A Legacy of Faith at Polishing the Pulpit 2017

If you are a regular reader of our site, you know that we are gearing up for Polishing the Pulpit. In fact, on the day this article is being posted, PtP 2017 starts tonight! (Can you tell we get just a smidge excited?)

We love running into people we know and spending time with folks at PtP, but we are also blessed to have some members of the Legacy of Faith family asked to speak each year.

Below are listed where we will be speaking or leading singing during the week. We’d love to see you there! [Keep in mind that all classes taught by ladies are for ladies only.]

Friday, August 18

6:00PM: Jim Faughn: “Mature Marriage Issues: Caregiving in Marriage & Preparing for Life without a Long-Time Mate” (Meeting Room A)

Saturday, August 19

9:00AM: Donna Faughn: “The Beauty of Meekness” (Ballroom B)

9:00AM: Adam Faughn: “Ten Ways Your Bible School Program Could Become the Devil’s Workshop” (Ballroom C)

Sunday, August 20

9:30AM: Donna Faughn: “The Power of a Mother’s Faith” (Ballroom B)

Monday, August 21

2:30PM: Donna Faughn: “Transitions” (Ballroom B)

2:30PM: Adam Faughn: “Young Preachers Online–Don’ts” (Hotel Cades Cove; part of “7 Minutes of Wisdom for Youth Workers”)

Tuesday, August 22

10:30AM: Donna Faughn: “The Importance of Godly Elders’ Wives” (Ballroom B)

Wednesday, August 23

8:30AM: Adam Faughn: Early Morning Worship in Song (Ballroom A)

9:30AM: Adam Faughn: “Reading Lists for Teens and Children” (Hotel Deep Creek; part of a panel discussion for parents)

3:30PM: Adam Faughn: “So You Want to Have a Podcast…” (Hotel Cades Cove)

3:30PM: Donna Faughn: “Power Over Self” (Ballroom A)

3:30PM: Leah Faughn: “Cultivating a Gentle and Quiet Spirit” (Ballroom B; part of “7 Minutes of Wisdom for Women with Babies and Small Children”)

6:30PM: Adam Faughn: Congregational Singing (EH-A)

NOTE: For our regular readers, we will have a very limited number of posts during Polishing the Pulpit. We hope to post a new podcast next Friday, but we are certain we will be back to normal with articles on Monday, August 28.

PtP Brain

As you read these words (if you are reading them early on Thursday morning), Jim and I are on our way to Sevierville, Tennessee for Polishing the Pulpit. This is one of our favorite weeks of the year for many reasons.

We get to spend some time with at least one of our children and his family.  We also get to see so many people we have come to know and love over these many years in ministry.  The singing is phenomenal, and the lessons put you on a spiritual high.  There is no bad language or immodest apparel.  It’s really a little taste of heaven here on earth.

I have been in PtP mode for several months now as I prepared to speak at this event.  “PtP brain” simply refers to what has occupied a great deal of my thoughts for the last couple of months. As the time approaches, I sometimes become more distant to those around me as my thoughts begin to focus on those topics I need to cover.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since my topics have sent me even more to God’s word to prepare what I will say. However, as I was thinking about this state that I’m in, I began to wonder how many other times in my life I have been so focused on some task set before me and yet failed to rely upon God’s word for answers.

In the early years of our marriage when I had “newlywed brain,” I don’t remember relying as much on God’s word for advice as I should have. What marriage wouldn’t be made better by reading and applying those passages found in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 which have to do with marriage?

In the early years of my teaching career when I had “new teacher brain” and was so focused on being the best teacher I could be to those high schoolers, wouldn’t I have been better served to really focus in on the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy and Titus concerning how they should interact with those around them?

When that first baby came along and I was overwhelmed with “new mother brain,” wouldn’t I have been better served to focus on what the Psalmist said in Psalm 127:3-4 concerning the blessing children are to parents?

When our life changed and I went from being a school teacher’s wife to being a preacher’s wife, my brain really had a jolt! “Preacher’s wife brain” is in a league all its own! I wasn’t trained for this role in life so I spent those first few years trying to please people. When I finally decided to just be myself and listen to Solomon’s words when he said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Prov. 3:5,6), my role as a preacher’s wife became so much easier.

I’ve had lots of other “brains” in my life when I focused too heavily on the earthly tasks set before me – mother of teens, mother of college students, mother-in-law, ladies’ day speaker, grandmother, elder’s wife, wife of a retired preacher.

