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

I’m Dreaming in the Morning I’m Dreaming All Through the Night

dreamingI rarely remember my dreams.  My sleep is so deep most nights that I don’t recall the lights going out.  This past week was a bit different though.

For 3 nights in a row, I had those strange, awkward dreams that are common to all of us.  Those are the social dreams where you find yourself in a situation either unprepared, underdressed, or surprised.  3 nights in a row I had these dreams.   They got to the point where it was interrupting my sleep, and I was waking up pretty tired.  On the 3rd day, I mentioned this to a few friends at a pastors’ get together.  They were gracious to ask me about what was going on, they asked me about things I was worried about, and then they prayed for me.  After a time of reflection, I figured out that my worry came from my concern over some decisions to be made, a difficult passage to preach on, and the ongoing burden of a few prayer requests.

I slept like my usual self the next two nights.

The Saturday night before preaching, however, is always an active night of sleep.  I always read through my sermon notes right before I got to bed.  So, whatever I’m preaching usually percolates while I sleep.

Well, this past Sunday, I was preaching on the promise of the Holy Spirit’s intercession on behalf of all believers as well as God’s making all things work for the good for those He is called.  There is a lot of heavy lifting in this passage.  The emphases are that God’s children are weak and need help, but the Spirit of God works on their behalf.  God knows the mind of the Spirit, and therefore, God works His perfect will for His children through the Spirit.  In light of that truth, those who love God can trust that all things work together for the good.

As I slept Saturday night, these thoughts and themes would not go away.  However, a larger thought kept coming to mind.  Weakness, the Spirit of help, and God’s sovereignty all continued to point me to…God’s glory.  I woke eager to run through my sermon one more time.  As I read through it, I looked for where I could preach God’s glory.  As our service began, I proclaimed our desire to praise God’s glory.  Our songs were calls to God’s glory.  And as I preached, I reminded our folks, that the purpose to which we are called, the thing that makes our difficult circumstances good is not their end, our ease, or some lesson learned.  Those things are great, but what makes the difficult good is God’s glory.

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment