Robert B. Duncan
Table Of Contents
Vigil - 2000 Issue
A Tribute To Bobby Duncan
Goodbye, My Friend
Bobby Duncan, 1934-1999
Dad . . .
A Tribute To Bobby Duncan
Precious Memories Of A Cherished Friend
Tribute To Bobby Duncan
The Bobby Duncan I Knew
Standing "In The Gap"
A Respected Brother
Bobby Duncan: A Great Co-worker
Life, Death And Hope
Directions To The Grave Of Bobby Duncan
VIGIL: Volume 28 - No. 1, January, 2000
A Tribute To Bobby Duncan
This issue is dedicated to the work and memory of Bobby Duncan. We, the elders of Adamsville, were deeply saddened by the unexpected death of brother Duncan.
He was a close personal friend and brother in Christ to each one of us. He was invaluable to the eldership based on his knowledge of the scriptures and his association with faithful brethren. His wisdom and balance prevented him from leaning too heavily to the right or to the left. He always stayed abreast of the issues concerning the church, and his interest in the welfare of the church was such that he spent time in keeping us informed. This information greatly influenced us in our decision to stand for the truth. We depended upon him and frequently asked him questions to which he gave wise answers. While so many would classify him as a preacher's preacher, we always thought of him as an elder's preacher. He gave unselfishly of his time to us, yet he never once tried to control the eldership. The cooperation, mutual respect and love we had with each other were extraordinary. Whenever we made a decision, he never criticized us, but supported us in every way. He also preached to the congregation the necessity of respecting and supporting the eldership and her work.
We realize what a valuable asset he was to the congregation here at Adamsville and to the entire brotherhood. His knowledge of God's Word was due to the long hours of study, and we benefited from it. His study habits began very early, frequently at four o'clock in the morning: He was diligent in visiting the hospitals. He was often called late at night during times of distress, and was one of the first to arrive. He always made himself available to the members of the congregation, even providing his wisdom and counsel to help members with their problems. He was an outstanding pulpit preacher with an enormous ability to teach both publicly and privately. He was a unique man in that he could attain the small children, yet also edify the older brethren as well. He was a complete preacher to the congregation for which he labored over thirty-four years.
His concern and love for Christ's church were reflected in various articles, not only in Vigil, but in the Spiritual Sword and other publications and sermons, from which so many were also influenced. His wisdom and counsel were sought by so many preachers, elderships and individuals. His book, The Elders Which Are Among You, has helped countless numbers. He was in great demand for gospel meetings, lectureships, and special speaking engagements. He also encouraged the attendance of other local gospel meetings, and promoted such from the Adamsville pulpit. He never tired of hearing the Bible preached.
Lois, Jill and Tim, our deepest sympathy and prayers are with you. Thank you for unselfishly allowing him to spend long hours with us in our work together. We appreciate the sacrifices you made for our benefit and the cause of Christ. We are honored by the close relationship we had with Bob for these many years.
—Elders, Adamsville Church of Christ, Adamsville, Alabama, 4207 Adamsville Parkway Adamsville, AL 35005
“Good-bye, My Friend”
The year was 1975, I had just finished three and one half years of graduate school at Texas A&M University, and accepted a position in the University's College of Veterinary Medicine. I was 25 years old, green as a gourd, "wet behind the ears," and yet, in spite of all that, I was about to make one of the smartest decisions of my entire existence—a decision that would garner to me a friend, and a friendship, the likes of which few people on this Earth ever are fortunate enough to experience. Several months before, I had begun subscribing to the weekly religious journal, Words of Truth, published by the Sixth Avenue Church of Christ in Jasper, Alabama and edited by the inimitable Gospel preacher who spent almost 43 years there, Gus Nichols. I was impressed with what I read in each week's issue and, although I never had met him, with everything I read from the powerful pen of the paper's renowned editor. "What a wonderful thing," I thought, "to use talents such as those he possessed to teach people Truth via the written word." That idea appealed to me. And so even though I knew—to use a biblical phrase—that brother Nichols was one "the lachet of whose shoes I was not worthy to stoop down and unloose" (Mark 1:7), I nevertheless boldly decided to write an article and submit it to him to be considered for publication in Words of Truth. He never saw that article. It arrived in his office the day he died.
When I read the announcement in the November 21, 1975 issue of Gus Nichols' death five days earlier on November 16, I grieved: for his family, at the loss of a husband and father; for the Sixth Avenue congregation at the loss of so powerful a preacher; for our great brotherhood, at the loss of so wise a scholar and so valiant a soldier; and (selfishly) for myself, at the loss of so esteemed an editor-under whose tutelage a young neophyte such as myself never was to have the opportunity to work and to learn.
Little did I know, however, that my personal grief soon was to be assuaged by another editor who, I eventually would come to realize, was every bit as capable, and every bit as worthy of esteem, as the late Gus Nichols—who, in fact, had spent years training him to pick up the sword that he knew he one day would have to lay down. Weeks later, a letter from him arrived-unheralded and unexpected, but oh, so deeply appreciated. His name was Bobby Duncan. He had just been hired by the elders of the Sixth Avenue congregation to fill the pulpit left vacant as a result of brother Nichols' untimely death, and to assume the editorial helm of Words of Truth. At brother Nichols' passing, the Sixth Avenue elders wisely determined (no doubt due in large part to the fact that they wished to honor Gus Nichols' lifetime commitment to the congregation and to the journal) that Words of Truth should continue its longstanding tradition of teaching, upholding, and defending the Old Jerusalem Gospel—a tradition that it maintains to this very hour.
In the brief interim period between brother Nichols' death and Bobby Duncan's arrival at the Sixth Avenue congregation on Sunday, May 2, 1976, Flavil Nichols (who had been serving as associate editor) graciously agreed to serve as editor, yet willingly relinquished that position when Bobby's first editorial appeared in the May 7, 1976 issue of the paper. On the first day in his new office, Bobby found my letter to brother Nichols, and the accompanying article I had sent with it, sitting on top of a pile of unopened mail on the desk to which Gus never would return after his entrance into the hospital for the last time. Bobby wrote me a letter to inform me of brother Nichols' passing, to thank me for the article (which I had titled, "The American Standard Version (1901): A Recommended Version") and to tell me that he planned to run it in two parts in Words of Truth—which he did on May 21 and 28, 1976. Thus began his 20-year journey of being my editor, my mentor, and most importantly, my friend.
At the request of his family, I stand here today to reminisce about, and rejoice in, a friendship that endured for more than two decades and that blessed my life, and the lives of countless others, in ways that I cannot begin to enumerate or explain in this brief eulogy. And although in the end my efforts here today may be feeble and my words may falter, I would like to talk to you about the quiet grace, the towering strength, the humble demeanor, and the Christ-like spirit of my mentor, Bobby Duncan. This eulogy is my symbolic way of standing at attention—with tear-filled eyes, a broken heart, and an indescribable sense of loss—to salute with honor our fallen comrade and to pay homage to my very special friend. Although we had corresponded by letter on numerous occasions, I first had the pleasure of meeting Bobby Duncan early in 1979. On his own, he had gone to the Sixth Avenue elders to ask them if it would be all right to invite me to present one of my new Science & Nature seminars for the congregation. When he called to extend the invitation for me to come during the weekend of January 27-29, 1979, I asked him why he had done this. To this day, I never have forgotten his deadpan response. With no emotion whatsoever, the voice on the other end of the phone said matter-of-factly, "Oh, I just wanted to see if you speak like you write. And if you can't, we'll never invite you back." Talk about putting on the pressure! During the long plane ride from College Station, Texas to Birmingham, Alabama, the thought kept swirling through my mind: "How am I ever going to pull this off?" Here I was—not even 30 years old—and I was going to be lecturing to an audience with Bobby Duncan, Flavil Nichols, and Franklin Camp sitting on the front row "grading me" on my performance. Not a pleasant thought!
In one way, however, I was glad to have the opportunity to meet Bobby because I had something "stuck in my craw" that I wanted to discuss with him face to face. Shortly after he published my very first article, I sent him another one—which he never got around to publishing. Or, to put it more bluntly—which he flatly rejected. As we drove from the airport in Birmingham to the church building in Jasper, I asked him why he hadn't published my article. He turned, looked at me, and said somewhat sternly: "Because it wasn't any good. You can do better." Ever the dedicated editor, he took his job—and mine—seriously. If you intended to run in his circles, or write for his paper, you had to "do better." My ego somewhat bruised, I returned home after the weekend speaking engagement and re-read the article that he had refused to print. He was right; it wasn't any good. He taught me a lesson I never would forget; I should work harder—and I could do better."Better" was the hallmark of his life. He was a better scholar than most. He was a better writer than most. He was a better preacher than most. He was a better dad than most. He was a better husband than most. He was a better granddad than most. He was a better friend than most. He was, well, he was just better!
And because of that, I sought his counsel often. Late in 1979, Wayne Jackson and I decided to begin the work of Apologetics Press. We desperately wanted to produce biblically sound, scientifically accurate, and yet understandable materials in the fields of Christian Apologetics and Christian Evidences to help fill what we viewed as a serious void in our great brotherhood regarding such items. After much prayer and deliberation, I decided to resign my professorship in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M order to devote full time to this kind of work. But that required securing financial support. And so I called Bobby to ask his advice. He told me that if I would get on a plane and fly to Alabama right then, he would help me raise the support. I dropped everything, flew to Alabama, and stayed with him and Lois for three days, during which time he called elderships all around the Walker County area on my behalf. By the time I left, I had over half of the required monthly support raised—no thanks, I might add, to my own efforts. Almost everyone of the congregations he called had agreed to help, such was the power of his recommendation and reputation. And today—twenty years later—many of those congregations (like Blackwater Macedonia, Adamsville, Cordova, and others) still continue providing the support that Bobby Duncan raised for my work.
Five short years later, in February 1984, I was in desperate need of his help again. This time, however, it wasn't financial aid, but spiritual advice that I needed. I was struggling to write a booklet titled Non-Denominational Christianity: Is Unity Possible? to address the unorthodox and unscriptural positions of a well-known preacher in Montgomery at the time who was flirting openly with what eventually came to be known as the "change agent movement" within the church. I telephoned Bobby to ask if I could drive to Adamsville (where he was preaching at the time) to discuss the book's contents with him. He graciously granted me an audience and reworked his otherwise tight schedule to assist me. In the end, he and Franklin Camp (whose guidance likewise turned out to be invaluable) spent almost an entire day helping me understand the critical facets of the new movement and working with me to iron out important concepts that they knew would have to be incorporated into the book if it was to achieve its goal of exposing and refuting the assault upon the Lord's church.
Fifteen years later, I still was seeking his advice and guidance upon which I had leaned often and that I had learned long ago could be trusted implicitly. Just a month ago, I began work on a series of articles on "The Origin, Nature, and Destiny of the Soul" to be published in Reason and Revelation, the monthly journal on Christian evidences published by Apologetics Press. Little did I realize, as I began my research, the "deep waters" into which I was about to wade. After completing the first two articles in the four-part series, I realized that I needed scholarship far greater than any I possessed to fine tune, evaluate, and improve the articles. I called Bobby and asked if I could send him the articles to proof-read. As always, he graciously agreed to help. Less than a week later, he returned the articles, along with his ever appropriate constructive criticisms and a hand-written note that read simply, "Good stuff; thank you for allowing me to have a part in this." Each and every one of his corrections and suggestions, of course, was incorporated into the final draft. Such was the nature of his scholarship—and his attitude of humility toward those working beside him in what he considered the greatest work on earth.
It was because of such brilliant scholarship, and such an humble attitude, that in 1988 Wayne Jackson and I dedicated the third volume in our Essays in Apologetics series to him with this inscription: To Bobby Duncan—whose preaching and writing labors have blessed the lives of countless thousands through the years, and whose support and encouragement of this work have been gratefully received. It always was important to him to do everything within his power to encourage others in their work in the Kingdom, especially those who were younger and who needed a helping hand in both their own personal growth and their fledgling efforts on behalf of the Lord's church. Certainly, I am not the only one who has been the recipient of his beneficent influence. Truth be told, I suspect that if I were to ask those of you in this audience today whose lives have been enriched as a result of having known Bobby Duncan to raise your hands, a veritable sea of arms would fill the air.
I, personally, know one young man sitting in this audience whose life never will be the same as a result of having come into contact, albeit briefly, with Bobby Duncan. A little over a year ago, I had the pleasure of studying the Gospel with an incredible twenty-year-old young man from the Montgomery area by the name of Sam Estabrook. Sam had what every teacher of the Gospel yearns for in a potential convert—an open mind and a tender heart. Upon learning what God had instructed him to do to be saved, he obeyed. On September 8, 1998, I baptized Sam into Christ, and a little over a month later he was able to begin working with us at Apologetics Press in the position of Operations Manager. As his spiritual growth began to blossom—and be increasingly evident to those around him—Sam was asked by Steve Housley, minister of the Eastern Meadows Church of Christ in Montgomery where we worship, to write a brief article for the weekly bulletin. He accepted, and wrote an excellent article titled "Has Man Seen God?" dealing with several Bible verses that critics have suggested contradict each other. Bobby Duncan saw that article and called me to inquire about Sam and his potential as a writer. A day or so later, Bobby wrote Sam a letter requesting his permission to publish the article in Vigil, the monthly journal (for which Bobby served as editor) published by the Adamsville congregation. Sam's article appeared in the September 1999 issue, and that article, plus another he co-authored, appeared in the October, 1999, issue of Reason and Revelation. Bobby, I happen to know (because he mentioned it to me just days ago), had jotted down on his list of "things to do" the task of asking Sam to write another article for Vigil—because he wanted to do everything he could to encourage this new Christian in his daily walk with the Lord.
