Archive for the ‘Prayer Request’ category

Please Join Me in Praying for Tom Ascol

July 17, 2008

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

Ministering Above Water

June 18, 2008

I have been getting regular updates from friends in the area of the massive flooding about the conditions on the ground and the help that is needed.  One such friend is Eric Schumacher, pastor of Northbrook Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Baptist Press recently interviewed Eric and took highlights from his recent sermon (I recommend you read or download it) on how to respond to such a terrible situation.   To get a better idea of just how devastating the flooding is in his town, you ought to check out this slide show.

In his most recent update, Eric shared that, while he and his family have not suffered any damage, at least a couple of families have been directly impacted, losing homes and businesses.  Yesterday, a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Unit (some 50 people) arrived at their church seeking directives on where and how they can help.

Eric has particularly asked that, as he plans out the work ahead, God will give him wisdom in assigning jobs and orchestrating the relief work.  With so many workers and so little preparation, finding the work and ministering to the community will require patience and participation from everyone.  Most importantly, Eric asks us to pray that “this will be used of the Lord to spread the Gospel in Cedar Rapids and draw many to hope in him.  My prayer is that our city (and its churches!) would be brought to hope in the reign of the Lord Christ more than they hope in FEMA, disaster relief, and better weather.”

Amen, Eric.  Please join me in lifting up Eric, Northbrook Baptist, and everyone affected by the flooding in our prayers.

If Judson Were Alive Today . . .

May 5, 2008

He would be pleading for prayer and help on behalf of the people of Myanmar (Burma).

While the headlines in the United States continue to be about politics and power, thousands of people across the planet in a secluded country have perished. In one of the least developed countries of the world, the latest report is that 15,000 23,000 100,000 people died as a tropical cyclone slammed on “the golden shore” of Myanmar–the country that once was the home of the great missionary Adoniram Judson. With little infrastructure and the increasing threat of more death through contaminated water, shortage in food supply, and prevalence of snakes and mosquitoes, this country of more than 47 million is experiencing Hurricane Katrina more than five times over yet are but a passing thought for most of us in the West.

To be clear, this is not a public service announcement to invoke a feeling of guilt or temporary sadness for these people whom we struggle to see as more than a statistic. They are people made in the image of God–people who now are without fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, friends and family–and these people need our prayers and support.

In 1966, all the missionaries were kicked out of Burma, and the latest report is that the country indigenous church continues to grow despite great opposition and persecution. In such a time of colossal disaster, perhaps this country who gave followers of Christ the boot will accept the offer of a lending hand from loving hearts. Let us pray that there will be many opportunities to show the love of Christ to many who have lost all save their own lives (and perhaps would rather have lost that as well). In the incredible presence of death and despair, the Burmese people need the hope of the resurrection, the promise of life eternal, and the gospel comfort in the midst the chaos that cyclones bring.

As I think about the Burmese people, I try to picture a wandering child who lost his mother, a grandmother stranded on a rice field turned mortuary, a father holding on to a lifeless daughter. While I cannot grasp their reality, I can grasp the reality of Jesus Christ who will make Himself known through His people in such a time as this. He did it in centuries past through men like Adoniram Judson. Let us pray that He will do it today, even now, that the Burmese people may know Him who is the resurrection and the life, and in Him, find peace in the midst of the greatest storm of their lives.

Perhaps you are wondering what the message of Christianity has to say to those suffering and experiencing great loss.  Is there more to this life than the here and now?  Is there anything that endures beyond the grave?  In times like this, whether you are experiencing intense grief or watching from afar, these questions inevitably arise.  Allow me to encourage you to consider the message of Jesus Christ who came to give us victory over death, hope in his resurrection, and comfort in his presence.


* Specifically, be in prayer for ministries such as World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, and other agencies and organizations who will be working on the front lines of this great tragedy.

Lord, We Agree: Interceding for Dr. Mohler

February 16, 2008

Many if not perhaps all of you have already been made aware of Dr. Mohler’s health condition and imminent need for surgery. It was not but hardly a year ago that Dr. Mohler underwent life-threatening illness with bi-lateral blood clots in his lungs. At this time, we have been informed that he has a pre-cancerous tumor in his colon. Please be in prayer for Dr. Mohler, his family, and the extended seminary family at this time.

