The Uncelebrated Birthday


Our family will be observing a special birthday this Sunday. It will be different from all others. There won’t be a colorfully decorated cake to cut. We won’t have any candles to blow out. There will be no stack of presents to unwrap. The sounds of laughter, clapping and singing won’t be heard. No pictures will be taken, no lasting memories will be made. It will be a birthday empty of celebration, yet full of sorrow.

It is the third birthday of my grandson, Nash. He won’t be present. He has fled his mortal shell. The victim of a horrific act of evil, our little red-headed boy was taken from us far too soon. We feel the sting of his loss anew every single day. The weekends are far too quiet. The house far too clean. His toys far too dusty. His birthday also marks the sixth month anniversary of the incident that took his life. The pervasive sense of sadness and loss will never leave us. It is here to stay; a cold companion who hovers in the shadow of our daily lives.

It’s difficult to process all the images and emotions of that fateful time in late October. I cried like a baby at his beautiful funeral service. The tears have never flowed so freely as it did watching the captured memories of his brief life come across the screen. The procession to the grave site was a surreal experience. Flanked by hordes of bikers (there to shield us from potential protesters) we drove by the university where I work. There, outside to my left at the football stadium I saw something I’ll never forget. The entire football squad stopped practice, faced the procession, took a knee and bowed their heads in unison. I trembled in awe at the show of respect for our grandson. I’ll always treasure that moment.

At the conclusion of the graveside services a strange sensation came over me. As the line of people paying their respects to the family dwindled, a wave of peace washed over my spirit. It didn’t make sense to me. In the midst of my lowest moment, staring at the miniature casket about to be lowered into the ground, my faith in God and His goodness stood unshaken. The tangle of mixed emotions momentarily confused me. The new sentiment didn’t make sense to me within that context. It didn’t compute. Peace? At at time like this? How? Why? I couldn’t fight it. I couldn’t reason it away. It just was. God, in that moment granted me a peace that surpasses all understanding. Honestly, that sense of acceptance and tranquility has never left me. I think I know why. Continue reading

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The Heart of the Gospel


But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Rom 5:8-10)

I believe the above text of Scripture captures the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of human history finds its pinnacle in the death and resurrection of the Son of God. I’ll attempt to break down the heart of this glorious gospel verse by verse.

But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

The Gospel always begins with God. God is the giver and sustainer of life and of all creation. I wouldn’t be sitting here telling this most wonderful tale if not for the God, who upholds all things by the word of his power. All men everywhere owe God a debt of gratitude for every single breath of life they have ever enjoyed. God is due all glory from his creation. If men will not cry out his praise then the rocks we stand upon surely will. God is glorified in his creation.

God’s glorious attribute of love lies at the golden gates of the gospel message. God is love. He so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall never perish but have everlasting life. God’s love is incomprehensible, its borders cannot be defined. His love is manifested in his grace to all men. God’s grace is about his mercy and compassion on lost sinners who cannot do anything to save themselves.

Sin is the reason the relationship between God and man has been severed. Sin is why we need a savior. Yet the inspired Apostle Paul says here that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Men do more than commit occasional sins, sins that are an affront to a Holy God. Men are sinners. We are depraved in every part of our being. We were born in this fallen, corrupt state. Every thought of our minds and desire of our souls is sinful. We are an affront to a holy God, a stench in his nostrils. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Conversions: Hardened


I grew up in a small western Oklahoma rural community with little to no religious convictions. I suppose that’s not the norm for a lad raised smack dab in the middle of the bible belt, but nobody has ever accused me of being normal. Oh, I remember attending a Sunday School class as a 5-year-old at a local Baptist church. I recall lots of coloring – and growing bean sprouts in a cup. I remember nothing else about it at all. After that stimulating experience I did not darken a church door again (weddings and funerals excluded) until I was well into my teenage years.

I’ve always believed in God. I suppose my parents ingrained that in me, though I can’t recall any specific instruction. I conceived Him as the ever watchful eye in the sky, who loved and protected me. The first traumatic moment of my early years came one July 4th evening as we went to a stadium to watch a fireworks display. It was an impressive exhibition of pyrotechnics. The crowd oohed and aaahed at every burst of light and color. However, I wasn’t impressed; I fretted through the entire show. With brow furrowed I tugged at my mother’s hand and whispered, “Are those fireworks hurting God?” My 5-year-old brain couldn’t comprehend an omnipresent God that transcends the material creation. Obviously I didn’t grasp his omnipotence either, else I wouldn’t have been concerned for his well-being in the wake of a few heavenward explosions.

So there you have it, perhaps my one and only childhood contemplation of God. I have no other memory I can recall that invoked God into the forefront of my conscience. I simply assumed God’s love, protection and providence. I had other, more important stuff to think and daydream about – with a heavy emphasis on daydreaming. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Conversions – Introduction


And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”    (Matthew 13:3-9 ESV)

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matthew 13:18-23; ESV)

The Hardened Sinner

This parable of Jesus demonstrates the reality of how sinners respond to the message of the gospel of salvation. First, the seeds scattered along the path represent a hardened sinner, who will hear the gospel but doesn’t fully comprehend it, nor does he respond to the message in any kind of receptive manner. This could be manifested in one of two ways. First, Hardened could react with impassive indifference. The message may seem foreign or totally unrelated to his situation. He doesn’t feel convictions of guilt over sin. This sadly results in a callous heart unaffected by the mercy and compassion of a loving God.

The other opposite reaction is passionate hostility. Hardened may indeed be pierced by a conviction of sin, yet the desired effect is not contrite sorrow but self-righteous rage. The idea that he may be guilty of high treason against the Lord of all creation is more than a prideful soul can bear. What does Hardened do? Scripture explains that he will suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness. (Rom 1:18) The soil of Hardened’s heart is impenetrable. The seeds of the scripture bounce harmlessly off the sun-baked surface, unable to find a place to take root and are quickly taken away. Continue reading

Christless Christianity


Title: Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church

Author: Dr. Michael Horton

Publisher: Baker

Page Count: 240

Readability: Moderate

Synopsis: Dr. Horton diagnoses the core problem with modern evangelicalism:  The drifting away from gospel preaching, centering on the person and work of Jesus Christ, toward the embracing of a therapeutic moralistic deism that puts man and his perceived wants and needs first and relegates God to a reactive spectator. Many of today’s preachers define God as the genie in the bottle who meets all our needs where we are at and not the Great judge who makes all of his creatures account for every deed done in the flesh – whether good or evil. God is portrayed as unequivocally benevolent.  He’s the ultimate good guy who’s on our side and only wants the best for all his children, whether they are gathered in or gone astray. The good news of the gospel is trivialized since sin and judgment are marginalized to the fringes of Christian belief and experience. The contemporary preacher doesn’t teach that man is a sinner in need of forgiveness, but an imperfect soul struggling to live right and receive God’s material blessings. Continue reading

The Fall of Man


The Theology of Redemption


Study One – Man’s Need of Redemption

The Fall of Man

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This lesson introduces the first study of the series, Man’s Need of Redemption.  It will consist of two lessons.  First, man’s creation as a perfect image bearer of God’s glory and subsequent fall into sin and corruption will be discussed.  The next lesson will focus on the extent and depth of that corruption and how it has effected our being.

Our study of Redemption begins at the creation account on the very first pages of the very first book in the bible.  As I’ve stated previously, redemption is the story of God as he relates to man, who corrupted himself at his initial trial of faith and obedience.  It begins in Genesis and weaves its way throughout both the Old and New Testaments.  So, the reason I’m starting here is because this is where God starts. In the creation account we learn of man’s original blessed state and the events that led to his fall from the state of innocence into a state of corruption.

It is vital to note that in the beginning God created everything good.  All things were made for his glory. ‘And God saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very good‘.  (Gen 1:31A)  This clearly demonstrates that man in his created state was ‘very good’.  He was not flawed in character or sinful in nature. Continue reading

The Theology of Redemption: Syllabus


Below, I have posted the curriculum for my study on the doctrine of Redemption through Jesus Christ.  My first study will appear tomorrow morning, followed by weekly updates.  Note:  I may break up a single study into multiple posts, depending on the length. I pray that this study will bless, inform and edify my readers as well as bring glory to God.

The Theology of Redemption

Study One: Introduction – The Necessity of Theology.

Part One: Man’s Need of Redemption

Study Two: Creation and the Fall

Study Three: The Effects of the Fall

Part Two: God’s Plan of Redemption

Study Four: Election and Predestination

Study Five: Jesus Christ the Redeemer

Part Three: Christ’s Accomplishment of Redemption

Study Six: The Nature and Triumph of the Atonement

Study Seven: The Extent of the Atonement

Part Four: God’s Application of Redemption

Study Eight: The Ordo Salutis (Order of Salvation)

Study Nine: Union with Christ

Study Ten: Calling

Study Eleven: Regeneration

Study Twelve: Conversion (Repentance and Faith)

Study Thirteen: Justification

Study Fourteen: Adoption

Study Fifteen: Sanctification

Study Sixteen: Perseverance

Study Seventeen: Death and Glorification

Note:  I reserve the right to add, delete, rearrange or otherwise alter studies listed in this curriculum as I see fit.