J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

How Seizures Led Me to Write a Book on Sermon Writing

Simple Sermon Solution

Part of my purpose in writing “Simple Sermon Solution” was to share what I learned as I struggled with seizures.  There was an intense time in my life when coherent thought was no longer a given.  The Simple Sermon Solution was created out of that time. 

 

In this excerpt I explain how my typical pattern as a preacher was to preach with a “Big Picture Question” – each sermon attempting to answer that question from the text.  Post-seizures, that pattern changed a bit.  Let’s pick up during that time.

 

Enjoy…

 

Soon after arriving in Virginia, I began to struggle with seizures.  These were silent seizures that would nearly paralyze me and leave me unable to speak and at times uttering nonsense.

 

I could still preach, but concentration in preparation was hard.  I was on an ever-changing cocktail of meds to stop the seizures.  At times, coherent thought was a challenge.

 

I needed to refine both my preparation and delivery style, otherwise I wasn’t going to survive. 

 

The church was off to a good start, but I wasn’t.

 

So, I took a season to analyze my sermons, and I realized a few things.  Despite the Big Picture Question, I had fallen into the pattern of being a living commentator again.  I wanted more for my preaching and for my church, and organizing my sermons was getting harder and harder for me to do.

 

So, I did what every good pastor does:  I started studying, and this time, the topic was preaching.  It took every bit of my brain to do this.

 

I walked away from that season of study knowing that I needed to be more organized, and greater organization would enable me to be more comfortable, more fluent, and be a better preacher.  It would also save me a ton of time.

 

My studying, my experience, and remembering my dad gave me the organization I needed.  Here is what I decided:

 

I would stick with the Big Picture Question, and I would offer 3 points from the text to help answer it.  This would help me hone the question down all the more and make sure it was specific to the texts because there would be 3 points from the text.  I couldn’t just ramble, and I couldn’t include too much data.  I just kept reminding myself that keeping it simple didn’t have to mean my sermon lacked depth. 

 

But then, I had another question.  How do I make sure everyone could remember the answer to the Big Picture question?  Basically, what would make the sermon memorable?

 

After a few weeks of preaching with the 3 points, it came to me.  My conclusion wasn’t helping my folks remember the answer to the question.  Something more was needed for them, and something more was needed for my raddled brain….

 

If you want to learn more about what happened next, just download your free copy of “Simple Sermon Solution” at www.simplesermonsolution.com.  I hope it as much a help you as it was to me.  If you just like to hold a book in your hands, you can find the paperback at Amazon.

 

Gordon Duncan is the pastor of Evident Grace Fellowship in Fredericksburg, VA.  He is the author of numerous religious book and also writes for the business and optometric world.  You can find his resources for both on Amazon.

 

 

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November 13, 2017 Posted by | father, health, love others, men, missional, publishing, self-publishing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Excerpt from Simple Sermon Series: Micah

I’m releasing my 3 part “Simple Sermon Solution” series in just a few days.   The idea behind the books is to help preachers and Bible study leaders better organize their thoughts so they can deliver their messages in a clear way to bring people closer to Jesus.  The 3 books are:

Simple Sermon Solution – a practical how to on organizing and delivering effective messages.

Simple Sermon Solution:  Micah – a devotional commentary that also demonstrates those simple, effective messages.

Simple Sermon Solution:  Easter – a devotional commentary that demonstrates how I used to organize messages and how I organize them now.

Even if you aren’t in a leadership position, these books should encourage everyone and draw them nearer to Christ.  They are readable as devotions.

To give you a taste, below is a excerpt from Simple Sermon Series:  Micah.  I hope you enjoy it.  Full release details will be available soon.

The pain and dryness of this world is to be met by a refreshing water of life, Jesus Christ, as demonstrated by the mercy He has shown us in our lives

We can’t ignore this promise and this injunction. God calls you to refresh the world., but we struggle.

However, as my mentor, Terry, often said was guilty of Little Bo Peep evangelism.  He used to quote, “Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep, and doesn’t know where to find them; leave them alone, and they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them.”

He rightly said the church wrongly just assumed the lost would find their way to the church eventually.  In studying for this, I decided to look up the story of Little Bo Peep and found this.

Here is the whole rhyme.

Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep, and doesn’t know where to find them; leave them alone, And they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them

Little Bo-peep fell fast asleep, and dreamt she heard them bleating; but when she awoke, she found it a joke, for they were still a-fleeting.

Then up she took her little crook, determined for to find them; she found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed, for they’d left their tails behind them

Even Little Bo Peep eventually went after those lost sheep at appears.

God has called you to be a dew to this world.  It is your right, your privilege, your duty.  How do we do that? We show mercy to those in need. We offer Jesus to those who do not know Him.  At the very least, we invite them to worship where they can experience mercy.

