God Works Behind the Scenes

God works behinds the scenes. 

Having chosen teaching as my major late in my college career, I graduated in December.  That created a problem.  The prime season for finding a job in academics is the spring semester, so I was behind the eight ball a bit. 

I had several job interviews in the fall while student teaching, but they were primarily for teachers going on maternity leave.  None of them panned out.  As a result, graduation and the Christmas season were depressing, and moving home was not an option.  I refused to go backwards and become a “failure to launch”.

Fortunately, in that day, East Carolina University had a program where teachers could fill out a generic application to be kept on file.  That way, if schools contacted the education department, they would have plenty of candidates along with their contact information.

After a despairing 48 hours post-graduation, the future principal of Tar River Learning Center contacted me.  He informed me that Rocky Mount, NC was opening a training school for students who had been previously expelled.  The school was the system’s effort to reduce the dropout rate.  He wanted to know if I was interested in an interview.

I immediately said, “Yes.”  My interview was the next day. 

Rocky Mount is about an hour away from both ECU and my parent’s home.  It is a small town with an amazingly high crime rate.  It is known for its drug trade, being exactly half way between New York and Florida on I-95.  It is also traditionally one of the worst school systems in NC.

In my interview, the principal let me know that he was temporary as the school launched.  Also, the school wouldn’t have enough books for every student, and the teachers were required to teach multiple subjects at the same time, even if they didn’t have training in that subject.  The upside was that classes would have no more than 15 or so students. 

I jumped at the opportunity despite multiple friends telling me that I was crazy to even consider it.  Yes, it was the only job offer I had, but that wasn’t it.  Since attending Urbana 90 (a mission minded, college conference held every three years), this was my goal and my target job:  working with at-risk students in an urban environment.

Tar River taught me, perhaps more than seminary, how to communicate and how to get to the basics of any subject.  My classrooms were full of unwilling, and seemingly, unteachable children.  There were bright spots of course, and now, 20 years later through social media, I’ve learned that a few went on to be nurses, graphic artists, and the like. 

Additionally, without taking the job, I would not have met my wife, wouldn’t have been mentored by her father, and I can’t realistically figure out how I would have gone into ministry. 

In graduating late, taking a job that everyone thought was a bad idea, working in a rough environment in difficult conditions, God led me down paths I couldn’t have imagined.  There were many stresses along the way, but I can look back now and see God’s hand in every step.

While we may not always know or trust God is at work, we should assure our hearts that He is. 

Isaiah 45: “Turn to me and be saved,

    all the ends of the earth!

    For I am God, and there is no other.

23 By myself I have sworn;

    from my mouth has gone out in righteousness

    a word that shall not return:

‘To me every knee shall bow,

    every tongue shall swear allegiance

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

And to enable more writers to publish their works, we offer the BestSeller Template which is a publisher ready resource that authors can cut and paste their works into to make them Amazon ready. 

If you want to follow more of what’s going on with Gordon, check out the website www.jgordonduncan.com and his recently launched podcast at

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/this-is-gonna-hurt-the-podcast-of-j-gordon-duncan/id13563529 

 

 

Advertisements

Easter and Your Fragile Relationships

Please enjoy this excerpt from the Gospel Rich Book’s release, “It is Finished”.

Relationships, even the strongest of them, are fragile things.  At work, you can be rocking and rolling along, hitting all of your goals, getting good reviews, and then one day your boss doesn’t interact with you like he or she normally does, and you think, “Uh oh, is my job in jeopardy?”

When parents correct their children, even when they do it biblically, a child can still think, “Mom and Dad are upset with me.  Do they still love me?”

But it is probably Mom and Dad, husband and wife, who have to work through these insecurities the most.  We ask questions like:

“Honey, do these jeans make me look fat?

“Do you still think I’m pretty?”

“Don’t you appreciate all the hard work I do for this family?”

Sometimes, there is great fear attached: “Are you cheating on me?”

I’m hesitant to give too specific examples because I fear it might dredge up fears that you have finally conquered.  But the reason I mention this is that so often, we structure our lives around the fears we have in relationships.  Our lives are governed by the “eithers”.

We either slavishly give ourselves over to try to win people’s approval or at times we stand as far back emotionally as we can from folks to say, “I don’t need you.”

Either direction you take there, you are living your life based upon your relationships with others.

Either slavishly going after approval or standing off from others – either one is still saying, “Hey I am directly based on you.

Either you are loving me or I’m proving to you I don’t need you, I’m still basing things off of you.”

These patterns cause so much damage:  alcoholism, porn addiction, co-dependency, slavish work habits to prove you can provide.  Entire personalities are built around these issues.  Whew, it sounds almost like there is no hope in these things.  And I will say, “There isn’t except for one thing, and that one thing is Jesus.”

As we approach Easter where we gather to celebrate Christ’s finished work for us on the cross, we need to recognize that Christ has made our relationship with the Father secure.  Every single thing necessary for you to be loved, accepted, and forgiven, Jesus has done.  You don’t need to, and cannot, add one thing to what Christ has done for you.

That truth, that realization, should give you rest, should enable you to find that peace that you have never had in any other relationship and it should also free you up to love and live in other relationships with vitality.  The question is, “Do you believe Jesus has accomplished everything for you?  Do you live out that belief?”

“It Is Finished”  is a sweet meditation of the scriptures surrounding the events from Good Friday all the way to resurrection morn.  You can find it here.

The second is “Easter – Simple Sermon Solution”.  This book follows the same themes, but its focus it to help any who might have the privilege of speaking or leading a Bible study around the Easter Season.  It offers a great methodology for organization and delivery.  You can find it here.

No matter what, please take this Easter season to rejoice yet again for the finished work of Christ.  It is our sole hope and joy for this world and the world to come.

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

And to enable more writers to publish their works, we offer the BestSeller Template which is a publisher ready resource that authors can cut and paste their works into to make them Amazon ready.

If you want to follow more of what’s going on with Gordon, check out the website www.jgordonduncan.com and his recently launched podcast at

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/this-is-gonna-hurt-the-podcast-of-j-gordon-duncan/id1356352968

 

 

 

Celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus is Enough – No Gimmicks Needed

The Easter season is less than two weeks away.  By God’s grace, so much of the world turns their attention to the resurrection of Jesus.  It is a wonderful privilege to celebrate His complete work and have so many aware of it.

It is also an amazing opportunity to invite friends, co-workers, and family to worship.  At least in America, many people consider attending a worship service on Easter.  Some do it out of tradition, others do it out of guilt, but no matter the motive, inviting others to worship is just a bit easier.

Prayerfully, churches will focus on the work of Jesus and not gimmicks.  Giveaways and tricks are not necessary.  Fellowship and worship around the resurrection of Jesus is enough.

It can be, however, a personal challenge to worship on Easter, don’t you think?  Many have attended dozens of services, and the songs and moments are the same.  To enable your worship to be vibrant this year, Gospel Rich Books is releasing two books for your personal devotion.

The first is “It Is Finished” which is a sweet meditation of the scriptures surrounding the events from Good Friday all the way to resurrection morn.  You can find it here.

The second is “Easter – Simple Sermon Solution”.  This book follows the same themes, but its focus it to help any who might have the privilege of speaking or leading a Bible study around the Easter Season.  It offers a great methodology for organization and delivery.  You can find it here.

No matter what, please take this Easter season to rejoice yet again for the finished work of Christ.  It is our sole hope and joy for this world and the world to come.

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

And to enable more writers to publish their works, we offer the BestSeller Template which is a publisher ready resource that authors can cut and paste their works into to make them Amazon ready.

If you want to follow more of what’s going on with Gordon, check out the website www.jgordonduncan.com and his recently launched podcast at

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/this-is-gonna-hurt-the-podcast-of-j-gordon-duncan/id1356352968

 

 

The Gospel of a Runner’s Sacrifice

Acts of selfless charity are rare these days.  Sometimes, they make the biggest impact, and no thanks is even possible.  It is in those moments, we are most reminded of God’s grace and goodness.

This past weekend, I ran the Emerald Isle Marathon.  My goal was to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and to do that, I needed to run 26.2 miles in 3:24:59.  Along the way, I wanted to honor God, inspire my family/friends, and give hope to other epilepsy fighters out there.

I qualified by less than 30 seconds, and I have an anonymous Good Samaritan to thank.

The Emerald Isle Marathon is small.  There are typically less than 100 runners, and this year, there were only 73.  Despite the race’s size, there were lots of folks helping out along the course to make sure everyone was hydrated and making the correct turns.  That’s where my story begins.

Somewhere around mile 6 or 7, I made a turn, grabbed water on the run, and nearly ran into a young boy on a bicycle.  My first reaction was frustration, but I decided to just keep my head down and not let it worry me.  A few moments later, someone tapped me on the shoulder.  It was a runner who I had just passed.  Apparently, the young boy on the bike was there to make sure that no one missed the turn.  I didn’t know that and had run off course.