And thus he began once more the process of taking under his wing another youngster—a fledgling writer whose talents he wanted to encourage and whose future he wanted to ensure—just like the one who stands before you today that he so methodically adopted, tutored, and cultivated 23 years ago. To thank him, last Friday—I wrote him a letter. But just like that letter I sent to the editor of Words of Truth almost a quarter-of-a-century ago, Bobby Duncan never got to read it. Like my correspondence to Gus Nichols, it arrived on his desk the day he died. It—like my missive to brother Nichols—was found sitting on top of a pile of unopened mail on the desk to which Bobby never would return after his entrance into the hospital for the last time.
But that's quite all right, because in his heart he knew that I had spent the last twenty years attempting to repay him for what he had done for me and for my work. He knew that I understood what he was trying to accomplish with me, with Sam, and with so many others whose lives he touched during his all-too-brief 65 years in our midst. But more importantly, he accomplished what he set to do. Before he departed to receive his crown of glory, he was able to do two things to ensure that his life's work would continue. First, he trained those of us who are younger to follow in his footsteps. Like the apostle Paul, he could say to us and mean it, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1). Second, thanks to his never-ending diligence, his untiring study, and his careful scholarship, he has left behind, an invaluable legacy contained in more than 40 years' worth of sermons, editorials, articles, and manuscripts that will continue to bless the lives of thousands yet even unborn. And as those materials continue to be circulated and reprinted in the days, months, and years to come, truly it will be said of Bobby Duncan that he, "being dead, yet speaketh" (Hebrews 11:4).
Some of us owe him more than we ever shall be able to repay. My name is at the top of that list. If we who now remain behind wish to honor our fallen friend, can we not best do so by living as he lived, teaching as he taught, and making the most of each day as a precious gift from God as he did? To Lois, Jill, Tim, and all of the extended Duncan family, I would like to say this. He taught us wisely and loved us deeply. He spent his life sacrificing for us and setting a proper example for us. He stood for Truth and opposed error, yet he did so without becoming mean-spirited, hateful, or radical. His life was the epitome of balance, and our lives are richer by far for having known and loved him. Thank you for sharing him with us so unselfishly.
Today, each of us is overwhelmed by the grief we feel at the loss of our
friend and our brother. We carry an enormous hollow spot within our
hearts—a spot once filled with the reality of the presence of Bobby
Duncan. Heaven's gain truly has become our loss. He was our special
friend, and each of us looked forward to spending more of the future
with him in the here and now. But let us be
today that because of God's bountiful grace,
because of the willing sacrifice of His Son, and because of the lifetime
commitment that Bobby made to his Lord, we still may look forward to
spending more of the future with our special friend. Today, as we bid
him farewell, we do so with tear filled eyes and breaking hearts.
Tomorrow, in God's eternal presence, we shall be reunited with him in
joy amidst the city set foursquare, whose streets are paved with the
purest of gold, whose gates are made of the more precious of pearl, and
"whose Builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). For now then—but
only temporarily—we say, "Good-bye, my
friend." A Special Friend
—Bert Thompson, Dec. 6, 1999 Apologetics Press 230 Landmark Drive Montgomery, AL 36117-2752 334/272-8558
What a shock it was to all of us for our beloved brother to leave us so unexpectedly Saturday! Yet we reserve no doubt to where he is at this time. It has been approximated that over a thousand people viewed his body Sunday night. Hundreds filled the auditorium over capacity at his funeral Monday, with several hundred being preachers who respected him greatly.
Bobby Duncan carne into this life May 9, 1934, in Jacksonville, Alabama. In 1945, he was baptized by brother Joe Hyde. He began to preach in 1951. He decided to attend Freed-Hardeman where he earned his degree, and furthered his education at Jacksonville State, Birmingham Southern, and Southern Christian University. He was known for his great writing ability. He began a monthly paper called the VIGIL on May 14, 1973, and served as her editor for over twenty years. He also edited the Words Of Truth while he lived in Jasper, Alabama. He served as one of the staff writers for the Spiritual Sword. He wrote countless articles in defense of the truth of the gospel. He was meticulous in his editing, which made him such a fine editor. He wrote a fabulous book, The Elders Which Are Among You, as well as several booklets.
He was known for his longevity. He began his preaching in Munford, Alabama in 1956. Two years later he moved to work in Adamsville, Alabama. He spent a brief period of time in Jasper, Alabama, following the late Gus Nichols as pulpit minister of the Sixth Avenue Church of Christ. After seven years, he returned to Adamsville to preach for over thirty years combined. His love for the Adamsville congregation and her elders was testimony to his success as their minister.
He was known for his preaching. He was not only a master in the pulpit, but did extensive work in radio and television. He was invited to speak at several lectureships and seminars yearly. He held many gospel meetings during his lifetime, and was usually booked for years in advance. He preached the gospel in simplicity and soundness of the truth. He filled his lessons with God's Word and spoke them eloquently. He was known for his wisdom. Because of his book on elders, his counsel was sought many times. As he would describe various other great gospel preachers, he was indeed a preacher's preacher. Many would come and visit in his office to discuss various things. Many would call to seek his recommendation.
He was known for his balance. He did not turn to his right hand or to his left. He was opposed to extremism on both sides. He lived his life, wrote his articles, and preached his sermons in balance. He was known for his teaching. He taught many preacher students as an adjunct professor at Faulkner University, including this author. He not only taught by what he said, but by the way he lived. He was a mentor to so many.
He loved his physical family, showering them with devotion. He loved the church for whom Christ died, and for which he gave his life to serve. He loved every member of the congregation at Adamsville. He loved the elders of Adamsville under whom he served. He will be deeply missed by all of us whose lives he has touched.—Sam Willcut
Dad . . .
