J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Gordon Pauses and Needs to See a Doctor

pauseHey Gang,

While I’m likely to issue a press release every time Evident Grace twitches, and I’ve worn all of you out on Facebook every time I write a new book, I am not typically issuing updates about my health.  However, since a few of you have heard about what’s going on with me, I thought I would send out a prayer update.

To begin with, I’m fine, but the doctors have diagnosed me with an epileptic condition as I am having what they call “silent seizures”.  As always, things like this work best in story.

Last year, around the time my father (Sam) passed away, I began have pauses.  A pause is when all of a sudden, in the middle of a conversation or even driving down the road, I just stopped talking.  I couldn’t talk if I wanted to say anything.  As many of you know my pace, pausing is not something I typically do.  But if I was in the middle of a conversation, I would all of a sudden just stop.  I felt the moments coming on, and I was aware that I was having them.  10-15 seconds later, they would go away.

In October of last year, I had a yearly checkup and told my doctor about them.  After hearing that I had lost both of my parents over a five month period, that I was switching jobs, and that I was moving out of the state, he chalked them up to fatigue and stress.  So, I did too.

But over the past few months, these pauses began to increase in frequency.  I was having them at least twice a week.  And, on an occasion or two, I spoke some pretty non-sensical things that I didn’t remember saying.  I even had them in two sermons which most of the congregation chalked up to a movement of the Spirit or perhaps a frustration with the crowd.

We have a doctor at Evident Grace, and I asked him to keep an eye out in case I ever had one around him.  He was at one of those sermons where I paused, and he recommended that I see a local neurologist that he respected.

So, about a month ago, I had my first appointment, and the doc suggested that I have an EEG and an MRI (one of those strange acronyms that begins with a consonant yet demands an “an” before it).  The MRI came back negative, so we know that it’s not a tumor (said in my best “Kindgarten Cop” voice).   However, the EEG showed some brain abnormalities on the left hand side.  The doc has prescribed some anti-seizure meds, and they are working so far.  They do, however, make me incredibly sleepy, and this is to be expected for the first month as my body adjusts.

So, that’s where we stand.  I may have more tests to go as the types of seizures I’m having are rare in adults, but the primary plan right now is to get used to the meds and keep track of any more moments that I might have.

I appreciate your willingness to read this diatribe, but I do desire your prayers.  These moments have been incredibly stressful to Amy and the girls.  I’m slogging my way through my new meds, and we are praying that nothing about this worsens.  Evident Grace is aware of what’s going on, and everyone has been incredibly encouraging and prayerful.  I just need to be wise about my pace with them, with my family, and with my training schedule.  If I need rest, I need to get it.

Thanks for your prayers, and feel free to email me back with any thoughts or questions.  I do really appreciate how much Amy and I can depend on you guys for prayer.

You rock.

Gordon

August 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Share Your Wisdom and Publish a Book

5 StepsI’m thankful that I know a bunch of Godly, Gospel-grounded, and bright pastors.  I also have the privilege of bumping into some incredibly wise and astute folks in my congregation and in the day to day.  You guys have a lot to say, but beyond Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, very few people get to hear your wisdom.

Since, I have been publishing for the last year or two, I wanted to encourage and enable lots of folks to join me in writing and publishing beyond social media.

Don’t get me wrong; social media is strong, but the larger population often misses out on your practical wisdom because of their lack of access to it.

To bridge the gap, I’ve published a little $.99 book, 5 Steps to Publishing Your Own Books.

The goal is to encourage and promote my wise and gifted friends to begin publishing books easily and more often.  This book will walk you through how you can go from manuscript to publication to promotion.  And as you do, lots of folks (including me) will benefit from your efforts.

You can find 5 Steps in two formats:

Kindle
Direct PDF Download

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

Samson as More than Hero or Cautionary Tale

A Once and Future SamsonIf Samson were alive today, he would have a million Twitter followers, tweet things like “great #honey last night what a blast lol”, and the world would love him.  That is, the world would love him until he made every mistake under the sun and TMZ started covering him.

