This video took a bit of doing. It was originally posted to Facebook Live. I have been hoping the higher quality video would be sent to me, but nothing so far. So, I used a website to grab the video from Facebook, which let me download it as an mp4 video file. Then I imported that file into Final Cut Pro X so that I could balance the color and luminance, as well as boost the audio and add opening and closing graphics. I like living in the digital age. 🙂
Anyway, the content of this video is from the 2017 meeting of the Sovereign Grace Bible Conference in Chattanooga, TN. It took place back in July.
The audio is a bit “roomy” because the video was shot on a stationary phone. But, once your ear adapts to it, it’s quite listenable.
I always appreciate the invitations to attend these conferences. I enjoy getting to hear other men (I hear enough of me) preach the gospel of God’s Sovereign Grace. And thanks to Elder Greg Spotts for once again allowing me to stand behind his pulpit.
I have thought long and hard about whether I’d write about this or put it to video. Video would probably be easier, but I need the practice typing. Typing is a chore these days. But, my right hand is making great strides and I want to keep challenging it.
Here’s the thing — because I had a stroke (six weeks ago now), I have been reading and attempting to educate myself. What I’ve noticed is that most of the material written about strokes is presented from the perspective of people viewing the stroke victim. Very little is written from the stroke victim’s perspective. And I think I know why.
Strokes are amazingly deceptive. The victim may not know what is wrong with them. I kept insisting that I was fine. Just need to sleep it off, etc. But, I could not see me. It took my daughter recognizing the signs (slurred speech, failing limbs, unnatural tiredness) and seeing that something was wrong, to make the call and get me to a hospital.
I think about my mother. Granted, her strokes weren’t caused by blood pressure issues. Hers were heart-related. But even after losing her left side to paralysis and laying slumped over on a couch all day, she still argued with the paramedics that she did not want to be taken to the hospital (where she wound up in the ICU for several days).
And I get it. I argued with everyone — doctors, nurses, my daughter, anyone who would listen — that I was fine and did not have a stroke. It’s deceptive. It takes someone to intervene.
The tiredness was what most marked my early symptoms. Yes, my right hand suddenly began typing nonsense. It was tingling and eventually non-responsive. But all I could think about was laying down. It was sudden, like something broke. I was very, very tired. Unnaturally.
But, I thought I was going to be fine. Just sleep.
Fortunately, my daughter intervened. She called 911. The ambulance came. And they hauled me off.
So, why do I tell you this? In the hope that you’ll learn from my mistakes. I hope that I have. But, it’s important that those who know you well recognize when something goes wrong. Time is of the essence.
I’m very fortunate. Many things could have gone horribly wrong. But, they didn’t. Everyday I get something back. My occupational therapist said good-bye for the last time yesterday. My nurse and physical therapist said it would only be another week or so before they would discharge me.
And I’m fine. I mean it. I’m better.
I’m realizing that other people don’t see it like I do. I recognize my own deficiencies. I process differently. It’s slower. How I search for words is different. And I think people notice it. But, my physical therapist said yesterday that, unless he was looking at a medical report, he wouldn’t believe I had a stroke just six weeks ago.
But, I know it. I can feel it. I am aware of it. And I don’t want to do it again.
God is good. Not because He has lifted me up, but because He is. I am grateful for every little thing. Balance, walking, talking, my right hand doing stuff … everything. Fearfully and wonderfully made, said David. And I believe him.
Bit by bit, I’m learning to accept my new process. And it will get quicker with time. Keep working. Keep exercising. Keep believing.
But, most of all, I’m just grateful.
Here are the audio files and notes from this year’s Embracing the Truth Conference lecture series on the topic: Jesus as Judge.
Just a note about the audio: We were using a wireless microphone, which is normally not a problem. But this year, for some reason, we got intermittent RF interference that made its way into the recordings. I can sometimes remove unwanted noise from digital recordings, but this RF noise was in the same frequency spectrum as my voice, so removing it rather severely altered the voice quality. So, I tried to bring it down a bit, but you’ll definitely hear it when it pops up. The noise comes and goes but I don’t think it hampers the audibility too terribly.
All of the messages from this year’s conference are available on the Sovereign Grace Bible Conference Website.
Commenting on his own lack of ordination, and the futility of most modern ordination practices, Charles Haddon Spurgeon once rather famously said —
“Now, it was no doubt the custom to lay on hands at the ordination of Christian ministers by the apostles, and there was an excellent reason for it, for gifts were thereby conveyed to the ordained, and when we can find anybody who can thereby confer some spiritual gift upon us, we shall be glad to have their hands laid on our heads; but empty hands we care not for. Rites cease when their meaning ceases. If practiced any longer they gender to superstition, and are fit instruments of priestcraft. The upholding of the hands of the eldership, when they give their vote to elect a man to the pastorate, is a sensible proceeding, and is, I suspect, all the apostle means when he speaks of the presbytery; but empty hands it seems to me are fitly laid on empty heads, and to submit to an empty ceremony is the idlest of all idle waste of time.” (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. 1872. Vol. XVIII)
And this is one of those places where Charles and I disagree. Ordination was important in the New Testament and it’s important today. It’s part of the process of setting particular people apart for the work of the ministry — for prayer, study in the word, teaching, and shepherding the flock of God. (Acts 6:4, 1Peter 5:2, Titus 1:5-8)
Personally, I believe that ordination is simply the church’s reaction to what God has already ordained and made obvious. When He separates someone and places them in to His service, He gives them the gifts that are necessary for the work. When the church recognizes that God has gifted someone with the abilities necessary for the work, ordination takes place.
Anyway … why is this on my mind today, of all days? Well, it’s Cinco de Mayo — May 5 — the anniversary of my ordination into the ministry. It was fifteen years ago today that Elders David Morris and D.J. Ward laid hands on my head, prayed over me, and charged me with the work I have been doing ever since. And every year, on this calendar date, I watch the video of my ordination and remember the words that were said over me.
I have always held the concept of ordination in high esteem, ever since my early Lutheran days. So much so that I turned down earlier ordination opportunities, waiting until I was convinced that it was the proper time and that I was being ordained by men with whom I had full agreement. And, by God’s good providence, He introduced me to just such men.
The year after I was ordained we got our building and GCA became a public church. June 5 will be our 14th anniversary. As the time has ticked by, we’ve seen God’s provision at every turn. And today we are as healthy a church as I have ever known.
So, today I pause, reflect, and thank God for His remarkable faithfulness. I could not have orchestrated the events of the last fifteen years. They’ve been marked by great heights and crushing lows. But, He has carried me, without fail, through them all. And not a day passes that I am not reminded of the responsibility that comes with the title “ordained elder.” But I am equally reminded of the strength and unerring love of the God who marked me out for this work.
To God — and God alone — belongs the kingdom, and the power, and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Back in April of 2012, I had the very great pleasure of preaching and visiting with the saints of Sovereign Grace Chapel in Beckley, West Virginia. Although I came back with audio of all three messages (Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday morning), I only had one video. But I just discovered this evening that SGChapel posted another video just a couple days ago. So, I thought I’d share it.
And here’s the previous video I was able to post after returning from WV.
If you’re interested in hearing the audio from these three messages, you’ll find them here:
Just scroll down to the messages entitled: “Sovereign Grace Chapel – Crow, West Virginia – 4/27/2012 – Friday Evening” then “Saturday Evening” and “Sunday Morning.”