A dad, a real dad, only happens once in life. Some never even get the one chance to experience it. They may never have the opportunity to know the one who brags when you take those . first steps. The one who pitches to you in the back yard for "just one more," twenty more times. The one who returns from a long trip with a special present (sometimes it is the simplest of gifts, but he brought it). The one who really means it when he says, "This will hurt me more than it will hurt you. " The one you see love your mother with all his heart and treat her like a queen. The one you hear yelling your name over the rest of the crowd even when he knows you're going to strike out. The one who through his life shows you how to love a God that at times doesn't seem to be anywhere around, yet is actually present with you all the way. The one who has so much love for you that he will let you go your own way in your walk of life and just hope he did enough.I had a father like this. Dad showed me more than I could ever fit in this entire issue of VIGIL. He stood firm in his convictions to the Cross and Christ's church. He epitomized the role of a husband to our family by cherishing mom and their commitments together. Dad left no doubt of his pride for my sister and me and our families. Even though, like all fathers and sons, we had our disagreements, we tended to agree on the things that truly mattered. The illness that led to his passing is really not of importance. What matters is that he is in the place he always wanted to be - singing with the angels (no doubt telling them when they are a bit flat). A dad, a real dad, only happens once in life. I am so grateful I got my chance. On behalf of the Duncan family, I would like to thank the countless many for your compassion for each of us. For all the flowers, cards, calls, meals, letters, visits and especially the prayers, we are grateful. Your concern during this difficult time continues to give us comfort. We are blessed to have such wonderful care that is evidence of God's abiding love working through his people. —Tim Duncan
A Tribute To Bobby Duncan
Last Monday morning I attended the funeral service of my friend, Bobby Duncan. He, like every other human being, will stand before Jesus to be judged (Acts 17:30-31). I have known Bobby for most of my life and count it as one of life's cherished blessings. He was a man of conviction and courage. I had the special privilege of having him as a friend. He had time to listen, talk and advise. Bobby made God proud and I assure you that the angelic host knows him personally; for he made the church for which our Lord died what God intended for it to be. The intent of this article is not to stand in the place of our Lord in judgment but simply reflect upon brother Duncan's influence and example. I truly loved this man.
1. I am thankful. Bobby's love for truth and concern for the church in our materialistic, hell-bound society was unique. His influence upon so many gospel preachers will reap untold glory to God. His writings, tapes and words of exhortation will continue to strengthen and edify the church and challenge error.2. I am sad. The church of Christ has lost one of its great warriors. I (we all) knew the church was in good hands with Bobby Duncan. He was genuine and straightforward. The church has lost a giant of a gospel preacher, the Lord, a faithful servant, the brethren, a godly brother and the world, a pure Christian influence. 3. I am happy. He has now crossed the chilly waters and will now enjoy the presence of God and heaven's hosts. The great hosts of the saved is now a bit sweeter. There we will find Amos, Paul, Mary and Bobby. 4. I am concerned. Who will can take his place? With so many trying to change the church and make it what God never intended, we are now without one of God's faithful. I call on all my fellow preachers to make your stand now and fight for the church of Christ. No one can "replace" Bobby, but we can all do our part. 5. I am praying. My fervent prayer is that our God will send more like Bobby. He believed the Book, he respected God and served Christ. We must develop more young men to be gospel preachers and train them to preach the Word. How we need more like Bobby Duncan! I told Sister Lois at the funeral that we truly loved and respected them both. That seems so insufficient. Bobby and Lois Duncan are truly the Bible's definition of Christian character; in life, marriage and as preacher and wife. Bobby had the boldness of Stephen, the courage of Nathan, the honesty of Amos, the exactness of John the baptist and the love of Christ. Farewell for only a short while my brother. Lois, we love you beyond words. Thank you for your never ending love for our precious friend. God bless and keep you )s my prayer.
Precious Memories Of A Cherished Friend
News of the passing of brother Bobby Duncan came as a real shock. The readers of VIGIL knew that he had been battling cancer for over a year and a half. However, we thought his health had improved and were in no way expecting his death. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his beloved wife, Lois, and to his children, Jill Wallace and Tim Duncan. Their loss is beyond measure.
Brother Duncan will be remembered in many ways. He will especially be remembered as one of the outstanding Gospel preachers of his generation. Two passages best describe his role in that regard. "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:2). "But speaking the truth in love . . ." (Ephesians 4:15). To preach the word, speaking the truth, but speaking it in love is the supreme challenge every preacher faces. Brother Duncan met that challenge well.His preaching would be characterized by clarity. Preaching that is not understood or is not to the point is of no benefit. Brother Duncan's preaching was always practical as well as biblical. It was easy to understand and always helpful. One cannot help but think of Nehemiah 8:8 when thinking of Bob. "So they read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." It was my unique privilege to have seen brother Duncan, the preacher, from two different perspectives. One of them was as "my preacher." I was fortunate enough to have grown up at Adamsville. Our family moved to that side of Birmingham when I was fifteen years old. That was about the time I was beginning to think about preaching the Gospel. He had a lot to do with that decision. Growing up under his influence had its benefits. During those days brother Duncan did a lot of work with the youth of the Adamsville congregation. He conducted a "youth chorus" that practiced singing on Wednesday evenings before Bible study. He also had a men's training class on Sunday afternoon. It was in that class that I made my first "talk." It was straight out of a book, word for word. In spite of that he encouraged me. He told me where I had done well and where I could improve. Several students in that class went on to preach, some full-time and others part-time. Thus his preaching influence lives on. I also had the privilege of working as his associate. A year and a half after graduating from Freed-Hardeman, our family moved to Jasper to work with the Sixth Avenue congregation. There could have been no more valuable experience than those four years. The hours spent in the office studying the Bible, observing his work as a preacher with a congregation, and seeing how wonderfully he worked with people taught lessons that cannot be learned in a class room. He had an amazing ability to deal patiently with people. To the best of his ability he was always there for the members of the congregation where he worked. He very unselfishly gave of his time and energy to minister to people in their hour of need. Brother Duncan also loved singing. His excellent tenor voice is something we will always remember. He often used that voice to sing for funerals. My wife, Janie, sister Edna Ellis, brother Duncan, and I sang for scores of funerals in Jasper and Walker county. There were many occasions when he and a small group of people, usually including his brother Clifford and nephew Ed, would stand around and just sing. Under his influence the Gospel became more clear. The doctrine of spiritual security started to come into focus during a sermon I heard him preach when I was a teenager. The text from which he preached was 1 John 1:7. Since that Sunday evening it has been a tremendous comfort to know that there is security for those who "walk in the light." Under his teaching souls were saved. There are people in heaven who learned the Gospel from brother Duncan, through his preaching and personal evangelism. Personal evangelism was always a part of his local work. He was good with people. People from all walks of life were comfortable around him. I will remember him as an unselfish friend. The only heat in our house in Jasper was a wood burning stove. One cold winter evening, returning from a week's vacation, we were dreading going into a cold house with small children. Much to our surprise we arrived at home to find a fire in the stove and the house warm. That was not the last time he did that. He was never asked to do it. He just did it because he was a friend. That will never be forgotten. You did not work with Bob without seeing that he was so devoted to his family. His love for Lois was so easy to see. He always showed her the utmost courtesy and respect. His devotion to his children, Jill and Tim, was equally obvious. He was a tremendous role model in this regard. Brother Duncan will be remembered as the epitome of a Gospel preacher. His Bible knowledge will continue to speak through his writings. His influence upon the cause of Christ will continue to live through preachers he encouraged. He was a mentor to many of us. I will remember him for all of these things. Above all, I will remember him as a godly Christian gentleman, a devoted family man, an outstanding "local" preacher, and a cherished friend. When one dies after a lengthy battle with illness, it is not uncommon for someone to say "he put up a brave fight but lost the battle." As much as brother Bob Duncan will be missed, I truly believe that he won the battle on December 4, 1999. "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them" (Rev. 14:13).
Tribute To Bobby Duncan
Brother Duncan loved to preach and he loved gospel preachers. He loved the gospel preachers who handed the Old Jerusalem torch of truth to him and others. He loved those who were younger and to whom he unselfishly and with no bitterness of spirit handed that same torch of truth. It had burned brightly during his eventful life. No young man ever had a finer booster than he. His words of encouragement soon became legion.
A prince among men, an able preacher among proclaimers and a stalwart soldier of Calvary has now run his last mile and fought his last battle. May we be true to the old paths for which he pleaded so earnestly and eloquently during his life ·time. The world is better because he lived. He influenced thousands to walk the high road of holiness. He lived to serve. He served to save. "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel" (2 Sam. 3:38). I remember him as strong for the truth, witty and lovable in conversation and generous in his support of the work of the Lord.He was an outstanding writer. Great as he was in all other fields, he probably did his greatest work with his pen. His writings will live long after his other work has faded from the memory of men. Few men in the brotherhood ever wrote on a greater variety of subjects with benefit to their readers and credit to themselves than did Brother Duncan. We have lost a faithful worker. He will be greatly missed; but, like Abel, "he being dead yet speaketh." Brother Duncan has had a profound influence for good on the cause of Christ. Hundreds of gospel preachers were greatly influenced by him. As an educator, author, writer, and gospel preacher, he will be long remembered. We need more men of the spiritual stature of Brother Duncan. Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime; And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of Time. I humbly thank God that the life of Bobby Duncan touched mine. He like other great men, Franklin Camp, Gus Nichols, Winfred Clark, G.C. Brewer, Foy Wallace, and Guy N. Woods, have had a profound influence upon me. I have been able to accomplish but little in the Master's service, and will never be able to reach the height of stature he reached in God'~ kingdom; but what little I am able to do will be, in great measure, due to his influence. To Sister Duncan, Mrs. Wortham joins me in saying: "God bless you and keep you, and may you ever be conscious of the fact that Brother Duncan still lives to love and remember you. With the poet let us sing,
I cannot say,
and I will not say,
That he's dead.
He is just away.
With a cheery smile
And a wave of the hand
He has wandered into that
And left us dreaming
how very fair
It needs must be,
since he lingers there.
you, who the wildest pain
For the gentle step and glad return,
Think—of his faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here.
Think of him still as the same, I say
He is not dead-he's just away."
His brother in Christ,
The Bobby Duncan I Knew
The late summer of 1952 was eventful for me and resulted in a change in my life, much of which was due to the influence of Bobby Duncan. By some act of fate, or was it Providence, we became roommates at Freed-Hardeman College. I was a lad from Michigan and he was from Jacksonville, Alabama—quite a contrast.
I had seldom had the opportunity of hearing great preachers since my father worked the night shift for General Motors, but Bobby seemed to have heard them all. His greatest hero was brother Gus Nichols. As we lay in bed after lights out he often spoke of this great man. He said that when he first went to hear him he looked down front and thought, "That is the ugliest man I have ever seen! But after he had preached a half hour he got better looking, after an hour better looking still, and after two hours I thought he was the best looking man I had ever seen." Bobby loved the plain preaching of the gospel which created his love for preachers. He made it his youthful desire to be like Gus Nichols. I knew that if he were ever invited to fill the Sixth Avenue pulpit in Jasper after brother Gus departed he would accept it as one of the greatest honors in life. He did just that.
I was impressed by the self-assurance Bobby had, how he could get up before an audience of college students or any other group and lead singing or speak without a qualm. He came from a singing family and had experiences I could only wish for. During our first year of school Bobby regularly hitchhiked on Saturdays to Carbon Hill, Alabama, where a beautiful young lady by the name of Lois Ann Elliott lived. She was undoubtedly the only true love of his life. He persuaded me, against all my mother's instruction, to make the trip with him one weekend. It was quite memorable as we were picked up by a one-legged man, a drunk, and two young men who stopped at what appeared once to have been a gas station to purchase a bag of something. It contained two bottles. Mississippi was then a "dry" state. Our driver soon asked if we wanted a "snort" to which Bobby quickly replied, "No."
One driver wanted to discuss the Bible and to defend the "baptism is not necessary to salvation idea." I was embarrassed in that discussion not to even properly quote Mark 16:16 and Bobby had to finish it for me. From a very early age he had learned the Scriptures well.
I came to stand in some awe of Bobby's accomplishments. At Freed-Hardeman in those days each freshman student had to attend a spelling class during lunch hour until one could pass a short test by marking each vowel with the proper diacritical symbol. Only then could one get out of the class and receive a grade in English Composition. He passed the first test.
He emulated brother Nichols by his kindness and by a firm stand for the truth. Before writing an editorial on a topic critical of the views or practice of some brother that he considered a departure from the truth, he would call the assumed guilty party to get the real facts and to urge repentance first if necessary. In late August of 1999, he called me for more information about a matter concerning which I had a little firsthand knowledge. I explained what I knew and Bobby did not write about the matter. He called two elders before writing his October, 1999 editorial, urging them not to participate in an interdenominational service. He failed, but one could tell his heart was breaking for having felt the necessity of showing their action would hurt the church.
I read Bobby's editorials in Vigil carefully each month and have saved many of them. He had an analytical mind that could reduce a problem to a simple form and show the folly of erroneous reasoning. I have no doubt brother Gus was and is proud of his protégé.
When one lives and talks daily with another person you get to know him quite well. I came to see Bobby as a man in whom was no guile. He convinced me to walk a straighter line than I had thought necessary and helped me to dedicate my life to a study of the Bible and to its proclamation. Years must pass and nostalgia take over before each of us can really grasp how much we are indebted to another person.
