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

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“The Hold Fast” Makes a 150 Year Sermon a BestSeller

Recently, Gospel Rich Books released the first of a series of books in our “Pocket Spurgeon” series.  This series takes the sermons of Spurgeon and edits them into readable and carriable editions for the intention of enabling more people to read Christian classics. 

For far too long, these classics have been locked away in dusty, overly large tomes that are both intimidating and hard to find.  “Pocket Spurgeon” hopes to remedy that.

Our first edition, entitled “The Hold Fast” comes from Proverbs 4, and wonderfully, has become a bestseller on Amazon (reaching #10 on the Old Testament Wisdom Literature chart this past weekend).  I’ve included another snippet from it for your encouragement.

“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.”—-Proverbs 4:13.

Faith may be well described as taking hold upon divine instruction. God has condescended to teach us, and it is ours to hear with attention and receive his words; and while we are hearing faith comes, even that faith which saves the soul. To take “fast hold” is an exhortation which concerns the strength, the reality, the heartiness, and the truthfulness of faith, and the more of these the better. If to take hold is good, to take fast hold is better. Even a touch of the hem of Christ’s garment causeth healing to come to us, but if we want the full riches which are treasured up in Christ we must not only touch but take hold; and if we would know from day to day to the very uttermost all the fullness of his grace, we must take fast hold, and so maintain a constant and close connection between our souls and the eternal fountain of life. It were well to give such a grip as a man gives to a plank when he seizes hold upon it for his very life– that is a fast hold indeed.

We are to take fast hold of instruction, and the best of instruction is that which comes from God; the truest wisdom is the revelation of God in Christ Jesus: of that therefore we are to take fast hold. The best understanding is obedience to the will of God and a diligent learning of those saving truths which God has set before us in his word: so that in effect we are exhorted to take hold of Christ Jesus our Lord, the incarnate wisdom in whom dwelleth all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We are not to let him go but to keep him and hold him, for he is our life. Does not John in his gospel tell us that the Word is our light for instruction and at the same time our life? “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” The more we abide in the Lord Jesus and the more firmly we take hold upon him, the better will it be for us in a thousand ways. I intend at this time to speak as the Holy Spirit shall enable me upon this fast-hold; and I reckon that the subject is one of the most important which can occupy your attention at this particular crisis in the history of the church. Many there be around us who believe in Christ, but it is with a very trembling faith and their hold is unsteady; we need to have among us men of tighter grip, who really believe what they profess to believe, who know the truth in its living power, and are persuaded of its certainty, so that they cannot by any means be moved from their steadfastness. Among the vacillating crowd we long to see fast-holders who are pillars in the house of our God, whose grasp of divine truth is not that of babes or boys, but of men full grown and vigorous.

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

 

 

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 

 

 

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 Three

Days One and Two of Vegas can be found here and here.

I woke on my day three in Vegas with one of my most look forward to adventures:  Not slots, Not Cirque de Solei, Not Cher.  I was going to go run with new folks.  I met a doctor after my initial run, and he invited me to get some miles early Friday morning.  I met him and his friend at the Casino, and we were off.

New runners talk about one thing: running.  We talked about which races we’ve run, our PR’s, and our overall health.  Eventually, families and faith come up, as did individual business.  This wasn’t a fast run, nor a long one (10K), but running with new friends (which is what people you run with immediately become) is always a blessing.

As my body made the adjustment to the time zone, one thing was clear.  I was starving.  I found a way to get good coffee without waiting in line at Starbucks.  The café near the casino was as good as Starbucks, the line was never more than 5 deep, and they offered free refills, but again I needed food. 

Another discovery was that the Pan Asian place in the food court served omelets in the morning, and they were huge and good.  As I waited in line, I met 3 other 10XGrowthCon attendees.  They found out I was a pastor, they expressed their faith, and we were soon eating and enjoying a little fellowship.  How did they find out I was a pastor?  Well, when folks asked, “What do you,” this is what I say.

“I am a pastor, but I consult in the eye industry and write books because I have 3 daughters who I hope will get married and go to college one day.”

These men worked in the real estate and landscaping industry.  Like me, they were hoping to, “chew the meat and spit out the bone” of the conference.  The time with them was refreshing.  We exchanged contact info and headed on in.  I’ve since heard from one of them.  I hope we keep up.

This day of the 10XGrowthCon was about Marketing.  We heard Russel Brunson speak.  He is the founder of Clickfunels and a master at selling.  He offered a deal to the crowd to sign up for his platform that netted him $3 million dollars in 90 minutes.  Those aren’t typos.

Kerri Kasem spoke.  She is the daughter of Casey Kasem, famed radio host who was the voice of my childhood.  Casey ended each show with, “Keep your feet on the ground and reaching for the stars.”  Her story of perseverance was encouraging and inspirational, especially to young women.

Daymond John of Shark Tank spoke.  Actually, he was interviewed by Grant Cardone.  Daymond’s talk about incredibly practical.  Less, “Go out there and work hard,” and more, “These are the nuts and bolts of starting something new.”  I got to meet Daymond later on in that day, and we spoke of how we both have 3 daughters.  Very nice guy with lots of security.

But the highlight speaker of the day was Roddy Chong.  Roddy is, and has been, the violinist for Shania Twain, Celine Dion, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  He began by making 9,000 people do calisthenics and stretching.  He then launched into his story of fighting to get his gigs, culminating with working with Dion and Twain simultaneously.  He played 2 songs for us, and by the end of the talk, everyone gave him a standing ovation with loud cheering.  I spoke to him after the event and told him that when a speaker asks me to stand up or do some other motion, I rarely do, but when he did, I didn’t hesitate.  He asked me why, and I told him that his style made me trust him.  I had the chance to interview with his You Tube channel later on.  It hasn’t popped up yet, but I’ll let you know if it does.

The day ended with a networking party that I was unable to attend because of so many strobe lights.  Basically, I was left with no one and nothing to do.  I stepped into the House of Blues restaurant and chose to eat at the bar because I didn’t want to take up a table for just one person.  I struck up a conversation with a gentleman there and learned a few things.

In this conversation, I learned how things can go wrong in Vegas.  Thankfully, they didn’t for me, but I saw how it all can happen.  This gentleman was in Vegas “entertaining” clients which means paying for whatever they wanted, again which meant doing things that you can only do in Vegas.  By 7:30pm, they were already passed out, and he was waiting for them to wake up to take them out to a concert, drinks, and an adult establishment.  I was invited along.  I saw a few minutes of the concert, but nothing else about that evening held any charm for me.  I was not going to any adult establishments.  Nope.  Ain’t no way.

I walked to my room tired, knowing that the next day for me might very well be 36 hours long.  I was full of thought.  First, the speakers had me wondering if there were ways the church could “market” itself (make people aware of it), without being cheesy or crass.  What are better ways to proclaim Jesus outside of Sunday morning?  I also wondered about the gentlemen I left, and prayed they were safe and not doing anything they might regret.

Day 4 of Vegas plus travel lay ahead.

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.

Gordon Goes to Vegas Part Two

If you would like to read part one of my Vegas story, you can find it here.  Thanks.

Day One of the conference set a tone.  In light of the recent shooting in Las Vegas, security was high.  9,000 people entered an auditorium and NO BAGS WERE ALLOWED.  The conference gave everyone a drawstring, but that was about all that was allowed.  Some ladies with large purses were turned away.

Attendees entered through an airport type scanner with the command to have everything in your pockets in your hand and held above your head.  Following that, you were then scanned with a handheld metal detector. Then, you went through another area where you had to scan your attendance bracelet.  If successful, it pulled up your name on a screen, and you were finally able to enter the convention.  If you left to get food or drink, you had to go through the entire process again.  While annoying, I didn’t mind the extra level (or 3) of protection in light of the past Vegas (and recent) school violence.

Despite the long lines, no one seemed to mind.  Even after the security check, the same high energy continued.  Questions like, “Where are you from?  What do you do?  What’s your why?”  were prevalent.

The ushers led me up an elevator and to my section of the arena.  I had the best seat in the house.  It wasn’t on the floor.  It wasn’t close to the stage.  In fact, it was as far from the stage as possible.  I was in an upper balcony that provided lots of room to walk around to stretch, and the bathroom was close by and never crowded.  I settled in and quickly met the guy beside me, a young Medicaid auditor named Jesse.  With my insurance filing background, we hit it off.

After an overly long and self-indulgent introduction, Grant Cardone spoke.  Oddly enough, he didn’t really speak a lot over the four days.  He left most of the talks to the other two dozen or so guest speakers.  Of note, the conference was three days long, and you could pay extra for the fourth, but I declined. 

Cardone began with such statements as,

“Meet a new you.”

“There’s nobody pushing you. You can do more. If you know you can do more, you have to do more. If you don’t, you will have this big hole inside.”

The following speaker, billionaire Jordan Zimmerman, continued the theme.  He said,

“Never say I wish I would have. Never say I wish I could have.  Excuses are lies we tell ourselves to feel better.”