I can’t even put into words how thankful I am for God’s direction in my life. The tough times have helped me to learn to rely upon Him heavily, and the easy times have helped me show more gratitude. The Apostle Paul said it best:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set you minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col. 3:1,2)

“PtP Brain?” Not a problem!


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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

Isaiah’s Proper Response: “Here Am I! Send Me.”

The opening verses of Isaiah 6 is a high point in Scripture. The glory of God is on full display and we are arrested by the splendor of it all.

Still, though we are enthralled by the scene, can you imagine actually being there like Isaiah was?

The astonishing nature of it all caused this great prophet to state his sinfulness, as well as that of the whole nation. Still, God showed that the sin of this man was cleansed.

It is in that moment that God asks the question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8)

With the splendor of God all around, and with the knowledge that his sins have been atoned, the prophet stated the beautiful words, “Here am I! Send me.”

While the remainder of this brief chapter shows Isaiah that he will be going to a rebellious people and that most–if not all–will not listen and truly obey, it is still his commission to go.

But that response that Isaiah gave should have our attention. In those two very short sentences that form his response, we see at least two things that make for a faithful response to the Lord even today.

Full Sacrifice

The prophet said, “Here am I.” He did not say, “Here are my lips.” He did not say, “Lord, you have part of me.”

Instead, Isaiah said that he was there; all of him.

It brings to mind the first of the greatest commands enumerated by Jesus, doesn’t it? How many sermons have you heard that point out that little word “all” that is found four times in that command? The Lord said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). It simply does not leave room for anything to be left out.

Paul would teach that all Christians are to be “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2). That implies giving all to the Lord.

It could have been easy for Isaiah to promise a certain amount of time or just a percentage of his effort. The prophet realized, though, that all of him needed to be in the service.

Readiness

“Send me.” There was no timetable on that part of Isaiah’s response. Whatever this assignment would turn out to be, Isaiah was ready to respond and go. And he was ready to do so right then, on the Lord’s command.

We see commands in the Bible that we can do, but we also see others that may not fit what we think we want our life to be right now, so we put off full compliance with the commands of God.

But Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). That “looking back” implies that this person wants to follow God, but at his own pace and in his own way.

That’s not obedience!

Instead, when we read a command in Scripture, our response needs to be “send me.” There should be a readiness to follow each and every command, no matter how difficult, right in the moment and season of life in which we find ourselves.

Conclusion

While we never need to lose sight of the glory of God, of which we get an amazing glimpse in Isaiah 6, the response of the prophet is there, in part, to help us see what our response should be to God, as well.

We see His glory through Scripture, as well as in nature and creation. We are reminded that we are sinful, but that our sins are atoned for and God remembers them no more.

Knowing that, when we see a command of God, may our response be like that of Isaiah: “Here am I! Send me.”


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

The Two Main Reasons David was Forgiven

In 2 Samuel we read of the grievous sin of King David. He sees Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, bathing. In his lust he sends for her, she comes to him, they lie together, and she conceives (2 Sam. 11:1-5). David is now in a real predicament. What is David going to do to cover up his sin?

After numerous attempts fail to have Uriah, an officer in his army, come home to be with Bathsheba, David notifies his half-nephew and commander of his army, Joab, to participate in a scheme that would lead to Uriah’s death in battle. The battle ensues, Uriah is abandoned and killed, and the cover up seems complete. But the prophet Nathan comes to David on behalf of God and exposes King David’s adultery, lying, and murder.

When one reads the developments in 2 Samuel 11 and 12, it is hard to see how such a high handed, calculated sin by David could be forgiven. But we need to remember God’s forgiving nature, especially when our response to personal sin is what God requires. Beyond God’s abundant and matchless grace, it seems that there were two main reasons that David’s terrible deeds were completely forgiven.

1.  David fully repented. In response to Nathan’s parable and accusation of David’s guilt, David simply said, “I have sinned against Jehovah” (2 Sam. 12:13). There were no excuses. Furthermore, there was recognition that the sin was not just against humanity – it was an act that was directly in opposition to God’s divine instruction. Every sin we ever commit is a sin against God. When we realize the gravity of sin and we fully admit our own personal defiance to God’s law, with a desire for change, God will forgive.

2. David accepted God’s punishment in faith. The King did not walk away unscathed. Sin has consequences. The child that was conceived and subsequently born died, despite all of David’s fervent prayers. David was also informed by God that his family would suffer division and public turmoil and deception and even the same immorality David had engaged in because of David’s choices.

