MARK KING w Reply from Roy King


My son, Mark,  recently sent me some thoughts he recorded a few years back which he found in cleaning up his Google Drive.  They are his honest processing of an event that took place in my life in November 2011 that included over a week in ICU, then a few days in a step down unit and then more days in a rehab facility followed by almost two years of outpatient physical therapy.   My medical adventure stemmed from a very serious reaction to a blood pressure medicine I had taken for several years.  After reading Mark’s thoughts I have written a reply to him which follows his reflections.  — Roy King 4/07/15


ICU smells funny. I have spent a little over a week watching my father lie in a bed. There are cables and tubes everywhere. Sometimes I worry that my size 13 shoes are going to hook around my dad’s catheter, loosely attached to the bottom of his bed, and tear it out; sending two liters of stale pee gushing too the floor. This week I have a done a lot of worrying, a lot of waiting, a lot of trying not to acknowledge my worries and fears, a lot of getting upset with nurses that don’t seem to be moving quickly enough, a lot of being annoyed with doctors that never come by and a lot of thinking about my family. My life this week seems summed up best by the following list:

  1. Go to hospital and wait. Try to use phone to look at comics for sale on ebay.
  2. Wait some more and greet all of Dad’s co-workers and church friends. This involves me  trying to be nice as someone else offers to pray and I have to hold their hand.
  3. Wait for answers that never come quickly enough.
  4. Go find fast-food.
  5. Go back to hospital and wait. Try to stream netflix which is blocked by the free wifi at the hospital. Hulu works but as usual, nothing good is on.
  6. Go home and dream about hospitals and funerals.
  7. Repeat

As I am trying to process what it means to see my father in a hospital, I keep coming back to three thoughts.

  1. Lists are stupid. I don’t ever want to live my life going by a list.
  2. My greatest fears are steeped in losing people I love.
  3. Waiting makes you think.

I know that these three thoughts seem random and overly simple, but they keep running around over and over and over and over and over in my mind. I think they tie together and might be a piece of what God is trying to show me this year.

Let’s go backwards:

  1. Waiting makes you think.

I have had a lot of time to wait. I am naturally not good at waiting. Just ask my wife how I am with Christmas presents. November 25th is just as good as December 25th. I have tried to distract myself in every way possible while waiting on my dad. I go do the the meal runs for my sister and mom. I roam around the hospital and ride the elevator. I download applications on my phone and then delete them. I even played a game with myself where I would try to find a different bathroom every time I needed to go. Hospitals have a million bathrooms and none of them are clean. The point is that despite my high propensity to find joy in distraction, there was just too much waiting. Eventually I had to think.  My thoughts, which I had been really trying to avoid led me straight to where I knew they would go. My worries and fears.

Some of my fears are stupid and some I won’t even give voice to because they might overwhelm my entire being.

  1. My greatest fears are steeped in losing people I love.

This week I feared that I might loose my dad. This week I feared that I might have to spend another week or two in the ICU looking at him hooked up to tubes, watching him move from looks of extreme pain and discomfort to looks of raw fear and confusion born from heavy sedation and a ventilator. This week I feared that might not have been the best son I could be. This week I feared that I would see my mother, who is the strongest woman I know, break down.

This is where the blessing comes in. It is in the fears and worries that are wrapped around my heart and brain that I was reminded of how much I love my family. The love I have for my wife and parents and sibling, is a love that is deep and real, the thought of separation from that love is one of my greatest fears. I think that sort of love must be the love that Jesus talks about when he sums up the second greatest commandment,

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

As I think about it, that same love, that I first experienced from my parents, I can now not only reflect back to them, but also to my wife and some friends. My father and mother were the first two people on this planet to love me in a truly second commandment way. No wonder the thought of being disconnected from that is so scary. It’s also amazing to think that through their love and the love of God I learned how to love others.

  1. Lists are stupid. I don’t ever want to live my life going by a list.

This waiting that led to thinking about my fears leads me to my last thought. Lists are dumb. I want to stop thinking about life in terms of lists and focus instead on thinking about my life in terms of who I care about. Do I get to spend today being loved by God and loving him? That’s a great day. Do I get to love my wife today? Count that as a highly productive day. If I truly believe that the two most important things are the love of God and loving others then my true focus and measuring rod of success for a day should be did I get to receive and give love today?