I was thrilled when Bobby accepted the appointment to our board at
Faulkner University in the Spring of 1999. At the close of the
dedication of our new Harris School of Business building I rushed over
to him. It was the first time I had seen him since his bout with cancer
had begun; he was still very pale and thin. We had never shown much open
affection but I just had to hug him. He was so startled I thought he was
going to push me away, but I think he appreciated it. I was so glad to
see him able to be there. This Spring semester at Faulkner University I
am to teach Bobby's former class on "The Preacher and His Work"
in the V.P. Black College of Biblical Studies. I had planned to stop off
and visit with him Wednesday, December 15, on my return from a visit to
Arkansas where I was to take my mother to see her dying sister. I wanted
to get his overview of the topic. Now, it is too late. I miss his serene
calmness, his confident faith in God, His Word, and the comfort his
fellowship gave me. Someone must take up the, mantle Bobby left behind
defending the faith
and our Lord's Church. On the Sunday evening after his death I urged our
college students here at the University Church to carry on the cause for
truth and the battle against error in the church that he championed. I
pray that one or more of them will.
Standing “In The Gap”
God looks for men who "stand in the gap before me" (Ezekiel 22:30). Bobby Duncan was one on whom God could depend, even if he had to stand alone:
He stood for Truth, and opposed error, yet he did so without becoming mean-spirited, hateful, or radical. His life was the epitome of balance, and our lives are richer by far for having known and loved him (Bert Thompson, December 6, 1999).
During the "three days and nights" (Matthew 12:40), April 7-9, A.D. 30, that Jesus' body lay in Joseph's tomb (Matthew 27:57-60), his spirit was not in "the heaven of heavens" (Deuteronomy 10:14), the "dwelling place" of God (I Kings 8:30), but in a place called "Paradise" (Luke 23:43). Forty days (Acts 1:3) after his body was raised, his spirit went, on May 18, "into heaven itself'"(Hebrews 9:24), where now he is preparing "a place" for Bobby in his "Father's house" (John 14:2).
In the meantime, I believe Bobby's spirit is in Paradise, where he "has entered into his rest ... from his works, as God did from his" (Hebrews 4:10). I believe that Paradise, the intermediate resting place for the redeemed, is also called "the third heaven" (II Corinthians 12:2). There Bobby is happily awaiting his entrance into the "Father's house" on "the day of judgment" (Matthew 10:15).
I believe that the intermediate resting place is also called "Abraham's bosom," described as a place where Lazarus "was comforted" (Luke 16:22,25). Since wicked people, in their intermediate place of torment called "Hades" (Luke 16:23), know what is going on back on this earth (Luke 16:28), I believe that Bobby, and all "the spirits of just men" (Hebrews 12:23) in Paradise, know what is going on back on this earth. Consequently, I believe that Bobby is happy and smiling today as he sees that Lois, Jill, Tim and their families are continuing in the faith "grounded and settled and unmoved from the hope of the gospel" (Colossians 1:23), and that the Adamsville congregation i9 doing the same! Bobby's life and teaching will live on, for he paid close attention to Paul's words to Timothy:
Pay constant attention to yourself, and to the teaching; continue in them, for by doing this, you will save both yourself and the ones who hear you (I Timothy 4:16). Among several times that Hugo and Lois had the privilege of being in the services of Adamsville (including a gospel meeting, September 19-24, 1982), on one Lord's day Hugo preached a sermon in the Adamsville pulpit, April 16, 1984, on a theme that Bobby Duncan exemplified before all people: "The Abundant Life."
Bobby was the youngest child of John and Mattie Duncan. He was named after two favorite uncles on each side of the family who had met untimely accidental deaths just before he was born. Bobby was blessed with loving parents and family that often extended beyond the family to friends and even strangers who needed their support.
Bobby's mother was baptized in 1928, several years before he was born. She struggled in her faithfulness to the church with small children and her husband who had not as yet obeyed the gospel. When Bobby was eleven years old, brother Joe S. Hyde was preaching in Jacksonville and would often visit the Duncan home. Brother Hyde's friendship, compassion and teaching was instrumental first in converting my mother and father and my aunt Johnnia. Shortly thereafter Bobby was baptized. Later that year Bobby's father, John Duncan was baptized. Bobby's heart was set immediately on someday preaching the gospel.
Bobby was always outstanding in character. What he chose to do, he chose to always do well. His craft in design of model airplanes was always with patience and skill. He played trumpet in the high school band and was in the first chair. His friends were good friends, both moral and true. He encouraged the very best in them.
He wanted to go to Freed-Hardeman (College) University, because the school was known for the quality preachers of the brotherhood. He roomed with Martel Pace there. They became friends for life.
After returning home, he went to school at Jacksonville State and through the help of Ronny Johnson he began preaching each Sunday at Crestview in Boaz, Alabama. It was during this time he married the lovely Lois Ann Elliott. Bobby worked as a painter for Jacksonville State in the summer and continued to preach while Lois Ann was in school.
Franklin Camp was having a preachers' class at East Gadsden. This provided opportunity for daddy and Bob to study with brother Camp. A lasting friendship and the greatest respect was shared as brother Camp taught and Bobby studied. Brother Camp recommended Bobby to the church at Munford.
Munford was the largest congregation at Talladega County. It was country, but it was strong. Many of the finest gospel preachers had worked there. Bobby challenged the youth and many of them are leaders in the church today. The Munford church allowed Bobby to grow in radio and evangelistic meetings. His move to Adamsville was met with the conflicts of the cooperation issues of the fifties. His longevity with the Adamsville church has much to do with both Bobby' and the leaderships' constant support of each other.
Our family has always loved to sing, and Bobby was always a part of that. It did not matter which part you wanted him to sing, but he insisted that the music was right and the words were true.
Uncle Bob has been that source of strength to so many of us who preach. He has often shared a sermon. He was always generous in his compliments of our work. He differed kindly with us and taught us better the way.
—Ed Smith 131 West Oak Street Oxford, AL 36203
A Respected Brother
Months ago, when contacted by brother Leon Jackson, an elder at Adamsville, concerning possibly publishing the VIGIL, I responded with "We would be honored to be a part of this good work." The response was due largely to the respect and esteem with which we held our friend and brother, Bobby Duncan. Though many of us did not have the privilege of working with the editor daily, we greatly appreciated his faithful and consistent work through the years.
Like Abel of long ago, our dear friend has departed from this life, but "he being dead yet speaketh" (Heb. 11:4). He lives in the lives of countless thousands who sat at his feet as he taught the unsearchable riches of God.
Bobby Duncan: A Great Co-Worker
In the early 1980's it was my privilege to work with Bobby Duncan as an associate minister of the Sixth Avenue Church of Christ in Jasper, Alabama. Bobby, at that time, was the preacher for the Sixth Avenue church, having followed Gus Nichols as the local minister.
