Archive for the ‘Prayer Request’ category

And now for a personal update

October 6, 2011

2011 has been one of the most eventful years of my life.

As someone who likes to plan and prepare things, I thought I had a good beat on where the Lord was leading me at the beginning of the year.  And yet I can say that the majority of my days this year have been overturned by God’s sovereignty in ways that continually reminded me that He is in control of my life, not me.  I feel like I have been living in James 4:13-16 and Proverbs 16:1-9 for the past eight months.  Let me explain.

In December of last year, I met with my fellow elders for our elders retreat during which time I presented them the need for me to dedicate more time to developing the church planting network I started, called PLNTD.  After much discussion and prayer, my fellow elders affirmed that call and encouraged me in the transition to move full-time into directing the network as it continues to be developed and launched.  Also during this time, the door for ministry in Haiti was wide open, and I was dedicating a significant amount of time organizing mission work, creating systems to fund orphans, and forging partnerships for theological education of Haitian pastors.  At the beginning of the year, it was clear that God was abundantly blessing the work locally and elsewhere.


Haiti Bound

June 20, 2011

This morning, I’m leaving for my third trip to Haiti.  In case you’re wondering about how my relationship with Haiti got started, these posts will give you a good idea.  I’m particularly excited about this trip for two reasons:

1.  This is the first trip where I will be leading a team from another church to partner with the indigenous network of church plants in Haiti under the direction of Pastor Odanis Joseph.  The team is from Christ Fellowship Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and they are led by Pastors Lance Parrott and Jody Sledge.  Part of the vision with The Haiti Collective is to develop meaningful partnerships with American churches and Haitian churches, and CFBG is the first to take up the opportunity of joining us in Haiti.  Our field personnel is all Haitian pastors and church planters, and the work is raw, robust, and richly rewarding. 🙂

2.  We tailor the work we are doing based on the requests of leaders on the field, in particular pastors of the local church plant we will be ministering.  We will be working with a church plant in Saint-Marc, and the leaders’ request were (1) to assist them in advancing the gospel through community evangelism, (2) provide theological education of their leaders, and (3) join them in caring for their 100+ orphans in their orphan school. So that is exactly what we’re going to do.  In the morning block, we will be working with the orphans in the school; in the afternoon block, our team will partner with church members and translators to canvas the community with the gospel; also in the afternoon, Lance, Jody and I will be holding a six-session training for  pastors and church leaders on biblical ecclesiology (nature, purpose, marks, ordinances, leadership, discipline, etc.); and in the evening, we will be hosting evangelistic rallies each night where we will be preaching the gospel to any and everyone who will hear (like all good Calvinists do).

So together, we will be loving on orphans, training pastors on biblical church health, evangelizing the community, and preaching the gospel every evening.  YES.

Pray for us. Five of the seven going from CFBG are on their first mission trip overseas.  Haiti will ruin them (in a good way).  Pray for kingdom partnerships and gospel advance, safety from cholera and other diseases, and strength to endure under the summer heat and rainy season.  I look forward to coming back and reporting on what God will do this week.  I will likely be providing update via Facebook and Twitter (but not the blog).

And if you would like to learn more about working to encourage, strengthen, and serve gospel-centered Haitian church plants, holla.

Tuscaloosa Tornado

April 28, 2011

I’m speechless about the enormity of this devastation. For now, some photos and videos.

The Big Picture || Photos from locals

First-Hand Video of the Tornado:

[vimeo 22970879]

Aerial Video of the Devastation (I believe this is some of what the President will see tomorrow):

More Aerial Video Footage (part 2 | part 3 | part 4)

Pray. Give. Serve.

Matt Chandler MRI Update

March 17, 2010

Many of you (including my family and church) have been praying for Matt Chandler.  Last night, he posted an update on the MRI results and the future plans of chemotherapy.  Let’s continue to keep this brother lifted up in prayer that God would indeed increase his joy in Jesus during these days of physical suffering.

Continue to pray for Matt Chandler

January 15, 2010

Here’s the latest from Matt Chandler.  May God continue to give Him grace to suffer well and commend to a watching world the unsearchable riches of knowing and treasuring Jesus Christ.

Burn Hot, Burn Bright My Little Fire

May 7, 2009

Family and friends, join me in praying for my second son Aiden (whose name means “little fire”), due today:

Giver of life,

My heart is melting with joy in the gift of another son whose every breath comes from you and whose days were numbered before time.  You have entrusted to me the soul of this life, and I pray by your grace I will steward it well by shepherding him with a passion for the supremacy of Christ.  Father, I ask that you will use me to fan into flame this litte fire that he may burn hot and bright with a zeal for your name.  I ask that you create in his affections a jealousy for your glory that cannot be quenched by small victories for your kingdom.  May he never be satisfied with merely the benefits of the gospel, but I ask that he might be overwhelmed by the glory of God in the face of Christ.  Lord, I want him to see you with with eyes of faith that behold the beauty of Jesus and cannot help but be changed into His likeness.

Father, there are peoples who have yet to praise your name, people whom you promised would one day fall before the feet of Jesus with tongues to sing of his infinite worth.  I pray Aiden will be an instrument in your hands to bring about the desires of your heart through the in-breaking of your kingdom as the reign of Christ advances in the faithful proclamation of your gospel. May he love your church, the bride of Christ, and give himself in the cause of her purity and progress. Make him one who understands and embraces that dying is gain only when in living Christ is all.

Spare him, merciful Father, from the errors I have committed and cause him to be exceedingly more useful in your service than I could ever dream.  When he encounters frowning providences, may your smile gladden his heart.  Whatever it is you have in store for him, I ask that you will be his portion and delight so that none rivals, no idols, no other lovers can put out that fire deep down in his soul.  Do it, O Lord, I pray for the sake of Jesus and His fame.


The Hannah Taylor Fund

March 25, 2009

Last Friday, I asked you to join me in praying for baby Hannah Taylor.  She is the daughter of dear friends whom I have known for years (I grew up with her mother Kelli).  What was thought to be a regular doctor’s checkup within 24 hours landed their little 13 month old baby on an operating table for a five hour surgery.  Doctors determined that she had neuroblastoma and removed a tumor the size of a racquetball that had wrapped around her adrenal glands.  The surgery was successful, and although the tumor is cancerous, they believe it was caught early enough that her recovery comes with great promise.

Her father, Yogi, is a brother in Christ whom I had the privilege of knowing well and serving with in gospel ministry while a student at the University of Mobile.  In years past, he served as director of Waterfront Rescue Mission–an outreach focused on the homeless in the city. Most recently Yogi has been pastoring just outside Mobile at Saraland Baptist Church.

Below is a letter written be fellow friends of the Yogi that I encourage you to read.  In it, you will read about the Hannah Taylor Fund set up for those who would like to financially assist the Taylor family with the massive financial cost they will receive as a result of their baby’s medical needs.  Thank you for praying with me for baby Hannah and the entire Taylor family, and for helping in their time of need.

Dear Friends:

As most of you know Hannah Taylor, Yogi and Kelli Taylor’s daughter, on Friday underwent a serious surgery to remove a neuroblastoma tumor from her body as well as bone marrow from both hips, and samples from the lymph nodes to see if the cancer had spread.  She will be in the hospital at least ten days.

Although Yogi and Kelli have health insurance, the costs of deductibles and their part of the medical bills will be substantial (20% of the total cost).  Also with this are the costs of staying at the hospital, eating out, etc. With this in mind, a fund has been set up at Saraland Baptist Church in Saraland, Alabama where Yogi is Pastor. You can contribute to the Hannah Taylor Fund and have a real part in helping Yogi and Kelli provide the best possible care for Hannah.  Please join us in bringing glory to God by sacrificially giving to help Yogi, Kelli and Hannah in their time of need.

Most Sincerely in Christ,

Kyle Claunch
Jonathan Hill
Thad L. Key

* How to contribute *

Contributions may be made to Saraland Baptist Church with the “for” line of the check reading “Hannah Taylor Fund.”  The church’s mailing address is:

Saraland Baptist Church
P.O. Box 749
Saraland, Alabama  36571

Join Me in Praying for Baby Hannah

March 20, 2009

About a month ago, our baby boy Nolan was terribly sick, running a fever of 104°+ for several days.  Fortunately, the bacterial virus did not stay, and Nolan has recovered well.  This past week, my good friends, Yogi and Kelli Taylor (in Mobile, AL) saw their 13 mo. old daugther Hannah come down with a similar sickness with high fever.

Yesterday, they took Hannah to the doctor due to prolonged high fever and heard possibly the worst news any parent could hear.  It was discovered that Hannah has a tumor (called neuroblastoma) around her adrenal glands that the doctors believe is cancerous.  As a result, immediate measures have been taken, including surgery on Hannah to remove this tumor that will take place within one hour of me writing this blogpost (11:00am CST).  Following the surgery, a biopsy will be done to determine the state of the tumor, and what appeared to be a in-and-out doctor’s visit will likely turn into multiple weeks in the hospital. The outcome is too early to know anything else, but when more information is available, I will pass that along.

Yogi (Hannah’s father) is a dear brother whom I known since my days at the University of Mobile, and his wife, Kelli, and I grew up together in the same church since we were little kids.  They are strong in the faith, submitting their lives to the sovereign purposes of God which are always for our good, but as you could imagine, getting the news of this and seeing your baby girl go through such a serious and life-threatening ordeal is massive.  They need our prayers, encouragement, and support.

Please join me in lifting up baby Hannah and the Taylor family during this time, especially the next couple of days, in prayer for healing, protection, and peace that only comes from our heavenly Father whose smile sweetens the most bitter providences. Thanks.

Piper’s Potential Writing Projects

February 5, 2009

John Piper has written some 50+ books (!) in his lifetime, and apparently he is far from putting down the pen. Beginning this week, Piper will be on an eight-week writing leave where he will be working on a seven potential writing projects this year.  They are:

1. Sightings of the Sovereignty of God – in depth look at divine providence
2. Reasonings with Jesus: Thinking for the Glory of Christ – Piper writes:

The idea would be to provide a plea, perhaps especially to younger people, to devote their best mental efforts to understanding and living out the Christian faith.

3. Children’s Book – likely in poetic form
4. Collection of Ruth Poems
5. Race and Diversity in the Church
6. Justification – this time focusing on role of faith (vs. works)
7. Romans – a four-volume set of his 225 (I think) sermons on the book

Let’s pray for Piper and those whose writings have been and continue to be used for the edification of the Church and spread of the Gospel.

Putting Things in Perspective

December 2, 2008

At a time when our attention is unnecessarily drawn the continual division over nonessentials in the SBC, I would like to remind us all of what our brothers and sisters are facing around the world.  For instance, consider our brothers and sisters in Orissa, India.  They don’t wake up to find what the next comment or blogpost has to say; they wake up to discover who lost their lives for the sake of Christ.  Consider these staggering reports:

300 villages have been pillaged and plundered, 70,000 Christians have been left homeless, many of them having been forced to live in the jungles.

4,000 homes have been destroyed.

3,000 people are missing and 77 people have been burned or hacked to death.

450 churches have been burned to the ground.

One Christian worker who was attacked by a mob while praying, said, “It’s like a never-ending nightmare . . . we’re living in constant fear of more attacks.”

The violence in Orissa, according to Voice of the Martyrs, is due to the increasing number of Indians converting to Christianity.

At a time when those of us who either write or read blogs, I felt that it is necessary to call us back to Christianity 1.0 where there’s a cross to carry and a price to pay far greater than anyting we have known in front of a computer screen. Let us pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters, and by their lives, determine to have a right perspective about the gospel, the church, and the kingdom of God where the weight of glory conforms our character and characterizes our conduct as we seek to follow Christ.

A Call for Partnership and Perseverance

September 3, 2008

Three years ago, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the campus of Lakeshore Baptist Church as well as hundreds of homes.  From the day until now, Pastor Don Elbourne and his amazing group of volunteers have been rebuilding not only the church but the homes of the entire community (some stats).

As you know, Hurricane Gustav took a similar track to Katrina’s path though a little westward.  Don has returned from evacuation and provides and update on the conditions on the ground.  Don writes:

We have returned to Lakeshore praising God for the physical safety God granted us. My family escaped harm and our house did not suffer any damage or take on any water. The church property, on the other hand, took a significant hit. The storm surge did not reach the church building and the office stayed intact, but Gustav totally destroyed our kitchen, took down our white storage tent, damaged some of the Quonset huts and basically made a mess of the camp site.

We need your help. We need folks to come down, help clean up, and put things back together. We will not have cooking facilities for a while, so you will need to bring your own food and a way to cook. We do have power, places to sleep, and shower restroom facilities. Contact us, or just come.

Please pray for the efforts that have been ongoing now for several years.  Pray for a spirit of perseverance and greater partnership in the rebuilding in this region.  Perhaps you or your church might be interested in partnering with Don and Lakeshore.  In any case, let us hearken to the call to remember those afflicted with such providences through prayer.

Ready or Not, She Cometh

August 16, 2008

The finalization of my sermon preparations were interrupted when I saw this. Ironically, enough, we moved to Cape Coral the opening day of hurricane season and immediately heard talks on television and at home department stores about “hurricane preparedness.” Perhaps I should have been paying more attention!

So I made that dreadful trip to the local Wal-Mart to grab necessities and, well, the buggy-battles were worse than Christmas. The parking lot was full and the aisles jammed. Two hours later I made it back with stuff like water and bread somehow ended up with a gallon of Blue Bell’s Homemade Vanilla ice-cream. (Insert caveat: matters of necessity vary depending on who’s shopping)

But seriously, these next couple of days, if projections are correct, will be eventful. According to the map above, the center of the projection is right on top of Cape Coral/Ft. Myers. Not to be too alarmed, the current projections are that Fay will not be bringing destructive winds. Nevertheless, the amount of rain and wind will a force to be reckoned with.

As I preparing for the Lord’s Day tomorrow, I am praying for the days to follow. Whatever happens, my prayer is that God would be glorified in our midst.


Here are some links I have posted in the comments that my be of some interest to folks:

National Hurricane Center For Tropical Fay

Fay projection map

Infared Satellite of Fay

Fay Projected Models (possibilities)

Interactive Tracking of Fay

Fay Wind Speed Probability Table

Fay 3-Day Cone

Satellite Image

Water Vapor Image

Infared Image

Here are few more links for hurricane preparedness:

Local News Hurricane Guide (PDF)

FEMA Hurricane Info and this one as well

CDC on Hurricane Preparedness and this one as well

Red Cross Info on Hurricane Preparedness

HHS Tips for Hurricane Preparedness:

Homeland Security on Hurricane Preparedness

EPA on Hurricane Preparedness

Brethren, Pray for Us

August 1, 2008

This morning, I was directed by a brother from Grace to read Winslow’s Morning Thoughts.  (Isn’t it a blessing to be fed, edified, and encouraged by others in the body of Christ?)  I found this devotional thought wonderfully true and convicting.

“Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” Romans 15:30

There are many weighty and solemn considerations which powerfully plead for the prayers of the Church of God, in behalf of her ministers and pastors. The first which may be adduced is- the magnitude of their work. A greater work than theirs was never entrusted to mortal hands. No angel employed in the celestial embassy bears a commission of higher authority, or wings his way to discharge a duty of such extraordinary greatness and responsibility. He is a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ- an ambassador from the court of heaven- a preacher of the glorious gospel of the blessed God- a steward of the mysteries of the kingdom. Properly to fill this high office- giving to the household their portion of food in due season- going down into the mine of God’s word, and bringing forth to the view of every understanding its hidden treasures- to set forth the glory of Emmanuel, the fitness of His work, and the fullness of His grace- to be a scribe well instructed, rightly dividing the word of truth- to be wise and skillful to win souls, the grand end of the Christian ministry- oh, who so much needs the sustaining prayers of the Church as he?

Secondly. The painful sense of their insufficiency supplies another affecting plea. Who are ministers of Christ? Are they angels? Are they superhuman beings? Are they inspired? No, they are men in all respects like others. They partake of like infirmities, are the subjects of like assaults, and are estranged from nothing that is human. As the heart knows its own bitterness, so they only are truly aware of the existence and incessant operation of those many and clinging weaknesses of which they partake in sympathy with others. And yet God has devolved upon them a work which would crush an angel’s powers, if left to his self-sustaining energy.