I want my life to be surrounded by what I truly care about.

If I, when lying in a hospital, wake up to find money, security, a completed check list, a well organized calendar full of finished meetings and neatly crossed off successful programs but have not love, I have missed the greatest gift both my earthly and heavenly fathers have given me.  

reply from Dad — ROY KING:

Mark,  How can I thank you for this gift.  Mom and I have read it but I was afraid to bring it up when I saw you recently.  I did not think I could make eye contact with you to respond to your words in a group setting of church and Easter without breaking down and crying in front of others who would not understand.

I cry even as I work on this written reply because:

— You honestly describe me during those days and yet I have no memory of the events.  I feel I somehow was present but lost out on the experience.  I don’t want to be choosing to drift through time with loved ones — being in the room but not really present — now that I am out of ICU

— I feel your pain, confusion and great love in your words — it is a tender place in your heart and it feels like you opened a gate to a quiet hidden garden  in your soul and invited me in.  Thank you…

— I am so thankful we worship a God big enough to take dark moments and bring good lessons and growth in our lives through it.  I don’t talk as much about those days as I did the first year after they happened but there are few days that go by that they do not come into my thinking at some moment in my day.

— Since my adventure in ICU, hospital and rehab I have observed that I still get weird almost panic type feelings when I go to visit someone in those settings.  I have been back to Providence and other hospitals and even visited Steve Bradley who was just down the hall from my room at Health South.  I almost have to push my feet forward and it feels like the air is leaving the room.  BUT — I think it makes me a better visitor.  I listen more, ask a few questions and don’t hold hands when I pray… and I keep it short.  Not sure if that will fade or even I want it to evaporate.

— I am deeply touched and cry every time I read your perspective on your Mom and our attempts to be loving parents.  Somehow seeing my wife and our role as parents through your eyes felt very rewarding and satisfying.  So often all I can see are my mistakes.  And I agree with your respect and view of Mom’s strength — but wonder if my view is colored by my deep love for her.  I heard Jesus whisper to me as I read your words, ” See Roy what a treasure you have been given in Pandora… and rest in peace in joy — you have loved your children well — not perfectly for sure — but you did it well.”  O God that feels good.  I so rarely see anything in my life as having been lived well. (A mark of my own sin and pride I am sure).  But my tears were deep tears from a choked up heart feeling — my son knows I love him — I can die in peace whenever it is my God’s time.


I entered seminary in the fall of 1977 and Robertson taught a required course on the Christian Life.  Not only was the course life changing but it started a relationship that has blossomed into an enduring friendship.

Robertson does not like to be called a “mentor”, he prefers just being my friend  And when I ask for advice he often says, “I have no advice but I will share an opinion if you want it.”  But in spite of his disclaimers he has poured much wisdom into me over the past 37+ years.  I often scribble notes in my journal or personal prayer list after our lunches or visits.  So here goes! — My first public sharing of some of the “gifts” of Robertson’s thinking over the years.  I told him recently I did not want to wait for his funeral to say nice things about him.  I wanted him to hear them!

