Growing in the Knowledge of Your Weakness

A week or so ago, the Evident Grace leadership team met for our annual New Year’s dinner.  This is our yearly time to celebrate all that God has done in our lives and at the church, while also getting some much-needed fun time with each other. 

After dinner and dessert, Amy and I gathered everyone together.  We had taken the time to write out ICNU cards for each person there.  An ICNU is when you encourage people by telling them, “I see in you _______.” It’s an opportunity to affirm and encourage people about what you see in their lives or what you see God doing in their lives.  This initiative comes from author Dave Ferguson and his book “Hero Maker”. Learn more about both at http://www.heromakerbook.org/.

After that, we put names in a basket, and everyone drew one.  Then, anonymously, we wrote out ICNU’s.  We then gave them to each person, and they read theirs out loud.  It was a powerful time where people read what others saw in them. 

I was admittedly curious as to what someone would say about me.  I opened the card and read, “Gordon, I see in a leader growing in the knowledge of his weakness and his need to depend on the church.”  

My first reaction?  Disappointment.  I wanted to be seen as strong, and faithful, or maybe even…Godly.  I wasn’t ready for, “growing in knowledge of my weakness.”  But upon reflection, isn’t that we are called to do?  Doesn’t the Bible say…

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

I realized that pride had snuck in, wishing they said something different. Ultimately, I’m thankful for this.  Of course, I want to grow to be strong, but if others see God in my life in this way, I can trust that God is faithfully pouring our His sufficient grace to me.

So, don’t despise the knowledge of your weakness.  Instead, thank God for its recognition, and trust His grace.

If you would like to pursue this thought more, I recorded a podcast about it.  You can find the link to your favorite podcast platform to listen to it at:

https://anchor.fm/thisisgonnahurt/episodes/Episode-46—Growing-in-Weakness-as-an-Individual-and-a-Leader-e2v9dl.

Gordon Duncan

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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Control Your Mind, Body, and Time to Be in Control of Self from the 25 Biblical Laws of Success

I recently read the, “25 Biblical Laws of Success” by William Douglas and Rubens Teixeira.

To be honest, I usually avoid these types of books because “success” books from scripture often horribly misuse the bible to meet the modern day expectations of business and life.  But I was challenged on this approach, and I will be honest, I loved this book.

While it is not completely free of the aforementioned trappings, it does a good job of looking at the biblical principals of work and effort (there are many) and appropriates them well.  I was specifically struck by the simplicity and practicality of one well-known passage.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Douglas and Teixeira make these observations about how we approach work, life, and serving God.  To accomplish that which we are called to…

Run like a winner (“in such a way to get the prize”)

Make sacrifices (go into “strict training”)

Have faith and trust (“not running aimlessly”)

Behave in an intelligent and objective way (“not fight like a boxer beating the air”)

Take charge of yourself and have self-control (“strike a blow to my body and make it my slave”).

They go on to say:

“Learning to control your mind, your body, and your time is to be in control of yourself.  Those who don’t control themselves first are in no condition to control anything else.” (108, “25 Biblical Laws of Success).

How true are these principals?  They are true in our service to Jesus and gifted through the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  They are true in athletic training.  They are true in marriage, parenting, and the workplace.

Our goal in these things?  Trust our security and power in Jesus as we seek to honor Him in all things.  If you get a chance, check out the “25 Laws”, and let me know what you think.

Gordon Duncan

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

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Can You Love Jesus When He Purposefully Hurts You?

Can you still love Jesus even if He purposefully causes you pain?

Check out our newest episode in the “This is Gonna Hurt” podcast

In this Free Friday episode, Gordon asks this question:  Can you love Jesus even if He purposefully causes you pain?  We examine that question by taking a brief look at the raising of Lazarus.

We examine how Jesus purposefully waited to go to Judea when Lazarus was dying.

We talk about how Jesus said He was glad that Lazarus died.

We talk about how hard times detach us from the things of this world.

We hope this episode is encouraging. You can find it at https://anchor.fm/thisisgonnahurt

Thanks for listening.

If you would like to become a podcast patron, you can do so by clicking anchor.fm/thisisgonnahurt and clicking the “support this podcast” button.

If you want to find out more about what Gordon is up to, check out his website at www.jgordonduncan.com.

How to Make Real Change in Your Life Podcast

Gospel Rich Books wants to tell you about today’s “This Gonna Hurt” podcast.

In this episode, Gordon talks about how to make real change in your life. In light of the passing of a friend, Gordon considers what the steps of change are in our lives if we want to make real, positive change. He talks about:

Opportunity
Rationalization
Restraint
Inspiration

If light of what Gordon mentioned in the podcast, if you need help for drug or alcohol addiction, you can find that help at www.recovery.org.

As Gordon mentioned in the podcast, if you would like to become a podcast patron, you can do so by clicking
www.anchor.fm/thisisgonnahurt and clicking the “support this podcast” button.

Thanks for listening. If you want to find out more about what Gordon is up to, check out his website at www.jgordonduncan.com.

Thanks for listening.

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

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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Solitude is the Fear of the Human Heart

Solitude is the fear of the human heart.

In the midst of celebration, our hearts want someone to hug, sing with, drink with, or even high five.

In mourning, we need everything from the hand that hands us a cloth to wipe our tear to people willing to sit with us in silence.

But what we want is presence.  And in presence, we find love.

When Jesus enjoyed His last meal with His friends, He told them that He was headed off to die. 

He told them that people were going to hate them. 

He told them that people were going to want to kill them.

But…

He promised that they would not be alone. 

Jesus promised them that He would give them that Holy Spirit.  They would never be alone.

This is the story of many people who love God.  In fact, this is the story of all who love God. 

Moses walked with God.

Joshua walked with God just as Moses did.

The disciples walked with Jesus.

And you have the Holy Spirit.

So, today, you are free to love God.  You are free to love others as you love yourself. 

And through the wonderful presence of the Holy Spirit, you are free not to be alone.

Gordon

Gospel Rich Books

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When Your Identity in Christ Doesn’t Match the Realities of Your Life

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When you have faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin, you become a child of God, a son and daughter of the king.  That means, when you have faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin, you receive the gift of His goodness, His righteousness.

That gift is not like a gift I could give you.  I could give you the new iPhone X, and you could use, put it on your bedside table, lose it, or even break it.  The gift of Jesus’ righteousness is not like that.  You can’t pick it up and put it down.  It is “imputed” to you.  Jesus’ righteousness was given to you, and your sin was given to Him.  Through faith, we become His righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5: 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The challenge to this truth comes when our identity as sons and daughters of God don’t seem to match up with the realities of our lives.  We ask,

“I know I’m a child of God, but I’m also so anxious and depressed.  Is that how a child of God is supposed to live?”

“I know I’m a child of God, but our finances are so bad.  We have so much credit card debt.  Is that how a child of God is supposed to live?

“I know I’m a child of God, but we fight so much at our house.  We don’t tell anyone because we are so ashamed.  Is that how a child of God is supposed to live?”

And you know what happens when our identity as children of God and the realities of our lives don’t seem to match up?  We are tempted to sin, and quite often give in.  That’s a lot like what we see with King David in 1 Samuel 21.

In 1 Samuel 21, King David doesn’t live like a king.  He is on the run from King Saul.  David is the anointed king of Israel, but he isn’t the coronated king of Israel.

David’s identity is a king, but he doesn’t have the wealth of a king.  In 1 Samuel 21, he is penniless and begging bread.

David’s identity is a king, but he doesn’t have the authority and power of a king.  He rules no one.

David’s identity is a king, but he doesn’t have the home of a king.  In 1 Samuel 21, he is homeless and on the run.

And guess happens?  David is tempted to lie because he is on the run and hungry.  And guess what?  He gives in to sin just like we often do.

David tells the priest that he is on a mission from King Saul.  He’s not.  But by saying that, the priest is compelled to give him food (which David is not supposed to eat no matter whose mission he is on).  Then, David asks for a weapon.  The priest gives him the sword of Goliath.  That’s fine because that sword is technically David’s.  But David says he needs it because he is on a mission from Saul which is a lie.

The connection between David’s identity and the reality of his life is too much for him.  He gives in to sin.  Just like David, when our identity and our reality don’t seem to match up, we do the same.

Our hope is learning to live out our identity in Christ while embracing the promises of God that may or may not be seen in the day to day.  2 Peter explains.

2 Peter 1: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,  and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ

Verse 8 is so wonderful.  What God is promising is a change of character and person more so than a change of circumstances.  As we embrace that work of Jesus, we will then grow to be effective and fruitful for the work of Christ.  That hope, coupled with those promises, is the reality we should hope for and look for in our lives.

Gordon

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