While I’m likely to issue a press release every time Evident Grace twitches, and I’ve worn all of you out on Facebook every time I write a new book, I am not typically issuing updates about my health. However, since a few of you have heard about what’s going on with me, I thought I would send out a prayer update.
To begin with, I’m fine, but the doctors have diagnosed me with an epileptic condition as I am having what they call “silent seizures”. As always, things like this work best in story.
Last year, around the time my father (Sam) passed away, I began have pauses. A pause is when all of a sudden, in the middle of a conversation or even driving down the road, I just stopped talking. I couldn’t talk if I wanted to say anything. As many of you know my pace, pausing is not something I typically do. But if I was in the middle of a conversation, I would all of a sudden just stop. I felt the moments coming on, and I was aware that I was having them. 10-15 seconds later, they would go away.
In October of last year, I had a yearly checkup and told my doctor about them. After hearing that I had lost both of my parents over a five month period, that I was switching jobs, and that I was moving out of the state, he chalked them up to fatigue and stress. So, I did too.
But over the past few months, these pauses began to increase in frequency. I was having them at least twice a week. And, on an occasion or two, I spoke some pretty non-sensical things that I didn’t remember saying. I even had them in two sermons which most of the congregation chalked up to a movement of the Spirit or perhaps a frustration with the crowd.
We have a doctor at Evident Grace, and I asked him to keep an eye out in case I ever had one around him. He was at one of those sermons where I paused, and he recommended that I see a local neurologist that he respected.
So, about a month ago, I had my first appointment, and the doc suggested that I have an EEG and an MRI (one of those strange acronyms that begins with a consonant yet demands an “an” before it). The MRI came back negative, so we know that it’s not a tumor (said in my best “Kindgarten Cop” voice). However, the EEG showed some brain abnormalities on the left hand side. The doc has prescribed some anti-seizure meds, and they are working so far. They do, however, make me incredibly sleepy, and this is to be expected for the first month as my body adjusts.
So, that’s where we stand. I may have more tests to go as the types of seizures I’m having are rare in adults, but the primary plan right now is to get used to the meds and keep track of any more moments that I might have.
I appreciate your willingness to read this diatribe, but I do desire your prayers. These moments have been incredibly stressful to Amy and the girls. I’m slogging my way through my new meds, and we are praying that nothing about this worsens. Evident Grace is aware of what’s going on, and everyone has been incredibly encouraging and prayerful. I just need to be wise about my pace with them, with my family, and with my training schedule. If I need rest, I need to get it.
Thanks for your prayers, and feel free to email me back with any thoughts or questions. I do really appreciate how much Amy and I can depend on you guys for prayer.
I’m thankful that I know a bunch of Godly, Gospel-grounded, and bright pastors. I also have the privilege of bumping into some incredibly wise and astute folks in my congregation and in the day to day. You guys have a lot to say, but beyond Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, very few people get to hear your wisdom.
Since, I have been publishing for the last year or two, I wanted to encourage and enable lots of folks to join me in writing and publishing beyond social media.
Don’t get me wrong; social media is strong, but the larger population often misses out on your practical wisdom because of their lack of access to it.
To bridge the gap, I’ve published a little $.99 book, 5 Steps to Publishing Your Own Books.
The goal is to encourage and promote my wise and gifted friends to begin publishing books easily and more often. This book will walk you through how you can go from manuscript to publication to promotion. And as you do, lots of folks (including me) will benefit from your efforts.
You can find 5 Steps in two formats:
The inaugural “In Garner as it is in Heaven” forum launched this past Saturday. The tricky thing about public forums is that you just don’t know what you are going to get until the folks show up. Forums take on a life of their own depending upon the makeup of the crowd. This event was no different.
The focus of the evening was to discuss what it might look like for God’s will to be done in the church as it is in Heaven. Originally intending to give hope to folks post-church, the event was actually populated with folks from multiple local churches. The tone turned hopeful as each talked about church partnership as a demonstration of the peace of Heaven and as a demonstration of God’s will. One person’s thoughts summarized the evening well: “If the people in Garner meet people from a church as they serve in the community, maybe it won’t be so hard for people to visit and worship again.” Classic. Hopeful.