Last week, Dr. Moore shared some warm and inspiring words to the seminary community (listen here, via Scott Lamb), and Dr. Tom Schreiner offered a very moving prayer on behalf of Dr. Mohler (listen here). Below is the transcript of his prayer, and it is my hope and desire that we agree in the name of our Lord Jesus for Dr. Mohler’s health and speedy recovery. May God’s perfect will be done, and may God’s infinite worth be displayed during these difficult times.

Dr. Schreiner, praying at chapel this past Thursday:

O Father, you are a great King. You are majestic and holy and awesome and wonderful and sovereign… You do rule and reign over all things. Lord, we do praise your majestic and holy Name. We bow before you as our God.

Father, it is so good to know in this hour when we’ve heard about our president’s health that you love your children, that you are a Good Shepherd… that you hold us in your arms. And Lord, we pray that for Dr. Mohler and for Mary and Katie and Christopher. Would you hold them close to you?

When fear comes, Lord, we pray that you would give them strength. When anxious thoughts strike, we pray for the peace that passes all understanding. When discouragement comes, Lord, we pray for hope. Lord, how we pray that you would surround and strengthen them with your Holy Spirit.

Lord, we do ask that through this, the gospel would go forth. We know your Word says that great afflictions come so that we will not trust in ourselves, but in a God who raises the dead. We confess, O Lord, we believe in such a God, we believe in a God that has raised Jesus, our Lord, from the dead. We believe that sin and death and disease cannot conquer us. They cannot ultimately win. We are victors in all things! Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Lord, we praise you for Dr. Mohler because the message of the gospel, the message of hope, the message of triumph over sin and death has resounded from his life. We praise you for what has happened at Southern Seminary in and through him. We praise you that that message has resounded throughout evangelicalism and indeed throughout the world. How we thank you for his leadership, for how you have used him!

And now, Lord, we lift him to you in his need. We pray, Lord, for uncommon wisdom for the doctors and the physicians that are attending him. We pray, Lord, as the surgery takes place that you would give them remarkable insight. Give them dexterity in the midst of the operation. Give them the kind of wisdom that would bring healing and strength to Dr. Mohler.

Lord, we read in your word that we do not have because we do not ask, so we ask, Lord, for successful surgery. We ask, Lord, for healing. We ask, Lord for full restoration. We are bold to ask that it would be rapid and soon.

We bow before your will… We know you do all things well. Lord, we know how you’ve used Dr. Mohler in our midst and throughout this land and beyond. So we do plead with you that you would bring him back to us soon, strong and healthy and ministering once again.

O Lord, may the faith of all of us be strengthened through this trial and affliction. May we all be reminded that we rely on you for everything, that our lives are short, that we may not have much time left. May we have a renewed vision to live for your glory, to spread your gospel, to strengthen the saints, and to live for the glory and honor of your name.

And Lord, that is our ultimate prayer. May your Name be glorified through this. May you be honored. May you be praised.

We ask all these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.

HT :: Trevin Wax

Compilation Post on Union University

February 11, 2008

Below are my posts from this past week on the terrible events that have occurred at Union University.

Wednesday, February 6

1. Devastated – Please Pray for Union University
2. Message from President David Dockery at Union University
3. Supporting Union University

Thursday, February 7

4. Union University on YouTube
5. Thinking About God’s Providence Regarding Union University, Part 1
6. Praying Specifics for Union University
7. Union University Sets Their Hope on God
8. Jerry Bridges on God’s Sovereignty Over Nature

Friday, February 8

9. Volunteering and Giving to Union University
10. Thinking About God’s Providence Regarding Union University, Part 2
11. UU and Baptist Press Reports This Week
12. More YouTube from Union University

Saturday, February 9

13. “The providence of God ignites praise” says Dockery
14. “Truly a providential moment in history”

Sunday, February 10

15. Giving Thanks to God Both in and for All That Occurs

In the days to come, be sure to stay up to date on news and announcements via the UURecovery blog. Also, check out j razz’s blog who has the best coverage from the blogosphere. Lastly, remember to also check out Cam Tracy’s Flickr set as well as Mark Inman’s Flickr set for new photos.

May God use this time to unite our hearts in prayer for Union and set our hands to work in service to our brothers and sisters during this time of great need.

“Truly a providential moment in history”

February 10, 2008

“The providence of God ignites praise” says Dockery

February 9, 2008

Below is an email message I received from Ben Dockery, son of President Dockery and Campus Minister at Union University. He gave me permission to share this with you. Please continue to lift up in prayer and refresh the hearts of those involved through words of encouragement and support.

