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 

 

 

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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.

 

 

Smart Phones and Our Need to Feed

Our worlds revolve around our feeds.

Facebook gives you a feed of your friends’ activities mixed with your interest in groups, pages, with some ads tossed in.

LinkedIn provides the same, but the concept is more professional and less personal.

Even workout apps like Strava, and the like, provide the same.

The joy of our feeds is they keep us connected (at least digitally) and they inform us with news and updates that we choose (for the most part).

But we get lost in our feeding as well, don’t we?  One survey says that up to 80% of smart phone users check their feeds within 15 minutes of waking up.[i]  That’s an amazing stat that might very well be convicting as you consider your own patterns.

The true question is, “Are we better or worse off because of this reality?”

If that question is beyond us, we should at least ask, “Are my phone habits and tendencies spiritually and even physically healthy?”  The answers have incredible impact.  Consider these practical considerations in light of our constant need to check the feed.

Physically, am I doing damage to my eyes and even my brain by my “feeding” patterns?  Do I move less because I’m more attached to my phone’s screen?

Spiritually, am I feeling my soul with information that will encourage me and benefit me or am I filling my soul with data that tempts me to frustration and even jealousy?

Cognitively, am I losing connection with real people in real time by my need to feed.

Wherever you find yourself, choose discipline over being disciplined.  Practically, put disciplines in place where you are choosing to check your phone instead of your phone dictating to you.  Don’t let the need to check your phone function like the need to smoke a cigarette.

If you are in a place of authority or encouragement, like a parent or a doctor, be clear with guidelines that will healthfully instruct others to make good choices.

And finally, take a break every now and then.  Choose an evening or a lunch when your phone is not near you or perhaps even in another room.  Recognize your need to check your phone and suffer through the absence until it feels more comfortable.

Who knows?  You might even pick up a book.

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.

 

[i] http://www.adweek.com/digital/smartphones/?red=at