J. Gordon Duncan

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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

Why Another Book about Men, Elders, and Leadership – AKA The Genesis of “Is a Good Man Hard to Find?”

Good ManThe genesis of “Is a Good Man Hard to Find?” came about in 2009 as I was preaching a series of sermons about the qualifications of an officer.  SK Church was preparing to nominate, and I was preparing to train men from among the congregation to become elders in the church.

By the end of 2010, elders were installed, and throughout 2011 – 2013, I transitioned from being a solo church planter to leading a session of elders.  In every way, I moved from the theoretical to the practical.

All along the way, I discovered deficiencies in my own leadership, gaps in my convictions, and perceived desires of doing it differently the next time.  God’s grace shown through, the church continued to grow, and my thoughts progressed.

By the end of 2012, I was transitioning from SK to plant Evident Grace Fellowship in Fredericksburg, VA.  My thoughts covered everything from building up the men in my future church, sharing mission and vision with families, and starting the process of training officers again.

I realized that the hopes within the Biblical qualifications for officers in the Bible were actually the hopes that should be instilled and developed within every man in the church.   So, my mind returned to the series in 2010.  By December of 2012, I had developed those sermons into a draft, and in the past three months, they have been edited again into “Is a Good Man Hard to Find?”.

My hopes in publishing this book is that God will use it to encourage families, develops men’s programs, and enable pastors to train and install Godly officers.  High hopes indeed, but they are no less than what God promises in the scriptures.  In all humility, I pray that God brings those hopes to fruition.

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

Paperback
Kindle
Nook
PDF
SmartPhone App

July 8, 2013 Posted by | church, church planting, gospel, men, mission, missional, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 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

Thoughts on Finding Hope when Hope Left Long Ago

hopeexitYour mindset may be, “Well, I’m going to assume the worst, and that way I won’t ever be disappointed again.  Because if I hope for things and I don’t get them, I just get more disillusioned.  I am a realist.”

There are a lot of folks living this way.  A lot of you.  But here is something I want us all to wrestle with.  The bible gives us every reason to have hope, so much so, that we are actually commanded to have hope.

The excerpt above is from this past week’s sermon at Evident Grace Fellowship where we explored how hope in Christ is so secure, God’s commands, and we can count on it.  The devotional pdf’s, kindle, and audio are up.

 

You can download the pdf’s for free at:

Philippians 1:1-8

Philippians 1:8-11

Philippians 1:12-14

Philippians 1:15-18

Philippians 1:19-21

And audio for Philippians 1:15-18 is here.

Audio for Philippians 1:19-21 is here.

Also, we are making all of our devotional pdf’s available on Kindle as well.  Because these are available at places other than Amazon, we have to charge $.99 for these, but all proceeds go back to Evident Grace.  You can find our Kindle devotionals at:

Philippians 1:1-8

Philippians 1:8-11

Philippians 1:12-14

Philippians 1:15-18

Philippians 1:19-21

Thanks for taking the time to look over these with us.  Join the conversation either by worshiping with us on Sunday, getting together with us throughout the week, or discussing these online or at Facebook.

Thanks.

If you are interested in worshiping with Evident Grace, we meet each Sunday at 1030am at the comedy club above Liberty Lanes off of I-95 exit 126 in Spotsylvania, VA.

May 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

See & Share Evident Grace Preview for 051913

See & Share Evident Grace Fellowship for 051913 from Gordon Duncan on Vimeo.

How can God command us to have hope? He would have guarantee something wouldn’t He? Join us this Sunday at Evident Grace to find out. We meet at the comedy club above Liberty Lanes off of exit 126.

May 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Spotsylvania Church Meets at a Comedy Club

ImageWhen asked by the Fredericksburg Examiner about why Evident Grace meets in a bowling alley, the following article resulted

New churches meeting in schools, civic buildings, and town auditoriums are nothing new. Church plants, as they are called, don’t normally build sanctuaries, and many don’t even desire one long-term. But finding a workable space for worship, nursery, and visibility is often the first big challenge of most new worshiping communities. Every now and then, a new church finds that perfect spot, and that spot is off the beaten path.

Meet Evident Grace Fellowship. As of April 21st, they began meeting at Liberty Laughs Comedy Club above Liberty Lanes Bowling Alley.

When asked why a church would meet at a comedy club, they gave several answers. Pastor Gordon responded with, “Well, it shows we don’t take ourselves too seriously, I guess.”

That answer may be humorous, but there are actually more specific, purposeful reasons for meeting at a comedy club. EG’er Erica K explained it this way. She said, “Just the air of curiosity for the public causes people to ask what’s happening up there.”

Asking what is happening is one thing. Something actually happening is another. EG’er Nathan T provided that. He said, “I think it gives the church the ability to not become complacent. We aren’t hiding from the world in our safe and separate little area. We are out there in the community looking for ways to serve and bring people in. What better opportunity for outreach than to worship in the midst of the people we hope to reach out to?”

So, the Examiner went asked. Does a church meeting in a comedy club provide those things?

Emma R from Connecticut gave this impression. She said, “It’s a great representation that God is everywhere, and church isn’t about wearing a suit and tie in a fancy building. God is in real life, real places with no per-requisites.”

With those things in mind, Evident Grace Fellowship is taking a slow and steady approach to growing and serving. They hope to eventually offer several services to the community, but they want to take them on in a way that they do them well.

With that in mind, they will offer a nursery for members and visitors, but that nursery will not be open until May 12th which is fitting Mother’s Day. Additionally, they have undertaken a ministry with Young Lives, an organization that helps, supports, and encourages single, teen moms. Doing that fits their mission of wanting to serve and comfort their community as an expression of how God has served and comforted them.

If you would like to join Evident Grace Fellowship, as they mentioned, they meet at Liberty Laughs above Liberty Lanes at 1030am each Sunday.

May 4, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

What Does a Vibrant Church Community Look Like?

Image

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