section was well done, and as we said before, longer than several others the volumes in the series. In fact, the book itself runs to over 400 pages. Every passage that I reviewed in this book provided helpful commentary. Most importantly, he carried the aforementioned theme of world evangelization throughout the bulk of the commentary. That is, of course, in line with what the Book of Acts is doing.

If you are looking for a mid length commentary with real depth, yet without getting carried away in scholarly concerns, you ought to check this book out. I recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (NAC) by Melick

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Richard Melick. Jr. delivered this helpful commentary in the New American Commentary (NAC) series. It’s actually a three-for-one deal in the already economical series, this time on two of the more beloved of Paul’s epistles as well as his lesser-known personal letter to Philemon. At 375 pages, Melick strikes the perfect balance between helpfulness and succinctness.

Instead of writing one Introduction for all three letters, he writes standalone Introductions before the commentary of all three letters. I was impressed with the depth and quality of each of the Introductions provided here. In each case, he again struck the perfect balance between providing scholarly information and accessible understanding for pastors and teachers.

In his Introduction to Philippians, he first describes the background of the city and its people. Next, in a section entitled “the founding of the church”, he describes the level of Christianity to be found there. When he looked at authorship, he had little patience for the unfounded attacks on Pauline authorship. He feels the greater question is one of integrity of the text, and in his analysis, he explains the unity of the text. He reaches conservative conclusions on origin and date. In that same conservative vein, he outlines Paul’s opponents at Philippi and explains the theological structure of the epistle. His commentary on Philippians itself is thoughtful and well done.

His Introduction to Colossians follows the same pattern. He again reaches conservative conclusions and in section 7, “the problem at Colosse”, he breaks down the unique features of the book of Colossians. He again ends with the theological structure of the epistle and an outline of the book. He delivers commentary on Colossians at the same high level he did on Philippians.

Finally, he tackles Philemon in 35 pages. I have single exegetical commentary volumes on Philemon in my library, but this is all most will need. Again, he is the model of helpfulness while being compendious. He outlines the Introduction in the same winning way that worked in the other two epistles. As you can imagine, setting the stage and explaining slavery is especially important in this little epistle. The commentary itself is again very fine.

I’m surprised this volume isn’t more well-known and highly rated, so I guess we could label it a hidden jewel. Pastors, teachers, and Bible students will love this volume and I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Job (NAC) by Robert Alden

book job nac

Here’s one of the most conservative, pastor friendly commentaries available on the book of Job today. It’s in the economical New American Commentary (NAC) series. It’s wonderful to read a commentary that approaches the text in such a reverent, believing way. That’s exactly the way Robert Alden discusses the Book of Job here.

He provides a thoughtful Introduction much more geared toward the pastor than the scholar. He begins by discussing structure and explains how the scholarly world is in more agreement than is usual in the area of structure with most biblical books. He surveys the issues that help decide the dating of the book of Job and arrives at a conservative, older dating. In discussing authorship, he boldly speaks for the full inspiration of Scripture (believe it or not, that is rather rare today). Next, he tackles geography and culture followed by canonicity. He ends his Introduction with a helpful overview of literary style, theology, and purpose.

The commentary proper provides the kind of help that pastors and teachers are looking for. For the record, some scholarly reviews have not been that high on this volume, but that has nothing to do with anything other than Mr. Alden not being obsessed with esoteric scholarly minutia. Words, geography, obscure statements, as well as theology are all brought out clearly. If your goal is to explain the text, I believe you will greatly appreciate this commentary. In the category of a commentary for pastors or teachers, I’d have to say that this volume is as good as any out there today. For the money, this is a must-buy.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Rev. Ed.)–Volume 6: Proverbs-Isaiah

book ebc 6

The quality revision of the beloved Expositor’s Bible Commentary succeeds again here in volume 6 covering Proverbs through Isaiah. For the record, I’m glad Ross and Grogan were retained to revise Proverbs and Isaiah respectively, as I always enjoyed them in the old set. This revision ensures another generation of pastors will use EBC as a primary resource.

In Proverbs, the Introduction and outline are little changed and the exceptional topical index was retained. The commentary is simply one of the best on Proverbs today. Frankly, I always check what Ross has to say when working in Proverbs.

In Ecclesiastes J. Stanford Wright is replaced by Jerry Shepherd. Though the scholarship is improved, and the writing clear, his interpretation follows the currently popular pessimistic approach. Though I couldn’t agree with that approach, the work is helpful.

George Schwab replaces Dennis Kinlaw in an improved effort for the Song of Songs. It’s really outstanding. He gives an incredibly succinct summary of approaches to the book. Since pastors rarely preach on the Song, this may be all some pastors want.

Grogan has brought Isaiah up to date with current scholarship and this commentary will hold its status as one of the best in the middle-length category. I really love it! Conservative, clear, and helpful–what more could you ask for?

Quality commentary on four biblical books (and one of those books is the longer, important Book of Isaiah) between two covers at a decent price is not something you can find just anywhere. I’d especially recommend this volume to busy pastors and teachers. You will be helped by it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

James (ZECNT) by Blomberg & Kamell

book james zec

This commentary was the inaugural volume in the developing Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (ZECNT) series that rivals all series in print today. This volume is shorter than the ones that followed, but must be credited with establishing ZECNT style that is outstanding on so many levels. Every passage has a section on literary context, a main idea, a translation, a discussion of structure, an exegetical outline followed by a quality explanation of the text, and a theology in application section. As a pastor, I love this design.