Many wonderful things could be said about Bobby. He was a great preacher, who knew the Bible and preached it. He was a great Bible class teacher. He was a great writer serving for many years as editor for the Words of Truth at Sixth Avenue and then the VIGIL at Adamsville. In addition to serving as editor, he wrote articles for many other fine publications. He preached in many Gospel meetings throughout the years doing much good for the cause of Christ. Also, he spoke on many brotherhood lectureships during his preaching life. He was in great demand throughout our wonderful brotherhood both as a speaker and a writer.
But you do not know someone well unless you work side by side with them. It is then you really get to know that person on a day to day basis. You observe how he handles situations and circumstances and how he deals with people, etc. Ron Harper, another coworker with Bobby before my time, and I discussed this fact at Bobby's funeral. Ron and I, as well as others, have had the unique privilege of knowing Bobby Duncan up close in a very personal way. As Ron said, "unless you worked with Bobby you couldn't fully appreciate what a wonderful man he was."
He is right and what I would like to do in this brief eulogy is to mention a few things I observed and learned working with Bobby. The list is not all inclusive by any means, but these are some of the lessons that help me even today. First, Bobby tried to be fair. He truly strove to follow the Lord in not showing respect of persons. Bobby was interested in dealing with principles, not personalities. It did not matter if a person was very influential or not, wealthy or poor, he tried to treat everyone fairly, dealing with the principles involved. We can all learn from that lesson. Second, Bobby tried to be consistent. As he dealt with issues and people, I learned the importance of consistency. I would witness many times someone of a radical mind set" challenging something Bobby wrote or published in Words of Truth. I would observe how Bobby would deal with the criticism and point out the inconsistency of the position of his critic. He would be kind but firm in his efforts to be consistent. Third, Bobby tried to be Biblical. During the Restoration Movement the plea was "In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion, liberty; in all things, love." This Biblical principle meant something to Bobby. When it came to a "thus saith the Lord," he stood foursquare. Nevertheless, I have seen him disagree over matters of opinion, but would not allow that to cause disruption in the church. He was mature enough and man enough that he did not have to have his way all the time. He loved the unity of the church over his own will. That to me is the mark of a great man. It is a lesson we can all learn from. Fourth, Bobby tried to be patient with people, especially with young preachers. He was always available if you wanted to talk. His example was one worthy of imitation. He has been helpful to many preachers, but more so, I believe, to young men who are just starting out. All those preachers who have worked with Bobby know what I am talking about. He was a friend and example to young preachers. I could not think of anyone I would have rather worked with as a young preacher than Bobby. Fifth, Bobby loved his family. Working with him one could see the love he had for his wife and children. His work was important, but so was his family. Preachers can learn from Bobby in this matter.
Bobby Duncan was a great man of God. He was balanced in his preaching and in his life. I count it a rare privilege being able to work with such a man, especially as a young and green beginning preacher. The memories I have of Bobby and the lessons I learned from him will be with me for the rest of my life. I thank God for the opportunity to work with Bobby Duncan and to know him in a very personal way. Only those who worked with Bobby can truly understand the greatness of his service for the cause of Christ. I count myself as one of the fortunate ones because, for a period of time, I was able to work with Bobby Duncan, a great co-worker.
—Russ Crosswhite Fulton Church of Christ P.O. Box 251 Fulton, MS 38843
It was my privilege to have worked with Bob Duncan at the Adamsville congregation for about one month under ten years, from 1985 to 1995. Of those years, I have many fond memories both of the congregation at Adamsville and the man Bob Duncan. I say that Bob was astounding in many, many ways. Perhaps preachers who read this will attest to the truth of the statement that a preacher must be very good at a number of things to be a good preacher. That is what Bob was—a man good at a number of things that go together to make a good preacher.
Bob had a great memory. He knew people by face and name, from far and wide. This was due in large part to his being called upon to answer a difficult problem some preacher or elder had, or from a meeting he had held, or some such development of acquaintance. Bob remembered very specific things about what brethren taught or preached and when and where they stated or wrote their position. He also remembered exceedingly well the Bible, and books he had imbibed about the Bible. This memory proved especially helpful in lessons and in writing articles or preaching sermons to address and answer false doctrines. I appreciate many times when we would sit together and talk about some doctrine, and he would share an experience, or produce from a file some printed matter touching the issue. Then we would discuss passages and arguments about the Bible truth with reference to the matter. His excellent memory which he utilized to the fullest in his ministry made him uncommonly effective as a preacher and writer. Further, his memory was greatly illustrated in his quoting verbatim from the KJV chapter after chapter from the Bible in sermons, such as all of Acts 2 in some sermons, perhaps Acts 8, or 10, and numbers of other such passages. In one sermon at Adamsville, Bob quoted the genealogy of Matthew 1. In his lesson he emphasized from it that all Scripture is important, that all people are important, and several other points. In another sermon he quoted the book of Jude. One who memorizes the genealogy of Christ and the book of Jude loves the Bible! If you don't believe it, read them again.
Bob was a strong man. By this I mean not only that he was energetic and active physically, but he was strong of character, bearing, presentation, and will. He had tremendous courage. He knew what he believed and went to the very heart of the issue and stuck with it to drive home his point. His strength and courage was based on the Bible which he loved, studied thoroughly, vigorously defended, and meditated upon daily. Bob showed his courage in editing this magazine VIGIL, which he began May 14, 1973. When we say Bob Duncan was courageous, we do not mean he was foolhardy. In his VIGIL articles, and indeed the articles contributed to it which he edited, Bob was very careful to print only the truth about people who held false positions, and that which could be documented. There was adequate material presenting false teachings to discuss them without fabricating material (a lesson many writers should learn today). Our work was as much documentation as discussion. It is half the work! He realized how truth can suffer when false charges are made. Therefore half-truths, innuendo, hearsay, etc., were not discussed in VIGIL. He stated clearly what people actually believed and then dealt with it powerfully showing the fallacies of falsehood from God's Word. Hence the power of the magazine you are reading. Bob's articles were powerful, biblical, and logical, just as were his sermons. It is uncommon for a good speaker to be a good writer, but Bob was both.
Again, with respect to his courage. I saw Bob stand before a Jefferson county board and tell why a liquor license should not be issued, even with the cafe's owners present. It was powerful. I watched Bob's courage when he and Don McWhorter debated doctors of religion on television about baptism and truth triumphed. If Bob ever experienced nervousness before a pulpit presentation, he did not show it. Sitting at his desk in my presence, he frequently discussed the Bible on the phone with the greatest minds in our brotherhood with courage, ability, and conviction. And they called him as often as he called them. He met brethren with whom he disagreed, and would not back down. Make no mistake, he was gentlemanly in such encounters, but the main issue was to drive home the Bible, and to abide by its principles. I would like to share one further note of a personal nature on his courage. I remember one time when we were coming back from the hospital through a rough part of town. For some reason, a driver became irritated at us and honked at us, trying to intimidate us. Bob was driving and didn't respond to the man, but told me, "I wonder what he would do ifhe knew both of us weighed over 200 pounds?" When Bob said that, it made me wonder myself what the man would have done.