My friends,

“I watched heroes do what heroes do…”

That was the name of one of the best ‘journal’ entries I have ever written. At 3:15 a.m., about 8 hours after we stormed onto campus minutes after the skipping tornado bounced through campus, I sat in bed after visiting recovered students in the hospital and thought with my keyboard. Unfortunately, my computer died forty minutes into the streaming, and I lost the entry.

But here is a brief summary:

We happened to be some of the first to land on campus, and we crashed into a light pole laying across the road as we arrived. Julie and I told each other, “I love you”, kissed, and then dodged overturned cars and splintered power lines until we reached the rubble. As we did, a frightened line of girls fled from their dorm rooms toward a standing structure across campus. Julie pealed off and joined the girls to keep them safe. Immediately, I saw about eight or ten guy students with torn shirts and bleeding faces and a look of determination. They were going to get there friends out from underneath the twisted rebar, crumbled cinder block and soaked splintered wood. For the next four hours, we made instant decisions and somehow, the students all survived. I truly did not believe that we knew where all the students were much less that they would survive.

They did. Two stud fireman, one named John – a guy I knew ten years ago and another stud who was also medically trained named Dallas. They barked out orders and pulled and pushed and cut and slipped on rocks and passed out bodies on stretchers and did not flinch. They were unorganized and acted without having all the floor plans and did
what heroes do – saved lives.

Thank you for your prayers, the clean up process is a beast, and then sometime next week, my real job starts–directing the Ministry to the Campus for the next semester. I have not let myself think about it more than ten seconds, but it looms. God has been good. Grace abounds in our mistakes. Peace rules my heart these days, and I am grateful. The providence of God ignites praise. I am so thankful for all of you, and your support. I really do tear up when I hear or read your messages – prayers. Keep them coming.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,


More YouTube from Union University

February 8, 2008





HT :: Tim Ellsworth

UU and Baptist Press Reports This Week

February 8, 2008

Below are the articles provided Baptist Press and UU Press Releases with their coverage of Union University and the devastation that followed. For all the latest news and information, stay tuned to UURecovery as it is being updated on a regular basis.

From Union University:

Dockery: Students are primary concern
Government officials visit Union following tragic tornado
Ethiopian student survives first tornado
Union students recall shock of tragic tornado
Concussion leaves Union student with no memory of devastating tornado
Injured Union student compares rescue to salvation
Corker praises Union for inspiring the nation 

From Baptist Press:

51 students injured, 9 hospitalized after tornado hits Union University in West Tenn.
Union clean-up to start Feb. 7
‘Tears of joy for surviving’ flowed at Union
Union students recount stories of survival
Chertoff, Bredesen survey tornado’s toll at Union Univ.
Government officials see Union’s damage
Ethiopian student thankful for ‘family’
‘Students are our primary concern,’ Dockery says
Logistical support offered to Union students

Thinking About God’s Providence Regarding Union University, Part 2

February 8, 2008

Yesterday, I shared some thoughts about God’s providence as it relates to some of the big questions that arise in moments of great difficulty and tragedy. To follow up, I would like to provide some things which we as Christians can meditate upon. It is easy to allow our minds to dwell on a dollar figure and ravaged buildings, or appraise our thoughts as though we are not pilgrims on our way home. While it is important that we do everything we can practically to support those affected by the storms, especially Union University, we should also consider this an opportunity to mediate on some eternal realities.

Here are some things that I have been thinking about over the past 48 hours. Feel free to share your thoughts.

God’s Power – Lord of creation, stirs of his breezes, and the waters flow

God’s Protection
– God is our rock, fortress, strong tower, and refuge

God’s Providence
– Not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from our Father’s will

God’s Purposes
God will accomplish His good and perfect will

God’s People
– God has created us to live in community with one another, bearing one another’s burdens, comforting one another with the comfort we have received from God, and serving one another with the love of Christ

God’s Peace
It passes all understanding and guards our hearts, He will keep us in perfect peace, and our Savior is the one who can say, “Peace, be still” and the winds and seas obey him!

Our Need for Prayer
– we are a needy people, but this is never more evident when we are hit with a crisis

Our Permanent Dwelling Place
– this world is not our home, and when our temporary houses crumble, let us remember that our Lord is preparing a place for us and long for the day when we shall forever be with our Lord

Our Passing in Life
we are like grass, our lives like a vapor that appears for a moment and then vanishes away; consider the brevity of life, this one life we have, and not let us waste it!

Our Perspective in Life
our citizenship is in heaven, so we should set our thoughts above, not on things seen but the unseen

Our Piggy Bankswhere our treasure is, there our heart is also, so let us place our affections where thieves cannot steal and tornadoes cannot destroy, and give sacrificially in such a way that we prize not the things which fade away, like silver and gold, but that which is eternal, as in the souls of men and woman

Our Problem of Sin and the Fall
– chaos and confusions, tornadoes and trials remind us that we live in a fallen world, stained with sin, groaning for the day of redemption; let us also long for the consummation of all things in Christ who reigns over all

These are some of the meditations I have had since Wednesday morning upon hearing about the outcome of the storms at Union University. I would like to conclude my thoughts by offering a prayer for those affected and a hymn by Augustus Toplady called “A Sovereign Protector I Have.”

Lord of the valley,

I come to you on behalf of my dear brothers and sisters who have been through the valley of the shadow of death. They have known that you are with them, that your promises are true, that you are faithful, and that your rod and your staff protects them. I praise you for your greatness, you who brings the rain and catches our tears, who speaks the world into existence and numbers the hairs on our head. I ask that you will refresh the hearts of those discouraged and downcast and strengthen the resolve of those leading to persevere with patience and plan with diligence. I especially ask that you minister grace upon grace, comfort upon comfort to those who bear greatest responsibility, who will be making biggest decisions, including Dr. Dockery and the administration of Union, FEMA, and all other personnel and government officials. I thank you that you can not only calm the storms but can also calm our hearts with peace that passes all understanding. There are many who are restless who need to be led by still waters, many who have experienced great loss and need to know that you are their Shepherd and that they shall not want. Father, I pray that you prepare a table in the midst of the rubble and make yourself known to the people of Jackson and across the world that you are good, and your mercies are new every morning. Indeed, great is your faithfulness. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, let us not forget the moments when it seemed like the heavens opened up and our hearts opened wide to love and to share, to pray and to give, because it is in moments like this that we begin to learn to live. Lord Jesus, may your presence be felt among all who are affected, and may your glory be seen before a watching world comprised of many who have yet to enter the city of God. Holy Spirit, assist us to pray continually and fervently, to be useful to the spread of the gospel, and to the encouragement of the saints. For the sake of your name and the good of your people, I offer this prayer. Amen.

A Sovereign Protector I Have

A sovereign protector I have,
Unseen, yet for ever at hand,
Unchangeably faithful to save,
Almighty to rule and command.
He smiles and my comforts abound;
His grace as the dew shall descend,
And walls of salvation surround
The soul He delights to defend.

Kind Author and ground of my hope,
Thee, Thee, for my God I avow;
My glad Ebenezer set up
And own Thou hast helped me till now.
I muse on the years that are past
Wherein my defence Thou hast proved;
Nor wilt Thou relinquish at last
A sinner so signally loved.

Inspirer and Hearer of prayer,
Thou Shepherd and Guardian of Thine,
My all to Thy covenant care
I sleeping and waking resign.
If Thou art my Shield and my Sun,
The night is no darkness to me;
And, fast as my moments roll on,
They bring me but nearer to Thee.

– Augustus Toplady, December 1774

Volunteering and Giving to Union University

February 8, 2008

For communication purposes, I want to pass along information made available through Union’s various outlets.

1. Giving Online

You can now give online to support Union University. Simply go here and fill out the form, designating your gift to the “Disaster Relief Fund.”

2. Volunteering at Union

Outside help is not being requested until Monday of next week. If you are considering helping out with the clean up, you need to contact Larry Vaughan at (731) 661-5160.

Remember, they are only a few days into assessment and recovery. In the future, there will be plenty of opportunity to help or perhaps put together a team from your church or school to help in the future. Yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff visited UU along with Tennessee’s governor Phil Bredesen. According to Baptist Press, President Bush is expected to make a stop later today (Friday).