I know this can be scary, but don’t let every other love of your life be what you tell people about (movie, food, drink).  You are a refreshment to the world, but remember, we are talking about how God protects believers.  Being a dew unto the world is going to open you to criticism and persecution.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | church, church planting, entrepreneur, family worship, gospel, men, publishing, self-publishing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Simple Sermon Solution” Makes Sermon and Bible Study Prep Easy to Do and Easy to Deliver

Simple Sermon Solution

I grew up a preacher’s kid. My dad was a simple, sweet, and sincere country preacher whose sermons were easy to remember. They had creative titles with 3 points and an altar call…every single Sunday, and God used Him mightily. Many, many people became Christians under His ministry. And a few of us, even became ministers and missionaries along the way.

 

I didn’t realize it, but that was the path for which I was destined.

 

It all began when I was 16. I preached my first sermon at a Youth Sunday. Did you ever have those at your church? It is when the youth handle every portion of the service from beginning to end, and they asked me to preach. So my dad helped me write my sermon and it followed the same template he used. I still remember the points.

 

It went something like this:

 

The sermon title was “Spare Tire Religion”. Basically, the sermon was to illustrate how many people treat their religion like a spare tire, to teach people how to know if they do, and why spare tire religion is dangerous.

 

The three points were:

 

Spare tires are only used in emergencies.

Spare tires won’t endure for the long haul.

Spare tires are forgotten until they are needed.

 

You see the connection? Some people only remember God in an emergency. But a Christianity like that won’t endure. In fact, most of the time, a Christianity like that is pretty useless and forgotten until it’s needed.

 

Pretty simple. Teachable. Memorable. And people loved it.

 

It was at that point I began to realize the power of a memorable sermon.

 

Well, since then, I’ve read lots of books on preaching, gone to seminary, studied Greek and Hebrew, and tons of other things.

 

But aren’t memorable, life-changing sermons what we all want? We want powerful, memorable, life-transforming, and God-honoring sermons each and every Sunday.

 

Simple is not contradictory to depth. They should be partners.

 

Now, I am not a master preacher, but I don’t preach like I did when I was 16. But I do learn quickly and have figured a few things out. So, “Simple Sermon Solution” is about telling a story and helping you improve. It is also about a way to prepare and present your sermons to save you massive amounts of time…and preach memorably along the way.

 

“Simple Sermon Solution” is not going teach you how to study; it’s not going to replace the Greek/Hebrew/commentary work you need to do. Its intention is to present a template to help you organize all that work.

 

A free, digital copy of “Simple Sermon Solution” will be available soon, but I know some of you just love to have a book in your hands. For that reason, “Simple Sermon Solution” is now selling on Amazon. In the coming weeks, I will be releasing a series of books that demonstrate this approach throughout entire books of the Bible. Keep an eye out.

 

This book is also intended to be simple and memorable…just like the sermons that I hope you will preach. I hope it helps.

 

Gordon Duncan

 

October 23, 2017 Posted by | church, church planting, family worship, father, gospel, men, mission, missional, publishing, self-publishing, training men | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Simple Steps to Create Culture at Home, Work, and Church

In its simplest definition, culture is the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group. Essentially, culture is the environment in which you live, culture is the environment in which you worship, and culture is the environment in which you work.

 

But the culture of our home, church, and workplace are not the only cultures we interact with every day. We visit the cultures that we like and avoid the ones we don’t. For example, McDonald’s has a familiar culture. You know what the food is going to taste like, you know the happy meals are $2.99, and you know the general menu options. If you like that culture, you visit it and you buy their food.

 

My family won’t go to McDonald’s. One, we found their environment “moist” because all too often their buildings are wet and dirty. I don’t want McDonald’s because I think the food will kill you so we don’t visit that culture.

 

Instead, we go to restaurant cultures that we like, and the ones that we think are safe and friendly. We go to ones where we think the food is affordable and good for us.

 

This is true for church.

This is true for your gym.

This is true for most places you go.

You go to the culture you like.

 

Additionaly, at work, at home, and at church, you play a part in creating your culture. And, cultures change. They don’t stay the same. Cultures are dynamic; they’re not static. You get to create the culture that you work in, worship, and live.

 

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re working hard, you’re working safe, you are working steady, and you are working sturdy. This could be home, this could be at work, and this could be serving at church. Good job, but the person beside you is complaining.

 

“Ugh, this is so hard. I don’t like this. I’m so tired of this.”

 

Now, one of you is about to create the culture. They are going to create a culture of complaint or you are going to create a culture of something else. You can say, “Yeah, I’m tired of this too,” or you can say, “Hey man, I know it’s hard, but it won’t get any better if we complain. C’mon, let’s do this.”

 

One of you is going to create the culture, and one of you has the opportunity to be the dominant voice and create the dominant example.