Bob Duncan has preached some of the finest sermons I have ever heard in all my life. One sermon titled, "The States Of Man" was an absolute masterpiece. Indeed, all his meeting sermons were almost awe-inspiring. Practically every congregation who ever had Bob for a meeting asked him back. The lessons were tremendously biblical and deep, but at the same time clear, concise, logical, and forceful. Their construction was superb, and their truth undeniable. He used illustrations sparingly and when they appeared they fit perfectly. He had good grammar, a strong voice, and an enthusiastic delivery. Words flowed smoothly and the path from the mind to the tongue was uninterrupted. His regular sermons were likewise of high quality. If called upon to speak regarding a particular matter at a given place, one could rest assured Bob would deliver what seemed to be the best sermon one had ever heard on that subject. His philosophy in preaching was to make his lessons peculiar to the Lord's church. He said preaching should be distinctive "in doctrine." We might say he thought people ought to know one's religion after he finished a sermon even if they hadn't known before he started the lesson.
In visitation and personal work, Bob excelled. He visited hospitals all over Birmingham and beyond regularly. If the illness were sudden, Bob visited with no regard for the time of day or night. In personal work, he studied with a great number of people in their homes, in his office, and over the phone. Many were led to obey the Gospel as a result of his personal work efforts.
Perhaps more should be said with reference to Bob's love for the truth and his love for the Bible. He has an intense and immense love for all that had to do with the Bible, preaching, and doing the work of an evangelist. He had a vast library which he hungrily studied. Often, I have seen him bounce out of his office tickled that at last he had completed a manuscript for a lecture book, or Spiritual Sword, or some other important effort. He would invite me -to read it, which I would gladly do. He loved both the challenge and the actual participation in such important work. He loved to attend the Freed-Hardeman Lectures, area meetings, and singings. This was his life.
Bob loved to sing. He and I on a number of occasions were involved in both the speaking and the singing at the same funeral. Sometimes I would have the obituary and remarks, and he the main sermon, and interspersed, we would sing with two others in a quartet. Often we would sing with Bob's brother and nephew: Clifford and Eddie Smith in Bob's office when they would drop by. Bob sang whenever and wherever opportunity arose, being both a good song leader and a good quartet singer. His family all likewise love,d to sing, and were good singers.
Bob Duncan and I were personal friends. I know we loved each other, for we told each other that and tried to show it. I learned a great number of things from Bob. I feel sure I will always keep an empty spot because of his passing. Bob and I did not speak every day, or every week since I left Adamsville for other work" but it was good to know that he was there, for reference. Just as one might reach to get his favorite reference book when the need arose, so it was good to have Bob available for reference. But who could think of losing that important reference? What a loss! But more than a reference, it is difficult to lose a close friend. So much more could be said, but perhaps the words of the poem by Carl Bates best describes Robert B. Duncan:
The Bible Man
He stands behind the sacred desk
A book held in his hand;
And as he speaks, his brethren know
He is a Bible man.
Upon the Scriptures, right, and truth,
He ever takes his stand.
To make the Gospel clear and plain...
He is a Bible man.
He loves the grand old Book divine,
He loves to preach the plan;
He loves· the lost its message saves...
He is a Bible man.
Let skeptics doubt, and heathen rage,
And build their hopes on sand.
He loves and lives and teaches God's Book
He is a Bible man.
When worlds shall end, and stars shall fall,
And at the throne we stand,
How sweet to hear the King's command:
"Come home, you Bible man."
Life, Death And Hope
On my dresser, there's a copy of The Spiritual Sword, opened to an article written by Bobby Duncan. Ironically, I began reading from Bobby last Friday night only to learn that he died early the next day.
Bobby was a friend to many, a confidant and counselor to young preachers, a diligent student of God's word, an exceptional author and a great gospel preacher. One third of the hundreds present for his funeral were preachers, paying respect to a good man's scholarship and to his sweet spirit.
Reflecting on Bobby's life and death, four things come to mind.
1. Life is fragile. I remember Bobby calling years ago. He was battling a disease of his own at the time, but he still made a long distance phone call to inquire of my father's cancer surgery. When he learned of the surgery's success, he wept. Of recent, Bobby had been valiantly fighting another form of the disease he conquered years ago. This time, it was too formidable of a foe. Indeed, "Man...cometh forth like a flower and is cut down" (Job 14:12).
2. Death is sure. Too often, the phone rings with the news of a dear one's passing. I'm tired of it. It hurts. But, nothing can be done about it. You see, "our days upon the earth are a shadow" (Job 8:9).
3. Grief is difficult. I took the trash out after returning from Bobby's funeral. I thought of Lois, his widow. She'll have to attend to chores like that by herself, new. Death gives birth to tears, doesn't it (John 20:11)? Maybe that's why it is "the king of terrors" (Job 18:14).
4. Hope is the cure. I wish you could have sat with me at the funeral. Congregational singing blended into a symphony of joy. There was a celebration of life, supported by an obedient faith in Jesus and the hope of a beautiful home in heaven. You see, hope helps us cope (I Thess. 4:13).
Life is fragile; death is sure. Grief is difficult; hope's the cure.
"Thanks" be unto our God!
Directions To The Grave Of Robert B. Duncan
Bobby Duncan was laid to rest in the Adamsville, Alabama in the Crestview Memorial Gardens. From Birmingham, take I-20 to the Arkadelphia Exit, Hwy. 78 (This is the I-22 Corridor) and head toward Jasper. Just north of Birmingham is the community of Adamsville. The church of Christ at Adamsville is located on the highway. Go a few miles north of Adamsville and the Crestview Funeral Home and Cemetery is on the right. Head into the cemetery to the right of the funeral home. Go up the hill until it dead end. Turn left and make your way around the section which is on your right. Head to the far side of the section from where you entered, and begin looking to the right for a sidewalk head toward a statute of Jesus. Go to the second granite seat on the right. On the seat will be the words, "Bobby Duncan: A Servant Of God." Just in from this seat is the grave of R.B. Duncan.
Crestview Memorial Gardens And Funeral Home
Bobby Duncan - A Servant Of God
In Loving Memory - Lois Duncan - (Script On Bench In Distance)
Robert B. 1934-1999
Lois E. (1936- )