Lessons From Life Verses - Dr. Thomas F. Duff - Acts 20:24

Today I am continuing the series, “Lessons from Life Verses.”

I am speaking today from the life verse of my pastor, Dr. Thomas Duff.

  •  He was my pastor from the time I was a year old until I went to Bible college at the age of 17.
  • He is the man who ordained me to the ministry.
  • He, along with Dr. Joe Boyd, were the two greatest influences over me and my ministry other than my father, Carl Brandenburg.

Here is a brief outline of his life story:

Dr. Thomas F. Duff

Pastor, Troy Baptist Temple from 1954 - 1987

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Pastor Duff, as he preferred to be called, was a faithful soldier of the Cross. He was saved following his service as an electrician in the Navy in WWII. He was stationed aboard a destroyer attached to the USS Enterprise. He, along with the carrier group left Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on November 28, 1941. The Enterprise was still at sea when Pearl Harbor was attacked on the morning of December 7. The Enterprise returned to Pearl Harbor on the evening of December 7 to refuel and returned to the fight. Pastor Duff would often talk about the Grace of God that was shown to him, sparing his life from the attack. 2,403 people lost their lives that day at Pearl Harbor, 2,008 Navy personnel, 109 Marines, 218 Army, and 68 civilians, 1,177 were from the USS Arizona. Had he been in port that day, he likely could have lost his life. God spared him, so that he might save him. After his discharge from the Navy, Pastor Duff moved back to Middletown, Ohio. He found work at a steel plant as an electrician. An industrial accident claimed the life of a co-worker and injured Pastor Duff severely. While in the hospital recovering from his injuries he was led to Christ by Dr. Howard Sears, Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Middletown.

Brother Duff became an active member of the church and soon surrendered to preach the Gospel. He, along with his wife, Lillian, moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee to attend the Temple School of the Bible (part of Tennessee Temple College) to be trained for the ministry. While in school he was greatly influenced by Dr. Mark Cambron. He also was pastor of one of the “chapels” connected to Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga. In October of 1954 Pastor Duff accepted the call to become the senior pastor of the Troy Baptist Temple, in Troy, Ohio. That began a 33 year ministry at Troy Baptist Temple. In addition to the ministry as pastor, Brother Duff began a radio ministry in 1957 and a Television ministry in 1972. Both continued until shortly after he retired in 1987. During his ministry the Troy Baptist Temple became a great lighthouse for the Gospel in the southern Ohio area. The church grew, with attendances reaching an all-time high of 998, a weekly average of 665 and the bus ministry reached 300 children weekly in 1973. During his ministry the auditorium was enlarged to seat 1,000, a bus garage and youth center with kitchen were built, the parking lot expanded, and many ministries were started.

Pastor Duff was known as a Bible preacher and teacher. His messages on prophecy and the second coming of Christ caused several generations of church members to continually pray, “Even so come, Lord Jesus!.” His clear, systematic teaching of the Bible helped the people of the Troy Baptist Temple become mature, grounded, and faithful Christians who knew what they believed and why. He retired from the pastorate on July 12, 1987 and continued preaching in conferences and revivals until his home-going on April 20, 1993.

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His verse life verse, as he signed it in my Bible was:

Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

I. Unmovable

Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me,...

That was a great theme of Paul’s life!

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Paul was a man who did not allow circumstances to change him! He was going to remain true to the call of God no matter what else was going on in his life!

Application to Pastor Thomas F. Duff:

Brother Duff was a man who was unmovable!

  • He was a man of convictions!
  • His nickname among other pastors was “Bulldog!”
  • He taught us to have BIBLE convictions.
         He was the one who taught me: “Chapter and verse, son”

He was known for preaching on Soulwinning and the Second Coming.

  • I heard him preach his last sermon at the Vandalia Baptist Temple in Vandalia, Ohio on April 18, 1993.
  • He went to Heaven on April 20, 1993

His last sermon? Was on Soulwinning and the Second Coming.

He was a man of great consistency.

He was still preaching the same themes.

He was still:

  •  KJV
  • Baptist
  • A man of Bible convictions

Thank God for the influence of this great man!

II. Unselfish

Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Adam Clarke worded it this way:

"Neither count I my life dear] I am not my own; my life and being are the Lord's; he requires me to employ them in his service; I act under his direction, and am not anxious about the issue."

What the verse is telling us is that our life is not our own, we are bought with a price!

Paul, even in the midst of difficulty and facing great persecution, KNEW his life was God’s to do with as it pleased Him!

Brother Duff taught us by his example to life a life for others! He was constantly giving of him self, "spending and being spent" for others!