I quickly turned around and thanked the runner for her selfless act.  She didn’t have to come after me.  She could have just run her race.  By doing what she did, she sacrificed her time, and I passed her again soon after.  I have no idea what would have happened to me if she hadn’t run me down.  I would have continued in the wrong direction to I have no idea what.  I’m sure I would not have qualified without her help.  As it was, I qualified with less than 30 seconds to spare as it was.

After I crossed the finish line, I looked for her because I wanted to say thank you.  Unfortunately, after an hour of looking at every finisher I could, I never saw her to say thanks.  I hope she finished and met her goals like she enabled me to do.

Showing kindness and being selfless is rare these days.  This runner’s kindness was a sacrifice of her time for the sake of me, a stranger.  In the Gospel, Christ sacrificed Himself for me, and I was something more alien than a stranger.  I was His enemy. And while I will not be able to say thanks to that runner, I want to live my life thanking Jesus and reflecting his selflessness to others…just like that one runner did for me.

If you want to follow more of what’s going on with Gordon, check out the website www.jgordonduncan.com and his recently launched podcast at

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/this-is-gonna-hurt-the-podcast-of-j-gordon-duncan/id1356352968

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

And to enable more writers to publish their works, we offer the BestSeller Template which is a publisher ready resource that authors can cut and paste their works into to make them Amazon ready.

 

 

Gordon Goes To Vegas Part Four – Final Recap

You can read my earlier recaps of Gordon Goes to Vegas at Day One, Day Two, and Day Three.

I woke Day Four in Vegas knowing that it was going to be a long haul ahead.  This day of the 10XGrowthCon was packed, and I was flying all night long back to VA.  But I was no less excited as there were a few of my favorite speakers on the docket.

I began my day with 25 minutes of stretching in the hotel room because I knew I was going to be sitting a ton in the next 36 hours.  Feeling great, I packed up my hotel room and checked out.  Thankfully, one of my three buddies from the day prior invited me to meet for omelets again.  A genuine friendship was established.  We talked about ministry, business, and family struggles and have kept up since the event.  That alone was one of the best takeaways from the trip.

With all that done, I headed into the event. Coach Burt began the day.  Don’t know Coach Burt?  He is a former high school teacher and present social entrepreneur/coach.  I loved him.  He was less, “Let me sell you my product,” and more, “I want to see you grow in each and every area of your life.” His genuineness from a stage to 9,000 people made me examine the way I speak, causing me to wonder if I connect with my 100 folks like he did to thousands.

Tim Storey spoke soon after.  Tim Storey is often called Hollywood’s pastor, preaching each week in the hills and even spending time as Oprah’s life coach.  His message was upbeat, genuinely faith-filled, and inspirational.  I am not much for clichés, but sometimes a crowd just connects with them.  He talked about how, once you achieve goals and move into a new area of growth and faith, you don’t want to go backward.  He said, “Once you’ve touched the flames, you can’t live in the smoke.”  Not how I would say it but, wow, 9,000 people ate it up.  I was fortunate enough to meet Tim later in the day.  He made a point to tell me that he was emphasizing faith in this conference, and he hoped it made an impact.  I believe it did.

Following Tim Storey was Lewis Howes.  Lewis is the host of the “School of Greatness” podcast.  I love this podcast and have listened to nearly episode.  Lewis’ quiet humility and confidence are infectious.  His story of missing out on the NFL because of an Arena Football injury and living on his sister’s couch is inspiring.  His talk was a bit similar to others I have heard, but it was fun and full of energy.  Just by chance, as I was walking around the arena to stretch my legs, I bumped into Lewis.  He and I had a real conversation. Lewis’ father is dying, so I asked how he was doing.  I shared the story of losing my father.  It was a nice moment and probably my favorite of the whole trip.

There were other speakers, but I will admit after 24 plus hours of talks, I was beginning to lose focus.  When the time came, I headed to the airport.  If you paid, there was another day of speakers, but I chose not to pay and stay.  I headed to the airport for the long trip home.  I got through security easily which never happens to me, and I walked around talking to Amy and the girls.  Processing had already started because I didn’t want this to just be another conference without any real change happening.

I settled in for the long wait for my flight.  I was sleepy which made me hopeful for dozing off on the plane.  That wasn’t going to happen.

On my flight, I was stuck way at the back.  After an hour or so in the air, I dozed off.  About 15 minutes later, I woke up with a start.  The stewardesses were literally handing a fellow passenger up over everybody, crowd-surfing style, to the front.  He was unconscious.  Anyone who was still awake (or awoken) was shaken.  I eventually found out that the young man fell into unconsciousness, and they were trying to revive him.  He was reportedly alright.