Thirdly. The many and peculiar trials of the ministry and the pastorate ask this favor at our hands. These are peculiar to, and inseparable from, the office that he fills. In addition to those of which he partakes alike with other Christians- personal, domestic, and relative- there are trials to which they must necessarily be utter strangers. And as they are unknown to, so are they unrelievable by, the people of their charge. With all the sweetness of affection, tenderness of sympathy, and delicacy of attention which you give to your pastor, there is yet a lack which Jesus only can supply, and which, through the channel of your prayers, he will supply. In addition to his own, he bears the burdens of others. How impossible for an affectionate, sympathizing pastor to separate himself from the circumstances of his flock, be those circumstances what they may. So close and so sympathetic is the bond of union- if they suffer, he mourns; if they are afflicted, he weeps; if they are dishonored, he is reproached; if they rejoice, he is glad. He is one with his Church. How feelingly the apostle expresses this: “Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?” To see a Christian pastor, in addition to his own personal grief, borne often in uncomplaining loneliness and silence, yet bowed down under accumulated sorrows not his own- others looking to him for sympathy, for comfort, and for counsel- is a spectacle which might well arouse in behalf of every Christian minister the slumbering spirit of prayer. We marvel not to hear the chief of the apostles thus pleading, “Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thess. 5:25).


Octavius Winslow, Morning Thoughts (August 1)

Moving In, Praying On

July 31, 2008

I want to first apologize for not having provided any updates in recent days.  Since my last blogpost almost two weeks ago, I have spent less time on the computer and internet since I have been blogging three years ago (for good reason, of course).

If you have not been made aware, Donna Ascol (Tom’s wife) has posted a lenghty update on Tom’s health over at Tom’s blog.  As I mentioned in the comments of the last post, I do not think that Tom’s original post reflected the severity of the lightning strike, and the impact was not fully experienced until several days after his own personal reflections.  To catch everyone up, Tom has met with several doctors, including a cardiologist and neurologist, who both have given promising reports and expect a full recovery.  However, due to the fact that so few people have survived lightning strikes, there is apparently little reliable research or support to determine the intensity or extense of Tom’s recovery.  It could take anywhere from three weeks to three years (or more).

The Ascol family has been resting at the home of some friends in Michigan for the past week where they have been able to enjoy some sweet times of family worship and relax in the serenic countryside of the rural north.

I don’t know of a pithy way of describing the progress of Tom’s physical condition.  There are days where Tom is beginning to return to normal activities, such as walking, exercising, and sleeping (all of which, I would argue, we take for granted).  Yet there are nights where Tom is awakened to horrible nightmares and dark thoughts, and there are days that succumb to the unpredictable pain and discomfort of nerve regeneration and disorientation.

While the Ascol’s will be arriving back in Cape Coral by early next week, Tom is scheduled to speak at a conference in Alaska shortly thereafter.  Please continue to pray that God would give Tom strength, wisdom, and patience as God confirms His work in Tom’s heart, body, and life.  I hope to provide more updates as necessary in the days ahead to keep everyone informed on Tom’s progress.

Last Sunday, I preached on God’s providence and our pain, focusing on two main points: (1) God is sovereign over all the circumstances that bring pain and suffering to our lives, and (2) God is intimately working in and through such circumstances to do us good and advance His glory.  I concluded with the evening message dealing with providence and prayer.  Starting this Sunday, I will be preaching on the prayers of Paul for the churches as we (GBC) are currently in a two-month season of praying about church planting plans in SW Florida.  I am really looking forward to this series of growing in our devotion to prayer as well as learning about what to pray for when it comes to God’s work in the hearts of His people and the outworking of His redemptive mission in the world through His church.

