17 October 2007

As Good as It Gets

posted by Phil Johnson

arely do I put sound files on the blog, so when I do, you know it's a good one. You've got to hear this.

The sound clip linked below was recorded last Saturday (thanks to Bill Fickett). It's from KFI 640 ("More stimulating talk radio"). That's a secular all-talk station and probably the largest Clear Channel radio station on the West Coast—not a source where you'd normally expect to hear a lesson about divine providence. But it's a good one.

Some facts about this story before you listen:

  1. Johnny MacArthur is John MacArthur's eldest grandson. He's a high-school senior this year and a scratch golfer with a full-ride golf scholarship to Pepperdine next year.
  2. Johnny is a senior, playing football for the first time in his high-school career. Of course, many well-meaning friends and conservative grown-ups advised him not to go out for football because of the risk of an injury that could jeopardize his scholarship. He tried out and made the team anyway.
  3. Hart and Canyon High Schools have one of the fiercest rivalries ever in US high-school football. Johnny plays for Hart High School. Canyon was last year's state champ in football. (Canyon's stadium is down the hill from my back yard. I hear their marching band practicing in the mornings. Hart, across the valley, is this community's oldest high school, named for William S. Hart, an early cowboy actor, who founded the Western film studios that originally built this community.)
  4. I suppose many Pyro readers will have heard about the terrible truck accident that occurred in the Newhall Pass on I-5 Friday night. It made national news and Fred Butler blogged about it. The accident site is also close by my house. (In fact, a straight line from Canyon's football stadium to the truck accident would intersect my house.)

So anyway, here's the sound file.

Listen to that clip first (and stay with it all the way to the end), lest the ending be spoiled for you. But then here's a video of the key moment in the football game.

Phil's signature


Sewing said...

For those of us who can't listen to the radio story, there's an article on the game from the Santa Clarita Valley Signal:, right here.

Phil Johnson said...

OK, and here's the LA Times article about it. But download the sound file if you can, because the host's comments abut divine providence are the best part of the story.

Sewing said...

I figured as much...I'll listen to it when I get a chance.

Hayden said...


Thanks for making me smile. What an unlikely comment from an unlikely source (Bill Handle).

You have not oversold this rivalry either. (Either did the host, my wife is a Hart graduate)

I have 2 questions are, was Dr. MacArthur there? Did he float into the pulpit on Sunday? I know he must have been proud of his grandson as he is of all of his kids and grandkids.


Phil Johnson said...


Let's just say he was unusually upbeat on Sunday, and smiling a lot.

Sadly, he couldn't be at the game Friday night. At the moment the kick was being made, he was at 30,000 feet over the Atlantic, returning from Italy, where he had ministered at a conference and celebrated the release of the MacArthur Study Bible in Italian.

Happily, however, the game was televised (nationally) by Fox sports, so he has watched the Tivo version a few times, I gather. He was in the office today and described the last 5 minutes of the game to me in meticulous detail.

steve said...

Rats. I have a self-imposed rule about not listening to sound clips or video clips during work hours (but here I am commenting in response to the blogpost--go figure).

I'll listen tonight. The fact my two nephews graduated from Hart makes for added interest.

David said...

The SC Signal article is priceless. Far better than the LA fish wraps article (big shock there)

I won't give any spoilers, but if you don't listen/read, you are missing a great story

Especially the Calvinist ending

Everyday Mommy said...

I'm sitting at my computer absolutely weeping, on so many levels, not the least of which is Divine providence. I can only begin to imagine how proud Grandpa John feels.

northWord said...

That was fun to listen to!
It's always awesome to hear someone giving God the glory like that, with such authenticity. The whole divine intervention tie in certainly added dimension, WOW.

*wonders if the kid is ever called Johnny Mac*

Sewing said...

I still can't get over the fact that there are Protestants in Italy. It'd be like Catholics in Scotland.

Al said...

Well, that was GREAT!

God Bless the MacArthur family!

al sends

donsands said...

That gave me some goosebumps!

Thanks for sharing that. What a great football game.
That will be one of the all time classics. Up there with Doug Flutie's 'Hail Mary', and the Immaculate Reception by Franco Harris.

stratagem said...

"the fervent prayer of a righteous man, availeth much"

Kevin said...

Soli Deo gloria!

Thanks for sharing.

centuri0n said...

The audio from the radio is timeless -- it needs to be archived someplace forever.

Phillip Smith said...

This story has a point so bear with me....
In 2006 a group of pastors from NC was able to attend their first and maybe only Shepards Conf. Due to one of these Pastors knowing Eric Bancroft (Youth Pastor at Grace) we had very nice accomodations. 3 of the pastors stayed with Eric himself, while my Pastor and I stayed with Matt and Kelly MacArthur. Who is that you ask, thats the son of John MacArthur. What a wonderful Godly famlily who loves the Lord. They have 3 wonderful kids, Ty, Jess and thats right Johnny MacArthur. Johnny and Ty gave up their rooms for the week for my pastor and I. Johnny was a sophmore at that point and showed trmendous Christian maturity that week in serving us while we were there. May our God be praised for Jonny's growth and for wonderful parents that follow the Eph. 6 command!

Fred Butler said...

Interesting that Zeigler, the radio host, is a known God mocker and regularly entertains atheists as guests on his show. The gal talking with him, by the way, us to be on Bay Watch. A little LA trivia.


SolaMeanie said...

Great stuff.

Situations like this always make me smile at God's providence, especially in getting in the last laugh at His critics. If you remember the Star Trek film, "The Wrath of Khan," Spock dies. When they are shooting his casket out into space, Mr. Scott plays "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes. Remarkable for a show/movie series that always referred to the Christian and Creation "myth." I'm sure they didn't see the significance of what they put in the script, but I certainly did. And enjoyed it immensely. Oh, the irony!

Seth McBee said...

I didn't know what I was about to hear...but that was fricken awesome...

jbuck21 said...

From Agnostic to Calvinist is a long jump, but Bill Handle just made it in...um...2 minutes.

Maybe he'll get saved. Someone ought to write him and let him know who's kid that was!

Silly Old Mom said...

That is just amazingly cool. It's such a small thing -- a high school football game -- and yet God still chooses to work in even the small affairs of men. I have no doubt that Zieglar was right -- lives were saved by the timing of the game's end.

That recent I-5 crash has been especially interesting for the Flock of Sillies -- we were all crowded around the monitor looking at the news photos to see if we could recognize the spot where I had crashed our trailer this summer. We're pretty sure it was the same stretch of road.

I look at the photos of those burned-out trucks, I think of the people who were killed or injured, and all I can say is, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

Sharon said...

By the way, if anyone has a hard copy of The Signal, there is a nice HUGE photo on the front page of the Sports section of a rather jubilant-looking Johnny after the successful field goal kick. I would scan it, but it's too large for my letter-size scanner. Should I save it for someone?

candyinsierras said...

That was amazing and really touching!!

Rich Ryan said...


What a great story. My last few years in Ca. I lived down the street from Matt in PC. I saw him and Johnny going to play a lot and I heard about his golf prowess. The one time JM Sr. and I played golf he told all about his grandson's golf skills. He must be awesome.

I was also a HUGE Hart High fan as the school was just around the corner. I saw more than a few games at CC over the years. That sounded like an absolute incredible ending. I was wishing I could have been there as I listened.

My question is how good an athlete is JM to be a starting D-back AND place kicker for a team like Hart? That is simply unheard of. I bet the Hart coach is wishing he'd have come out for the team a few years back.

Thanks for sharing the new "Rudy" story.

Nathan Wells said...

Thanks for the post - I wonder if Bill Handle knows who Johnny is related to!!


candyinsierras said...

I thought of another really interesting story about the providence of God and a sports event. Remember some years ago when San Francisco had that severe earthquake? It is speculated that there would have been many more motorists on the Bay Bridge and other destroyed roadways, if it weren't that the World Series was on tv and many people were home watching the game at the time.

777law said...


I cannot thank you enough for posting the audio. I'm sure I would have otherwise missed it. What a tremendous encouragement to go on in Christ knowing that He will literally move mountains to accomplish His will. Yeah, I believe it, but what it does for the soul to actually witness miracles from time to time. Much more than a magnificent sports testimony was accomplished that night.

Dave Crater said...

Great stuff. Looks like JM, Jr., in addition to golf, also is a star soccer player, which is why he got chosen to kick this field goal (SC Signal story makes it sound like the usual kicker recently got injured). The kid is a virtuoso. Athletics do run in the family. Recall his grandfather was a star footballer back in the days before Christian ministry.

Sewing said...

I finally listened to it!

Oh. my. goodness!

The sovereignty of the Lord indeed!

Sewing said...

When the authoritative history of American Calvinism is written, this surely merits at least a footnote.

carolczech said...

I hate to be the spoiler of this party and ask a heavy question..... :)

So do Fickett's commments fall into the category of "All Truth is God's Truth?" I've been uncomfortable with the statement ever since I first heard it and have been grappling with the implications of where that statement leads. I think it's bandied about way too casually (at least by some in my church). Fickett, an agnostic, spoke truth about God's sovereignty, albeit out of ignorance. So was he speaking God's truth?

What if he had said it was "Good Karma," or, "The gods were surely watching out for those kids"? Would that have still been God's truth? Or what if we knew he was a Muslim and he had said the same things? Could we still say that he was speaking "God's truth"?

Christopher said...

That was awesome.

777law said...

Excuse me,

I don't like to use the word "miracles," I prefer to say "the far less subtle appearing sovereignty of God."

Jim said...

Thanks Phil, that was the best story I have heard in a long time.

Talk about God demonstrating His power to the unbelieving.

Daniel said...

My wife and I listened to that last night, and felt such a profound, albeit vicarious, joy when we heard Johnny's jubilant and thankful heart express itself at the end of that interview. Our joy is a big part of our witness.

Thanks for sharing that.

Brad Leber said...

The Radio host is John Zieglar, not Bill Handel. And as is noted, he is an agnostic.