With those things in mind, one must wonder what relevancy does Samson still hold?

Is he a picture of what believers can be when they trust from the Lord and turn from their idols?

Is he a picture of what will happen if men pursue their lusts and thus an antitype of say, Joseph?
Is he a foreshadowing of Christ?

Unfortunately, many practical devotional writings pull Samson out of context and teach purely an exemplary exegesis that treats Samson as a model that can be followed or avoided.  For example, Henry Blackaby in his Experiencing God devotional uses Samson’s life as a pattern to be followed when we have lost spiritual power.  Relating to Samson, he says, “Those around you who have relied upon your strength are discovering that you are not as helpful as you once were.”  To remedy this, he encourages, “If you walk with God in this manner, you will grow in spiritual strength (like Samson) and be used mightily by Him.”

Another example is Steven Lawson’s Men Who Win.  He talks of the great victories that God has brought, “Samson slew the Philistines.  David fought Goliath,” but warns, “Our battles are just as real.  The Canaanites outnumber us.  The Goliaths are waiting for us to grow weary and falter.  The Delilahs are lying.”

Truly, whenever we see a biblical character succumbing to sin, the believer should be on guard lest he fall.  Whenever we see a biblical character achieve victory, we should rejoice that God is gracious.  But these kinds of examples miss the point of Samson, nearly completely.

The takeaway is that God moves, enlivens, empowers, and delivers despite the sinfulness of His people.

With these thoughts in mind, please check out “A Once and Future Samson” available as both a Kindle Single and PDF download.  It is a simple, concise, and hopeful look at God’s work among even the worst of us.

July 24, 2013 Posted by | church, church planting, gospel, men, mission, missional, ruth, training men | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Is a Good Man Hard to Find” is Available

new releaseExcited for the arrival of “Is a Good Man Hard to Find?” in all formats.  Amazon has it listed as the #1 New Release for men, and thanks to all of you, it is already in the Top 50 of both Men’s Issues and Church Leadership.

The design of “Good Man” is to enable invidiuals, families, and churches to develop and sustain efforts to identify and train Godly men.   The book focuses on four areas:  Home Life, Thought Life, Church Life, and Community Life.  I hope this is a simple, helpful resource.  If so, please let folks know about “Is a Good Man Hard to Find?”.

You can find “Is a Good Man Hard to Find?” in several different formats.

Paperback
Kindle
Nook
PDF

Good Man snippet header

July 9, 2013 Posted by | church, church planting, gospel, men, mission, missional, training men | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is a Good Man Hard to Find?

Good ManWhy another book about men, Godly men, training Godly men, elders, and all of that stuff?  The simple answer for another book is that we need to keep looking at the scriptures, looking at what we’ve done (and not done), asking good questions, and then we need to look at the scriptures again.

And hopefully, in the process, we will see Godly men grow, be raised up, and reproduce themselves for the church, for the good of everyone involved, and ultimately to the glory of God.

This book is a humble attempt at just those things.  Available July 9th everywhere, “Is a Good Man Hard to Find?” hopes to be an honest confession and guidebook to help us get there.

The cover art was designed by the ridiculously talented Jay Holmes, and any errors within are mine.  I’ve included the Introduction below to give you an idea of where things may go.  Thanks for considering this.

I’ve been through leadership training in a bunch of different arenas.  I’ve been to public school teacher training.  I’ve been to sales meetings.  When I managed an eye doctors’ office, I went to the optometric national conference every year.  As a seminary student, I was trained to death.

In the church, I was trained to be a lay ruling elder and a pastor teaching elder.  All of those involved tests, both written and oral.  Once I became a church planter, I was entrusted with the task of training elders and deacons.

I don’t tell you all of that to say that I know what I’m doing.  I tell you because at this point and time, I wonder if any of us do.

But this book is my attempt to explain things as I see it, and I hope that it will be of some benefit to you, to my church, and to the larger church nationwide.  You see, throughout pastor training (both for me and to others), I’ve noticed a couple of temptations:

Churches often ordain influential, successful men thinking that their earthly success and wisdom will result in spiritual success and wisdom.  That’s possible, but it doesn’t always work out.

Another temptation is to completely focus on doctrine thinking that a right thinking man is a Godly leader and shepherd.  That is possible, but that is not always the case (and it doesn’t always work out well).

Sometimes elders and leaders move from one city to another and think that they should already be made leaders in any new church that they attend.  Again, it might work out, but that kind of assumption doesn’t take into account context or mission.
So what do we do?  What do we emphasize while seeking to be fiercely biblical?

Well, in my humble opinion, I would suggest three essential qualities and one really strong recommendation in a Godly elder.  Now, let me say this.  These should be qualities that every Godly man aspires to, so they should apply to deacons, leaders, and men in general, but this book’s emphasis is on elders.

First, that man must have a personal holiness that enables him to lead his family in a self-sacrificing manner like Christ led the church.  We will call that Home Life.

Secondly, that man must have a firm and deep theology that is consistent with the body to which he hopes to lead.  We will call that Thought Life.

Thirdly, that man must have the ability to perform the office to which he aspires.  If he seeks to be an elder, he must be able to shepherd.  If he seeks to be a deacon, he must be able to serve.  We will call that Church Life.

And finally, I would suggest from both practical and Biblical example that that man should have non-wavering agreement with the specific mission of that church.  We will call that Community Life.

To get us there with these thoughts, we look at the biblical qualifications of a leader in scriptures.  Those qualifications will expound on the ideas surrounding our first two qualities (Home Life and Thought Life).  Then we will look at the ability to shepherd (Church Life), and then we will conclude by discussing the mission of the church (Community Life).

Hopefully, in the end, we will all walk away with Godly men who lead their families well, have a firm and consistent theology, who own the mission of their church, and have the ability to live out the office to which they take vows.

Thanks for taking the time to even consider these things.

Gordon Duncan
June 2013

July 2, 2013 Posted by | church, church planting, gospel, men, mission, missional, training men | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Daughters are Teaching Me at Evident Grace (notetaking that is…)

notes 1At Evident Grace, we create a unique children’s bulletin customized to each service and sermon so that our younger children can track along with what we are talking about each Sunday.  And as some of our kids get older, they can do those bulletins quickly and then they must begin learning how to take in the sermons as a maturing believers in Jesus.

When it comes to taking notes, everybody has their own system.  There isn’t one fool-proof way to digest what is being talked about.  My good friend, Jonathan Grauel sketches his notes into beautiful works of art.  My wife, Amy’s notes are quotes and observations written in various sizes and on various areas of the paper in a way that enables her to remember better.

My form is pretty boring.  I write down what I hear and casually make observations.   The good thing is that there is no right or wrong way to note taking.  What works, works.

notes 3Recently, my daughter, Meredith, has developed her method as well.  It involves pictures, writing in 3-D, and creating ways in which she can emphasize what she is learning.  She uses different colored markers to make her the notes her own, and when I talk to her about her the sermon, I can tell she is learning and taking in lots of good stuff.

Landry, my second of three daughters, wanted to understand what Meredith was doing, so graciously, Meredith created a template so that Landry could begin to take notes and understand more of the sermon herself.

I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found out all of that was going on.  So this past Sunday, I asked Landry to give me examples of her notes.   In Landry fashion, she has taken in the guidance of Meredith and made the process her own.  Even my youngest daughter, Emma, is beginning to tinker with note taking.   I couldn’t be happier.