Union University Sets Their Hope on God

February 7, 2008

Drs. Al Mohler and Nathan Finn have recently posted their thoughts on the way Union University students and faculty have responded to the devastation they have experienced.  If you do not know, Dr. Mohler’s daughter is a student at UU, and there are strong ties between UU and SBTS.  I want to highlight the thoughts of Mohler and Finn as I share with them in the encouragement I have received from the biblical responses of God’s power, providence, and provision.

From Dr. Mohler:

As media reports indicate, the Union family has responded with a testimony to their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a confidence that their school will continue its work — that teachers will soon again teach, students will continue to study, and the great task of preparing the next generation of Christian leaders will continue at Union University.

From Dr. Finn:

As we have watched news reports, read interviews, and streamed online videos, one of the things Leah and I have been struck by is the attitude of Union’s students. Not only did many of these students assist with the rescue efforts, but a number of them have had the opportunity to publicly testify to their faith in God and his goodness and grace, even in the midst of a natural disaster. In other words, they have glorified God in the midst of tragedy, and in a very public manner.

[ . . .] These students and other members of the Union University family have represented Christ well. They have used their loss as an occasion to publicly praise God and speak about their faith. They have made the most of the moment. And that makes me both thankful to have friends there and proud to be part of the same ecclesiastical family of which so many Union-ites are a part.

As I stated in my first post, UU

“exists for the glory of God and to train young men and women in developing a Christian worldview bigger than any storm they could ever experience. Perhaps there will never be a greater time to apply what they have been taught than the day after their world is turned upside down. I personally do not know of another group of people better spiritually prepared to handle a crisis like this than David Dockery (president), Greg Thornbury (dean), and the entire administration of UU.”

It appears that they have put into practice what they have learned in the greatest test of their lives.

Praying Specifics for Union University

February 7, 2008

Note: UU has now started another blog for recovery and restoration.  For further information, visit UURecovery.  To view pics of the devastation, check out Cam Tracy’s photoset as well as Mark Inman’s.   

Tim Ellsworth has provided seven specific ways we can all be praying for everyone involved at Union University.  From Tim’s blog:

1. Pray for the continued recovery of students who were injured.

2. Pray for wisdom for President David S. Dockery, the Union trustees and the senior leadership team. So many decisions have to be made, and those decisions will affect so many lives.

3. Pray for the students who suffered significant losses in their dorm rooms, and for faculty members who lost items (like books) in their offices.

4. Pray for patience and understanding for security and law enforcement personnel, Union staff, students and parents as we try to coordinate efforts for students to retrieve their belongings.

5. Pray for God to move the hearts of people to help in the recovery effort. Most significantly, we’ll need massive financial assistance for the students and the university.

6. Pray for those of us involved in getting Union’s story told. Pray that the spotlight now upon us will result in opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost world.

7. Pray that God will demonstrate His power and sovereignty to the world by raising from the rubble a university that is more excellence-driven, Christ-centered, people-focused and future-directed than it has ever been.

Union University on YouTube

February 7, 2008

Some video footage made available via YouTube:

Associated Press

Panoramic View of Campus

Supporting Union University

February 6, 2008

I just wanted to pass along a note from Dr. Dockery, encouraging you to please consider financially helping Union University. Current estimates are that 40% of the housing is completely destroyed with another 40% severely damaged. All buildings have received structural damage, one with the roof nearly entirely taken off. Right now, they are expecting the cost to exceed $50 million, and I simply cannot get my mind around the enormity of such a cost. Cam Tracy, who has been updating everyone on the UUEmergency blog, has also put together a collection of photos (now around 75) of the devastation. It is simply breathtaking.

However, the little that you and I can do to help is significant. Remember that we serve a God who can take a boy’s lunch to feed 5,000, so whatever little (or much) you can do to support UU is greatly appreciated. Here’s a word from Dr. Dockery:

So many of our friends have contacted us about their desire to help Union University during this most challenging time for our campus. The Board of Trustees has established a special fund to address this particular need in the life of this University. For your generosity to Union at this particular time, please know of our gratitude.

Please send designated gifts to:
Union University Disaster Relief Fund
1050 Union University Drive
Jackson, TN 38305

David S. Dockery

Finally, please continue to pray for Union and everyone affected by the 50+ tornadoes that passed through last night. I cannot imagine with Dr. Dockery and others are going through. Like Paul, it is “through the help of your prayers” and the help of the Spirit that our dear brothers and sisters will not only persevere through these difficult moments, but also glory in Christ who is with us always, even in the eye of the storm.