7 Things You May Not Know about Your Preacher

There is something about the world of preaching that is hard to describe unless you are in that world. People often have ideas about preachers that are based on his public persona, and build this idea that he is some type of super-Christian.

Because of that perception, people often think of the preacher as standoffish or cold. To some, he is almost like a robot and they do not see what happens when he is not in the pulpit or in front of a classroom. To others, they figure he just can’t be “that good,” and assume he must be hypocritical.

Today, I would like to share 7 things you may not know about your preacher. Maybe seeing this list will help you appreciate him and know how to pray for him.

He Has Prayed for You. He may not express it, but he has prayed for you. He may seem almost unfeeling when you talk to him, but your name has gone before the throne of God in his prayers because he loves you.

In His Mind, He Has Never Preached an “A+” Sermon. Nearly without exception, a preacher is his own harshest critic. There is always the illustration he should have used, the word he mispronounced, the passage he misquoted, and so on. It is not that he thinks he is failing to preach the truth, but each time you may think he hit a home run, he has already started finding what needs to be improved upon.

He Struggles to Balance His Time. “He never visits.” Or “He’s never in his office.” Trust me, he thinks about that! Every day, he knows a sermon or class that needs to be studied or further developed. And every day, he knows that shut-in or widow that needs to be visited again. And every day, he struggles with how much of each to strive for.

He Has Wept When No One Responded. It is not that he cries because he thinks the sermon was amazing or that he wants to boast about “the numbers.” It is because he has given his all in the study and delivery, only to see people get out their keys and be ready to leave before he is even finished, all the while knowing that there is someone who needs to come to the Lord.

He Knows Jeremiah 20:9 Very Well. I have told people that I think about quitting every Sunday night. Of course, I am kidding, but true ministry is draining, and there are days when you are not sure you can do it much longer. But that fire really is deep in the bones, and the prospect of being honored to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ again is too much to resist. It just has to be let out!

He Wonders Which Phone Call Will Change His Life. Think about it: every time his phone rings, it could be someone who has lost a loved one, who has had a spouse up and leave, or an elder telling him that there is some grumbling about his work. On the other side, each phone call could be the news that a new baby has been born, a young couple has decided to get married and wants him to help, or a prospect has decided to put Christ on in baptism. Each time the phone rings, it could literally change his life for the next few hours, or even days at a time.

He Cannot “Shut It Off.” True ministry consumes his life. Even when he finally takes that much-needed vacation with his family, his mind is regularly thinking about the sermon he will preach next Sunday or the visits he needs to make as soon as he returns. He is wondering if he should step away for a few moments to call and check on someone.

Each time I write a post like this, some take it as a type of “cry for help,” because something is wrong and I’m trying to subtly talk about something through an online article. That is not my intention at all! I love ministry and I love preaching!

But I do want people to understand the mindset of a preacher. The fact of the matter is, whether he is good at expressing it or not, he loves the Lord, he loves his work, and he loves you. But he also wants you to know that he isn’t a super-Christian; almost some type of folk hero.

He just is a man striving to do his best and his heart’s desire is for all others to do just that, too.

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching….do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:2, 5b)


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Photo background credit: Jake Guild on Creative Commons

Is Our Passion Properly Balanced?

The Bible tells of a woman of Shunem who had no children. She was a notable woman and she and her husband cared for Elisha as God’s prophet. They made him a room and provided for his physical needs whenever he came to town. Because of her hospitality, Elisha sent his servant Gehazi to the woman to ask her what he could do in return.

It seemed unthinkable but in her heart, all she wanted was a son. And so the child was promised and the child was born. The woman had been granted her greatest wish. But as the child grew there was an episode one day while the boy was in the field and he died. The woman was devastated! She could not understand why God would grant her a son and then allow him to be taken away.

She immediately got on a donkey and went to find Elisha. The text says, “Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet…” (2 Kings 4:27). She fell at his feet. She was in distress. She was rock bottom. She was crying out to God and to His prophet desiring resolution, healing, and deliverance from her pain and grief.

We have all been there. We have all found ourselves so heavily burdened that all we can do is fall down and weep at the foot of God’s throne and beg for His mercy and grace to deliver us. We are associated with her pain to some degree.

There is good news. If you read the rest of the account you will find that Elisha raised the boy from the dead. The same God who gives life can also restore life. He is not bound by physical laws, for He created them. God alone has the power over the grave and this was demonstrated once and for all through Christ’s victory over the cross.

When we come to the feet of God we can expect that He will deliver us from so great a death. We may not be removed from its sting here on earth but all things will eventually work together for good for those who love the Lord (Rom. 8:28). This hope we have is an anchor to the soul.

But there is something more to be learned from the woman of Shunem. If you read closely to the end of the chapter, you will see why she was called a notable woman. After her son was raised, as the woman entered the room where Elisha was with her resurrected son, it says, “So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out” (2 Kings 4:38). She fell at Elisha’s feet again! But this time she fell for a different purpose. It was not because she was grieving! It was because she was thankful! Her passion for God was balanced between her askings and her receivings.

Are we as passionate about giving thanks to God for the blessings He has bestowed as we are about the requests we make before His throne? Are we as humbled by His provisions as we are our problems? Are we as heartfelt about our gifts as we are our grief?

God is good to us. His mercy is new every morning. His faithfulness is great. It will never be a bad idea to stop and count our blessings.

Our passion for God must be balanced. Our worship should be as heartfelt as our weariness. Our prayers of appreciation should be as intense as our prayers for attention.

“And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.’ Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” – Ezra 3:11


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

Did You?

Many more times than I would like to remember, I’ve heard the following (or something like the following):

  • “Only one or two people have visited me since I’ve been in the hospital.”
  • “I haven’t been attending regularly for quite some time, but nobody has checked on me.”
  • “I (or one of my family members) is unable to get out of the house much, but nobody has visited, called, written a note, or communicated in any way.”
  • “A relative (or friend) very close to me passed away. I was very disappointed by the small number from our congregation at the visitation and funeral service. I am also disappointed and hurt because nobody has checked on me since then.”
  • “I see people talking to one another before and/or after worship services, but nobody makes any effort to talk to me.”
  • “My friend/relative visited here recently and only one or two people even spoke. Nobody made an effort to make him/her feel welcome.”
  • “I (or a family member) had surgery recently. I understand that the waiting room is full of people from here when some people go through this, but only a couple of people were there for and my family.”

Maybe you’ve made some of those statements. If so, may I ask some questions?

  • When somebody you knew was in the hospital, did you visit?
  • When somebody else became sporadic in their attendance, did you check on him/her?
  • When a loved one of a member of the congregation passed away, did you go to the visitation, attend the funeral service, send a card, or do anything to demonstrate concern and support?
  • Every congregation seems to have people often referred to as “shut-ins.” Did you ever contact one of them in any way?
  • Before or after a worship service, did you ever make an attempt to engage anybody else in conversation?
  • When somebody decided to visit one of our Bible classes and/or worship assemblies, did you make any effort to greet them and get to know them?
  • When a brother or sister in the Lord (or a friend) had surgery, did you take the time to sit with the family, visit, or do anything to let them know you cared?

I suppose I could go on, but I’ve probably written more than enough already. Besides, as is always the case, our Lord said it much better than I ever could and didn’t take nearly as many words to do so:

Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,

do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matt. 7:12).


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Which Direction Am I Headed?

Life has its way of teaching us some important lessons if we will just take note of what goes on around us. In the last few days, I have heard some words come from the mouths of some women around me that have made me begin to think about my own life and its direction.

The first woman was responding to a greeting I gave her. When I asked how she was doing, she responded with “I’m hanging in there…hanging by a thread.” The surroundings didn’t really give me the opportunity to find out exactly what she meant by that, but it caused me to wonder about what was going on in her life.

The second woman was someone I didn’t know. She was walking in our neighborhood while we were enjoying a cup of coffee with our next-door neighbor who did know the woman. After introducing us to her, she asked her if she was helping with Vacation Bible School since she attends where her daughter goes to church. Her answer went something like this, “No, I don’t do much anymore. I go and sit in my pew and that’s about it.”

The third woman was teaching our Tuesday afternoon Ladies’ Bible Class. She is the mother of one of our members and is staying with her daughter and son-in-law for a few weeks. She is a walking wealth of information about the Bible. When she was asked if she would teach in our rotation while she was here, she readily agreed. Her knowledge of God’s word comes from years of study and teaching others about the Bible. 

One woman was younger than I am (and I’m 68). One woman was about my age. One woman was several years older than I am.

The responses of these three women caused me to think about my own life and ask myself some questions.

  • Am I merely hanging by a thread in life?  I’m not making a statement about the depth of faith of the woman who made this statement, but it made me consider the depth of my own faith. Is it rooted and grounded in God’s Word so that when things aren’t going all that well I still will be holding firmly to God and His Word? Paul told the Philippians to, “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, holding fast to the word of life…” (Phil. 2:14-16).
  • Am I committed and engaged and active as a member of the church or do I merely warm a pew?  I am fully aware that you cannot be involved in everything that goes on in an active congregation, but do I merely show up on Sunday morning and warm the pew? I know there are some who do well to make it to services because of age and health, but even that is an encouragement to others if that is all they can do. I need to ask myself if I am actively serving God and others. Do I have the servant heart that Jesus displayed when he washed the dirty feet of the apostles? (John 13)
  • Do I use my age as an excuse to stop serving God?  I get more tired now than I used to. There was a time when I could go all day, cook supper, and then attend a gospel meeting in our area. I have slowed down a little, but does that give me the option of quitting altogether? Whatever my God-given talent happens to be, I need to continue using it as long as I am able. I may change the way I do something, but I haven’t found a teaching in the Bible that tells me to stop serving. I want to be like that sister her taught us so well in class. She shared her knowledge of the Bible and her experience in life to help us understand God and His word even better.

Which direction are you headed????

“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread” (Psalm 37:25).


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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

Is the Line “Teen Vogue” Crossed Enough to Wake Parents Up?

In case you missed it, “Teen Vogue” released an article in recent days that many parents found shocking. [Warning: If your kids are around, you might not want them to read any further!]

The article’s main title is “Anal Sex: What You Need to Know.”

Remember, this was in “Teen Vogue.” Target age? 12-18. Meaning? They are teaching children to do things that are not only immoral but, in many cases, illegal.

Not to mention, depraved.

The article, subtitled, “How to Do It the RIGHT Way” (all caps in original), teaches your teenagers that this is a perfectly normal way to explore sex, and that they just need to know what to expect, both good and bad. It does not matter if they are straight, homosexual, male, female, whatever. This is just another way of having sex. That’s what, do I need to say it again, “Teen Vogue” is sharing these days.

Complete with charts and quotes, the article explains what used to be commonly called “sodomy” in detail, all while being playful enough to make sure teens don’t feel bad for experimenting with this “other way” of having sex.

Shocked yet?

I’ve seen a few reactions to the article. “Your Mom Has a Blog” wrote an excellent one, which was how I first came to know about the article in the first place.

I want to take a little different angle than just to blast “Teen Vogue” for their article, though.

I want to ask if this is enough to finally wake parents up.

For years, preachers, teachers, youth workers, elders, and others have been trying to inform parents about how our culture is continuing a downward slide in sexual morals, and it is targeting our young people.

Many have taught for years about skimpy clothing, only to be told that it’s just not that big of a deal, and kids should be allowed to be in fashion so no one makes fun of them.

Classes and sermons have been presented about immoral television shows and movies and music, only to have parents say that “it’s just entertainment” and “I can’t understand it anyway,” or “it’s just a phase.”

Some are still bold enough to show that viewing internet pornography or other sexually-explicit material is growing more and more common, only to have parents act like they don’t want to know what their kids are doing because they are afraid of finding out.

And some even hear parents–Christian parents–excuse and cover up and ignore when their kids are engaged in sexual activity. They figure their kids are “going to do it anyway,” so they just look the other way and act like it’s no big deal.

So, may I ask: is this article from “Teen Vogue” enough to wake us up? Is this enough to let us know that the culture really is that sexually deviant? Is this enough to show parents that it doesn’t start with articles like the one “Teen Vogue” published, but that this is just another step downward in our moral regression?

If not, what will it take?

Parents, the culture at large is feeding on our children. It wants them to think that “my way” is all that really matters, and that personal autonomy is the god of the age.

If you think that starts–or that it ends–with one article for teens about anal sex, then it’s time you woke up.

And it’s time we all started actually parenting our kids, and quit letting the culture do our job for us.


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

“What Hinders Me from Being Baptized?”

When Philip was called by the Lord to overtake a chariot headed to Gaza, there was more to overcome than just the chariot. A man was reading God’s word but he did not understand it. He needed guidance and encouragement from an evangelist. He needed knowledge. He needed a change of heart.

As they came upon some water, this man asked the question, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36). One obvious conclusion from this passage is that baptism is necessary for salvation. If not the case, there would be no reason for the Ethiopian to request it. But in an even more practical sense, we should also see that some things might hinder a person from obeying the gospel.

Whatever might hinder needs to be removed! So what does hinder people from being baptized?

1. A lack of CONNECTION. (Hosea 4:6; Rom. 10:17; Rom. 10:1-3).

  • We need to abide in the word. We need to preach Jesus (John 8:31-32; Acts 8:35).

2. A lack of CONVICTION (Acts 16:31; Acts 8:37).

  • Faith is not just believing in something, it is fully trusting and relying upon it (Heb. 11:6).

3. A lack of CORRECTION (Matt. 19:16-26).

  • We must count the cost, leave everything, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23-26, 57-62).

4. A lack of CONFESSION (Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:10; Matt. 32-33).

  • We are to speak for Him. We are to show Jesus to the world (Matt. 5:14-16).

5. A lack of COMPULSION (Acts 22:16; John 14:15).

  • There should never be anything – if it has been commanded, that we are not willing to do for our God and Savior (Luke 17:10).

So what is hindering us? What often hinders us from becoming Christians is also what hinders us from continuing to please God. Connecting with His word, being convicted by what it teaches, correcting where we have strayed, confessing Him in the world, and being compelled to obey Him completely.

Let nothing stand between you and God. If you are not a Christian, remove whatever is keeping that from becoming a reality. If you are a Christian, but Satan is keeping you from being what God wants you to be – then it is time to make things right with God and be ready to meet Jesus when He comes again.


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

Are Fathers Really All That Important?

Is Dad just a joke? Are fathers really needed? Are they important at all?

Recently I listened to a podcast that referred to some material I found interesting and challenging.  I read the transcript of the podcast. I then read the material to which the podcast referred.

Those sources are:

While one might expect Dr. Mohler to approach any subject from a religious perspective, one would not expect NPR to do so. That is what I found fascinating. The material produced by them relied heavily on an interview with Alan Blankstein who, according to NPR, “…has spent a lifetime advocating for kids who struggle in school.” According to some information I have found out about him, religious implications would not be paramount in his mind.  He appears to be one who is mostly interested in the practical.

Without any commentary on my part about each point, here are some of the things I “pulled” from the material produced by NPR & Mr. Blankstein:

  • 24.7 million children in the United States do not live with a biological father.
  • Children are four times more likely to be poor if the father is not around.
  • Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out (of school).
  • Girls are twice as likely to suffer from obesity without the father present.
  • Girls whose fathers are not present are four times more likely to get pregnant as teenagers.

Those are just a few of the facts that caught my attention. 

Here are some questions I had after listening to and reading the material:

  • What about those children who have a biological father in the house, but have one who could be described as a “deadbeat dad?” 
  • What about the ones whose dads are not deadbeats, but who leave all of the parenting up to the mother?
  • What about the dad who spends more time with his buddies and hobbies than he does with his wife and children?
  • What about the dad who is more interested in his career than his family?

I read something in a book that I think applies to this discussion.  See what you think.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,

but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord

(Eph. 6:4, ESV, emphasis added).


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Episode 85: Technology in Worship, Modesty for Kids, Marriage Myths…and More! [Podcast]

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On this week’s program, Adam and Leah take some time to discuss three very important subjects. What about kids have tech in worship? Why modesty for kids really matters? What are some common myths our culture tells us about marriage?

The links to these articles can be found below.

Resources

Children and Technology in Church” (PreachingHelp)

He Looked Down: A Powerful Lesson on Immodesty and Respect” (A Legacy of Faith)

5 Myths Our Culture Tells Us about Marriage” (Of the Hearth)

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I Have Nothing

I have nothing.

That was one of the first thoughts that went through my mind as I realized it was my turn to offer something up for our readers this week. “I have nothing.” Zip. Nada. Not even an inkling of an idea.

Then that idea began to resonate with me. It is true: I have nothing. I never do. Anything I can offer you as food for thought comes straight from God. I either get ideas directly from His word, His blessings in my life, or His providential care.

As I began to explore that idea, I found that it is actually a pretty deep thought. Consider Jehovah’s words, through Moses, to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 2:7: “For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.” Their lacking nothing is directly linked to the fact that God had been with them. God had given it all to them!

By the book of Nehemiah, at least some of God’s people had realized that. As they are confessing their sins and reading God’s Word, part of their cry to God includes these words: “You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You” (Nehemiah 9:6, emphasis added).

Job, in his despair, and Solomon, in all of his wealth, had both figured out, almost word for word the same message. Job 1:21 reads, ““Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” And Ecclesiastes 5:15 says, “As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand.” Solomon continues in Verse 19, “As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God.

So, while it is true that I, in and of myself, have nothing to offer you, God does! He always does whether you recognize it or not. He gives us the very air we breathe, the things that give us joy, the beauty of the world around us, the strength to deal with pain and sorrow, the hope of eternal salvation … He offers it all. God is the giver of good gifts.

Remember the warning that Jesus gave to the church at Laodicea, some of whom were saying, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” Jesus said, apart from Him, the reality was that they were “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” and advised them to come to Him (Rev. 3:17).

After all, while I have nothing, He has everything and stands ready to give. In fact, He already has.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)


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AUTHOR: Amber Tatum

He Looked Down : A Powerful Lesson on Immodesty and Respect

A preaching friend of mine told me a true story about a little boy, and it was a story that stuck with me. He was saying that this young man–probably 5 or 6 years of age–was visiting someone else’s house and they were watching TV.

They noticed that the little boy would look down every once in awhile. He wasn’t playing on a phone or tablet. He didn’t have a book in his hands. He just looked down every so often.

Finally, they asked this little boy why he kept looking down and the young boy’s response shamed and woke up his friend’s family.

He pointed at the television and said, “She’s not dressed enough and momma always taught me to look away when a girl wasn’t dressed right so I wouldn’t embarrass her.”

We live in a society that is immodest to its core. You don’t even have to see clothes on people; just walk through the stores and notice what fashions are for sale these days. Mothers tell me all the time how difficult it is to find modest clothes for teen and preteen girls.

Consider:

When the bikini was introduced, it was so scandalous that no fashion model would wear it. A local stripper had to be hired to model it in a fashion show. Now? Christian girls post pictures of themselves on social media proudly wearing their bikini.

There was a time when shorts were considered inappropriate at nearly all times. Now? Many stores are selling shorts that are so short that the pockets (the inside lining) actually is longer than the denim (or other material) that makes up the legs.

Messaging on clothes for even little girls has gone from pictures of a horse or something about being sweet to messages about how “hot” I am or even how “sexy.” And these are clothes for 8, 9, and 10-year old girls.

Many Christian men now struggle to attend high school football games (or other sports), or to sit in certain seats, because the cheerleading, dance team, and baton twirling outfits have become so indecently short and revealing they know they do not need to see them. And when we see pictures of older cheerleading outfits, what does our society do? We laugh at how “modest” and “outdated” they were.

And it’s not just the ladies. Men used to take care of their bodies but cover them in public. Now, men take selfies without shirts on or with very tight and short shirts to show off their sculpted bodies, and they plaster the pictures all over social media.

I just wonder how often Christians are being like that little boy, and looking away.

We have too many people who are just swimming in the culture and acting like it is no big deal. We have many others who even join in, adding pictures of their uncovered skin to social media or sending pictures in texts. We have tons of people who decide to be modest at home, but who go to the beach, amusement park, water park, or lake and shed more and more clothing in front of anyone who happens to be there.

And when we do, something dies.

What is it? Respect.

A little bit of respect for God dies. He created our bodies not to be flaunted and used to our own glory and pride, but in use to His glory.

A little bit of respect for our spouse (or future spouse) dies. Each time I allow someone else to “drink in” more of my body, I am taking away something that is very special to my spouse, or I am taking away something special from the one I am saving myself for in a future marriage.

A little bit of respect for children dies. When I show off more and more of myself in a sexualized way, I am teaching children that this is how to get attention and that it’s all okay. I’m making them think–at younger and younger ages–that your body and sexuality is all that really matters.

A little bit of respect for culture and society dies. With each small movement toward immodesty, our culture becomes more indecent, undermining the very fabric of civilization.

A little bit of respect for myself dies. While I may tell the world, “I’ve got it, so I flaunt it,” I know, deep down, that I am more than just a body. Still, I suppress that part of my thinking and just go on, plunging deeper into the world’s narrative and removing myself from honoring my soul.

I’m not trying to give a list of “how short” or “how tight” or “how little fabric.” Folks, we know. We know the first time we pick something up off the rack or the shelf and something inside of us asks, “Is this appropriate?” We know the first time we put something on and it’s a little tighter than we might like. And, we know when a child looks away like that little boy.

I never want to be the reason why anyone has to look away. I never want anyone in my family to be that reason, either.

And I never want any Christian to be that reason. So, for the sake not just of one little boy, but for the sake of God, our spouse, children, society, and ourselves, let’s clothe ourselves modestly, forgetting the ways of the world, and thinking as people who bear the image of God in our souls.

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

(1 Corinthians 6:19b-20)


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn