The Providence of God Over Restroom Visits

The Providence of God Over Restroom Visits

This week has been a very long and exhausting week.  I typically update this blog everyday through the week with main articles appearing on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday while DBG Spotlight appears on Wednesday and Friday.  However, due to some complications yesterday with my oldest daughter’s health, I was forced to postpone until today.

Last Sunday while I was preparing to preach the evening sermon, my wife called to inform me that our youngest child was being taken to the hospital due to breathing issues from Croupe and undiagnosed asthma issues.  After spending the night in the hospital, our son was released the following day.  I returned to the office on Tuesday and had a fairly normal week – until yesterday.  I woke up at about 5:45am and went downstairs to have coffee and read.  This is a typical pattern for me in the morning hours before the house turns into a mini ant colony crawling about with little mouths begging for breakfast at around 7:30am.

At about 6:40am, I heard a loud noise from upstairs that included an initial loud thud followed by some additional banging.  I immediately got up and went upstairs to find Karis, my oldest daughter who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year, on the floor in the midst of a seizure.  What happened next was a full scale operation of my wife and I working to save our daughter’s life.  My oldest son helped corral our other children into a bedroom while we worked on her in the hallway of our home.  After we gave her an emergency shot in her thigh and had her transported to the hospital by ambulance, she started to bounce back in route to the hospital.  It was a terrifying scene to find your little girl in a life threatening state, and one I hope to never see again.  Although the day started out with a terrifying scene, we spent the remainder of the day praising our sovereign God for her recovery.  We couldn’t escape the obvious providence of God in the entire ordeal.

According to the doctor, if her seizure had lasted for longer than ten minutes, it could have had devastating effects upon her body – perhaps death.  As we surveyed the scene and the way it unfolded, it was nothing less than God’s meticulous providence at work.  Karis never gets up through the night to visit the restroom.  However, yesterday, in the early hours of the morning she was in the restroom when her seizure happened.  If she had gone into a seizure in the early hours of the morning in her bed while remaining undetected until breakfast time at around 8:00am, she could have died.  It was nothing less than the providence of God that placed her in that restroom (Prov. 16:9).

As I embrace a robust view of God and the meticulous providence of God, it become even more apparent after the dust started to settle on this heart wrenching emergency.  As R.C. Sproul has said, “There is no maverick molecule if God is sovereign.” [1]  We know and believe that our God governs the universe (Heb. 1:3).  He has the moon, stars, the sun, and the earth all under His divine providential control (Jer. 31:35; Ps. 24:1).  We read about how God controls the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1).  We know that God knows how many hairs are upon our head and cares for His children more than the birds that He feeds every morning (Matt. 10:30; 6:25-34).  We know that God upholds the world and controls the laws of nature (Heb. 1:3; Ps. 107:25; 78:26).  The wind and the waves obey Him (Mark 4:41).  Once again, the truth of God’s providence became crystal clear.  I was reminded that He is also providentially controlling the restroom visits of my daughter.  If she had not been in the restroom, it’s highly probable that we wouldn’t have found her in time.

Abraham Kuyper once remarked, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!” [2]  That includes presidential elections and restroom visits.  That includes wars, rumors of wars, and restroom visits.  God rules over all things at all times.  According to Article 5.2 on Divine Providence, the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith states, “nothing happens to anyone by chance, or outside His providence, yet by His providence He orders events to occur according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.”  Nothing that happens in any of the multifaceted spheres of life is beyond the direct and divine providential ruling power of God.  For that, we sleep peacefully and go about life in confidence that God is in charge of everything.

This has been a long and stressful week for our family, but one packed with lessons.  At every turn, I see the providence of God.  The next time you hear a sermon or read an article about the meticulous providence of God, remember that He controls everything – even restroom visits in the early hours of the morning.  He is wise and good, and we can trust Him.  His mercies are new everyday.  Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Yesterday, He was pleased to preserve the life of my daughter, and I praise Him.


  1. God’s Sovereignty – Ligonier Ministries
  2. Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, ed. James D. Bratt (Eerdmans, 1998), 488.

The Providence of God and the Cross of Christ

The Providence of God and the Cross of Christ

The providence of God is a beautiful doctrine.  It can be overwhelming to study and at the same time a comfort to your soul in the midst of difficult circumstances.  Have you paused to consider the way God interacts with creation?  God is not the “clock maker” who creates and then stands back to gaze upon His work from afar.  Instead, God is interested and involved with every minuscule aspect of His creation.  What this means is that God is in the details of life and eternity.

On this day, April 3rd, in AD 33, Jesus of Nazareth was brutally murdered on a Roman cross under false charges.  To be more specific, 1,982 years ago today, the Son of God was slain on a hill called Calvary.  The charge was blasphemy, but His miracles proved otherwise.  What greater miracle than the resurrection could prove the deity of Jesus?  The virgin birth, the calming of the raging sea, and raising Lazarus from the dead were all mind blowing miracles, but the resurrection was the clincher.  When the religious establishment wanted to silence Jesus, they killed Him.  However, by killing Jesus, they became part of the validation process of Jesus’ deity because on Sunday morning Jesus rose from the dead.

The gloomy account of the crucifixion is an ignominious picture of human depravity.  It hardly seems right to call this day, “Good Friday” seeing the darkness and depth of wickedness surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion.  The Roman crucifixion was a horrible and painful way to die.  The Romans had perfected the art of execution, and from the nails to the eventual suffocation under the bright sunlight, it was an utterly painful way to die.  The religious establishment of Jesus’ day was angered with His preaching and their anger eventually culminated with Jesus’ death upon the cross.  Although the movies often make it appear that Jesus’ death an unplanned and unfortunate set of circumstances, the Bible reveals quite the opposite.  While wicked men crucified Jesus on the cross, it was the providence of God that directed human affairs to fulfill the will of God.

Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology book explains the doctrine of providence in the following way:

God is continually involved with all created things in such a way that he (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and (3) directs them to fulfill his purposes.

Behind the dark veil of the murder of Jesus of Nazareth, there was a divine purpose at work.  This divine purpose was orchestrated by the providence of God as He directs the affairs of human history.  In one sense, as these men were nailing Jesus to the cross, God the Father was nailing Jesus to the cross. That may seem like a strange thing to say, but consider the words of the prophecy of Isaiah in Isaiah 53:10 – “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief.”  The act of Jesus’ crucifixion was simultaneously an act of lawless murder and divine salvation.  Through the providence of God, which is at times mysterious to us, God was working out the evil intentions of the Jews through His own intent of the cross to save sinners through His Son – the lamb of God (John 1:29).

In a similar way we see this take place in the book of Genesis when the brothers of Joseph sold him off into slavery.  Their actions were evil.  However, we have two specific verses that point to God’s providence that was at work in the entire story of Joseph’s slavery.  In Genesis 45:5, Joseph said, “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.”  Joseph places the focus upon God’s will as opposed to the evil sin of his brothers.  Once again, in Genesis 50:20, Joseph said, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”  In a way that cannot be overlooked, Joseph confirmed that his brothers had an evil intention, but God had an intention as well.  While God’s intent was good, it was nevertheless an intent.

As we examine the first sermon of the Christian church, we see Peter saying the exact same thing about the crucifixion of Jesus.  In Acts 2:22-23, we read:

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—[23] this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

We must note the powerful words of Peter.  He called the death of Jesus the “definite plan and foreknowledge of God.”  He went on to say that Jesus was crucified and killed by lawless men.  At the exact same time that lawless men were killing Jesus, it was God’s decree and definite plan.  God didn’t merely look through time to discover it.  God planned the bloody cross in order to accomplish His saving mission for guilty sinners.

As we ponder the darkness of this day in human history, let us see the light of God’s divine providence shining to us from the cross.  God had a plan!  As the hymn writer William Cowper reminds us, God plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm. He is in complete control, and behind that frowning providence He often hides a smiling face.  Let us see the light of God’s providence and remember that Sunday is coming!  Only in the resurrection could this dark day be referred to as “Good Friday.”

