Archive for the ‘Providence’ category

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.

Congrats to Jennifer Partin! – February Giveaway Winner

March 5, 2008

I am excited to announce the winner of last month’s giveaway.  For those who may remember, Derek Naves won in January, receiving several excellent books. This past Monday, I took the names from the open thread where folks shared their thoughts on The Mystery of Providence and inserted them into a random number generator.  The result was that the winner of February’s giveaway is Jennifer Partin!  Jennifer has been a very active contributor to the Puritan Reading Challenge both on her blog as well as contributing in the discussions here at P&P, and I am confident that these books will be a great resource for personal growth and encouragement in her life as well as her family.

Thank you to Reformation Heritage Books for their sponsorship and support of the Puritan Reading Challenge!  Here are the books Jennifer will be receiving, compliments of RHB:

1. Keeping the Heart by John Flavel
2. Meet the Puritans by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson.
3. The Inner Sanctum of Puritan Piety: John Flavel’s Doctrine of Mystical Union with Christ by J. Stephen Yuille
4. Providence Handled Practically by Obadiah Sedgwick

Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement for March’s giveaway which will be here before you know it!

Pride and Providence

February 26, 2008

From the pen of John Flavel:

“The strength of our unmortified corruption shows itself in our pride and the swelling vanity of our hearts when we have a name and esteem among men. When we are applauded and honoured, when we are admired for any gift or excellence that is in us, this draws forth the pride of the heart and shows the vanity that is in it. ‘As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise’ (Prov. 27:21); i.e., as the furnace will reveal what dross is in the metal when it is melted, so will praise and commendations reveal what pride is in the heart of him that receives them.

[ . . . ] To crucify this corruption Providence takes off the bridle of restraint from ungodly men, and sometimes permits them to traduce the names of God’s servants, as Shimei did David’s. Yea, they fall into disesteem among their friends, as Paul did among the Corinthians; and all this to keep down the swelling of their spirits as the realization of those excellences that are in them. The design of these providences is nothing else but to hide pride from man. Yea, it deserves a special remark, that when some good men have been engaged in a public and eminent work, and have therein, it may be, too much sought for their own applause, God has withheld His usual assistance at such times from them, and caused them so to falter in their work, that they have come off with shame and pity at such times, however ready and prepared they have been at other times. It would be easy to give various remarkable examples to confirm this observation, but I pass on.”

– John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, 103-04.

O that we would crucify the corruption of self-adulation and man-engendered applause! Lord, give us a vision of Your greatness that we see our nothingness in light of Your glory. Give us a vision of Your holiness, that we would see our sinfulness in light of Your perfection. Give us a vision of the cross, that we would see our helplessness in light of Your mercy. Give us, O Lord, a vision of sovereign grace, that we would see our dependence in light of Your sufficiency. O Lord, give us a vision of Your Son, that we would see our Treasure who alone deserves all the praise.

Westminster Confession on God’s Providence

February 11, 2008

In the days ahead, I am going to post some excerpts from various confessions regarding God’s providence since it is the focus of our reading this month as well as helpful to think about with the current events in recent weeks.

Article V of the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) on God’s Providence:

I. God the great Creator of all things does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.

II. Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, He orders them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.

III. God, in His ordinary providence, makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at His pleasure.

IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extends itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as has joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

V. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God does oftentimes leave, for a season, His own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.

VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous Judge, for former sins, does blind and harden, from them He not only withholds His grace whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their hearts; but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had, and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God uses for the softening of others.

VII. As the providence of God does, in general, reach to all creatures; so, after a most special manner, it takes care of His Church, and disposes all things to the good thereof.

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.

Giving Thanks to God Both in and for All That Occurs

February 10, 2008

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28 is a verse often quoted in times of great affliction, suffering, and loss. No doubt, this verse is being read, believed, and shared with those affected at Union University as it gives promise, hope, and confidence that God is going to bring good out the destruction.

Bruce Ware, in his book God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith, has an excerpt on Romans 8:28 from the chapter, “Living Behind God: Veiled to the Purpose of God in Suffering”. I thought I’d share that with you as an encouragement to give God thanks and praise in the trials as well as for the trials.

If the suffering that comes into our lives is pointless, if God has no good intent for it, and if all that it does is cause harm, then there is no reason to give thanks in the suffering, and certainly not for the suffering. You cannot genuinely give thanks in the suffering if you think at the time, there is simply nothing about this painful experience that will necessarily prove good; in fact, I should accept the fact that it probably is entirely pointless. For if this is the case, then it cannot possibly be a basis for giving thanks! God is not in it (in fact, he feels badly about it and wishes it weren’t happening), Satan is chuckling over this, knowing that it serves no good purpose and will only bring harm, and there is no assurance that the suffering will end any differently than it began–pointless, meaningless, and void of any and all possible good purpose. If that is how we think about suffering, we can only (rightly) despair in it and for it!

But if the promises of God are sure, and they are (!); if God has promised believers that he will ensure that all things will work together for their good (Rom. 8:28); if God has promised that ‘those who seek the Lord lack no good things’ (Ps. 34:10; cf. Ps. 84:11); and if God wishes to embrace his loving commitment to us as demonstrated when he says, ‘He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?’ (Rom. 8:32); then we have good reason to give God thanks both in and for all that occurs. God will not fail! He reigns over the suffering of our lives, and he purposes our good through everything that happens, ensuring that all the good he intends for us to have, we will have. What hope, what confidence, what peace, what joy, and what strength, all in the midst of suffering, God wants his people to have.

Bruce A. Ware, God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 172-73.

“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,


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

Jerry Bridges on God’s Sovereignty Over Nature

February 7, 2008

By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen.

Job 37:10-13 

In his book, Is God Really in Control?, Jerry Bridges recounts a story amazingly similar to the events of this past week.  Here is an excerpt with his commentary that I believe to be really helpful when thinking about God’s power over nature and providence in our lives.

From the chapter “God’s Power Over Nature,” Bridges writes:

One night while working on this chapter, I watched the evening news on television.  One of the top stories was about several powerful tornadoes that swept across central Mississippi killing seven people, injuring at least 145 more, and leaving nearly 500 families homeless.  As I watched the scenes of people sifting through the rubble of what had been their homes, my heart went out to them.  I thought to myself, “Some of those people undoubtedly follow Christ.  What would I say to them about God’s sovereignty over nature?  Do I really believe it myself at a time such as this?  Wouldn’t it be easier to just accept Rabbi Kushner’s statement that it is simply an act of nature-a morally blind nature that churns along following its own laws?  Why bring God into chaos and suffering such as this?”

But God brings Himself into these events.  He said in Isaiah 45:7, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.”  God Himself accepts the responsibility, so to speak, of disasters.  He does more than accept the responsibility; He actually claims it.  In effect, God says, “I, and I alone, have the power and authority to bring about both prosperity and disaster, both weal and woe, both good and bad.”

This is a difficult truth to accept as you watch people sift through the rubble of their homes or-more to the point-if you are the one sifting through the rubble of your home. . . . We obviously do not understand why God creates disaster, or why He brings it to one town and not to another.  We recognize, too, that just as God sends His sun and rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous, so He also sends the tornado, or the hurricane, or the earthquake on both. . . . God’s sovereignty over nature does not mean that Christians never encounter the tragedies of natural disasters.  Experience and observation clearly teach otherwise.

God’s sovereignty over nature does mean that, whatever we experience at the hand of the weather or forces of nature, all circumstances are under the watchful eye and sovereign control of our God.

– Jerry Bridges, Is God Really in Control: Trusting God in a World of Hurt (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2006), 59-60. Emphasis mine.

Thinking About God’s Providence Regarding Union University, Part 1

February 7, 2008

I yield to thy sovereignty all that I am and have;
do thou with me as thou wilt.
Thou hast given me silence in my heart
in place of murmurings and complaints.
Keep my wishes from growing into willings,
my willings from becoming fault-finding
with thy providences,
and have mercy on me.

– Excerpt from The Valley of Vision

Whenever disaster strikes, such momentous times inevitably afford the opportunity to think about the bigger questions in life–you know, the kind of questions we typically ignore in the day-to-day rush to triviality. Questions like, “Is God really in control over everything?” or “Why does bad things happen to good people?” or “If your God is a good God, then why does he allow such evil to occur?” Questions like these we cannot overlook, though we often do when it is only partly cloudy with a gentle breeze.

Such a question came about from an anonymous commenter on the UUEmergency blog yesterday. While not knowing the sincerity or motivation of such a comment, I think it is something onlookers, perhaps non-Christians, are asking. The person asked,

“What did you do to incur His wrath?”

Now, the context of this question was entirely inappropriate, given the website and specific post were about addressing immediate needs of the UU community, and while it wreaks with the insensitivity of a drive-by commenter seeking to upset readers, I want to take a moment to use it as a platform to talk about something we have been hearing a lot during the last 24 hours and which happens to be the topic of our Puritan Paperback reading this month–God’s providence.