This volume was written by highly-respected scholar Craig Blomberg, and at his request, he was joined by his research assistant Mariam Kamell as co-author. As said before, it is quite shorter than other volumes in the series, but the quality of writing is up where you would hope.

Though the Introduction begins with a section entitled “Outline”, it’s really a review of structure and what has been thought in the scholarly world. A section called “Circumstances” gives us a historical setting including authorship. Authorship carries into more sections as it is often debated in the scholarly world though I find the reasons obtuse. In any event, conservative conclusions are reached here. The Introduction is followed by a fine bibliography.

The commentary proper is succinct, but solid; and again, the ZECNT format shines. The authors move through scholarly issues to help for expositors in a skillful way. I’m high on this series, and I recommend this volume.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Born After Midnight by Tozer

book born mid tozer

Classic Tozer! Tozer never disappoints whether it be one of his famous titles, or one not quite as well known like this one. I’ve read most of his titles by this point and loved them all, but this one is even better than several others. This title is one where he seems a little less on edge, but as challenging as ever. The title is a reference to his belief that revivals are born after midnight because that’s the time most have already given up. He really aims at personal spiritual renewal in this book. He tackles several subjects in light of renewal in his indomitable style.

He writes of our now missing inner witness that should radiate from Christians. He explains the concept of spiritually living in times of crisis. He explains the hollowness of words without deeds. There’s far more chapters than I can relay in this review, but he tackles dealing with the devil, our thinking, failure, “sanctifying the ordinary”, and much more. The chapter on wealth was especially good.

Moody has a whole series of these fine paperback Tozer titles and it’s a great idea to secure them all. Get this one near the beginning of your acquisitions! It is a dandy!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Letters to Timothy and Titus (NICNT) by Towner

book nicnt pastorals

This book by Philip Towner is an impressive entry in the venerated New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) series. Towner had already published on the Pastorals before this major work, and was known for assisting Howard Marshall on his earlier ICC work. It’s clearly a top-5 work on the Pastorals today and is the favorite of many. Even though, I couldn’t agree with his egalitarian viewpoint, I can’t deny the quality of his scholarship and the skill of writing in this work.

He provides a huge Introduction running through page 90 with a substantial bibliography preceding it. Though he’s not too keen on the label “Pastoral Epistles”, he sees value in addressing the three letters together and takes that approach in this Introduction. After addressing a few preliminary issues, he jumps into the major division in scholarly discussion on these letters–did Paul write them, or did even the same author write them ?–and he lays out the battle lines clearly. I’m more confident of the traditional viewpoints than he is, but I enjoyed his evenhanded explanations. Authorship issues bleed into historical setting and he upholds his quality discussion throughout. He covers theology, structure, and other introductory matters with great depth as well.

As you would expect in a NICNT volume, the commentary is on the English text with deeper exegetical comments in the footnotes. What you end up with is an usable volume with access to more specialized exegetical matters. The commentary itself is top-notch and enlightening for the reader. Towner used the NICNT format to good advantage and provides us with a volume well worth checking out. I recommend it!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Book of Job (OTL) by Habel

book otl job

I’d have to rank this commentary as one of the best in the Old Testament Library (OTL) series. Whether it be on the level of theology or commentary. Norman Habel succeeds. He had written earlier on the Book of Job, but supersedes all his previous efforts here. Even better, this book is more conservative than several others in this series.

The Introduction is more in-depth (70 pages!) than several others in the series too. It rivals more exegetical works in that regard. He begins his Introduction by not disguising that he agrees with others who see Job as a literary masterpiece. He explains, too, the challenge of Job having so many unique words and idioms. He provides a lengthy explanation of the narrative plot and sees three main movements. In his discussion of integrity, setting, and date, he see the major place a critical orientation shows up–his willingness to rearrange chapters 21-28. His literary features and their significance section gives much food for thought in structural issues. He finishes his probing analysis in a message and meaning section.

The commentary proper is rich in theological insight. I look forward to having this volume at my disposal in all my future studies on the Book of Job. I would categorize it as indispensable to building a library for Bible study!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

I & II Samuel (OTL) by Auld

book otl sam

Here’s one of the more substantial volumes in the well-known Old Testament Library (OTL) series. A. Graeme Auld has been turning out scholarly writings for a long time and is highly respected, particularly in critical circles. I often don’t agree with his critical conclusions, but must admit that he can make some brilliant observations and has a keen eye for what others miss.

After a bibliography, Auld jumps into an Introduction that begins by rightfully seeing I & II Samuel as the Book of David. To his mind, all the other characters are merely the supporting cast. He explains how “no other biblical books in such detail take us into the lives of their principal characters and families.” Next he delves into textual issues of Samuel. That takes him onto the slippery slope of sources and some opinions that could never be substantiated.

By page 20 we are into the commentary proper that runs all the way to page 630. This is the section where the nuggets lie in this book. Again, I couldn’t possibly agree with all his critical presuppositions and conclusions, but I appreciated his ability to point out things that I found no where else.

I love a commentary that can spur thinking even if there are things I disagree with. For that reason, I find it easy to recommend this commentary.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.