What happens when a man writes his worst secrets in a journal but dies before he can burn it?
I have finished the work
God gave me.
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…
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. 
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)
 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.
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.