MIddle School, Back to School, Anxieties, & the Gospel

Our youngest is navigating middle school.  This is her second year, but her first without a sister, as my oldest two are now in high school.   Whew, we are off to a tough start.

Let me just say that my youngest is awesome.  She is super creative and energetic, but her highs are high and her lows are low (isn’t that all of us?). 

As we head into the third week, a very common challenge has sprung up:  gym.  As a kid, I was fast, but that didn’t earn me much in gym as I was like 4 foot 3.  I was picked on, and I hated the whole locker room.  As best as I can tell, the lack of a close friend seems to be the culprit in this case. 

As we headed to school, Em’s just didn’t want to go.  Since there is a 10 min gap between dropping off my high schoolers and going to the middle school, I took the opportunity to try to soothe her.

We talked about David and King Saul in 1 Samuel 24.  This is the story about David cutting off the corner of Saul’s robe while David hid in a cave and Saul relieved himself (for real).  As soon as David cuts of the corner of the robe, he immediately repents.  He runs out to Saul, lies prostrate on the dust, and confesses his sin. 

How risky!  Saul wants to kill David, but David knows that he has disrespected the Lord’s anointed and sinned.  The two leave in peace, and we have a great testimony about how to interact with authority, loving our enemies, and an example of repentance.

Em and I talked about his.  I ask her if anyone in there is her enemy.  She says no.  Then we talked bout how to bless the people in her class.  We come up with this plan.  She is going to begin the class by praying for herself – praying that God would sustain her when she is miserable in gym.  Then, she is going to look at each person in the class.  She knows their names.  Then, she is going for God to bless each one of them.  It will take most of the class to get through every person’s name and to pray for them.  Then, she is going to pray for herself again.  My encouragement is that I am sure that God will bless her if she is praying that God will bless them. 

Will she find new friends?  Will gym by enjoyable?  We’ll see, but the time will be redeemed if she blesses those that she feels alienated from, and that is a pretty sweet work of the Gospel. 

Middle school is tough.  Emotionally loving (and sometimes nudging) your kids is a challenge, but we trust God sustains our kids and ourselves as we seek to bless the world. 

Gordon Duncan

Gospel Rich Books

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Godliness Affects Leadership

1 Samuel is an amazing picture of how Godliness affects leadership.  Take for example the contrast between King Saul and King David.

  1. Rationalization for Sin – In Samuel 13, Saul is facing defeat from the Philistines, so he asked for the priest Samuel to come onto the field to offer a sacrifice to God. But he wasn’t patient, so he offered the sacrifice himself which was unbiblical and disobedient.  When Samuel confronted him about it, Saul lied.  When he was caught in the lie, he then blamed the people. At that point, Samuel tells Saul that his kingdom will be given to another.
  2. Endangers the People He Leads – Later on in a battle with the Philistines (1 Samuel 14), Saul foolishly declares that any of his solders who eat before the victory is won will be put to death. His son, Jonathan, doesn’t know about this vow.  Jonathan eats, feels better, battles the Philistines and wins.  Saul foolishly declares that Jonathan must die, but the people ransom Jonathan so he isn’t executed.
  3. Selfish – Saul is then commanded to go and strike the Amalekites down. God commands him not to leave any single thing alive and to devote everything to destruction.  Saul instead takes their best livestock and keeps the King of the Amalekites alive (1 Samuel 15).
  4. Ignores God’s Honor – When Goliath threatened the Israelite army (1 Samuel 17), Saul didn’t lead them into battle and didn’t inspire anyone enough to fight for him and the people of God.

Now we know that David is not perfect.  He lied and deceived the priest when he was hungry.  As a result, David sinned, a mass of priests died, and an entire city was wiped out (1 Samuel 21-22).  But here is the difference between David and Saul.

  1. Ownership of Sin – Unlike Saul who lied when confronted with his sin, David admits his sin. He shows what true sorrow and repentance looks like. The next time David is put in a stressful place, he asks God for wisdom about what to do, not one, not two, but three times (1 Samuel 21-22).
  2. Protects the People He Leads – Whereas Saul threatened his men with death to motivate them, David leads a group of debt-dodging soldiers into battle, and when they express their concern and weariness, David takes their concern to God in prayer (1 Samuel 23).
  3. Selfless – When Saul disobeyed and withheld the best for himself against the Amalekites, when David fought for Israel, he obeyed completely and God gave them the victory (1 Samuel 18).
  4. Defends God’s Honor – And when Saul wouldn’t fight for Israel against Goliath, David boldly defended the honor of God (1 Samuel 17).