The most amazing thing I heard upon moving to So Cal in '02 was while driving in to Church on Sunday morning and listening to the radio I heard someone speaking in the first person as if they were Jesus, and sure enough it was something called the "Jesus Christ Show" on KFI radio...

My jaw just dropped.

I can't believe what it is going to be like for that person when he stands before the Lord of the Universe and has to answer for his "show"


I am from the Bay Area and remember the quake well.

You are absolutely right, the roads were virtually empty as my Giants took on the other Bay team, the A's, in that World Series. The quake hit at around 5 pm if I remember correctly and normally there would have been thousands of cars on the road (in the heart of the commute) and on that part of the freeway in Oakland that collapsed... as it was I think there were deaths there only in the 10's...

Surely God's providence was evident in this act... I was not a believer at that time but remember reflecting back on it when I was saved 4 years later...

Mike Riccardi said...

Fickett, an agnostic, spoke truth about God's sovereignty, albeit out of ignorance. So was he speaking God's truth?

I think he was speaking God's truth. I think of Romans 2:14-15:

For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts.

However, this doesn't please God on any forensic-righteousness level, because it's not from faith, or the foolishness of God; it's from the wisdom of the world. Consider the following:

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. -- Heb 11:6

And whatever is not from faith is sin. -- Rom 14:23b

What if he had said it was "Good Karma," or, "The gods were surely watching out for those kids"? Would that have still been God's truth?

I don't think so. I don't see them as being the same thing.

What do you think, Carol?

Phil Johnson said...


Bill Fickett is my friend who obtained the recording. He's not an agnostic.

John Zieglar is the radio host in the above clip.

And I'd say his comments fall in the realm of Caiaphas's unwitting testimony to the truth in John 11:51, and Romans 2:14-15. When an unbeliever says something like this this in acknowledgement of the truth, he simply shows the work of the law written in his heart.

Phil Johnson said...

Mike R:

You posted whilst I was composing. Well said.

Sewing said...

Please forgive me for this off-topic tangent, but how's this for another (much, much lesser) example of providence, that I just learned about this morning?

A year and a half before I was saved, God convicted me that the answer lies in Christ's work on the Cross...and He led me to purchase Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest, which taught me what real Christianity is. I didn't realize until today that Chambers was a (clearly Reformed) Baptist who was led to Christ by the teaching of none other than Spurgeon (source)!

Considering that the circumstances through which the Holy Spirit led me both to that book and to this blog (not to mention my reformed credobaptist church) were wholly improbable, I can't but marvel at what God in His grace does to us sinners who don't even deserve it, and the amazing journey He leads us on.

Congratulations to Hart High and Johnny MacArthur, and condolences to the families of those whose earthly lives came to an end in the I-5 accident.

carolczech said...

"Bill Fickett is my friend who obtained the recording. He's not an agnostic.">>>>

Whoops! Sorry to assault your friend. If you're able, feel free to edit my post so his name isn't forever slandered in the pyro archives.

Sewing said...

Carolczech: You could delete, rewrite, and repost your comment, though with a caveat that you were correcting an error, and mentioning what the error was. (To keep everything above board.)

Fred Butler said...

By the way, I am reminded of Conan The Barbarian's insightful words when it comes to these situations:

To meet your enemies on a field of battle.
See them driven before you.
And hear the lamentation of the women.


donsands said...

Ah, Conan was quite wise in these situations.

But how about this quote:

"Ay, fight and you may die, run and you'll live. At least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom." -William Wallace

Christopher said...

Daniel, I felt that same joy. It almost brought me to tears. What a testimony to what happens when children are brought up in a home that reveres God and teaches His word, as I know happens in the home of all of John MacArthur's children. There was a genuiness to Johnny's thanksgiving to God, too. He thanked Him out of His deep love for God. Johnny truly saw God as responsible for it, which it was. It was great.

fickett said...

Thanks for correcting that Phil.

The host of the show is John Ziegler; He is an avid golfer and general sports fan.

For those in the Los Angeles area "Fox Morning LA" is scheduled to interview Johnny at school on Friday.

justin said...

I want to see the video of the interception as well. Does anyone know of where we can see the whole ending?

Phil Johnson said...


The Hart football web page currently has running the video (sans sound). The game highlights are displayed in chronological order and they seem to replay over and over, so you'll see the interception just before the long run that set up the kick.

Gilbert said...

BTW, although it's probably too late now...as the ball sails through the uprights on the YouTube video, someone near the camera audibly drops an "F-bomb" as they watch their team blow it.

Still, great story, video, and everything else. I was on vacation and didn't hear about the I-5 fire until Monday night (I was out in the middle of northern Wisconsin sans cable/satellite TV and high-speed Internet). That was tragic, and my belated condolences go out to their families, and that God may reveal Himself to them in this.

Ivan said...

Thanks Phil for that. It was simply amazing to hear that.

Valerie (Kyriosity) said...

I gotta admit, that was pretty cool. And I don't even like hockey!

Tiffany @ As For My House said...

What a blessing, thank you! So glad this led me to your blog!

This story is apparently making the cyber-rounds again... But it looks like the video has been removed from YouTube.

I'd sure love to see it - is it available anywhere else?