So when storms like Katrina or the 50+ tornadoes that spiraled through the heartland of America come, are we to play the role of Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar by asking, “What have you done? What sin have you committed against God?” Let’s be honest. It is tempting to play the conspirator, prosecuting through presumption, as though we know exactly what caused the events to occur. Yet as Christians, we are not allowed to entertain such thoughts, for at least a couple of reasons.


Devastated – Please Pray for Union University

February 6, 2008

UPDATE 3: Steve McCoy has a lengthy video posted from HotNewz.TV where they interview UU students.   Tim Ellsworth shares this thoughts on “the most intense day” of his life.

UPDATE 2: UUEmergency has been set up by UU for immediate communication with the UU family. Dr. Dockery has provided an update, and you can get all the up-to-date information include images from this temporary site.

UPDATE: Watch CNN video coverage of Union University (more videos are at the bottom of the CNN page). Listen to Tim Ellsworth in an interview with WKRN. Associated Press report, “University Dorms Smashed at Tenn. School“. Denny Burk has an NBC video where Dr. Dockery was interviewed early in the morning. Baptist Press is using their old blog as their center for Union updates.

Like many of you, my wife and I were hunkered down with baby Nolan last night in the bathroom with our weather radio and pillows as the tornado sirens went off. As the storm passed, I quickly came to hear the news that Jackson, Tennessee was severely hit with tornadoes. I was greatly concerned because some of the dearest people in my life, and the greatest Christian college in the United States–Union University, dwell there.

According to reports and from talking with people on the ground, UU is devastated. Over 50 students were injured, 8 with serious injuries, while 12 other students were trapped in the debris for hours. None of the injuries appear life-threatening, and there has been no loss of life. The men’s and women’s dormitories have all been destroyed, and it is already estimated that the damage is around $50 million. Dr. Dockery was interviewed by CNN earlier this morning, noting that of the 1100 cars on campus, only 100 did not receive any damage. Tim Ellsworth, a fellow blogger and UU public relations director, is disseminating information through alternative outlets since the UU website is down.

Please pray for Union and the people of Jackson. This school exists for the glory of God and to train young men and women to develop 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.

And yet selfishly my heart is heavy. Dr. Dockery has become a father to me in recent years, and he has dedicated his life to making Union the best Christian college in the world. His son Ben, and his wife Julie, are dear friends, and they recently left Louisville to work as campus ministers at Union. Please pray that God will give them wisdom, comfort, strength, and perseverance as they seek to minister to students and their families during this time.

Below are some news articles on Union and the events that have occurred since the tornado:



Mark Inman is a student of UU and is posting pictures of the Union which you can find here. Cam Tracy has also collected photos which can be found here.

“He’s the giver of life”

October 19, 2007

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.

For He does all things well

October 8, 2007

Topic: Providence

“We please ourselves with agreeable prospects and proposals; but the determination is with the Lord.  We may rejoice that it is, He sees all things in their dependences and connextions, which we see not, and therefore he often thwarts our wishes for our good; but if we are not mistaken, if any measure we have in view would, upon the whole, promote our comfort or his glory, He will surely bring it to pass in answer to prayer, how improbable soever it may appear; for He delights in the satisfaction and prosperity of his people, and without a need-be, there shall never be in heaviness.  Let us strive and pray for a habitual resignation to his will; for He does all things well.  It is never ill with us but when our evil hearts doubt or forget this plainest of truths.”

John Newton, to William Cowper (July 30, 1767)

To view more Nuggets of Newton, go here.
Also, check out The John Newton Project.

Because he has promised it

October 7, 2007

Topic: Ordained means, evangelism, providence

“The power is all of God; the means are likewise of his appointment; and He always is pleased to work by such means as they show that the power is his. . . . All these means were exceedingly disproportionate to the effect; but He who ordered them to be used accompanied them with the power.  Yet if Moses had gone without his rod, if Joshua had slighted the rams’ horns, if the prophet had thought it foolishness to speak to dry bones, or the blind man refused to wash his eyes, nothing could have been done.  The same holds good in the present subject: I do not reason, expostulate, and persuade sinners, because I think I can prevail with them, but because the Lord has commanded it.  He directs me to address them as reasonable creatures; to take them by every handle; to speak to their consciences; to tell them of the terrors of the Lord, and of his tender mercies; to argue with them what good they find in sin; whether they do not need a Saviour; to put them in mind of death, judgment, and eternity, etc.  When I have done all, I know it is to little purpose, except the Lord speaks to their hearts; and this to his own, and at his own time, I am sure He will, because he has promised it.”

John Newton, to Rev. Thomas Jones (October 20, 1767)

To view more Nuggets of Newton, go here.
Also, check out The John Newton Project.