Archives For Sovereignty of God

It has already been said that the sermon below by David Platt is perhaps the greatest missions message ever preached. I was a freshman in college when the buzz about John Piper’s sermon “Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain” filled the campus of University of Mobile. Not long after that, I embarked on my first cross-cultural mission trip and have not been the same.

I was privileged to hear this with 8,000 other folks at T4G last week. But more than that, I eagerly long to be in the company of those who heed the message as what I anticipate will be the call of this generation.

You can download the audio or read the live-blogging notes of Justin Taylor, or watch the video below.  If you have not listened or watched this message, please carve out an hour of your life and have the Spirit ruin you for the nations.

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NOTE: For regular updates on Tom Ascol’s health condition, please see the comments section of this post.

Many of you know the influence Tom Ascol has had on my life.  For several years now he has been like a father to me in the faith, and most recently Grace Baptist Church, where Tom is senior pastor, called me to serve alongside him in gospel ministry.  Needless to say, being mentored and trained in such a position is something I am most grateful.

About three weeks ago, Tom hurt his back while exercising, which has resulted in numerous visits to the chiropractor and several days of bed rest.  The pain in his back has at times been so severe that he is not able to stand up (last Sunday he preached sitting down).  Then what happened this week is almost unbelievable.

Early Monday morning, the alarm in the Ascol’s home went off because the garage door was up.  With reasonable suspicion that burglars might be around, he called the police who came and inspected the house and property.  The officers informed Tom that a couple of cars were unlocked and advised him to go outside and lock them.  Tom and the officers proceeded out into the stormy weather, and upon reaching for the first vehicle, lightning struck Tom and the vehicle, immediately throwing him on his back.  Paramedics were called in, and all immediate tests revealed that there was no life-threatening issues as a result of the strike (you can read Tom’s recounting and reflections of the night here).

Nearly four days have passed, and I am writing this post to all of you asking for your prayers on behalf of Tom and in particular his health.  While his back is continuing to be an issue, the more eminent concern is the after-effect of the lightning strike on his nerve endings and sensory receptors.  Since Monday evening, Tom has not been able to sleep at night.  At best, he gets 1-2 hours during the day.  The slightest whisper sounds like someone screaming into his ears, and his nerve endings are so inflamed that it is giving him severe headaches and affecting even his digestive system.  Riding down the road at grandpa-like speed is like a roller-coaster ride.

Tomorrow morning (Friday morning), Tom is going to see a neurologist with the hopes of ascertaining what exactly he is experiencing and how long it will last.  A cardiologist this afternoon said that what he is experiencing is very similar to “post traumatic stress syndrome,” and that such inflammation of the nerves is expected to recede in 4-5 days.

Many of you know Tom either through Founders, his blog, or speaking at conferences.  Those of us here at Grace have the privilege of knowing him as pastor and dear friend.  I am asking that you join us in praying for Tom in the coming days and weeks as he recovers, specifically that God would heal those nerve endings, allowing him to sleep and recuperate.  Plans have already been made for August to be a mini-sabbatical for him, and we are praying that God would indeed give him rest and renew his strength.

Thank you for praying for Tom, his family, and God’s providential care during the days to come.  May the God who causes lightning to strike at his will be pleased to cause healing to come to Tom for the glory of His name, the advancement of the gospel, and the good of His people.

For I know that the Lord is great,
and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

Psalm 135:5-7

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During the course of last night, lines of big supercells passed through the regions of the United States, including here in Kentucky.  Ironically enough, with all the stormy weather, we saw less than an inch of rain.  However, the threat was pretty severe.  The first line of supercells passed through around 7:00 or so, and that particular storm’s center was no more than a quarter of a mile away from our apartment.  It was quite amazing to watch a funnel cloud develop above you (though it never hit the ground) and still be able to see through it to clear blue skies.  Really weird I must say.

However, prior to this storm/tornado making it to our apartment, it passed by the seminary, where news reporters mentioned was hardest hit.  Later in the evening as my wife and I were watching the late night news, we were stunned to see that one of our close friends, Sean Gould, had a tree fall on his car!  Sean is okay, but it was reported that a number of trees had fallen on the roadway, one of them landing on his vehicle.  Here is what the Louisville Courier-Journal had to say about it:

Sean Gould, a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, was rushing home from work to “beat the storm” when he saw out of the corner of his eye a tree begin to tumble over his car on Lexington Road as he approached the intersection with Morningside Drive.

Gould, 27, said he wasn’t really scared — he put his faith in God.

The tree smashed his car and completely covered Lexington Road, but Gould he escaped without injury.

“He’s the giver of life,” Gould said of his savior a few minutes after the accident. “I’m very thankful.”

When I heard that a tree had landed on a car close to the seminary, I mentioned to Dusti that I wondered if it was someone from the seminary.  Lo and behold, it was my buddy Sean.  While I am sad to see what the tree did to his car, of all the people this could happen to, I am glad it happened to Sean.  You see, there are some people who, when the frown of providence comes their way, the smile of God’s grace is on their face.  As you can see in the news report, it was there for Sean.   Pointing people to Jesus in the midst of a terrible situation where all the attention could easily (and rightfully) be focused on you is something that comes only when God possesses your uppermost thoughts and deepest affections.  And this, no seminary education can teach!

So thank you, Sean, for demonstrating what a life submitted to the sovereignty of God looks likes in the midst of life-threatening circumstances and loss.  And thank you, Lord, for entrusting such matters of providence to your children who turn them into opportunities to make Jesus famous.

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