This week we will again hit Aversboro Coffee on Saturday at 6pm. You’ll be greeted by good music and good conversation as we discuss what it might look like for God’s will to be done in our homes as it is in Heaven. For more info check out the schedule here.
I would hope that every church would describe themselves as a “teaching church” or a “learning church” – Sovereign King would be no different, but we add something to that approach. We want to be an equipping church.
Raw facts and raw data change very little unless those facts and data are presented in an atmosphere where all levels of maturity are respected and all levels of maturity are moved towards practical application.
Towards that end, SK Church is launching several new teaching opportunities beginning on Sunday, 9/11.
We will of course continue offering the finest Sunday School teaching in the safest environment for our younger children. The SK Kids program celebrates its 1 year anniversary this month. Each Sunday at 9:30am, we offer a nursery and three additional classes for ages 3-5, grades 1-3, and grades 4-5. You can find out more about this program here or you can direct any questions you might have to our SK Kids coordinator, Melanie Askew at Melanie.email@example.com.
We will also be launching a new Jr High/Sr High program led by Ben Thomas. Ben is a recent seminary grad and missionary who is passionate about teaching and equipping. He and our youth leader, Josh Howard, will be teaching a class asking this question: “What does Jesus have to do with my life?” The simple answer is, “As an artist owns his canvas, so God owns all creation.” This class will pursue the practicality of Jesus in every day life.
Excitedly, we will also be launching a new adult class as well led by two of our church elders, John Etheridge and Mike Askew. This will be a pursuit of the letters that Paul wrote in the Bible. Feel free to attend this class with any amount of background of the Bible. Some will arrive having never looked at the Bible while others will have more experience. Either way, everyone will be welcomed and plenty of interaction is expected. Even come sit silently if you want; you’ll enjoy the class.
All Sunday School classes launch at 9:30am and you can find directions to our space here. Excitedly, we are also launching our “In Garner as it is in Heaven” teaching series during our 10:30am service. Check out the link for more details.
In all of us this, we want to equip Garner and the surrounding areas with real, Biblical truth to tackle real day to day challenges.
With the additional room that our new space affords, Sovereign King Church is planning on expanding our SK Kids ministry. This will include enlarging the reach of existing ministries while also implementing some new ones.
Our longest and most consistent SK Kids program has been our Children’s Church ministry. Just before the sermon begins in our service, any parents who wish, can send their children ages 3-6 (up to Kindergarten) to have a specific, age appropriate teaching time. A new feature that we have added recently is that the children are interacting with the same material that their parents are studying during the sermon. The children are even sent home with material that will help parents have family devotions if they want. That way, parents and children can discuss the sermon’s message together.
Our SK Kids nursery has grown and improved. We now have a much larger room to take care of our little ones. In addition, our schedule is packed with nursery workers going out for the next 3 months. You’ll always have someone manning the nursery if you want to place your kids in there. We even have a system for bringing in more workers in case the number of children in nursery gets too big. We have taken every measure to make sure the check in and check out process is both quick and safe. When you check your child in, they will be given a number, and you will receive a corresponding numbered bracelet. That way, we can insure that your child is checked in and checked out by you safely. We want to make sure that you feel absolutely comfortable putting your children in our hands while you worship.
The largest expansion of the SK Kids ministry is the launch of our Sunday School program on August 15th. We will be offering 3 tracks this quarter and hope to expand to 4 or 5 the next. This quarter, our kids will learn about worshiping God and obeying God through readings, activities, and play. Right now, the SK Kids teachers are studying, preparing, and getting all the details ready so that our kids will have an absolute blast while learning about Jesus. Of note, SK will also offer an adult Sunday School time that will give folks an overview of the OT books. To no one’s surprise, we all need to be reminded of the great acts of God and His people in the Bible. This too will be a fun, interactive experience. Sunday School launches on August 15th at 9:30am.
Finally, SK is once again offering custom made, age appropriate Children’s Bulletins for grades 1-3 and 4-5. These are bulletins with activities that enable the children who are in worship during the sermon to better understand what is being taught. I even know a few parents who like to snag a Children’s Bulletin and work on it themselves at home. These really are remarkable helps for your children that are designed by one of our SK Kids workers who has a degree in Education. She meets with the Pastor, takes in where the sermon is going to go each week, and then designs activities that help children understand these things at their age level. Several families are using these for home devotions as well.
