5 Steps to Build a Better Legalist

Jesus directed a large percentage of his teachings in the Gospels against the legalism of the Pharisees and other religious teachers of the day. A legalist is a person who thinks they have earned God’s love and affection based upon either how much they know, how many good things they do, or how many bad things they don’t do.

Now, legalism is the human heart’s problem.  Non-Christians can be legalists but unfortunately Christians are the worst legalists.

Despite the definition of a relationship with God as salvation by faith alone, human hearts are always going to be tempted to look at how good they think they are and think that even if God’s not impressed at least, everyone else should be.  The alternative to the life of legalism of course would be making your lone hope for forgiveness the work of Jesus, trusting only His righteousness and His goodness.

Now, when hearing the two side by side (trusting your goodness or trusting Jesus’) you might ask, “Why would anyone trust their goodness when Jesus’ life of love and perfection is so infinitely better?”

Simply:  we don’t see as God sees.  God sees our heart clearly, and we don’t.

He sees our sinful motives clearly, and we don’t.

And He sees Jesus’ work on our behalf constantly, and we don’t.

You would think that the church would fight harder against legalism, especially when Jesus uses such harsh language against legalists, calling them “a brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33) and “white washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27).

But I’m afraid the church in America is a legalist factory.  We just keep churning them out.  In fact, we are good at it.  Let me show you it’s done.

Here is the 5-point plan for building a better legalist.

One:  Withhold affection when someone sins or makes a mistake.

Two:  Invent rules for Godliness without either the desire to explain your reasoning or explain their benefit.

Three:  Care more about other’s opinion of your performance than you do God’s opinion.

Four:  Assume what you say or what you do gives you a place of superiority or authority.

Five:  Speak often of others who used to be really good but aren’t any more.

We are so prone to these 5 things, we often don’t see that those types of actions actually blind us from grace and inhibit compassion towards other.  We don’t see that those types of actions are traps that lead to self-righteousness, Christian ghettos, and hardness of heart.  Unfortunately, we are all susceptible to these types of thoughts and actions because we just don’t see our hearts and the hearts of others like God does.

1 Samuel 16:7 For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart

Thankfully, God sees differently than you and I see.  That means that God not only knows the things we think and do in secret, but He can also see all the great things that He is going to do in our lives.

So, when we are discouraged or sad, we can trust that God sees things and knows things that we don’t, and that gives us a great hope as we have faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.

 

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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:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

[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

 

Gospel Rich Books Wants To Help Pastors Publish Their Books

I love writing and publishing books, and what I’ve learned over the past few years is that lots of pastors would like to publish a book or two themselves. 

Helping Pastors Publish Their Books

Here is an interesting stat.  Most pastors write the equivalent of a novel every year in just their sermon’s alone, and I think the church would benefit greatly if they could read their pastor’s books.

But the challenge for most pastors is not the writing.  It is the formatting and publishing. 

Where I want to help.  My passion for writing and publishing is now turning into a passion to help others publish as well, so towards that end, I have created the Pastor Publishing Pack

Everything a pastor needs to find inspiration and information to begin publishing books is right here (and a few bonuses thrown in as well).  It only costs $29.99.

Here is what you will receive for $29.99

First: “5 Steps to Publishing Your Own Books” is a step by step guide to formatting, publishing, and even advertising your book.  You can read this in less than an hour, and you will be on your way toward publishing your first book.

Second: “BestSeller Template” is the essential tool you need to get your books “Amazon-Ready”.  Once you are finished writing, all you have to do is cut and paste your book into this re-usable word document, and it will be ready to submit to Amazon.  There is even information in this book about how to get professional covers designed.

Third: “Simple Sermon Solution” is a great book to help you write, organize, and deliver your sermons.  For most pastors, their books come from their sermons, and this book helps you create sermons with depth and clarity.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth: “Simple Sermon Solution:  Micah, Christmas, and Easter” are three books that were written directly from sermon notes.  What these books do (aside from being kickbutt devotionals) is demonstrate the simplicity of taking a sermon from notes and turning them into books.  This is how I write the majority of my books.

These e-books would typically cost $60 or more if you bought them individually, but we have put them in the Pastor Publishing Pack for $29.99 just for you.

Maybe you aren’t a pastor, but you know your pastor would like to publish a book.  Just purchase these books, and then email them over to your pastor as a gift.  Maybe it is just thing he needs to get that book on Amazon.

I hope this will help lots of pastors publish books in the next year or so. 

If you would like help beyond these books, just email me at gordon@jgordonduncan.com.  I plan on launching a Pastor Publishing Academy soon to help pastors close the gap between idea and publication. 

I can’t wait to read all of those newly published books.  Let me know when they go live.

Gordon Duncan

Editor, Gospel Rich Books

www.gospelrichbooks.com

https://gumroad.com/l/pastorpubpack

 

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 

 

 

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