  1. JUST DO THE NEXT THING GOD SHOWS YOU.  In looking back over his life he never had a plan or goals to do anything great or big — he just followed what seemed to be the next step God showed him.
  2. LOOK FOR RISING STARS AND LEVERAGE THEM.  This was an aspect of his presidential duty. He would look for “rising stars” in the student body, CIU faculty and staff, and the larger Christian world and do whatever he could to contribute to their journey.
  3. KNOW YOUR LIMITS.  DON’T TRY TO DIE ON EVERY HILL.  He would admit that that he may not have always made the correct choices but he sought to identify the ethical concerns in the society or the critical practices of the school that needed his presidential influence and he limited how many he would address at a time.
  4. JUST DO WHAT YOU CAN DO.  I have often heard him pray a paraphrase from Psalm 131 “Lord, all of “this” (usually weighty concerns we had been discussing) is too much for me….but not for You.”
  5. TO LIVE IN TENSION IS GOOD.  Robertson has very few simple answers on biblical or theological concerns.  He often speaks of seeking to find the “center of biblical tension”.  Living in the center of tension will be more uncomfortable than going to a consistent extreme.  Often you will be shot at by Christians on each end if you try to hold a balanced biblical tension.  Robertson’s experience in seeking to apply this principle with others had been disappointing at times.  Because of the tendency for blind spots in our self-awareness many of us (even if we are viewed by others as being at one end of an extreme), see ourselves as being in the place of balance and the problem is THOSE other people.
  6. BALANCE IS NOT THE GOAL FOR YOUR LIFE.  If you mean giving all aspects of life an equal share you will be in trouble. He views the balanced life as one aligned with God’s priorities — which is building his church among all peoples.  Once your passion is aligned with God’s passion and priority — then be content to offer YOUR contribution; whatever God has entrusted to you to offer to God’s cause
  7. WRITING HAS POTENTIAL FOR BROADER IMPACT.  Verbal communication influences the current and maybe the next generation.  Written communication has potential to transcend your life.
  8. SEE THE BIG PICTURE AND DISCERN CRITICAL POINTS — Get alone with God in retreats and spend some time clarifying your perspective  Many of his books, courses he created at CIU in the core curriculum, and personnel hires came out of these vision clarifying times.
  9. WHEN FACING A PROBLEM SEEK SOLUTIONS NOT VICTORIES.  If you make others the enemy to conquer you lose in the long term.
  10. LUST IS MURMURING AND DISCONTENTMENT. This is the opposite of God’s will of contentment and thanksgiving.
  12. IN TERMS OF OUR SANCTIFICATION GOD IS CONCERNED ABOUT MUCH MORE THAN JUST VICTORY OVER DAILY SIN.  God made us in his image to be in an experience of a LOVE relationship with him.  Yes, personal holiness is a goal but it is just the means to an end — not the objective.  Evaluate your life often by evaluating your love life with God and others.  Are you growing in love?

One preacher who has dramatically impacted the way I preach, teach and view my walk with Jesus is Ron Dunn.  His biography is a powerful story of how God is glorified in the weakness and struggles of his servants.  Don’s miss this book!

RON DUNN: HIS LIFE AND MISSION BY RON OWENS (buy from Amazon in paperback or Kindle)

The book would be worth reading just for the sermons that are included at the end of each section.

Once you read the book go over to and download podcasts of his messages.  I just finished my second listen of a four part study on Colossians.

The new book!  book cover transformed glory to glory Click here to pre-order for early May delivery!

Robertson McQuilkin crossed my path at a crucial time. I was recovering from a ‘toxic’ church and skeptical of all things Christian. He showed me a new way that combined intellectual rigor with a clear example of compassionate integrity, and in the process helped to set my course forever. –Philip Yancey: Author and Speaker

Most notable men distinguish themselves in a particular area of life. Robertson McQuilkin is one of those rare individuals who has excelled in multiple areas of academics, missions, writing, speaking, leadership and family life while exhibiting an extra-ordinary anointing and spiritual depth. This book will continue to bless generations to come as it captures the legacy of his life. –Jerry Rankin: President Emeritus of International Mission Board, SBC and Director of Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies, CIU

This book will mentor you. Something on every page will make you a better person, a stronger leader, and a wiser thinker. I confess I’ve found this book delightful because I know and love Robertson McQuilkin and Columbia International University. But had I known neither, I would still have read every chapter with profit and pleasure. You will too. –Robert Morgan: Pastor and Author

Isaiah 66:2 (ESV)
2  All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

“When was the last time you were physically affected by the reality that almighty God just spoke directly to you?…If Jesus could speak and raise the dead, calm a storm, cast out demons, and heal the incurable then what effect might a word from Him have upon your life?”  Henry & Richard Blackaby EXPERIENCING GOD DAY BY DAY (pg 4).

Lord, Speak to me, I want to be in a listening mode all day.  Teach me.  Inspire me.  Help me see.  Encourage me.  Cause me to tremble with the reality of your presence.  May this house, my body, be your holy habitation.

Your Child wants to be a better listener

June 19-21, 2015 at Fairhaven Retreat in Roan Mountain, TN.

See this Google Doc to find our more. or read below!

  • Did you attend ETSU or ASU in the 70s and were involved in Campus Crusade now (CRU)?
  • How would you like to get together and see what God has done IN and THROUGH our lives?
  • How about a weekend in the beautiful TN mountains!
  • A Reunion Event being planned for June 19-21,2015 in Johnson City area.  
  • Inviting students and CCC staff connected with ETSU and ASU in the 70s.
  • Find details on food and lodging
  • See a list of those who are planning to attend


  • Location: Fairhaven Retreat,  near Roan Mountain ½ way between Johnson City and Boone. The cottages and chalets are set up the same and are the same price $80 per night (4 people = $20 each per night.  Each unit has a queen bed in the master bedroom, above in the loft there are two single beds, and the couch in the main room is a queen hide-a-bed.
  • Steps to Register:
  • Phone Call : Call Mary at Fairhaven 423-772-4269 – She would like for someone representing each unit to call and make the registration under “Cru ETSU Reunion.”
  • A check for the $50.00 deposit can be mailed in, or a payment can be made at the website:   
  • The lodge has no bedrooms but is for group gatherings and has a kitchen.  We can gather and eat at the Lodge.
  • Send photos to Joel Morgan (see contact info below) and he will prepare a slide show.
  • FOOD – If you have food allergies or issues — email them to me at .  Pandora King and Bev Thomasson will be helping me plan meals Fri supper – Sun lunch.  We will purchase food and let everyone know what the cost per person will be… can pay at the retreat.
  • For people who cannot attend maybe we can do a video connect during the weekend.  If you cannot come send Skype info and I will make a Skype group.


LIST OF THOSE PLANNING TO ATTEND — 19 or 20 depending on Joy of 3/17

  1. Harold & Mary Lynnn  Eubank
  2. Tim & Bev Thomasson
  3. Bob Thomas (Carolyn)
  4. Mike & Debbie Brown
  5. JOEL MORGAN (Rhaime) *
  6. Roy & Pandora King  *planning to attend -
  7. Ron & Joy? Barker
  8. Lee & Kitty Bennett
  9. Roy Bowery (Judy)
  10. Chuck & Pat Thomas Edwards


Isaiah 6:5 (ESV)
5  And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

When Isaiah sees the holy God in a dramatic vision he equates his sin with his lips.  How often are my words — both the outer words we hear and the inner ones i speak in my heart — one of my weakest places of failure and sin.

James 3:5-8 makes it very clear — anything that is powerful can be a great source of giving life or an explosive way of destroying life.  I can sing out in worship of God but then contaminate myself and others when I use my same tongue to tear down a person bearing the image of God.  I think that is why if you speak in an attacking way to one of my children you are likely to get me in your face… they are my image bearers — to attack them is to attack me.  God takes the words we use about people he has created very seriously.

In James and Isaiah fire shows up — the tongue can be like a small fire that sets loose a destructive forest fire — but God can also touch and cleanse the unclean lips with his merciful fire.

When God is maturing a leader — he will never leave out the tongue.

John 21:15 (ESV)
15  When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

My first base every day is LOVING JESUS more than I love anything he lets me do or be a part of accomplishing.

In verse 22 Peter wants Jesus to tell him what will happen to John and Jesus assures him it is NOT to be his focus.  I can tell when Jesus is not my first love because I am looking around comparing myself to others.  A leader is wasting precious energy when we are caught up in measuring so we can compare, compete or judge.  Focus on loving Jesus and walking our your journey with Him.

To examine my focus and my love will take me to uncomfortable exposing places, like it did with Peter.  If you hear Jesus say to you  “What is that to you?” — relax — he is speaking in love.

I have had many fine teachers in my life.  I know… I am blessed.  One of the best was James “Buck” Hatch.  Alumni of Columbia International University ( consider his teaching classic and a foundation for their ministry.  There are many free resources in the Buck Hatch Library but let me recommend a great message on DEPRESSION (click here)

Let me know what you think

Theologians have a range of perspectives on this question.  Here is my take.

1) The church and the kingdom are not the same but are closely related.

2) Think of  a timeline.  On one end you have Abraham, in the middle you have Jesus on earth, and on the right hand end you have the return of Christ.

I see God’s goal — launched with Abraham was to have a people who would declare, “You are our God!” and over whom He could say, “You are my people!”  As God adopts his family he goes from a tribal network to a nation to a church (people scattered among every nation) to the kingdom.

BUT — Jesus declared that with his coming as redeemer and the indwelling Spirit now in every one of God’s people we were to be living out kingdom lifestyle and values.

The lives of Christians should make people want to be in Jesus’ kingdom family.  The power, peace, love etc., should all be evidence that the message of salvation in Christ is true and available.