Every activity that we do is going to focus on the same mission as the larger SK church. We want to create a community for our kids so that they will learn to engage and serve the larger community in which they live. In the big picture, all SK wants to do is help teach our kids and empower parents to teach as well. We want the SK Kids program to be something that is helpful to our folks and even to parents outside the SK family. Everyone can use a little help in raising their children. Hopefully, by the end of August, we will also be announcing and launching activities for our SK Youth.
If you have any questions, you can contact our SK Kids Coordinator, Melanie Askew at firstname.lastname@example.org or SK’s pastor, Gordon Duncan at email@example.com. You can also call the church office at 919-661-9466. Directions to our facility can be found here.
Redemption is about restoring things to their original purposes. In the case of sin, men and women have run after their own way, abandoning God, and pursuing self. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection offer those same men and women the opportunity to be redeemed: pursuing and enjoying God.
Redemption is the message of the church. As a result, the work of the church should reflect its message. Her posture towards her city should reflect redemption as well. Pretty soon after launching Sovereign King, we knew that the only way we were going to get a facility that would fit us was going to be to redeem one.
So after meeting in a dance studio, the Lions Club, a speakeasy, and an office building, we have finally signed onto a new facility: 527 Place Court (or as the rest of the world knows it: the former Peak Fitness/Gold’s Gym). Redemption is something that place needs. It has been empty for nearly two years.
It will be a seven day a week facility, with worship space for nearly 200, a nursery, an office, multiple classrooms, and something brand new for us: his AND her bathrooms. The upfit will take a few weeks, so we hope to announce an opening Sunday sometime in early July.
Redemption however, goes much further than merely occupying a once empty space. We hope to improve the profile of the shopping center and offer a place of refuge physically and spiritually for the community around us. Our present location is off a service road without a defined community, so loving and serving that specific area has been difficult. However, this little corner of Highway 50 that will soon be ours has several pocket communities that are often neglected or overlooked. We want to be able to offer them hope in every area of their life.
We’re blessed to have this new opportunity. As many prayers as it took to get us here will be necessary to get us to our first day of worship. I’m excited to see what God might do with us as we expand to a larger facility…and have two bathrooms.
For more info, contact Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 919-412-8161.
One of the things that Garner has severely lacked has been a night life. We have nice restaurants and a few destination spots, but the night life attraction seems to have avoided us until now. Last night, I witnessed its dawn at Swift Creek Coffee House.
The event was an acoustic concert by Nick Ferrell, Jonathan Randall, Matthew Plourde, with Laura Tabor. They played a great mix of familiar tunes, classics, spirituals, and even a mash up or two (you definitely want to hear their Police/Jonas Brothers tune). Their performance is strong, and they are all talented musicians. Nick plays regularly at Swift Creek and at Sovereign King Church. Jonathan plays at Journey Church. Matthew is prodigy, and Laura has a degree in music. What also helped was pleasant weather and open doors. Folks came in and out, laughed, gave hugs, introduced and re-introduced themselves over great coffee. Swift Creek really has a fantastic atmosphere.
The hope is that events like this continue, and the folks in Garner and surrounding areas will make Swift Creek a destination on the weekends. It is perhaps the best place in Garner to meet or meet up with folks.
I know that photos and video were taken of last night’s show, so I’ll post them as soon as possible, but here’s to a great evening and the launch of Garner’s night life.
Dena had the check in running smoothly. Sweet SK Banner.
Between SK’ers, EMS, and GPD, there were plenty of volunteers.
The SK Endurance Team looking tough.
Pre-Start of the Race.
Last Minute Check In.
And they are off!
Phase 3 start with me hoping on the bike far left.
Great Trail shots from Melanie.
Sovereign King Church and the Garner EMS are partnering to host a Four Hour Endurance Ride at the Garner Bike Trail at Garner Recreation Park on Sunday, September 20th. Starting at 1:00pm, there is no fee and no fundraising necessary, but they will be accepting donations with all proceeds going towards the purchase of workout equipment for the EMS station.