William Cowper – God Moves in a Mysterious Way

  1. God moves in a mysterious way
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants His footsteps in the sea
    And rides upon the storm.
  2. Deep in unfathomable mines
    Of never failing skill
    He treasures up His bright designs
    And works His sov’reign will.
  3. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
    The clouds ye so much dread
    Are big with mercy and shall break
    In blessings on your head.
  4. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
    But trust Him for His grace;
    Behind a frowning providence
    He hides a smiling face.
  5. His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding every hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flow’r.
  6. Blind unbelief is sure to err
    And scan His work in vain;
    God is His own interpreter,
    And He will make it plain.

God’s Will = Prison

With the advancement of the health, wealth, and prosperity messages on T.B.N. and similar networks, it seems foolish for Christians to go to jail for the cause of Christ!  After all, if we follow the theology of the Word Faith movement today, we will hear a clear message of healthy living and prosperity being taught as God’s will.  If we experience anything less than that – we must be living in some form of sin that has brought upon judgment from God.

The problem with that type of theology is that it doesn’t square with the teachings of Scripture.  The Word of God reveals the true Christian life as a life of surrender, sacrifice, danger, self denial, and even death.  Jesus said:

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross ​daily and follow me. 24 For​whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. – Luke 9:23-24 (ESV)

Therefore, true Christianity is foreign to the world, T.B.N., and sadly, to many churches today.  The type of message we are often hearing is about a grandfather type of God who would never demand anything more than we can handle.  He wants the absolute best for us and desires for us to possess everything our hearts desire in this life in order to please ourselves!  Is that the God of Scripture?

George Offor on John Bunyan’s arrest, November 12, 1660:

“[T]he constable and his attendants came in, and exhibiting a warrant, ordered him to leave the pulpit and come down; but he [Bunyan] told him that he was about his Master’s business, and must rather obey his Lord’s voice than that of man.  Then a constable was ordered to fetch him down, who, coming up and taking hold of his coat, was about to remove him, when Mr. Bunyan fixed his eyes steadfastly upon him; having his Bible open in his hand, the man let go, looked pale and retired; upon which he [Bunyan] said to the congregation, ‘See how this man trembles at the Word of God.’ . . . But being commanded in the king’s name, he went with the officers, accompanied by some friends, to the magistrate’s residence.”

Bunyan spent the next 12 years in prison, leaving behind a wife and 4 young children, the oldest of which was blind.  While in prison, he didn’t spend his time complaining about how he had been wronged.  Instead, he wrote the most printed book in the history of the world (excluding the Bible), The Pilgrim’s Progress.  Those who read this blog often know that I have a great deal of respect for Bunyan’s life, dedication, doctrine, and writings.  However, as I look at history, I see men like Bunyan who spent time in prison, but not for crimes of sin, but rather – crimes of preaching!  Is that the judgment of God or is that the strange providence of God?

The Apostle Paul said the following:

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really ​served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard​ and to all the rest that ​my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold ​to speak the word​ without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, ​knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. – Philippians 1:12-16 (ESV)

Paul spent much of his ministry in prison.  He was placed in jail for preaching the gospel on several different occasions.  Was Paul under the judgment of God?  Was Paul suffering as a result of hidden sin in his life?  Was Paul the victim of free-will bad luck?  Was this the sovereign will of God?  It seems clear from Scripture that Paul spent time in prison because of the sovereign will of God in order to advance the gospel.

Can God use the bad choices of people to accomplish His divine will?  Yes!  That has been God’s pattern throughout history.  It was the case with Joseph in the Old Testament, Paul in the New Testament, and eventually Bunyan in church history.  The health, wealth, and prosperity message is nothing more than a denial of God’s Word and a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We must deny the Word Faith movement that has become so prevalent in our modern day.  It has overtaken the television programs, radio, internet, and is invading the pulpits of many churches.  God’s will is not always prosperity and health – in fact – He may choose a different path for our lives in order to accomplish His divine will for His eternal glory!

The Hidden Smiling Face

The Hidden Smiling Face

Today is April 15th, otherwise known as “tax day” here in America, but to me it is a day that has greater significance.  Rather than remembering “Uncle Sam” I am filled with the memory of a man named William Harrell.  It was on this day in 2003 that my best friend, William Harrell, went home to be with the Lord through an unexpected car accident.  As I think about the tragedy each year on this day, I also have the privilege to see what God has done since that horrible day in the life of his widowed wife and daughter who was not yet born at the time of the accident.  As I consider the bitter tragedy today, I am reminded of the last poem / song written by William Cowper in a famous hymn he penned in 1773:

God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea

And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never failing skill

He treasures up His bright designs

And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace;

Behind a frowning providence

He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err

And scan His work in vain;

God is His own interpreter,

And He will make it plain.