 

The dominant voice and the dominant example always create the culture. So, today, at home, work, church, or wherever, be the dominant voice to create a culture that is encouraging, inspiring, honoring, and enjoyable. It will encourage and transform the weary and transform your jobs, your church, and your home.

April 11, 2017 Posted by | business, church, church planting, entrepreneur, health, mission, missional, optometric, optometrist, optometry, publishing, training men | , , , , | 2 Comments

When Nothing Goes Right in Worship

This is our second post of worship observations. You can find our first here. This week, we talk about when things don’t go well – a common challenge for young churches.

At Evident Grace, we have been meeting for a year and a half. For church planters and church plants, a year and a half feels like five regular years. Each Sunday, you feel like you are taking giant leaps forward as you become more efficient in everything from setup/takedown, greeting, music, children’s ministry, etc.

And then there are the Sundays where you feel like you take giant steps back. It feels like you have never met for worship before.   No one seems to get anything right.

Here is my encouragement, fellow planters and young churches:  While each good Sunday feels like five years ahead, an off Sunday is not a five year setback. Let me give a painful example.

This past Sunday, we were launching a new series, “Journey to Worship – a Study of Ezra”. Excitement built fairly well, and several folks joined in to help with a decent amount of web/social media promotion. While I am given to hyperbole like many church planters, I could realistically say that folks were pretty excited.

But things didn’t go as planned.

For some reason, from the onset, I stumbled over my words. Apparently, I said that, “Christ was circumcised for our sins.” While true in one sense that was far away from my wanting to say that He was crucified for our sins.

I was leading our music as well. Leading a crowd in singing is something that I have comfortably done for over 25 years now, but apparently, comfortable was not yesterday. I couldn’t get into a groove no matter what. In fact, the team finally stopped one song and just began again.

My sermon was never was comfortable either. I felt rushed. I felt the need to over-explain everything, and I continually lost the ability to pronounce most every world.

We made plans to take the Lord’s Supper, but our elder wasn’t able to make it, so the elements remained lonely on the table – something we had to explain to our congregations and visitors.

I left assured that no one was ever going to show up ever again.

But here is the encouragement to my heart and to yours, young planter and young congregation. Our worship is not about professionalism and perfection. While starting songs together and ending them together is preferable, while a commanding sermon delivery is helpful, neither of those are necessary for worship. Worship must always be about grace. Worship must always be about the lifting up of Christ. Grace and Christ equal worship. Preciseness is a bonus.

Yes, you seek to improve in every area. You learn from things that go both well and poorly. You practice and study more. You offer areas that continue to struggle to God in prayer. And then you give thanks for what happens.

So, this week, we will work towards getting the songs right and pronouncing the words correctly knowing that Christ will once again meet us on Sunday. If we make mistakes, we haven’t stepped back five years.

Christ will be lifted up, Christ will be honored, and we will be transformed. We will wait for eternity for mistake free worship.

 

September 8, 2014 Posted by | church, church planting, family worship, gospel, men, missional, publishing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Huge Black Friday Sale at Gospel Rich Books

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Gospel Rich Books is offering wonderful Black Friday Sales.  They are going to last from Wed until Sunday.  We’ve lowered the price on all of our pdf downloads.Check them out.

A New and Undying Vocabulary is now FREE.

A Once and Future Samson is now FREE.

5 Steps to Publishing Your Own Books is now FREE.

Family Philippians was $2.99 and is now $.99.

The Gospel Protects was $2.99 and is now $.99.

Joy in Trials was $2.99 and is now $.99.

Teletivonetting was $2.99 and is now $.99.

I am my father’s son was $2.99 and is now $.99.

Is a Good Man Hard to Find? was $2.99 and is now $.99.

 

 

November 27, 2013 Posted by | men, mission, missional, publishing, ruth, self-publishing | , , , | Leave a comment

“I am Bedside”

i am bedside hardcoverThank you for the incredible response.  Now, you can purchase the limited edition, two-in-one “I am my father’s son” and “Bedside:  A Memoir of Care” hardback in honor of Thom and Ann Duncan just by clicking the button below or the photo to your right.  Thanks.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

October 25, 2013 Posted by | church, church planting, family worship, gospel, men, mission, missional, publishing, ruth, self-publishing, training men | , , , | Leave a comment

Commemorative Two-in-One Hardback Editon of “I am my father’s son” and “Bedside” entitled “I am Bedside” Available Now

i am bed combo cover largeLast night, as Amy was settled in and as I was comfortably asleep, my oldest daughter, Meredith, gently walked into our bedroom with tears in her eyes.  She had just finished reading my edit copy of, “I am Bedside”.  This is a hardback combination edition of the book I wrote for my father, “I am my father’s son” and the book I wrote for my mother, “Bedside:  A Memoir of Care”.