I began to think that perhaps the whole conference was going to be a humanistic disaster.  But a few speakers later, Ed Mylett spoke.  Ed Mylett is a performance coach and CEO of World Financial Group.  Ed was different.  He talked about what it meant to be an evangelist and compared the drive and calling of an evangelist to one’s workplace. His faith was clear as a motivator and as an accountability factor for how he did business and how much business he did.  It was refreshing. 

Several other speakers presented throughout the day:  Brad Lea, Forbes Riley, Andy Frisella, etc.  Some were inspirational, some combative.  Whether the people in the crowd resonated with the speakers or not, each challenged the audience to quit accepting mediocrity.  They challenged everyone to seek the best for themselves and their families.  Each appeared to genuinely want everyone in the crowd grow.

I left that afternoon exhausted.  There was so much data to take in, and I had a lot to process through the grid of scripture and prayer.  I met a few people earlier in the day, but having dinner together wasn’t an option.  Two doctors and I scheduled a run for Day Two. 

But what that all meant was I had an evening in Vegas to myself. 

I couldn’t decide where to eat.  There were so many options.  I took a tram over to the Luxor, looked at their options, and still couldn’t decide.  So, I struck out down the strip.  I tried to Facetime Amy and the girls to show them the sights, but I couldn’t get a good connection.  Instead, I called and sent a few pics. 

To be honest, I was lonely, but I did make up my mind where to eat:  Gordon Ramsey Burger.  My household loves the MasterChef shows, and if Gordon Ramsey was going to make a burger, I wanted to eat it.

Located in Planet Hollywood, I stood in line for about thirty minutes and realized that my body thought it was around 11pm, not 8pm.  Lonely, hungry, and tired.  I needed to eat and get home as those three are dangerous combinations in Vegas. 

I was seated at the kitchen bar which basically is a row of seats for people dining alone that looks out over the kitchen (which was a picture of efficiency).  It was good entertainment for this weary traveler.  The menu looked amazing, and something exotic was to my liking.  I decided on the Forest Burger.  The Forest Burger featured tremor cheese, seasonal forest mushrooms, arugula, and duck bacon.  I also went with the Truffle Parmesan Fries which they suggested should be eaten as an appetizer.  The waiter was shocked I didn’t order a drink.  Honestly, I was so tired, I couldn’t imagine anything worse for me at that point.

The fries came out, and please hear me.  If you know me, you know I am given to hyperbole, but this next statement is the honest truth.  Those were the single best fries I’ve ever had in my life.  Don’t get me the wrong, the burger was ridiculous, but those fries?  Forget about it. 

Not quite stuffed, I ordered a Brown Butter Caramel Pecan Shake to go.  “To Go?”  Yes, everyone in Vegas walks around with a drink in the hand.  Mine was probably the only one that was a milkshake. 

On the twenty-minute walk home, I tried to process everything.  Does the church do a good enough job of encouraging people to grow?  We always talk about spiritual growth in terms of prayer, study, evangelism, etc.  Those are good things, but does the church encourage people to grow in their careers and goals to the greatest of their ability?  Have we given these areas of growth to the world for them to deliver the message in their wrapping?

I crawled into bed with a mind that was more awake than my body.  I was excited about running with new folks in the morning, and there were some speakers the next day that were potentially exciting. 

Who knew that the next day would be the day with the most tellable story?

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. 

The Lost Art of Reading Christian Biographies

Reading biographies and autobiographies of great people of faith is a lost art, or at least a fading interest, for many.  There is actually some biblical precedent for it:

Hebrews 6:12 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Imitating the saints who have gone before us is a command, and the primary way in which we can know their stories is reading their books.  In reading their story, we learn what faith looks like in…

War – Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Suffering – Surprised by Joy by CS Lewis

Revival – Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther

Missionary Service – A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael

It is a rich study to dwell on the thoughts and acts of faith of Christians who inspired so many.  Reading their books insures that their lives will influence Christians for years to come.

If you are interested in reading a few more stories, Gospel Rich Books has published two biographies.

The first is “I am my father’s son”.  This is the story of Thom Duncan and his faithful service as a bi-vocational minister.

Secondly is our biography of his wife, Ann, entitled, “Bedside – a Memoir of Care”.  Ann faithfully supported her husband, helped raise five children, and served the Lord faithfully for over 60 years.

We also offer a 2-1 hardback edition.  Please note, this edition will be taken down soon as it will be re-edited to remove several printing errors.

No matter who you study, seek out great people of faith and learn from their lives.  It is a study worth undertaking.

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.