I had the pleasure of being the speaker at the South Arizona Grace Bible Conference over the weekend. My host was Pastor Jim Kirby, of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Rio Rico, Arizona.
I told Jim (not entirely joking) that I didn't think I wanted to do a conference on the sovereignty of God again. In addition to the reading and praying and thinking and writing, there was the suffering that God graciously saw fit to send as preparation. Some of it was in the form of heartaches on a personal level, some was in the form of a number of what a pagan would call "misfortunes" — things just going wrong for me and/or my family. The collateral damage even extended to poor Pastor Kirby, whose truck broke down as he came to pick me up at the airport.
It's the collateral damage that is the more painful, as any pastor who loves his family will attest. My dear wife sacrificially made sure I had time to study and prepare, but hardship came her way as well.
But seeing the good brothers and sisters again, and meeting new friends, was a joy; and bringing the messages was also a joy. As an added treat, pianist Sam Rotman gave his testimony, and a brief performance on the piano.
Old septic [sic] that I am, I greeted Sam's promise of a five-minute testimony with a raised eyebrow. But the man was every bit as good as his word, and it was a gripping testimony — as was his piano performance at the next session. (Further inevitable humbling came my way as I went 'way overtime in my own session; I knew I would on this one, though — it should have been two messages, but I felt compelled to give it all.)
The four messages I brought on Saturday had me so worn out that I asked the Kirbys if we were "still in California," as we drove to dinner. Oops. People who think preaching isn't hard work — well, I understand their thinking it, but I think they think it because they haven't done it.
Or if they've done it, and it wasn't hard work, they did it wrong.
My public thanks to Jim Kirby for inviting me yet again, to him and his wife Paulette (who the Lord has used to bring a number of sisters to Himself, though her personal Bible studies) for hosting me, and to the good folks of their church for making me feel welcome.
Jim is a fellow-Calvidispiebaptogelical, and so he also knows how it is sometimes to feel like a lonely sparrow on a rooftop.
In case anyone cares to hear them, the messages are online. Of course you're free to listen to none, any, or all, just as you wish. But there is a designed progression. Each is premised on what proceeds
Here you go:
“The Sovereign God and Evil”
“The Sovereign God and the Plan of Redemption”
“The Sovereign God and Salvation”
“The Sovereign God and Christian Prayer and Endeavor”