The big takeaway for me is that I need to be more actively mindful when I’m listening to sermons, teaching, or instruction.  I don’t remember everything like I used to, so actively engaging the sermon would be a good idea for me.  I won’t be able to be as creative as all you see above, but I do hope to recreate a more active participation in what I’m learning.

notes 2And I have my little girls to thank for that.

June 11, 2013 Posted by | church, gospel, mission, missional, ruth | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Does a Vibrant Church Community Look Like?

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In the Book of Acts, we receive a sense of what a vibrant church community looks like.  In looking at this passage, we get a sense of what a new church might strive for.  Please take a moment and read Acts 2.

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

To help us understand this passage, let’s answer a few questions:

How was the early church’s Fellowship described?  They were devoted to the fellowship of the church.  They were bound together by having Christ in common.  They were willing to make personal sacrifice to meet other’s needs.  They ate meals in each other’s homes.  And God grew them in number.

How was the early church’s Worship described? They were devoted to the Apostle’s teaching, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer.  God answered their prayers and did great things among them.  They met together often for worship and praised God.

How was the early church’s Service described? They gave generously at their own personal expense to meet the needs of any that came to them.  Their worship, fellowship, and service earned them a good and Godly reputation even among those who did not believe in Jesus, and God blessed their service with the fruit of seeing many people come to know Christ.

How would our Fellowship be described? To reflect the early church’s Biblical example of fellowship, we would need to cultivate vibrant home communities that extend the fellowship of our Sunday worship into the homes of our members.  These communities would be both formal in announced gatherings and hopefully informal in reflection of a desire to be among one another.  Here the needs of the gathering are shared, addressed with Gospel hope, and met with practical and spiritual support.  

How would our Worship be described? To reflect the early church’s Biblical example of worship, we too would devote ourselves to being people of the Apostles teachings desiring to make sure that every thought, word, and deed of worship be Biblically faithful.  Our services prior to, during, and even afterwards would bathed in prayer for God’s glory and our transformation.  We would celebrate the Lord’s supper each Sunday and ask that God would be evident among us in both our great petitions to Him and His great blessings poured out to us.  Our music would seek to glorify God by celebrating that He has worked with His people for many ages now, so our music would honor the past while representing the present.  

How would our Service be described? To reflect the early church’s Biblical example of worship, we too would give generously at our own expense to insure that none among went with unmet needs.  We would extend this service in acts of mercy to the community around us as a demonstration of the Gospel so that God would be glorified in our service to others in hopes that He might be pleased by our name in the community.  Our service is not a growth plan, but we do desire for many people to come to know Christ and added to our number by the testimony of Christ represented in our service.  

Join us as we pray that God might do these things among us in the Spotsylvania Massaponax area.  If you would like to know more about New Spotsylvania Church, feel free to join our Facebook group or contact Gordon Duncan at jgordonduncan@yahoo.com or call him at 919-412-8161.

November 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sample Chapter from “Joy in Trials”

When the absolute best happens, what kind of thoughts go through your head and heart?

When you get a promotion…
When you sell your house…
When you solve a problem at work…
When your child gets good grades…
When you achieve your time running in a 5k…
When you find $20 in old pair of pants…
When you wake up from a good night’s sleep…
When you fall in love…
When you get pregnant…

What goes through your head and heart?  You really only have a few options.

Impersonal randomness caused these things.
Other people caused these things.
You caused these things.
Or God caused these things.

When the absolute worst happens, what kind of thoughts go through your head and heart then?

When you get sick…
When you lose a loved one…
When you lose a job…
When you bounce a check…
When you can’t achieve your run time in a 5k…
When you couldn’t get a good night’s sleep if you had to…
When you can’t solve a problem at work…

What goes through your head and heart?  You really only have a few options.

Impersonal randomness caused these things.
Other people caused these things.
You caused these things.
Or God caused these things.

Typically, if you have faith in God, when things go well, you want to thank Him.  We say, “Thank you God for giving me this raise,” or “Thank you God for letting that officer not give me a ticket.”  But when things go poorly, well that’s a different story.