After what felt like the longest night in the world, we landed.  From landing to home took 2 hours.  With just a tiny bit of sleep, I needed to stay awake for the drive home.  Thankfully, my Uber driver was talkative.  A young Nigerian man, he spoke of faith and opened up about the questions of Catholicism versus Protestantism.  Thankful for the conversation, I still struggled to stay awake.  When he dropped me off at my car (with another 40 minutes of drive time ahead), he kindly asked if I was going to be okay.  I was, but barely.  I got home and slept for 3 hours.

All in all, I’m glad I went to the 10XGrowthCon, and I would like to go next year.  I doubt I will ever find a ticket that cheap again, though rumor has it that the conference will be in Miami which would be nice.  I think the talks and notes will continue to affect me, and I imagine processing them here and on my upcoming podcast, “This is Gonna Hurt”.  Look for it on iTunes.

We’ll see what the long-range benefit of the conference was, but I know I’m changed in many ways from the talks, the sharing of the gospel, the lessons in public speaking, and lots more.

Thanks for reading all of these updates.  Feel free to interact with any thought you might have.

Gordon

You can find all of Gordon’s adventures at www.jgordonduncan.com

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

And to enable more writers to publish their works, we offer the BestSeller Template which is a publisher ready resource that authors can cut and paste their works into to make them Amazon ready.

Gospel Rich Books to Release Spurgeon Classics in the “Pocket Spurgeon” Series

Nearly every pastor references Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  In fact, Spurgeon is where many a pastor goes to find an answer to their Biblical and theological questions.  Surely, he has been quoted in sermons more than any other pastor.

But for too long, Spurgeon’s works have been regulated to academia and the pulpit.  The irony of that fact is that Spurgeon preached to an estimated 10 million people in his lifetime.

Gospel Rich Books hopes to put an end to that irony by releasing a series entitled, “Pocket Spurgeon”.  Pocket Spurgeon books hope to make the impactful words and sermons of C.H. Spurgeon more accessible, by creating editions that are easy to carry and even easier to read.

These books are intended to be bite-sized morsels of his works that can be digested in 90 minutes or less.  They are easy to carry and even easier to read.  No paraphrasing has occurred. What you will read are Spurgeon’s words.

Hopefully, this series will expand and many of his great works will become more accessible in the day to day lives of the laity…just as Spurgeon wanted it.

Our first release is entitled, “The Hold Fast”.  “The Hold Fast” is a sermon (No. 1418) delivered on Lord’s Day morning, June 9th, 1878, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. It is based on Proverbs 4:13: “Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.”

You can find “The Hold Fast” at Amazon, and of course, you can find other Gospel Rich Books there as well.

Hopefully, the works of C.H. Spurgeon will make an impact on this generation as they did on his.

The Hold Fast

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Monthly Gospel Rich Journal

Gospel Rich Books Blog

And to enable more writers to publish their works, we offer the BestSeller Template which is a publisher ready resource that authors can cut and paste their works into to make them Amazon ready.

 

Thanking God for the Man After God’s Own Heart

A brief mediation on 1 Samuel 13…

1 Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

I Samuel 13 tells the story of Saul losing his kingship.  In a hasty moment of sin, Saul offered a sacrifice to God that only Samuel the priest should have offered.  Because of this, Samuel tells Saul that God is taking away his kingship and giving it to a man after God’s heart.  We will learn that that man is David.  We can understand it in this way.

Saul lost his kingship, and David took the kingship.

Saul lost his status, and David gained status.

Saul was punished for his sins, and David walked in righteousness.

There is a similar transfer that takes place for those who trust Jesus as He is our man after God’s own heart. Our hope is that Jesus takes our place, but Jesus takes our place in a redemptive fashion.

We didn’t obey, but Jesus obeyed for us.

We earned punishment for our sins, but Jesus was punished for ours.

We deserved death, but Jesus died for us.

We earned the punishment of hell, but Jesus gifts us the reward of Heaven.

Jesus lost his life, so that we might receive eternal life.

Jesus’ obedience gives us hope, so that we can obey and enjoy that hope.

This is all God’s grace to us because we deserve punishment just like Saul did, yet in God’s grace, His has poured grace that gives us hope.

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Monthly Gospel Rich Journal (debuting this week)

Gospel Rich Books Blog

And to enable more writers to publish their works, we offer the BestSeller Template which is a publisher ready resource that authors can cut and paste their works into to make them Amazon ready.