Last Words

Jesus said…

I have finished the work
God gave me.

Paul said…

I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.


I wonder what last words people will remember me by…

“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mat 12:37)


A Man…

An excerpt from the book I’m working on now…

Despite Mark’s lighthearted reaction, finding him at the market in the middle of the afternoon told Maria that something unusual was in the air. The sober look on his face as they walked down the street together was further proof. She remembered suddenly about his planned meeting with Eusebius and wondered what had happened. Evidently something unusual had taken place.

She glanced at him while they walked and noticed that he was deep in thought. She wouldn’t disturb him, she decided. He’d tell her when he was ready. She stepped a little closer to him, drawing strength from his presence.

It’s amazing how God brought us together, she thought. I never expected to get remarried after James died. I suppose Mark felt the same way when he lost Lydia. Yet here we are together. Happy.

She looked at him again, noting the wrinkles in his forehead and the bit of grey sprinkled through his hair. His face could have been cut from marble—it was rugged and showed the hard times he’d been through. Yet it was also the face of a man. A man who had faced life and overcome it. A man who didn’t need accolades and flattery to make him feel needed and useful. A man who had looked at the answers to life, evaluated them, and thrown out the artificial ones.

A man who had made peace with his God and with himself.

Who Are YOU to Reply Against God

A Brief Exposition of Romans 9

Romans 9 is a difficult passage—perhaps one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament. In this chapter, Paul uses three illustrations to explain the sovereignty of God over judgment and mercy.

  1. In Rom 9:10 – 14 Paul referred to Jacob and Esau. Before they were born, before either of them had done good or evil, God had already decided that Jacob (the younger) would receive his mercy, rather than his older brother.
  2. In verses 15 – 18 Paul goes on to the account of Pharaoh, inferring that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that His Name would be glorified.
  3. Finally, in verses 19 – 23 Paul uses clay pottery to illustrate the foolishness of a created being trying to tell its creator what it wants to be, or how it wants to be used.  

We should note the context of this chapter. Paul is giving these illustrations to show the Jews that God had the right to decide to bring the Gentiles into His kingdom on an equal basis to the Jews. I don’t believe that he is saying that God decides our destiny in advance, and we have no choice in the matter. In the first two illustrations, God is basing his decisions on the choices He knew Pharaoh and Esau would make.

The third illustration clarifies that God has the right, as God, to call both Jews and Gentiles into His kingdom. He does not make this decision based on race or bloodline. Instead, He insists that God has the right, because He is God, to save some people and not save others, no matter who they are. [1]

This chapter clarifies that God has reserved the right to make decisions concerning mercy and judgment. He says clearly that this is His prerogative, not ours. It is hard for humans to accept that we are subject to an overarching authority in these matters, but that is the point of this chapter.

Throughout church history, people have understood the Bible in various ways. Some, like Origen, believed that hell would be empty someday. Some believed that the second death was an obliteration and that eternal torment was reserved for the devil and his angels. Many evangelicals believe in eternal torment for all sinners.

According to this chapter, I think it fair to say that God has decided this question, and we should simply submit to God’s decision. That statement is furiously disputed by some people, but I don’t see how we say anything else about it.

But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” (Rom 9:20 NKJV)


[1] This should not be understood to mean that we are predestinated to heaven or hell before we are born, and we have no choice in the matter. We must always take difficult scriptures and interpret them considering clear scripture. The NT is clear that any person can come to Christ and be saved.

It’s almost here…

Finalized Cover

Publishing a book is a little like having a baby. Except it’s taken longer than nine months. But it looks like a few more months will bring this book to life. So start saving your pennies, unless you’re Canadian. In that case start saving your nickels, since pennies no longer officially exist here in Canada.

Looking to Jesus…

~ Of Men and Books ~

* * *

And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of [reading] many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. (Ecc 12:12)

I’ve been off work for most of the past several weeks with an abscessed tooth and a severe infection. During this time, I read a number of books just to try to keep my mind occupied with something else than my pain. But that got me to thinking about books…

I like books with complex characters and plots. Books like Moby Dick that are an allegory if you read below the surface. That is a kind of writing that seems to be almost extinct. Ted Dekker is one of the better ones left, but he’s been straying into left field with his theology in his recent writings.

I don’t read a lot of theology or doctrine anymore. Partly because I have a harder time following the complexity of writers like NT Wright since my TIA a few years ago. I do enjoy practical books and if I write a nonfiction book, that is the course I take. Theology is isn’t a lot of value to most people unless it is made simple and applied to everyday life. For instance, a friend sent me some books about the PSA view of the atonement versus the Cristo Victor view. It was a good discussion and answered some questions I had for a long time, but for most people the discussion is not really that practical.

But, like I said, I got to thinking about all this.

Right now, I’m reading a book, Except Ye Repent, by HA Ironside. Good book with some valuable insights. But I can’t help but notice how focuses change from book to book, and author to author, and preacher to preacher. For some, grace is everything. Any kind of work, including repentance or obedience is legalism. For others, repentance paves the way for grace. For still others, grace paves the way for obedience. Some wash their hands of it all and consider God malevolent, and irrelevant.

If you are the kind of person whose thinking reflects the last book you’ve read, this can be a real problem and put you on a spiritual roller coaster. Maybe I’m too cynical, but I’ve sort of shelved many of the debates I mention in the last paragraph. I know that I came to Jesus as a teenager and gave Him my heart. Theology wasn’t any part of that decision. I was an unhappy sinner and I wanted rid of the load of guilt. Jesus gave me peace and changed my life.

But in my library I have books that emphasize repentance, grace, obedience, eternal security or it’s opposite perspective (is there a name for that?), etc. I look around and see people who claim to be Christian but who live in evident sin. I see others who seem to have caught the essence of living for Christ. But none are perfect and if you watch long enough, they disappoint you as well. I even disappoint myself. Its easy to become bewildered by it all and wonder if it wouldn’t be better doing like Dan Barker and walking away from it all.

But then I look at the alternative. And I realize that it isn’t even a consideration. So, I look back to Jesus, and suddenly life becomes so much simpler. Jesus loved me and died for me so that I could be a child of God. He forgives me when I fail and guides me through life. I can trust Him when my favorite authors disappoint me. I can trust him when my favorite preacher falls into sin. I can trust Him when my church or other Christian structure lets me down. I can leave the theology to him, and I can trust my eternal future into His hands. If I go astray, I can trust Him to gently bring me back. I can even trust my family into His care.


Keep your eyes on Jesus! It makes life much easier.


Therefore…  let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2 CSB)