 

The words that he wrote, “Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face” provide a great summary of the tragedy that surrounds William Harrell’s widowed wife, Kerri, and her unborn daughter.  It was a knock on the door that William’s wife never wanted to receive.  The police officers informed her of William’s death.  She was literally brought to her knees in the pain of the overwhelming tragedy.  She was left with many questions of how she would face life as a widow.  She was faced with the stark reality that her daughter would never meet her own father.  It was a very dark and painful night!

While it was a horrible tragedy by any measure, as we understand the sovereignty of our God, we realize that it was likewise a frowning providence.  In other words, we realize that God must have had some plan in William’s death.  As we look at the life of Kerri and their daughter Libby, we see that behind the frowning providence on April 15th 2003, God hid a smiling face.  Today in the life of Kerri and Libby, we see that smile shining bright.  It is a testimony of God’s sovereign goodness.

A few years later, my wife would introduce Kerri to a man named Chip Thornton.  Chip was a man we met after moving to Louisville, Kentucky for Seminary.  It would not take long before God would bring them together as husband and wife.  Today, they are married and have been blessed by God with two additional children in their family – Boaz and Titus Thornton.  Chip has now finished his Ph.D. work at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and they are serving the Lord faithfully through their local church.  Chip is an unpaid elder who preaches and teaches in their local church, and Kerri serves in different ways through women’s ministries as well.  God is using their family to reach people in the southern Louisville community as they await God’s direction as Chip pursues an opportunity to transition into full-time pastoral ministry.

Jonathan Edwards once said, “There has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, in respect to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, from that day to this… God’s absolute sovereignty… is what my mind seems to rest assured of, as much as of anything that I see with my eyes… The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God… God’s sovereignty has ever appeared to me, [a] great part of His glory. It has often been my delight to approach God, and adore him as a sovereign God.

“Why would God allow a young preacher to die?  Why would God allow a young pregnant wife suffer so much under the pressure of losing her husband in a car accident?  If God was not sovereign over death, it would be hard to walk through the valley times of life.  God allows us to realize that even behind a frowning providence, somewhere and somehow, He has hidden a smiling face there.

May God bless the Thornton family – dear friends of the Buice family!

………………………………………..

Resources:

The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Selections, p. 59, 67, Published by the Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, PA 17013.

The Mysterious Providence of God

Have you ever witnessed the mysterious providence of God? What exactly is providence? Providence is defined by the Wycliffe Dictionary of Theology as, “In sum, the doctrine of providence tells us that the world and our lives are not ruled by chance or by fate but by God, who lays bare his purposes of providence in the incarnation of his Son (426-427).”The Abstract of Principles, the first confessional document of the Southern Baptist Convention, which was penned in order to govern the mother Seminary of the Convention – The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – defines providence as follows:

God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.

In Genesis 50:15-21, we see a wonderful picture of God’s providence. The passage of Scripture is at the end of the story where Joseph has revealed himself to his brothers who had sold him off into slavery for 20 pieces of silver (Gen. 37:28). Their intentions were fueled by sinful desires. They did not want him around since he was his father’s favorite and had received his father’s blessing (obvious by the coat he received). However, at the end of the story, Joseph had been placed in a high position (2nd highest position in the land) and his brothers are in need of food. As we see the brothers falling down at his feet and claiming to be his slaves, Joseph said something that reveals the mysterious providence of God. Joseph says, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive (KJV).”What was intended for evil by the brothers was actually intended for good by God. Just when the brothers thought they were getting rid of their brother once and for all, God was preparing him for a high position where he would spare many people during a horrible famine. It is obvious that God is directly involved in the affairs of human beings rather than being a distant “clock maker” god who is not involved in his creation.The God of Holy Scripture not only spoke His creation into existence, but He also rules and reigns over it. While many evil things occur that we often cannot explain, we do trust in the God who reigns to accomplish His perfect will through His mysterious providence. How else could it be explained that livestock getting out of Saul’s father’s field would be the door where he (Saul) would be anointed as King of Israel? How do you explain a Jewish girl becoming queen in order to save the Jews from the wicked plan of Haman? How can you explain these things that are very mysterious to us? Should we base these events on luck? Should we view these events as merely coincidence? As we read the Old Testament and the New Testament, it is obvious that our God involves Himself in His creation and operates in a mysterious way to accomplish His will – for His glory – in what we know as divine providence.For the glory of God!Rev. Josh Buice