The Christian Life never has been about us!

Brother Lester Roloff said, “I have discovered that what happens to me in my life, is none of my business!”

III. Undeterred

Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

In the face of uncertainty, Paul was determined to FINISH!! He told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5-7 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

He did not quit or stop what he was doing for God because of circumstances. He was determined to finish! He wanted to hear, “Well done. Thou good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of thy Lord.”

Application to Brother Duff:

  • I saw him go through cancer
  • I saw him when he became a diabetic
  • I saw him when his own convert, and fellow ministry leader turn on him and split the church (the Troy Baptist Temple)
  • I saw him when that leader took the bus captains of two bus routes along with over 100 people he could influence leave and start another church in the next town over.
  • I saw, even in the middle of all of that, Brother Duff continue on and FINISHED the ministry God had for him!
    • 33 years, pastor of Troy Baptist Temple
    • He left behind a legacy of consistency and faithfulness
    •  The church today is STILL an Independent, Fundamental, Soulwinning, Separated Baptist Church!

His Life Verse says:

Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.


IV. Undeserved

Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul was saying that he had a ministry, but he did not deserve it! He knew that it was only by the Grace of God he was what he was. He said in 1 Timothy 1:11-16:

1 Timothy 1:11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 
15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

Paul had a ministry BECAUSE of the Grace of God.

  • He did not deserve it.
  • He had not earned it.
  • It was all of God’s Grace!

Application to Pastor Duff:

  •  Pastor Tom Duff had a ministry!
  • He was a “God Called Preacher!”

He was much more than a Preacher.

  • He was a Pastor
  • He loved his people
  • He MINISTERED to his people!

Brother Duff invited young, teen-aged, “preacher boys” to his house on Saturday afternoons to teach us about the ministry. (Thank God I was one of those! My life was forever altered because of his influence.)

  • We would sit in his living room as he taught us practical things of the ministry and also Bible truths.
  • It was there that he taught us to have “a chapter and verse” for everything that we believed.

I doubt many of the church members knew he was doing that. He was just pouring his life into the young men God had put in his ministry!

Paul challenged Timothy to “make full proof” of his ministry.

2 Timothy 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

“make full proof of thy ministry” = means to full fill every area of the ministry that God has given you. It literally means to “leave nothing undone!”

Acts 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,

Paul challenged Timothy to “make full proof” of his ministry. What he was saying was, “Do everything you can, with every opportunity you have for God!”

Ministry Lesson

  •    Are you making “full proof of thy ministry?
  •    How are you doing with the ministry that God has given you?
  •    Are you fulfilling it?
  •    Have you left anything undone?

V. Unashamed

Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

It is ALL about the Gospel!

Romans 1:15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.


Brother Duff taught us to be focused on the Gospel!

  • It was at the Troy Baptist Temple that I learned to be a soulwinner!
  • It was at the Troy Baptist Temple that I learned to focus everything in the ministry on reaching people with the Gospel!

Ministry Lesson

  • What are you doing for the sake of the Gospel?
  • When was the last time YOU gave out the Gospel?
  • When was the last time YOU told someone about the Saviour?


Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

From Brother Duff’s Life Verse I learned I am to be:

  1. Unmovable
  2. Unselfish
  3. Undeterred
  4. Undeserved
  5. Unashamed


Everyone in church today will receive:

  1. A reprint of Dr. Duff’s helpful booklet, “Will a Saved Person Ever Be Lost?” This booklet was taken from a message he preached at the Troy Baptist Temple in 1966
  2. An audio CD of Dr. Duff’s Message, “Are You God’s Servant?” In this message you get a feel for the humble leadership and Biblical ministry.

NOTE: Please contact us if you would like to receive copies of this helpful resources. 

Why Have A Life Verse?

In July of this year, I preached a message titled, "He Did It By the Book!" and showed from the Scriptures that EVERYTHING about the life of the Lord Jesus Christ during His incarnation and ministry here on earth was governed by the Word of God. Jesus, truly, lived a life, "By the Book!"

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I challenged our people to live the same kind of life. The next Sunday I preached a sermon with the title, “Why Have a Life Verse?” The message, as well as the series that follows it, are based upon the following verse:

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

In this great passage we see a convicting commandment. We are told to “Be Ready Always to Give an Answer!” In that first message, we saw several things that will put a focus on our Christian Life.

I. Give an Answer

  1. Give an Answer
    hat means we need to KNOW what we believe and WHY we believe it!
  2. To Every Man
    To whom should we give an answer? The verse says, “...to EVERY Man that asketh you…”
  3. Of the Reason of the Hope that is in You
    The thought is that you should KNOW WHY you have hope in Christ

You ought to BE ABLE TO ARTICULATE that reason!

Your Life Verse should be THE Answer!

II. Be Ready

If you are going to give an answer to every man...You must BE READY! This implies PLANNING and PREPARATION!

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

  1. Studying makes you APPROVED unto God
  2. Studying keeps you from BEING ASHAMED
  3. Helps you to RIGHTLY DIVIDE the Word of Truth

III. But Sanctify

This means that we must esteem God as Holy! The reasons we should have a life verse:

  1. To Give an Answer
  2. To Be Ready to Give an Answer
  3. BECAUSE we serve a Holy and Righteous God!

Key Thought:

"Our life verse should express WHO God is in our life AND what we are trying to do FOR Him!"

Get a Verse!

What verse expressed that in YOUR life?

In the messages that will follow in this series we will look at the Life Verses of the pastors and preachers that influenced me and how those verse were exemplified in their lives.

"Get a Verse...
Let the verse get YOU!"



Strong Winds, Power Outages, and Candle Light Preaching

On Wednesday afternoon, a very powerful wind storm passed through our area. Wind speeds of up to 70 miles per hour were recorded all over the region. These storms caused a tremendous amount of damage as houses had shingles and siding torn off, semi-trucks were blown off the road, power lines were destroyed as trees were knocked down We even lost a pine tree on the church property near the house. (Thank you to Fred Samuels for cutting it up! Now we need help getting it into the dumpster.) DTE reported that this was the largest weather related event in their history.

During our church service on Wednesday night we lost power shortly after I began preaching. We finished the service with a LED lantern on the pulpit so that I could read the Scriptures, my notes are on my iPad, so it proved the light needed to read my notes. It was a great service. The children also lost power and lights during Master Clubs. It was kind of amazing to see all of the cellphone screens light up as people tried to light up their Bibles. Some of the kids in Master Clubs said, “This is the greatest church service EVER!”

 Like so many people in our area, our family spend several days without electrical power. We lost power at noon on Wednesday and did not have it turned back on until 10:30 Friday night. Some have not yet had their power restored We “coped” with the situation by setting up a gas generator to power a mini-fridge, space heater and a “charging stand” to power up our electronic devices (phones, tablets, etc.)

All of these things reminded me of my time in Wipim, Western Province, PNG. That area has no electrical power, very primitive “roads” and not much in the way of stores or civilization. When I was in PNG with Missionary Jason Russell we had to go to extraordinary lengths to communicate with the outside world. A couple of times a week we would drag his generator to the former government house to power up the satellite dish and modem to connect to the internet to send emails. Because there was no electrical power, there were no lights. Our entire day was determined by the rising and setting of the sun. We would teach in the Bible School until it got dark, and then we would go back to Brother Jason’s house and start over the next day. One night, after teaching for several hours, we heard a knocking on the gate. We went out to check on the noise and found many of the students from the Bible school standing at the gate. They asked if I would leach them more from the Bible. We sat in the living room and studied the Bible by candlelight for three hours.

As I considered these things several observations became obvious to me:

  1. We are too reliant and distracted by technology. We have gotten so tied into “apps” and social media that we have forgotten how to have personal relationships.
  2. God can turn our world “upside down” with just a simple storm.
  3. Our priorities change when “survival” is at stake. Things that seemed important, no longer are, when just staying warm and getting or preserving food is the biggest task of the day.
  4. We have gotten so enamored with programs and events that we have forgotten the simplicity of just singing hymns, reading scripture and preaching.

When contemplating the events of this past week and remembering my time with Jason Russell I was reminded of lessons learned in PNG

  1. Determine to savor every moment with those that you love.
  2. Keep your priorities based on “necessities” and not “wants.”
  3. Do not allow anything distract you from the simplicity that is in Christ.
  4. Serve the Lord while you can!

Your Care of Me

Philippians 4:10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

During the last few weeks I have been reminded of the verse listed above because of the wonderful people of Crosspointe Baptist Church. During the recent weeks our family has had to face many challenges ranging from Rhonda’s hospital stays and the following follow-up doctor’s appointments, my own physical challenge with my asthma attack and the recovery and then the unexpected homegoing of Rhonda’s sister, Martha Jo Newman, and the quick trip to Florida. I realize that everyone faces challenges and we are not unique in this regard, yet I have been greatly comforted and encouraged by the way that you have cared for our family.

During the last few weeks you have demonstrated your love for us and your love for God in so many ways. Thank you for:

  1. Prayer During Rhonda's sickness and recovery. It is a real comfort when dealing with the complex recovery that there is a group of people praying for God to bring healing.
  2. Concern   Hardly a day goes by that we do not hear from one of you asking how she is doing. It is encouraging to know that people do care.
  3.  Prayer & Encouragement in the loss of Rhonda’s sister.
  4. Generous Love Gift to help with the car repair and the trip. This was totally unexpected, but is a tremendous blessing.
  5. Work Day  We had scheduled a workday on Saturday, February 25 to clean-up the property in preparation for the walk through by the banker in preparation of the building refinance. I am amazed and overwhelmed by the tremendous level of participation for this important day. Many of you came and worked very hard. The building looks great!
  6. Preaching   I am very thankful for the men who preached in the services while I was sick and while we were out of town. It is a joy to know we have mature Christian men who can step in and open the Word of God to deliver truth to our people.
  7. Participation   During the last few weeks we have seen very good attendances, many visitors, and great offerings (general fund, missions, building refinance, and Phase One). I believe God has given us some momentum to move forward in a great way. It takes all of us working together to accomplish all that the Lord has for our church to do. We are seeing a great number of our members stepping up and being involved. YOU do make a difference!

Again, let me say, “Thank you” for your great display of love and care for us. Thank you for your commitment to Christ and to Crosspointe Baptist Church.  I truly “rejoice in the Lord greatly” for you all!


Thou Knowest Not

Proverbs 27:1 Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Because of the events in my life and that of my family in the last two weeks this verse has been on my mind all week. I am, for the most part, a creature of habit. I tend to do the same things on the same day every week. I like to plan and do things by schedule. Most of us are the same way and have things that we plan to do. This last week was one that was all planned out. We had a Couple’s Banquet last Saturday. I had a plan for getting my part of the banquet ready, doing the programs, purchasing the food for the meal, getting prizes for the games, getting decorations, etc…and then Thursday happened! While trying to set up some things here at the church on Thursday, I had a major asthma attack and spent the next three days struggling to breathe. Things that were planned, and important, no longer were going to be a part of my schedule. (Praise the Lord for those who stepped in to help!) Attending the banquet was a major accomplishment for both me and Rhonda due to the health issues that we were, and still are, facing.

Ron & Nick with Pastor Brandenburg

Ron & Nick with Pastor Brandenburg

Sunday was another “interesting” day. I knew I was not strong enough to speak during both Sunday school and morning church, so I asked Brother Leaf to teach the class. I planned to speak in the morning service and see how that would go before deciding what to do for Sunday night. I felt the help of the Lord as we conducted the service. The music was excellent, the spirit of the people was amazing, and the group was larger than we have seen in a while. God was very good to me and gave me strength and my lungs began to clear about halfway through the morning message. During the invitation we saw Ron Hawthorn join the church and Nick trusted Christ as his Saviour! Sunday night was another service that was touched by God. We felt His presence and saw our grandson, Caleb, come forward in the invitation. He said to me, “Papa, I need to get saved!” And he did! Wow, What a day!

Pastor Brandenburg and Caleb

Pastor Brandenburg and Caleb

I was able to get a good night sleep on Sunday night and then left early on Monday morning to go spend the day with my Dad. Monday, February 20, would have been Mom’s 84th birthday. The trip went very smoothly and Dad and I enjoyed a great day together. We went to the cemetery to visit Mom’s resting place and even sang, “Happy Birthday” to her! While visiting with Dad I received a call from Rhonda informing me that her sister, Martha Jo Newman, had passed away that morning. While she has been struggling with her health for a while, this was very unexpected. Now the carefully crafted schedule was again tossed out the window as we began to plan a quick trip to Jacksonville, Florida for the funeral. As we prepared to go it became obvious that our car was going to have to be worked on to repair an issue with the exhaust. This was done on Wednesday morning and then we got on the road to go to Florida. We were able to make pretty good time and made it to Troy Baptist Temple in Troy, Ohio just in time for the Midweek service. What a joy to be in the church where I was raised, surrendered to preach, and began learning the ministry. The church is still a very strong, Soulwinning, missions-minded, independent Baptist church! We continued our trek to Florida and finally arrived on Thursday evening a little after midnight. The service on Friday was a real blessing and we were able to spend time with family as we grieved together over the loss of Rhonda’s sister.

During this week I believe the Lord has taught some personal lessons to me…

  • Your health can change in a moment
  • Life is brief and fragile.
  • Your opportunities for serving God are fleeting.

 None of us know how long we will live, or how long we will be able to serve the Lord. Don’t waste a single day, for “thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”