Truly the King cried many tears over the years because of the fruit borne by his sinful activity. But in response to God’s discipline, David washed himself, changed his clothes, ate his bread, and worshiped the Lord (2 Sam. 12:20).

David could have reacted in a lot of ways. When his error was exposed he could have blamed his human nature, as many often do. He could have become angry with Nathan for calling him out, perhaps deflecting his sin by explaining some of the prophet’s shortcomings. He could have noted all of his days of faithfulness to God and the great courageous warrior he had been for the Lord in times past. He could have blamed Bathsheba for exposing herself on the rooftop. He could have done and said a lot of things that would have kept him from being forgiven.

We can actually learn something from King David that I believe is crucial to our hope. We are all going to sin. It doesn’t matter if you are a king, elder, judge, president, preacher, CEO, policeman, grandparent, or whatever title you have been given or whatever maturity you might have obtained. It is important to own up to your sin when it is brought to your attention. It is imperative for you to fully repent and show a desire for change in your heart and mind and life. And it is important, that you not lose your faith in God when you are punished for unrighteousness. There will always be temporal consequences to sin. But they don’t have last for an eternity.

We CAN change and we CAN be forgiven of any sin, no matter how grievous. But in order for that to happen, our hearts must be soft. We need to have the heart of David, who had a heart like God’s (Acts 13:22).

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

Photo background credit: Ross Griff on Creative Commons

Sneaky Idols

I think it was the great “philosopher” Yogi Berra who said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” In his unique way, he said something that is really true.

The following thought may not be quite as profound as that, but I think that it is also true. I think one can hear a lot just be listening. It might be a bit more accurate to suggest that a person can learn a lot just by listening.

It seems that real listening is happening less and less. All you have to do is to watch and listen to some of the “talking heads” on cable news channels. They all talk at the same time. Nobody seems to be really listening to anybody else’s point of view. Each person seems to be intent on presenting his or her own point of view as loudly and as forcefully (and sometimes as rudely) as they can. 

Fortunately, I was listening to one of my fellow elders a little while back. I’m glad I was not trying to talk while he was talking. I’m also glad I wasn’t distracted to the point that I did not catch something he said.

He was talking about the sin of idolatry. Specifically, he was talking about people in the Bible who made their own idols and worshiped them. 

He then said this (and I’m pretty sure this is word-for-word):

“Their idols were intentional. Ours just kind of sneak up on us.”

I believe that he is right about that. 

I know he was right about the first part. We do, in fact, read in the Bible about people and nations who built “gods” and foolishly worshiped them. 

Sadly, there are people and places today where exactly the same thing is done. Years ago, I made two mission trips to India. Unless you have been there yourself, you cannot fully comprehend how many idols, temples, altars, etc. there are in that nation.

I think that most of us know that India is only one nation where this is a normal and accepted way of life. It would be impossible to know for sure how many millions of people live and worship lifeless idols.

However, as sad as that it, it was the second part of his statement that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about recently. I’m wondering if it would also be impossible to know how many people worship idols that “sneak up on us.” Those “idols” and those people are the ones that concern me the most. I even wonder if I might see one of those people when I look in the mirror.

I recently was asked to speak on priorities. While working on that lesson, I came across a quote that is both simple and profound at the same time. 

Our priorities are best reflected by how we spend our time.

I think that the quote could be “tweaked” a little to reflect what my brother had in mind when he made his statement. Here are some “tweaks” that come to mind.

Our idols are those things (and people) with which (whom) we spend the greatest amount of time.

Our idols are those things (and people) which (who) consume the bulk of our resources.

Our idols are those things (and people) about which (whom) we are most excited.

Our idols are those things (and people) to which (whom) we are the most loyal.

I suppose the list could go on and on, but I think that those statements are enough to prompt some self-examination. I know it has caused me to do some of that. 

My brother’s statement helped to make me a little more alert to some real dangers. I’ve always known that God will not accept any place other than first place in my life. I’ve been reminded that I need to be alert to those “sneaky idols” that could cost me my soul.

I love my wife, my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren. I have some very good friends with whom I enjoy spending time. I am very thankful to live in the society in which I live and the freedoms and rights I have merely because I am a citizen of the United States of America. I am thankful for those who have defended those freedoms and rights in the past and those who continue to do so today. I am grateful to have so many modern conveniences and opportunities for both employment and recreation. I am grateful for my education and the financial resources with which I have been blessed. 

However, I need to be careful to not let any or all of that come between my Father and me. If I do, I might as well build an altar on which to offer a sacrifice or erect a statue and bow down to it. 

How about you? Have any idols “sneaked up” on you?


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Photo background credit: pavan on Creative Commons

Episode 87: Polishing the Pulpit Preview, “Is Satan Stealing Our Families?” and More! [Podcast]

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On this week’s podcast, Adam and Leah talk about the beginning of the homeschool year. Then, they preview Polishing the Pulpit, both in general and some of the lessons they are presenting. Finally, they discuss a great article about how things that are not sinful can begin to eat away at our families and become idols. Resources below.

Links

Polishing the Pulpit [Homepage]

Polishing the Pulpit Schedule [pdf]

Is Satan Stealing Our Families?” [Brie Gowen]

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Satan Doesn’t Care

In our Bible class last Sunday morning we were discussing the “whole armor of God,” detailed in Ephesians 6. We spent some time talking about the spiritual realm, which is beyond my comprehension. How, exactly, does Satan roam the earth? Who all, exactly, make up the “cosmic powers over this present darkness” from verse 12?

We also spent time with the specifics of the pieces of armor: The belt of truth, which holds all things together. The breastplate of righteousness, which protects from the kill shot to the heart. The helmet of salvation, which guards our minds by giving us an assurance of eventual victory in Christ.

It was at some point during this military focus that I realized something about the foe on the other side. We were talking about ammunition in the realm of military usage. That’s when it hit me: Satan doesn’t care if he hits you with scatter shot or a sniper bullet as long as he hits to kill.

Here is my take away from that: that’s why God, in His wisdom, armed every part of our body. He knows that Satan will use scatter shot to take out wide swaths of people. This may be in the form of cultural beliefs and norms that are contrary to God’s truths. It might be the birdshot of disappointment in people, laziness, or just being apathetic.

And then there are those times when Satan takes dead aim at you. He knows your weak areas, and like a sniper with laser focus, he centers his shot. It may be a physical temptation that has long been a struggle for you. It may be the loss of a job that shakes your faith. It might even be good intentions that are executed without the love of Christ in your heart.

And he doesn’t care! Satan doesn’t care how he gets you as long as he pulls you away from the loving God who wants to save you. So don’t let him get you! If you read all of those pieces of armor God gives us, you read that they can “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (verse 16) and are designed to help you “withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (verse 13).

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11


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AUTHOR: Amber Tatum

2 Responses for Those Who Say, “If We Only Had Miracles Today”

Every so often, I will hear or read the thoughts of someone who wants there to be miracles in our modern times. Of course, the New Testament clearly teaches that miracles served their purpose of confirming the Word, and they were done away with once the written Word was complete (study 1 Corinthians 12-14 carefully, along with other passages).

However, as we strive to reach others with the Gospel, we can begin to pine for the days when some amazing miracle drew a crowd. So, people then begin to think, “If we only had miracles today, people would believe.”

Trust me, I get where they are coming from. It can be frustrating to preach and teach and, seemingly, never make any headway in reaching people with the truth. But wanting a miracle just to short-circuit the process is not the answer.

Here are two ways to respond when someone says, “If we only had a miracle.”

Miracles Didn’t Always Convince People, Either. Jesus was not some circus sideshow, performing miracles all the time. Still, the New Testament makes it clear that our Lord did many miracles (cf. John 20:30-31). Yet, the very people who saw Him do these amazing signs and wonders put Him on the cross!

Yes, the miracles drew a crowd, but Jesus only did these miracles to prove who He claimed to be, not to be the end-all-be-all “argument” for people to believe. And Jesus, at least once, had to chastise people for only seeing the physical side of what He had done; not the spiritual reality right before them (John 6:26-27).

Would the same not be true today? Even if we had miracles, how many would only come for the “show,” or for the physical satisfaction, and never truly be convicted of the Scriptures?

You Do Have a Miracle Today…If You Will Use It. Now, before you write me up, let me explain. It is true that miracles have ceased (as we said in the opening of this post), but there is still a miracle you have access to at all times.

What is it? The Bible.

The inspiration of Scripture was miraculous, and each time we open God’s Word, we are getting a glimpse into that miracle of inspiration. When we see the unity of Scripture, the fulfilled prophecies, the scientific foreknowledge, and so forth, we are getting a glimpse into the miraculous inspiration of this amazing volume.

The difference is that we must be willing to do our part and actually open the Bible and study it to find this reminder of the miracle. It is not a quick and easy fix, but it is what will save us.

Yes, I’ll admit, there are times when I might pine for a miracle just to make things easier. But then, each time I open and consider the words of Scripture, I am confronted with the miracle that brought me those words in the first place.

And that should always be enough.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Do We Really Want to be With God?

The words of a particular song often sung by the church go like this – “I just want to be where You are, in Your dwelling place forever. I don’t want to worship from afar, draw me near to where You are. I want to be where You are, dwelling in Your presence, feasting at Your table, surrounded by Your glory. In Your presence, that’s where I always want to be. I just want to be, I just want to be with You.”

The obvious message in this song is the desire we have to be in heaven with God forever. We don’t want to be separated from Him at any moment, and we recognize that to be present with God and absent from the world is glory (2 Cor. 5:8).

There is also a sense in which we realize God is always with us. Romans chapter 8 teaches that Christians are never separated from and cannot be separated from the love of God. This, of course, leaves us with one single alternative. If we choose to leave God of our own accord, then we can leave fellowship with God and be lost eternally.

So what is holding us back from being forever in the presence of God? S-I-N!

If not for sin there would never have been death (Rom. 6:23). There would never have been the expulsion of mankind from the Garden of Eden, from the tree of life and from the presence of Almighty God (Genesis 3:22-24). If not for sin, the Son of God would not have needed to leave heaven. Sin comes in many forms, but ultimately it is defined as the breaking of the law that God has set forth for His creation (1 John 3:4). If we are to come back to God, the provision for our sin is Jesus Christ (John 14:6; 1 John 2:1-2).

But, the words of the song beg this question – Do we really want to be in God’s presence at all times? Are there things we do and say that make us hope God is not around when we do and say them? Would we rather be at a secular gathering than at worship? Would we rather study for school than study the Bible? Would we rather be in the company of the people of the world than with fellow Christians? Would we rather talk to a human being than talk to God?

We seriously need to consider making some changes if we have said “Yes” to some of these questions. Heaven is God’s eternal home, meaning the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will be there forever. The redeemed of all the ages and the innumerable angelic host will be there as well. If we want to be where He is then we better start living as if we were with God all of the time.

God has made the offer of eternal fellowship with the human race, and we are the ones who have been blessed with love beyond our imagination. With these things in mind, let us continually praise our God together, and let each heart make a sweet sacrifice to His name, saying, “I just want to be where You are…”

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” ~ Psalm 16:11


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

Photo background credit: Matthew Wilkinson on Creative Commons

Me and _______

In 1972, a singer by the name of Billy Paul recorded and released Me and Mrs. Jones. Even if you have not heard the song, you might guess that, in the words of the song, “We got a thing going on.”

I’m sure that, when that song was released, both preachers and English teachers were disturbed. Preachers (and anybody else concerned about biblical morality) were probably and justifiably concerned about the open way in which two people who had no right to be meeting were, in fact, doing just that at a designated place and time every day.

English teachers probably pulled their hair out because of at least two phrases in the song. After all, would it have been all that difficult to say “We’ve got a thing going on” instead of We?

There is another phrase in the song, however, that English teachers today might not even notice. It is used a lot. It is used so often that it “sounds right” to many people. 

It is still wrong!

I really try not to be a grammar Nazi. I make enough of my own mistakes to keep me from being overly critical of others.

At the same time, I cringe every time I hear “Me and _____” instead of “_____ and I.”

I am afraid that more is being communicated than a lack of understanding of, and appreciation for, the English language. For one thing, I am wondering if there is a subtle indictment of our entire educational system since I have heard college graduates routinely use that phrase. 

It seems that I’m hearing that phrase almost everywhere I go. I even hear it when I stay home and turn on my television or radio. I’ve heard educators use that phrase. I’ve heard politicians use it. I’ve heard it from pulpits.   

It really doesn’t matter where I hear it; where it is said; or who says it. What bothers me the most is that there seems to be a (probably unintended) elevation of the person using that phrase over any other person in the discussion. If that is the case, it would be just the opposite of the biblical injunction to “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3, ESV). 

I realize that I make more than my share of mistakes and that each mistake has the potential of hindering my effectiveness as I try to represent Christ and win others to Him. I also know that other subjects are much more import than this one. I just thought I’d weigh in on this particular one at this time.

I’ll save other concerns for a whole nother discussion.

See! I told you I wasn’t perfect either!!


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Photo background credit: Wesley Fryer on Creative Commons