Podcast Interview with Dr. Ligon Duncan about the Church & the #metoo Movement

While at the Presbyterian Church of America’s (PCA) General Assembly, it was my privilege to interview Dr. Ligon Duncan.  If you don’t know who he is, Dr. Duncan is the Chancellor/CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary and the John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology.

During our conversation, we discussed the #metoo movement, focusing on two areas:  how the movement can inform the church and how the church can inform the movement.  His insight was helpful, as one might imagine, and his starting point of the conversation was poignant.

Dr. Duncan emphasized that the beginning place of any conversation must be the church’s admittance of failure in protecting those who have been abused and also the church’s failure of calling out our its who are guilty.

He also feels that once that conversation begins and honest admittance of wrong is made, the church would then have an opportunity to speak about moral absolutes – meaning, how does the declaration of the wrongs of abuse speak to a higher authority of holiness.

Additionaly, he goes on to give advice to those who are starting new churches, and he also speaks to what he would say if he got to interact with #metoo leaders like Rose McGowan. 

If you want to explore more of this conversation, you can find the podcast link at https://anchor.fm/thisisgonnahurt/episodes/Episode-15—Interview-w-Ligon-Duncan–the-church–metoo-e1lvot.

Thanks go out to Dr. Duncan for taking the time to speak about these important topics.  Hopefully, his honesty will create more conversations between both the leaders of the #metoo movement and the church. 

Gospel Rich Books

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I Am My Father’s Stage Name

Today (April 18th) marks 6 years since my father passed. 

I miss him greatly, but thankfully, most of my mourning has passed, and my heart has moved on to celebration. 

I attempted that transition mere months after he passed when I wrote the book, “I am my father’s son”.  There I wrote this small tribute to him entitled, “I am my father’s stage name”.  I hope you enjoy it…

Somewhere in the mid to late 60’s, my father packed up the family (I was not born yet) and moved to California.  Reportedly, Dad did this for two reasons:  my mother’s asthma would improve on the West Coast and Dad wanted to be an actor.

Hearing these stories and looking at the pudgy, balding man who told them, I always scratched my head.  

Actor?  Are you kidding me?

But he gave it a shot.  Though he doesn’t have an IMDB profile, he did some modeling (???) and had a few gigs.  But one of the things his agent told him was that he had to change his name.

Thomas Duncan was taken. Thom Duncan was taken.

For a while, he went by the name Duke Duncan as we had an uncle who played pro baseball by that name, but his agent said that Duke was John Wayne, and dad couldn’t use it.

So, my father became Gordon Duncan for a period of time. 

Legend has it, my parents were at a swanky dinner party one night, and over the course of the evening, Mom called him “Thom”, “Duke”, and “Gordon”.  She couldn’t keep up.

At this point in the storytelling, Mom would always say that she was sure that everyone at the party thought she was some floozy that Dad picked up because she didn’t know his name.

Dad always smiled at this and kept telling stories.

Well, the acting career didn’t work out, and the Duncan crew moved back across America.  A few years later, I was born.  They named me Gordon.

I am my father’s stage name.  

I’ve always thought of it as something pretty cool, but somewhere in my twenties, I realized that my naming was something that I needed to live up to and not just be nostalgic about.

Honoring my father meant honoring the name he gave me.  It meant joyfully living out some of his dreams.  Now, my father never pressured me into any job or endeavor.

Never.  I mean it.

He didn’t place on me the “Be a pastor like me” or “Be a musician like me” or any of that.  I was free to be who I wanted which is pretty rare these days.

But as I matured, and I saw God draw similar lines in my life like He drew in my father’s, I gladly walked in paths that my father frontiered.  

I am happily my Father’s stage name.

I ask God to enable me to honor both my heavenly Father and my earthly father in the doing…

Thanks for walking down memory lane with me.  If you would like to hear more about Sam, as I called him, I recently recorded an episode of my podcast about him, and as always, you pick up a copy of “I am my father’s son” on Amazon.

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

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 

 

 

Sheep, Wolves, Snakes, and Doves – Gordon Goes to Vegas Part One

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16

I spent the last part of the past week in Las Vegas at the 10XGrowthCon.  The 10XGrowthCon is exactly what it says it is.  It is a convention that is supposed to teach anyone doing anything how to they can grow it by 10X. 

The conference was hosted by Grant Cardone, a sales and real estate expert, and included such speakers as The Shark Tank’s Daymond John, Michael Jordan’s coach, Tim Grover, Oprah’s life coach, Tim Storey, and the list goes on and on.  There were no seminars and very few breaks.  From 845am until 6 or 7pm each night, speaker after speaker encouraged, rebuked, inspired, and of course, sold their goods.  Who signs up for that kind of thing?  Lots of folks.  10X’s first year was 2017 and 2,000 people showed up.  Year Two?  Over 9,000.

So, why did this pastor, writer, consultant, etc. go to the 10XGrowthCon in Vegas?  Well, just as being a Christian is not a requirement to being a good engineer, it doesn’t take a Christian to know how to grow something.  Principles of growth in such things as social media, technology, etc are ever growing and rapidly evolving.  What a growth conference in Vegas does require is a lot of discernment.  As a Vegas virgin, I learned a lot.

The first thing I noticed was that everyone, not just people at the conference, but everyone was amazingly honest about what they were doing.  What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but while you are there, everyone’s life is fair game.

Even as I waited at the airport in DC, this attitude was prevailing.  I heard buddies talking about what they would do at their bachelor’s parties.  I heard bunches of ladies talking expectantly about their girl’s getaways.  Some were making fun of the other for what happened last time, and others were saying that they were going to have to look out for so-and-so who gets a little too crazy in Vegas.  This excitement continued upon arrival, people jubilantly disembarked the airplane, and some couldn’t wait to start throwing money in the slots in the terminal.    

Within fifteen minutes on the ground, my Uber driver was telling me about Vegas and his personal devotion to the science of the mind.  When he found out I was a pastor, he opened up about the physical and emotional abuse that he suffered at the hands of the church.  My heart was broken for him, and I expressed as much Gospel compassion as I could after having traveled for nearly ten hours. 

All this, and the conference hadn’t even started yet. 

While Vegas is showy and full of lights, there is one thing about it above all with which I struggled.  The smell.  Casinos allow everything:  cigarettes, cigars, vaping, and even pot.  The smell was everywhere.  On a side note, they even have coffee shops where the grounds are laced with cannabis.  Going up or going down?

Day One of the conference, I woke up at 4am since my body hadn’t adjusted to Vegas time yet, and since my marathon is less than three weeks away, I decided to get my long run in:  a half marathon.  From the Mandalay Bay to one end of the strip is nearly five miles.  It goes further, but the more I got away from crowded neon, the less safe I felt.  I ran the five back, took my photo at the legendary “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, and found three more to finish off the run.  One note:  it’s true that Vegas is the city that never sleeps, but I can attest to this.  The folks walking home at 4:30am might be awake, but they are definitely on their last legs.

Walking into the first day of the conference, I was blown away.  9,000 people, as diverse as the United Nations, joyfully greeted each other.  They asked about backgrounds, professions, and dreams.  It was refreshing and energetic.  Certainly, there were some professional piranhas in the water, but the overwhelming majority were upbeat, encouraging, and offering free, helpful advice. 

And in very Vegas style, the conference began…

Tune in for Part Two.

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

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.

 

 

Have You Ever Wanted to Publish a Book? This Template is All You Need

In addition to publishing resources that will draw our readers to Christ, Gospel Rich Books wants to enable new authors to get their works to market on Amazon, Nook, CreateSpace, and wherever books are sold.

However, there is one thing that we have learned about the book market:  The challenge for the writer is not the writing.  Writing is what writers do.  No, the challenge is often creating professional looking books in the self-publishing world.  When books don’t look professional, they get poor reviews and aren’t recommended to others.

So, to help you out, we present the “BestSelling Template”.  The “BestSelling Template” is a 6×9 template that makes your work pop, and they help your books duplicate the standard sized book on the market today.  As a result, what you release will look professional even though you published it yourself.

All you have to do is cut and paste your images and manuscript into this re-usable word doc, and you will have ready-to-sell resources for Amazon (or wherever you have your books published) in no time at all.

We are presenting the “BestSelling Template” for an introductory price of $9.99.

In addition to this offer, we are also giving away a copy of “The 5 Steps to Publishing Your Own Books” – absolutely free. Our hope is that these resources will help you sell a ton of books.  Be sure to reply to this email if you have any questions.

So, if you have always wanted to get your book published, we hope these two tools will help you do just that.  And remember, the “BestSelling Template” is re-usable, so every time you have a book ready to go to market, this will be the resource that helps you get there.

Gospel Rich Books

P.S. On a final note, we have heard from several of you that you might want additional help publishing your books.  Gospel Rich Books will soon outline the details of how we can help you do just that.  Look for those details soon.  Our goal is to help you get published, not take a cut of your royalties once the book is on the market. 

 

 

Gospel Rich Books Honors Dr. R.C. Sproul

As some of you may or may not be aware, Dr. R.C. Sproul passed away this past week.  As a theologian, professor, author, and pastor, he was a spiritual mentor to millions of people.  The Gospel Rich Books release, “I am my father’s son”, tells a story about he was gracious to help mend a relationship between a father and son.  That excerpt is below.  Please read it in honor of God’s work done in Dr. Sproul’s life.

My father, who I affectionately called “Sam” and I rarely fought.  Even as a kid, I don’t remember any face to face screaming matches with him.  As adults, we were respectable, and we dealt with our few disagreements peaceably.

Except for one time.  I was probably thirty-five at the time.

We had a family member struggling with several large life issues.  Sam and I disagreed about how we should approach them.  I saw it as a Gospel issue, as in, “The Gospel teaches us to do this.”  Sam saw it as a law issue, “We need to teach this lesson.”

I don’t cast it that way to say I was right and Sam was wrong.  That was just the way we were approaching the situation, and looking back, I think we both had valid points.

But for the first time in our lives, we were barely speaking, and when we did, it was Mom saying, “Hey, don’t you want to speak to your father?”  She would then hand the phone to Sam and force us to talk.

Well, I was off at my denomination’s General Assembly.  This is when the teaching and ruling elders from across the country gather for worship, information, and some manner of business.  Within my denomination is a pastor named, RC Sproul.

As Sam was doing research to interact with me over areas of theological disagreement in seminary, he began to read Dr. Sproul.  Sproul made a huge impact on Sam, and in areas where I could not articulate certain theological positions well, Dr. Sproul could.  In fact, any changes of conviction on Sam’s part were much more due to Dr. Sproul than to me.

So, at General Assembly, I was walking around the vendor floor where a million books are sold.  Standing in the middle of the walkway was Dr. Sproul.  He was surrounded by about ten guys who were lapping up every word that he spoke.  I took my place among the circle and waited.  Eventually, the business of General Assembly renewed, and one by one, the sycophants (of which I was numbered) all left.

Dr. Sproul turned to me as I was the last man standing.  He has this amazingly gravel, smoke-tinged voice that helps give his wise words authoritative weight.  He realized that I had been standing for a long time and had said nothing. So, he asked, “Can I help you, young man?”

I told him that he could.  I told him that my father, Dr. Thom Duncan, was an avid reader of his books and greatly enjoyed his writings.  I then asked Dr. Sproul my favor.

“If I called my father, would you be willing to speak to him for a moment?  It would mean a lot.”

He agreed, and I immediately called Sam on my cell phone.  Surprised at my call, Sam asked if everything was okay.  I said, “Yeah, everything is fine, but there is someone here who would like to speak to you.”

I handed the phone to Dr. Sproul, and he said, “Dr. Duncan, my name is RC Sproul.  You must be really proud of your son here.”  They spoke for maybe five minutes, and Dr.  Sproul handed me back my phone.

When I returned to speak with Sam, he had an excitement in his voice similar to a kid who got to meet their favorite football player.  When I got home, we talked about the incident, and our tension was gone.  We brought up the conversation about interacting with the sick family member, but this time, all of the tension was gone.  We were able to speak in a way where care for the person was more important than winning the day.

That was the kind of man that Dr. Sproul was.  Gracious and giving.  Thanks, Dr. Sproul.

 

If you would like to read more from “I am my father’s son”, you can purchase this book at

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