J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

The Disease of Demand in Marriage

Marriage challenges abound. Since becoming a pastor, the single largest counseling issue before me has been dealing with issues surrounding married couples. Oh, issues like substance abuse, pornography, etc are always before the church, but marital conflicts appear to be the front runner.

For example, everyone goes into marriage with certain expectations. Couples have the expectation that once they get married, there are certain actions and support that they will receive from their spouse. There is anticipation of mutuality, kindnesses, and grace. There are expectations surrounding house work, income, sex, and children. Some of these expectations are communicated, and some are assumed.

Underlying most spouses’ expectations is the assumption that their spouse will return their love and affection with at least equal fervor. Basically, the thought is, “If I love and support you, you will love and support me.”

Problems arise, however, when an expectation of return becomes a demand of return. This attitude creeps into the relationship and become a requirement. Demands, though, are deadly in a marriage. One spouse demands that the other at least meet their efforts which is the basis of self-righteousness and not love.

When we read that, we are sure to wonder, “Is it wrong to expect our spouse to give as much we do?” While an expectation might be appropriate, a demand kills. The real challenge in marriage is not trying to get a spouse to match our efforts. The real battle is creating an agenda of change that focuses on self and not spouse.

When couples don’t do this (removing demands and insisting on personal change), the next thing that happens is that couples begin to walk through the motions. Devotion becomes duty, and as CS Lewis says, “Duty is no substitute for love.”

Hope in a marriage cannot be found in the guarantee that a marriage will flourish or that their spouse will change. Instead, hope is found in the person of Christ who loves, forgives, and enacts change. And as a couple, or even just one spouse, shifts their focus from their circumstances to the character of God, the basis of change and hope become clear. It is found in the person of Christ.

 

July 25, 2017 Posted by | church, church planting, family worship, men, mission, missional | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Origin of the Title “Bedside – A Memoir of Care”

bedside cover sampleMom spent her life sitting bedside of those she cared for, and I was fortunate enough to have a tiny opportunity to return a measure of that love and care to her.  Enjoy this excerpt…

One injury as an adult sticks out the most.  My first job out of college was teaching high school English at an alternative school.  To “qualify” for my school, you had to be expelled from one of the county’s other schools.  The staff was small (four-five teachers), the hours were long, and I absolutely loved it.

Early on in that first year, the four of us were riding together back from a county-wide training session.  We were together in our science teacher’s Jeep Cherokee.

As we were riding along a country road, an animal of some sort jumped out in front us, and our driver swerved into the other lane.  As she did, I yelled, “Look out,” as we were now in the path of an oncoming paint van.  That’s right:  we were now facing a van full of cans of paint.

We collided full-speed, head-on both at 55 mph.

Our jeep was spun around, the van’s grill was crushed, and there was paint everywhere you could imagine.

We all survived with various concussions, broken bones, and soreness.  I had a gash on my forehead, was incredibly sore, but was, for the most part, okay.

I remember waking up in the hospital and finding Mom sitting by the bed and Sam standing beside her.  Even as an adult, they had come to take care of me.

They both took me home and put me to bed.  They spent the night, and I slept for about twelve hours.  I remember waking up in the morning incredibly sore and a bit disoriented.  I walked into the kitchen to find my mom cooking for me.  She quickly rushed me back to bed and told me I was to spend the day lying down.  She had chicken soup for me, and of course, she had made cookies.

Mom wouldn’t let me out of bed all day.  She would come to me and stand bedside and check on me throughout that entire day.

Mom worried a lot about me, and not just on that day.  But as I looked at her by my bed in my apartment, I felt like she loved the opportunity to take care of me once again.

Fast forward eighteen years, Amy and I are sitting bedside, and I am holding Mom’s hands in the moments before she passes…

I’m sad but thankful for the opportunity in a small way to return the love she gave to me.

The remainder of this story picks up in “Bedside – A Memoir of Care” – you can find it at

Amazon Paperback

Kindle

Nook

CreateSpace Paperback

PDF Download

September 19, 2013 Posted by | church, church planting, gospel, men, mission, missional | , , , , , , | 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

“Bedside – A Memoir of Care” Released Internationally Today and Stateside 9/17

bedside coverI’m excited to announce that “Bedside – A Memoir of Care” in honor of my mom, Ann Duncan, is available internationally today and will officially launch stateside on Tuesday, September 17th.

Recounting stories ranging from her humorous interactions with my dad to her singing heavy metal with me in the 80’s to her figuring out how to take care of us with little or no money, “Bedside” is intended to shine the spotlight on a wonderful woman who quite often shunned it.

She was Godly.  She was sweet.  She was cute.  And she shaped my personality and character in ways that words on paper cannot perfectly recount, but I have done my best.

“Bedside – A Memoir of Care” can be found in most digital formats and is available worldwide.

I pray your readings bring great memories, a bunch of laughs, and even a few tears.  Thanks.

“Bedside – A Memoir of Care” can be found at the following locations:

Amazon Paperback

Kindle

Nook

CreateSpace Paperback

PDF Download

Every now and then, companies will make them available ahead of time.  Click and see.  Thanks.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Cover Story Behind “Bedside – A Memoir of Care”

bedside coverWhen I wrote “I am my father’s son” in honor of Sam, I had the privilege of contributing an image to the cover that was in part designed by my friend, Jonathan Grauel of Blue Studio.  The cover came from a painting of my father’s piano recital when he was 18.  It was dark and in bad need of repair.  Jonathan wanted the opportunity to reinterpret it, and so his color and art were added to this great portrait of my dad.  The painting hangs on the wall above me as I write this, and it forever adorns that book.

As I began to think of a design for “Bedside – A Memoir of Care” in honor of my mother, my first choice for a design was Jonathan.  But here, I didn’t have another painting for the start.  I had plenty of photos, but none of them fit the bill.

But as the theme of the book came together, the image of my mother’s glasses on a bedside table came to mind.  She spent so much of her life caring for me and Sam and everyone else.  We lay in bed, and she sat beside us.  Jonny (as I call him) designed the perfect piece of art to accompany the feeble attempt on my part to capture Mom.

So, I present to you the stirring cover of “Bedside” that will be released in all formats on Tuesday, September 17th.  If you just can’t wait, you can purchase a pdf of the book now here.  But otherwise, paperback, kindle, and nook release next week.

September 11, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment