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The idea of being a teacher of one kind or another is now a very old idea for me. Shortly after entering my seventh grade year in junior high school, I decided (at my musical mother’s urging) to start taking band as a subject. By the next year, I had decided to become a band director, a teacher of music. I never wavered from that decision once I made it, at least until the “preaching bug” bit me after I was married and started seeking God in a serious way. I recall taking the Kuder Occupational Interest Survey in the eighth grade and testing very high in music. (It’s odd that I remember the name of a test I took 60 years ago!) I already knew what my interests were, so the test results offered no surprises.

Becoming a band leader started long before I became a band director. I was selected to be the drum major of my junior high band for one year, drum major of my high school band for two years, and drum major of my college band for all four years. In the latter role, the band director didn’t like directing the band during football games, so I not only did that on the field at halftime, but also in the stands during the rest of the game. He may have hated that role, but I relished it. Thus, I was a teacher of sorts long before it became an official position for me.

I did indeed major in Music Education in college and began my career as a music teacher in the fall of 1965, as a newly married man. Soon thereafter, I enrolled in graduate school to pursue an advanced degree in educational administration. The exact name of my program was: “Supervision and Administration at the Secondary Level.” In other words, I was being educated to become a high school principal. I only finished half of that degree, since I decided to enter the ministry during that process. However, all of the education courses I took at both undergraduate and graduate levels gave me a good foundation of educational principles and processes, training that served me well in all future teaching endeavors. But ever since I was a young teen, education was my thing. I never wanted to do anything besides teach.

I first began preaching in 1970 while attending a ministry training school (the Preston Road School of Preaching in Dallas, Texas). The preaching when in school was on a part-time basis, but I had stuck my foot in the water and had found it very exciting and intriguing. I was still a teacher, but now the subject was Bible. My interest in music all but left me, for I felt as if I were in heaven while studying and teaching the Bible. Once I graduated from that two year ministry training program, I worked alongside an older, very skilled preacher in the Northwest and sharpened my preaching and teaching skills under his tutelage. (My book, My Three Lives contains many details of those and other years in my earlier ministry.)

When I did graduate from that particular school, the faculty told me during my senior conference that they envisioned me returning to teach there after I had gained some ministry experience. They said that it was obvious that I should be a teacher in a setting like that one. Preaching is teaching, but they were talking about a more in-depth training of other preachers. I was flattered by their vision for me, but assumed that this role was going to be at least a decade away. As it turned out, it was less than three years away. Honestly, I was a bit “green” for such a position, but with God’s help and the burning of much midnight oil, I managed to survive and hopefully did a reasonably good job.

Teaching in this program taught me far more than I conveyed to the students. The curriculum included every book in the Bible studied in quite some depth. Some courses grouped several biblical books together, like the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) or the Minor Prophets, but many were studied as single books. Each course had 54 hours of classroom instruction per semester. That meant that teaching a book like Revelation, with its 22 chapters, gave the instructors about 2 ½ hours per chapter to really dig into the text. Since we were teaching four courses each semester, the preparation was almost overwhelming, especially the first time we taught a given course. At any rate, teaching in such a challenging program gave me the background preparation for all Bible teaching that was to follow.

I taught in this program full-time for four years and part-time for another three. During those years, I completed a Master’s Degree in Bible – “New Testament Studies” being my specialty. When teaching part-time at Preston Road, I was a full-time minister for a local church. Since the church group I was in during that time had four meetings per week (two services on Sunday, a Sunday School slot, and a midweek service), I was preparing and delivering lessons most of the time. To say that teaching was my life would have been true in more than one way!

When we left Dallas and moved back to the Northwest, I was the new kid on the block and had a reputation as a Bible teacher. Plus, I had met the Campus Ministry Movement (the predecessor of what was to become the ICOC – International Churches of Christ) and was regularly invited to speak on their programs. During my four year tenure in Washington State, I counted up my teaching and preaching slots for one of those calendar years, and discovered that I had averaged delivering one sermon every other day (not counting Sunday School or midweek lessons). As I said, teaching was my life and evidently was destined to remain so for the remainder of it.

Once I joined our present movement of churches in 1985, the teaching slots diminished considerably. We had only one service on Sundays and midweeks were often done in small groups, with lessons that were more on the practical side than the exegetical side. Of course, there were leader meetings of various types, but the lessons for them were mostly practical and administrative in nature. At this point in my teaching career, I assumed that the more in-depth type of teaching to which I had been accustomed was pretty much over. Of course, there were the occasional seminar or conference lessons to be developed and taught, but they were occasional and involved more preaching than teaching (yes, there is a difference).

In the early 1990s, to my surprise and delight, I was to don my “professor’s hat” once again. In 1993, Randy McKean, the congregational evangelist for the Boston Church of Christ, asked me to put that hat on again. This new emphasis meant that I was given large chunks of time for writing and preparation for teaching. We began the New England School of Ministry, which involved teaching all of our ministry staff in New England a series of biblical courses in a classroom setting, complete with advance assignments and a final exam.

We quickly expanded that program to include the staff of churches in Europe that the Boston church established or oversaw. My trips to Europe were frequent, both for ministry training and for just strengthening young churches. In addition to the ministry training program, Randy introduced occasional all-day Saturday teaching sessions for the church, calling these sessions “Bible Jubilees.” The content for nearly all of these exciting teaching days came from materials I had just written – in-depth outlines in booklet form at first, and full length books beginning in 1995 (“Prepared to Answer” and “The Victory of Surrender” that year).

After sixteen years in Boston, we moved to Phoenix for nine. Once again, my teaching slots diminished as I was immersed in the ministry of a local church. However, as I approached my 65th year, my teaching focus expanded once more.   About the time I was nearing that ominous birthday, the elders were discussing the budget for the following year (2008). It was becoming increasingly obvious that the church in Phoenix wasn’t large enough to support me and Theresa in the role of teacher/elder and women’s ministry leader. The discussion moved in the direction of needing to lay off our Teen Ministry couple or our Campus Ministry couple in order to keep us on staff. As an elder at the time, I just couldn’t approve doing that. So I told the other elders that I was going to have to help them fire me and that I would find another means to provide for us financially. Starting a teaching ministry seemed the best way to do that, and I had already had discussions with others about that possibility.

Sometime during that period several had approached me about starting a training program in Asia, one that ended up as the Asia-Pacific Leadership Training Academy (APLA). God was opening doors for me to start a formal teaching ministry, which began officially in mid-2008. God soon opened another door. Shawn Wooten, evangelist in Kiev, asked me to set up a leadership program in Kiev patterned after APLA, a program to be named the Ukrainian Institute of Ministry. Both programs had a curriculum of eleven courses for the Ministry Track students (those on staff) and an eight course curriculum for the Shepherding Track students (lay leaders). In addition to teaching in these two programs, I continued to travel and speak in a number of other settings. As I often said, I lived in the “jet lag” time zone!

In November of 2012, we moved to the Los Angeles area and I assumed the role of Director of the Pacific School of Ministry in January of 2013 for a two year term. At the end of that assignment, we moved to Dallas, Texas where we now reside. By design, my traveling days have been reduced significantly. My teaching is focused on (but not limited to) a writing ministry. I wrote three book in 2016, bringing my total number of books to fifteen. Additionally, I have a number of audio and video teaching series that are available through my publisher, Illumination Publishers (IPI) – ipibooks.com. Perhaps I will write more books in the future, but writing three books in six months last year pretty much satisfied that “itch,” at least for the present.

Near the end of 2016, through an expected chain of events, God unleashed a new passion in me, one that led to the development of a new blog on racial issues, entitled Black Tax and White Benefits (blacktaxandwhitebenefits.com). As might be expected, a number of invitations to speak have been on this subject. I also am working on expanding my teaching in writing through this teaching website, gordonferguson.org. My prayer for this late stage of life (turning 75 in October!) is still the same as always, that God would use me in any way that he wants. Whatever that turns out to be, one would have to assume that it will be in some form of teaching. That has been my life for decades, and is still my life now. Romans 12:7 mentions a “gift” of teaching, and God has graciously given me this gift and kept it functioning for many years. I am most grateful, and pray that my use of the gift might glorify him and bless others!

— Gordon Ferguson (August 2017)

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I just posted another article on my blogsite (blacktaxandwhitebenefits.com) entitled “Two Sources of Wisdom.” In my recent blog post, “Slavery and the Bible,” I had a few things to say about the inability of political solutions to effectively deal with the problems of society that are rooted in sin, and that includes the sin of racism. My reasoning was that while politics may well produce legislation, it cannot produce love (often quite the contrary). Hate cannot be outlawed, although acts of hate can. Nor can love be demanded by law. Further, since our most basic human emotional needs are all about love, respect and acceptance, politics will always come up short in providing what the human soul most desires.

In that recent article, I used some material written by Michael Burns, adopted and adapted from an email. As I prepared for a trip to the East Coast to teach about racial issues, I spent much time re-reading his book, “Crossing the Line: Culture, Race and Kingdom.” To be honest, my human nature would like to legislate the reading of this book by all disciples of all colors! Of course, that urge is not realistic and not particularly spiritual either. I think it does illustrate the fact that our very strong feelings to make something happen often go in the wrong direction and are not very effective in bringing about the desired results at the heart level. With Michael’s permission once again, I quote fairly extensively from his book in exploring the difference between God’s wisdom and human wisdom. Enjoy the read!
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1 week ago  ·  

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Several weeks ago, I had a very unusual experience. It started with me preaching what turned out to be an emotional sermon for me, and for the audience. After the service was over, I took a long drive in the countryside to talk with God about things stirred up in me by the sermon. I returned home to write for hours about the whole experience, which included a good deal of reminiscing about the early years of my life.

When finished, I felt that what I had written was just journaling between me and God and should be left at that. However, I later started feeling that perhaps I should view this fairly long piece of writing as an article to post on my teaching website (gordonferguson.org). It was in a sense a prequel to what I have written in the first section of “My Three Lives” and to our earliest married days described in “Fairy Tales Do Come True.” Both of these books are among my three most recent ones, having been written in 2016. They contain many details of a personal nature, as this article most certainly does.

I vacillated between keeping the article contents private and publishing it. After a couple of weeks passed, I sent the article to two of my fellow authors and close friends, asking their opinion. Tom Jones had this to say: “Very good piece that makes a vital point. Those who are fans of yours (a considerable number, including me) will especially enjoy more details from your life, and in the process, hear the heart of your message.” Steve Kinnard wrote (while on vacation): “I used my morning of leisure (no theme park today) to read your article. I really enjoyed it. I think you should publish it for a larger audience… People would be inspired by it. I was.”

Since I am tired of vacillating, and trust these brothers who know me well, I just posted the article. Its title is, “I Have Lost My Faith! (in Coincidences)”
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2 weeks ago  ·  

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My most recent blog article on my racial issues blogsite (blacktaxandwhitebenefits.com) was on the subject of slavery and the Bible. Interestingly, one of the members of our Diversity Committee in the ICOC churches is quite the expert on the subject. Richard Rodriguez, a brother in the South Florida Church of Christ, wrote both a thesis for his Master’s degree in History and a dissertation for his PhD on related aspects of American Slavery.

I asked him some time ago to write an article or series of articles about the main themes of his academic studies to use on one of my online sites. The end result was a seven-part series, which was too long for my blogsite, but fine for my teaching website (gordonferguson.org). I am posting a biographical sketch introduction to Richard himself and to his material on my blogsite, and will include it as an introduction to the series, which will be on my teaching website.

I have combined the longer series into one article, which is still longer than the normal article on that website, yet it contains some valuable material, complete with source documentation, for those who desire to dig deeply into a topic that has shaped so much of the American society in ways that we usually don’t realize.

His thesis dealt with the concept of the ideology of Divine retribution for slavery, something that many figures of history saw as a distinct possibility (including Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln). His dissertation delved into our national history of how the Bible was the cornerstone of the abolitionist argument against American slavery – in spite of the fact that the Bible was used also as support for same. Please go to my blogsite and read Richard’s biographical sketch, and then you can decide about reading the much more in-depth synopsis of his graduate research! Thank you, Richard, for your contributions to the world of academia and to our spiritual heritage!
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3 weeks ago  ·  

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I just posted a new article on my blogsite dealing with racial issues and diversity -- blacktaxandwhitebenefits.com (Blog 33). It is entitled "Slavery and the Bible." Since I started my blog, I have known that I needed to address the issue of slavery and the Bible. It is a fact that the Bible does not forbid any and all slavery, but rather regulated it among God’s followers in both Old Testament and New Testament settings. That fact is especially difficult to accept for those who have even a reasonably good understanding of how slavery was practiced in the United States for centuries. It was, with relatively few exceptions, applied in the harshest and most damaging ways imaginable. Further, the Bible was used to justify the institution, no matter how harsh these practices were. Just how are we moderns to view all of this? Please read the article for some very important answers. ... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago  ·  

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I just posted another article on my teaching website (gordonferguson.org). It is entitled "The Theological Basis For Discipling Relationships." The first paragraph of introduction I will drop in here, but suffice it to say, it addresses a much needed subject. I would perhaps put it at or near the top of all the articles I've ever written on the subject -- although it was written some years ago as a chapter in a book. Here is that introduction explaining the origin of the material:

Special Note: This material once comprised a chapter in my book entitled Discipling (1997). This longer book was condensed into a shorter version called The Power of Discipling -- now in its second (slightly longer) edition. A number of chapters from the original book were omitted in the shorter one. I added back two of these chapters in a condensed combination (about group discipling and family discipling) in the second edition of the shorter version. Another chapter omitted in the original is this one, now published in a standalone article. It is in some ways “deeper” than the material in other chapters of the book, being more theological in nature. Newer disciples may find it more difficult to understand, but along with more mature disciples, all will find it highly stimulating and challenging if read carefully. In re-reading it now, over twenty years after I wrote it originally, it is hard to believe how relevant it is right now compared to its earlier setting. Our churches and our members need it – badly!
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1 month ago  ·  

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