Godliness isn’t required to be a good leader as evidenced from the many amazing leaders in our world, but if someone has faith in Jesus, their Godliness directly affects their leadership.  Humility, faith, and boldness will either bolster one’s leadership or the lack of those things will hinder it.

May we pray for humility, faith, and boldness today as we are called to some measure of leadership.  David shows us that we don’t have to be perfect; we just need to be greatly dependent on the grace of Jesus.

Gospel Rich Books

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Gordon Wrecks His Car and God Gets His Attention

This past week, my daughters and I were in a car crash.  Thank God everyone walked away okay.  Physically, there is nothing but bumps and bruises.  Mentally and spiritually, there is a lot more going on. 

First of all, the wreck was traumatic.  For various reasons, none nefarious, my Honda Accord wound up straddling two trees while being suspended over a 5-foot drainage ditch in my neighborhood.  Because of the trees, we never hit the bottom, and I fear the accident and wounds would have been much worse if we had hit the ground.  I’m thankful for God’s uses of those two trees.

Now, we sort out our hearts and minds post-wreck.

For example, my totaled car is 11 years old.  My children only know me driving that car.  They love it.  They said it smelled like me (coffee).  I was planning on gifting it to my daughter when she gets her license next year.  All of those plans have changed. 

Financially, waiting until next year to get a new car made a lot sense for us.  Now, we have to figure out whether we are shelling out cash to get an older car back on the road or whether we need to buy a newish car.  Neither were the plan right now.  What a time to trust God because I don’t have the answers

Spiritually, we are so thankful to God.  Once we got everybody home, we circled up and prayed.  I thanked God for his faithfulness and mercy in a wreck that could have been much worse.  I also encouraged my children in this way.  I told them, “I’ve said all summer that this is the summer we get closer to God.  God just agreed.”  I don’t want to waste this moment. 

The wreck last week was one of those moments where God just pushes the pause button in your life.  It was an occurrence that we just weren’t expecting.  Our plans were good, but they didn’t include the demolition of my car. 

Human wisdom says, “Man plans.  God laughs.”  Biblical wisdom says:

James 4: 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

I don’t know if we were boasting in our plan for a new car next year or not, but I do know that right now, I am praying a whole lot more about things like new cars, a new driver, and my finances. 

All in all, my family is okay.  We have such a more rich prayer life and dependence on God right now.  For those things, and my family’s safety, I am so thankful.

If you would like to hear more about this moment, I talk about it in my podcast, “This is Gonna Hurt”.  You can find the direct link here.

Gordon

Gospel Rich Books

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“I am so done.” Jesus Knows Exactly How You Feel

Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t go on anymore?

Have you felt like your circumstances were too great to bear?

Have you ever prayed that God would just simply make things better?

You are not alone, and you are in good company. 

Right after Jesus gave His disciples the Lord’s Supper, and right before He was arrested, Jesus got away in order to spend time with His Father.  He spent the night in prayer.  This was a prayer of anguish and a prayer of pain.  

Luke 22 tells us that His prayers were in such earnest that He literally sweat drops of blood.  In fact, Luke 22 tells us that great drops of blood fell to the ground, and we are privileged to hear a few of the words that Jesus prayed that night. 

Now before I tell them to you, ask yourself what you would be praying.  If you had been betrayed by one of your best friends and you knew that you were about to be executed for a crime for which you were innocent, what would you be praying? 

I might be angry, bitter, depressed, or all of the above. 

I might pray for revenge.

Who knows?  Everything would be on the table.

Well here is what Jesus prays.

Jesus says, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 

Jesus, in one of His most human of moments, cries out to His Father.  He, in essence, says, “If there is any other plan for me other than my excruciating death on a cross, then please do that, but what I really want, Father, is your will and not mine. 

I don’t know how much comfort this brings you, but this passage should be one of the most fundamentally comforting passages in all of the scriptures. 

Jesus, our Savior, knows what it is like to anguish over a difficult set of circumstances and Jesus, our Savior, knows what it is like to wrestle with God’s will. 

Many of us right now are wrestling with God’s will as we know it, meaning we are struggling to be joyful and content in situations that we do not enjoy, and the rest of us are struggling with God’s unknown will.  We ask questions about school, marriage, jobs, children, finances, and the like. 

And here we see Jesus doing it in Godliness.  He cries to God asking for any change that is possible but resting ultimately in whatever God thinks is best. 

Our Savior knows our pain.  Our Savior secures for us, not only an example, but a hope through His death on the cross.  And our Savior gives us yet another reason to love Him.  He gets us.

Gospel Rich Books

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Deepen Your Faith Through a Devotional Commentary

What is a devotional commentary? 

A devotional commentary is a brief (25 pages or less) devotion that is based on the line by line interpretation of a text, and Gospel Rich Books has dozens of them on Amazon. 

Culled from sermon notes, some of them do contain typo’s but the central meaning of most remains intact.  If you search Amazon for “Gordon Duncan” and the following books (Ephesians, Joel, and Galatians), you will find them.

Each is only $.99.  To help you get started, we’ve included the links to every devotional commentary from the book of Joel.  Taken together, these make the foundation of a book one day, but right now, enjoy them one by one. 

Happy Reading!

Joel 1:1-12

Joel 1:13-20  

Joel 2:1-11

Joel 2:12-17  

Joel 2:18-27

Joel 2:28-32

Joel 3:1-8

Joel 3:9-16

Joel 3:17-21

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:

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Should the Church Teach on Creating Revenue?

Why doesn’t the church teach on earning more revenue?  Listen to these statistics:

Today, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18, a total of about 17.4 million, are being raised without a father and nearly half (45 percent) live below the poverty line, according to the Single Mother Guide. For those living with a father only, about 21 percent live in poverty.[i]

These realities surely represent many within the church.  Couple that truth with the fact that the average household carries nearly $16,000 in credit card debt[ii], and there is a crisis at hand in our country.

Yes, the church has made advances in offering financial advice and debt reduction programs, but the church rarely speaks about increasing revenue.  At some point, revenue can only be divided so many ways, and as families grow, cost grows.  The church needs to educate their people on how to grow their revenue if they want to help meet the needs of the people.

The challenge is who can teach it and what should they teach?  Additionally, many will argue that growing revenue is not the church’s business.

However, when 25% of households don’t have a father present, and nearly half of those families live below the poverty line, then helping households grow their revenue is an act of mercy.

Surely, most churches could task their deacons with designing a program or they could ask members in the church in the business realm to speak to the task.  Pastors could address dollars and cents in more areas than just tithing.

No matter the approach, churches must consider the issues and consider how they can best serve their congregations.  If not, specific needs of their people (mainly children) are going to go unmet.

Gospel Rich Books

Our Editor, Gordon Duncan, offers a mentoring program to people who want to improve their skills or gain greater employment.  You can find that information at https://gumroad.com/l/getthejobyouwant

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:

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[i] http://www.ibtimes.com/national-single-parent-day-2016-facts-quotes-about-14-million-moms-dads-without-2338631

[ii] https://www.statisticbrain.com/credit-card-debt-statistics/

Can You Divorce Because of Physical Abuse? The “This is Gonna Hurt” Podcast

The most recent, “This is Gonna Hurt” podcast takes up the controversy surrounding Paige Patterson’s, the President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, comments about counseling an abused spouse to stay in her relationship.  Some of the questions we answer are:

What are the biblical reasons for divorce?

Is physical abuse biblical cause?

What are the responsibilities of the pastor?

What is Gordon’ opinion?

If you are unfamiliar with Dr. Patterson’s comments you can find them at:  https://baptistnews.com/article/sbc-leader-under-fire-for-comments-about-divorce-abuse/#.Wud7JUxFw2w

Essentially, he tells a story of counseling a wife to stay in an abusive relationship and stating to be “happy” when she comes back abused.  As the furor erupted over his comments, he issued a response.  You can find that below.

Paige Patterson’s Response: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/04/29/southern-baptist-leader-pushes-back-after-comments-leak-urging-abused-women-to-pray-and-avoid-divorce/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9518447f091b

In the podcast, I give my opinion on the issue and discuss the related bible verses: Matthew 19:3-9, 1 Corinthians 7:12-16.

Correction:  I believe at one point I say, “Matthew 7”, but I intended to say, “1 Corinthians 7”.

In reading this or listening to the podcast, I hope these links might be helpful.

Signs of Domestic Abuse:  https://helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm

Domestic Abuse Hotline: http://www.thehotline.org/

This is Gonna Hurt can be found on six different platforms.  You can find them all linked at:

https://anchor.fm/thisisgonnahurt

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