She approached our bed gingerly (as I don’t wake up gingerly), crawled in like she used to do when she was little, and snuggled.  She told me she loved the book, she missed her grandparents, and that she loved me and Amy.  Then she went to bed.

That was all the affirmation I needed.  I wrote each of the books for my parents as an opportunity for me to celebrate and remember who they were, but I also wrote them to remind my children and others of Thom and Ann Duncan so that their memory will never be lost.

I’m excited that Gospel Rich Books is releasing this commemorative hardback edition of both books in one entitled “I am Bedside”.  This will be a limited run of 250 copies and available for a limited time.

Thanks to all who loved Sam and Ann.  Thanks to all who have purchased these books.  Thanks to everyone who loved them as much as I did and still do.

You can purchase copies here, and please leave a note to let me know if you enjoy it.

Thanks.

October 22, 2013 Posted by | church, church planting, family worship, gospel, men, mission, missional, publishing, ruth, self-publishing, training men | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Family Philippians” Available Everywhere

familyphilippiansIntroducing, sharing, and explaining our faith in Christ to our children is the desire for many parents.  How do to that is not always that easy.  Additionally, the structure of families is not always consistent.  Some families don’t have children.  Some families include grandparents, many have step-parents, many are solo parenting, and a few have both mom and dad.

In light of all of those intricacies, how in the world do we introduce and deepen the faith of our families?

While each of the described above deserves its own book, this one is designed to help families with children.  And since, the makeup of those families may look different in every household, we will typically just address “parents” and allow you to customize it as you read it.

But the central idea is to create a simple, easy to approach book for you and your kids.  So towards that end, “Family Philippians” was created.

As you work through these pages, you and your family will walk through these steps.  Each chapter will give you a section of Philippians to read, there will be a brief paragraph to explain and deepen an understanding of the passage, there will be a few questions to answer, and then, there will be a guided prayer time.  At the end of the book, you will have covered the every verse of Philippians.

Ideally, each chapter should take no more than 10 minutes, but hopefully, that investment will last a lifetime.  As you undertake this adventure, please know my prayers accompany your efforts, and I would love to hear from you about how it all goes.

Thanks,

Gordon Duncan

You can find “Family Philippians” as a pdf download here, and also at

Amazon Paperback
Amazon Kindle
Nook

September 29, 2013 Posted by | church, church planting, family worship, gospel, men, mission, missional, publishing, ruth, self-publishing, training men | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Bedside – A Memoir of Care” is a Tribute to the Moms Who Sacrifice

bedside coverEnjoy this excerpt…

Mom sent me off to college with a hope and a worried look.  My parents couldn’t afford to pay for my tuition, and I had only graduated from high school a few months prior.  I wasn’t the most mature guy in the world.  Mom was sweet and brave to send me off, but she was also incredibly concerned.

Since she couldn’t send money regularly, Mom offered whatever else she could.  And since I was dating a girl at another college, I came home a lot that first semester.  This was where Mom could help out.

Most weekends, I would come home with dirty laundry and return with a basket of clean clothes.  This would save me a couple of precious buck’s worth of quarters each week, and I think Mom secretly enjoyed it.  I eventually took this over as I broke up with the girlfriend, but every single time I came home, Mom would ask if she could do laundry.  I, of course said yes.  Mom actually appeared to get upset as I took the clothes washing over myself, but she always looked forward to the holidays when she could do it herself.

I would also come home hungry and return with as much food as my Mom could provide.  Typical gifts were Mom’s amazing homemade sugar cookies and leftovers of whatever Mom and Sam had for Sunday lunch.

But there was one more thing Mom always offered.  At that time, my wonderful Aunt Alice worked at a Pizza Hut.  Their norm was to let the employees take home any leftover or messed up orders of pizza at the end of the night.  Aunt Alice would give Mom any pies that she could, and Mom would freeze them all week for me to take them back to college.

So each Sunday afternoon, as I would head back to good old East Carolina University (ECU), Mom would load me up with pizza.  But still there was a challenge.  I didn’t have a cooler, and even if I did, my little car didn’t have much room for it.

So, Mom devised a plan.  She would break the pizzas into their individual slices, put them in several gallon Ziploc bags, and then she would put them all in trash bags full of ice.  That way, I could transport the pizza easily, I could freeze certain bags, and my portions were pretty much already laid out for me.

That was always a helpful thing when this college student didn’t have a meal plan and had to eat each meal with two dorm fridges, a toaster over, and a microwave.

When it came to meals, the two Shehdan sisters took care of me.

Very excited to announce that “Bedside – A Memoir of Care” can be found everywhere today.  But to help you out, you can find “Bedside” at the following locations:

Amazon Paperback

Kindle

Nook

CreateSpace Paperback

PDF Download

September 18, 2013 Posted by | gospel, men, publishing | , , , , , | Leave a comment