Beauty Shop Gossip and the Strange Providence of God

As we go through life, at times we face what is often called the “strange providence” of God. It isn’t really strange at all to God, but we title it as such because our limited minds often have trouble understanding the wide ranging plans of our God. As we look at Holy Scripture, it does not take long to see the providence of God playing out in life events and even salvation itself. In fact, it seems that nearly every event in our lives is within the realm of God’s mysterious providence.

The story of Esther is one that shines bright with the providence of God. Although the name of God is nowhere mentioned in the book itself, He is clearly seen through His providence. As God put a young girl into the highest position for women – the queen of the land – in order to stop the Jewish massacre, we see God’s providence being played out clearly in the life events of Esther and her people.

The story of Ruth is yet another wonderful example of God’s providence. Naomi and Elimelech took their family to Moab to escape a terrible famine. After the death of Elimelech and her two sons, Naomi was left a widow in a strange land with two widowed daughter-in-laws. Naomi instructed them to remain in their land in hopes of finding another husband, but she was going to go back to her land to live out the rest of her days. One of her daughter-in-laws refused to stay behind. Her name was Ruth. This young woman decided to go with Naomi and live with her the rest of her days. As Ruth entered Naomi’s land and worked in the fields to provide for her and Naomi, she met her Kinsman Redeemer – a man named Boaz. God brought two people together as husband and wife through horrible tragedies. It was providence clearly displayed and all for God’s glory.

I have been doing much thinking about the providence of God recently. It was approximately 12 or 13 weeks ago that two ladies were sitting in a beauty shop in a small town in Tennessee. One of the ladies named Michelle was serving on a pulpit committee for her church and was telling the other lady that they had been searching for a pastor for two years. The other lady was Mrs. Walker. She responded by telling Michelle to contact her son who works for the Seminary in Louisville and he would be able to provide references to her. It was the next week when Michelle called the Seminary to talk to Mrs. Walker’s son. Mrs. Walker’s son is Brad – a close friend – who works for the Seminary. He gave Michelle my name and the pulpit committee contacted me regarding their church.

At first, I must admit, I was not open to the idea of uprooting my family and moving to Tennessee. I had just submitted my application to the Seminary for the doctoral program, and I was also very happy at my church. Over the course of the past 12 weeks, after interviews, prayers, and personal discussions with the pulpit committee, God began changing my heart. On December 16th, I preached at Cornerstone Baptist Church in McMinnville, TN, and God confirmed in my heart (along with my wife) that it was in fact God’s will for us to move to Tennessee. As we drove back up the highway, the chairman of the committee called with the vote which further confirmed in our hearts that God was moving us away from Van Buren Baptist and to a new ministry in Tennessee. Therefore, I preached at Van Buren on that evening and resigned from my position as pastor. It was truly a bitter-sweet day.

As I prayed about the situation along the 12 week process, I often found myself doubting whether or not I was called to leave Van Buren. I have a strong tendency to criticize pastors who go to churches for the purpose building a resume. I believe that a man who “uses” a church as a resume builder is a “hireling” rather than a pastor. However, through the cloud of confusion and doubts, God made His will clear in our hearts. In the end, we may claim that it was strange that two women (who are complete strangers) would have a conversation in a beauty shop which would lead our family to Tennessee, but it is clearly the providence of God.

God can use a famine, a queen’s position, or even “beauty shop gossip” to accomplish His perfect will. Providence may be strange to our limited human minds, but it isn’t strange to God at all. God is never confused nor does He doubt. God accomplishes His will for His glory – all of the time!

For His Glory!

Pastor Josh Buice