Last Friday, we finally closed on our home.  That evening the truck arrived, along with over 50 people from Grace who gave up their Friday night to serve us in bringing in our belongings.  One of our neighbors came by and noted the massive amount of help and said, “Usually when people move into a new town, they don’t have any help.”  I replied, “Well, these are folks from our church.”  After exchanging a few pleasantries, she concluded, “Well, it is evident that you are loved very much.”  With a smile on my face, I shook my head in agreement as she departed.  It was then that the words of Jesus echoed in my mind, “By this the world will know that you are My disciples, by the love that you have one for another” (John 13:34-35).  I am grateful that such love was visibly and tangibly expressed to my neighbors in the early hours of our new home/gospel outpost.  🙂

I want to express my thanks and heartfelt gratitude to all you who are and continue to pray for Tom, the Ascol family, our church (Grace Baptist Church), and myself.  The immediate demands of preaching and teaching along with other matters of pastoral care and planning continue to challenge and stretch me in ways I never imagined, and I am excited about the deeper levels of desperation and dependence I have upon Jesus, that His Spirit would use me, I pray, to serve God’s people and preach His gospel.  May He own His gospel, His church, and me so that there would be more worshippers who love and praise the name of Jesus.

For the Time Being . . .

July 20, 2008

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

For the past week or so, I have been wrestling where to go with the blog in writing series as well as keeping up with Blue Collar Theology and the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge (among other things). One of the desires I have is to share with you the journey I have been on that has taken me from a full-time seminary student/part-time 3rd shifter to full absorption into gospel ministry in the local church. All but the last two months of my blogging tenure has been spent in a seminary environment, and as a result, a considerable number of people who read my blog are fellow seminarians who will likely be serving in a ministerial context of some sort. Perhaps my journey, and retelling of some scenes along the way, could be profitable not only for the seminarians who are also making that great leap but also for the churches who would be receiving them.

But due to God’s providence, I have been led to a point where I understand that the place my blog is supposed to go is nowhere. At least not for the time being.

Many of you know already about the situation with Tom Ascol, whom I serve alongside here at Grace Baptist Church. Allow me to give another brief update on his condition. The last couple of nights have afforded Tom greater lengths of sleep time, which has been really good. However, the process has continued to be incredibly painful. The nerves in his body are beginning to regenerate at various parts of his body, and when they do, it is like great jolts of pain shooting to that area. So for instance, at one moment it could be his ankle, then later his hip, and a moment later his arm. It cannot be predicted when or where those jolts of pain come as the nerves regenerate, and so at any moment, things can turn from a moment of rest to restless pain. As I mentioned in the comments of my earlier post, the doctors are giving promising reports, expecting Tom to make a full recovery. But it will take time, and it will demand a change of pace and a season of rest. Please continue to pray for Tom and the Ascol family as I know they are really grateful for your support and prayers.

As you might imagine, Tom will not be able to receive email or phone calls for the immediate future. While I encourage you to comment and share your thoughts and prayers either in the comments here or on Tom’s blog, I do ask on behalf of Tom and the family that calls and emails be left to matters of necessity. I will be receiving all of his email, so I will be sensitive to respond to all matters that merit his (or his family’s) attention. I do ask that, given the circumstances, grace would be afforded to myself and others who will be attempting to administrate these tasks in a timely manner (he receives quite a bit more email than I do!). For all you Facebook users, you can also leave a message on his wall, or perhaps you could catch Tom twittering in the days ahead (though I would not expect him to).

Next Sunday, I will likely be preaching to our people on “God’s Providence and Our Pain” as I think it would be appropriate that we hear from Scripture on what God is doing here and how we can respond in faith to our loving and faithful Lord. If I may ask, please pray for me in the days ahead as well. I will be preaching and teaching 13 times over the next six weeks will be quite demanding, especially for a young novice like myself. 😉 Much of that will be a series on the prayers of Paul for the churches he planted–seeking to know what specifically Paul prayed and how prayer impacts church planting. Lord willing, our church will begin the early phases of planting a church about 45 minutes east of where we are located.

Lastly, we are finally at the point of closing on a home here and are expecting to moving in at the end of this week. This is a big praise, but the season of living in suitcases in homes of members has been immensely rewarding and encouraging. I know Nolan will look forward to having his own room! 🙂

As a result of all that God is doing here and the circumstances I find myself, (immediate) future blogging plans will be kept to updating you on the situation with Tom’s health and perhaps posting some stuff I have benefited from in my study. I embrace with joy the plans the Lord has for me in serving His people and look forward to allotting the overflow to spill out here. It is a privilege for me to serve God, His church, and our beloved pastor, and I thank you again for remembering us in your prayers.