Both groups have partnered with local businesses who have provided a large number of donations for the riders. Garner businesses Firehouse Subs, Chick Fil A, Roadrunners Pizza, Buffalo Wild Wings, the Drip, and Cottman Transmission as well as Dos Taquitos Centro, the Starbucks on Peace Street, and the Moes on Harrison Avenue have donated cash and prizes for the riders.
Gordon Duncan, the EMS chaplain and pastor of Sovereign King Church, is hoping for a large turnout. “The EMS work sacrificially in Garner and throughout Wake County, so anything that can be done to assist them in their job is worth the effort.” When asked if the church would be fielding a team for the endurance ride, Duncan responded, “Yes, we have several mountain bikers in the church. We hope to have a strong presence on the trail as well as serving behind the scenes.”
EMS Technician, Dena Ali, is just as enthusiastic: “There are a large number of trail riders on the EMS as well as the local police and firefighters. This was a no-brainer. In terms of getting a good turnout, we are hoping to have a ton of people on Sunday. Even if folks aren’t riding, we want people to feel free to show up and cheer everybody on.”
The ride should last from 1:00pm until 5:00pm. There is no entrance fee, but donations will be accepted. If you would like more information, you can contact Dena Ali at email@example.com or Gordon Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Both www.garnerems.org and www.skchurch.com have information about the ride as well.
This article also appears at
Say his name with emphasis, and it becomes a curse word. Say it contemplatively, and His name becomes an act of worship. Say it in some arenas it will offend, while not saying it in others is offensive. As the old hymn sings, “Jesus, there is something about that name.” All of scripture, and especially the book of Romans, make it abundantly clear: there is no peace with God the Father without the work Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Not only does faith in the work of Jesus bring about peace with God the Father, His work also declares you justified or legally innocent of sin. These truths, also known as the Gospel, should cause each and every believer to rejoice because they have a true and honest hope of seeing the glory of God.
The irony of the life of following Jesus is that you are simultaneously free and dependent at the same time. You are no longer a slave to sin which makes you free, but you are also completely dependent upon Jesus for life, salvation, forgiveness, and obedience. So, instead of living a life of futility, you can live a life of true, honest God-glorifying obedience. A life of joy, happiness, and hope is possible but only as it is done in the name of Jesus Christ. Do it for yourself, and you works will be futile. Do it for Jesus’ glory and in His name, and you will find yourself.
No here is something else that is amazing: God entrusts these wonderful truths to you. 2 Corinthians 4 describes this as a treasure in a clay pot. It is like using a weak dollar store flower pot to hold a million dollars in gold. If you are a believer in Jesus, that’s you. God has entrusted the message of the Gospel, the wonderful work of Jesus Christ, to you. He has ordained that the means by which people will hear the Gospel is you proclaiming the truths of scripture to those that need to hear it.
You would think that the church, who Jesus affectionately calls His bride, would eagerly and tirelessly proclaim to a lost and hurting world the freedom and peace with God that comes through Jesus. Yet, outside the walls of most church buildings, Jesus’ name remains unsaid. The simplest barometer to determine how the church is doing in proclaiming Jesus is for you personally to ask yourself how you are doing in that task. If you remain silent in hearing that question because you know that you haven’t proclaimed Jesus to yourself much less world lately, then you know how the church doing…poorly.
You may say that you are inadequate, uneducated, or ill-equipped to proclaim Jesus and gladly leave that job to me or some other pastor. But I would offer that if the treasure of the message of Jesus is in held clay pots, then God is looking for those who aren’t too confident in themselves but rather those who are confident in the treasure in which they hold. Oswald Chambers called the paradox that God entrusts us with His message, “The Brave Comradeship of God.”
To understand this in greater depth we need to understand just how we are to live this life of freedom and dependence. To help us we are going to do a brief overview of the first half of the book of Romans. With that in mind, let’s make that our Big Picture Question.
Big Picture Question: How are freedom and dependence the keys to understanding our relationship with God?
If you would like to join Sovereign King for worship, we meet each Sunday at 10:30am. You can find directions at here.