We might yell at God, “Why did you cause this to happen?”
We might yell, “Why didn’t you stop this?”
Maybe we blame ourselves for making a mistake.
Maybe we blame someone else or some impersonal force in the universe.

The million dollar question though is, “Can you rise up and call God blessed and thank Him for every and any circumstance in your life whether good or bad?”

These and other thoughts are pursued in “Joy in Trials”.  These meditations from the Book of Ruth are intended to strengthen our love and faith in God…no matter what.

You can find “Joy in Trials” digitally at Amazon and in paperback at Lulu.

November 14, 2012 Posted by | church, gospel, mission, missional, ruth | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Introduction for The Gospel Protects Us

In the past six months, I have lost both of my wonderful parents.  My Father (affectionately known as Sam) passed after a lengthy stay in the hospital where his lungs just finally quit working.  My mother passed suddenly as a result of a horrendous car crash.  I loved them both dearly, and perhaps no child has ever been loved as well I was by them.

Soon after my Father’s passing, I began editing this little book about persevering trials from the Epistle of James.  Much of what you will read was gathered in from my sermon notes from my James series that I preached at Sovereign King Church.  So re-reading and understanding these teachings have been a comfort for my soul.  However, the initial push for the book faded within two months of my Father’s funeral.

But recently, I walked through a season of trials like none that I have ever experienced.  Following my Mother’s sudden and shocking car wreck, my car broke down with a flat tire.  I got poison ivy so badly it was on my eyelids.  My children were soon suffering from fevers of over 103 coupled with nausea and vomiting.  And oh yeah, around that time I announced that I was resigning from Sovereign King to move to Spotsylvania, VA to plant a new church.

Trials?  I knew them well.  Enduring them well?  That was yet to be determined.

So I returned to this little document trying to see if I knew anything about suffering when I originally wrote it.  I couldn’t have imagined when preaching that series that I would have to experience such trials, but as I reread these words, I could see that at least God had prepared me well.

But please know that this is not a book purely about trials.  James lays out three things for us at the end of Chapter One.  First, he wants us to thank God when we do endure suffering because we know that His loving, sovereign hand is behind each one.  Secondly, he wants us to then live out Godliness in our relationships (these usually suffer during hard times).  And finally, he wants us to trust God, believe that He is true, and then live out wisdom as we suffer and love one another.

I hope these words are helpful.  Writing them innocently and reading them after much suffering experience has been good for me.

I pray the same for you.

Gordon
October 2012

You can find “The Gospel Protects Us” for download at

Amazon
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble

and in paperback at Lulu

October 2, 2012 Posted by | church, gospel, mission, missional | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Gospel Protects Us Available on Tuesday October 2nd

I’m excited to announce that the second in “The Gospel…” series, “The Gospel Protects Us” will be available at Amazon, Nook, Smashwords, and Lulu tomorrow, Tuesday October 2nd.  And the best news is that it will only be $.99.

Throughout the week, I will be posting clips and chapters from the book, but for now, let me explain the cover choice.  The following is from the intro of the book.  I hope you enjoy it.

I don’t know if the cover of this little book makes sense at first glance, and the fact that I’m explaining it may very well mean that it doesn’t.  But this picture gives me great joy and explains a great deal about this book.

Inside, you’ll find my musings on the Book of James’ teachings about taking joy in trials, navigating relationships, and seeking the wisdom to handle them both.  In there, I hope to emphasize that the Gospel of Jesus protects us through those things.

The cover image picture comes from an Egg Hunt our church put together for the Garner Police Department.  Pictured are all three of my girls.  You see Meredith in the middle looking out for Landry on the left.  Landry is looking out for our youngest, Emma.  They were protecting each other, and the image reminds me of how God does just that for us.

I hope you enjoy the image and the words that follow it.

Gordon

October 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment