Category Archives: Parenting

Time to Prepare

Jim and I were privileged to attend an annual holiday dinner for those over 65 years of age where our son preaches. We enjoyed the visit with those people so much. The food was delicious and the talent show that followed the dinner was so much fun.

One of their older members led the prayer before dinner and I appreciated all that he said in that prayer, but one statement really caused me to begin to think. He thanked God that He has given us time to prepare for eternity.

I’ve spent some time pondering on that and I began to wonder if I fully realize that whatever time I spend here on this earth is the time I have to prepare for eternity. Do I just let one day flow into the next day without a real purpose in mind? Do I fritter away time that could be spent doing something that helped prepare me for eternity? Do I recognize the blessing of time to prepare? Do I really understand that for which I am preparing, or is living here on earth all that is important to me?

Here are some thoughts for your consideration:

  • As a wife/husband am I spending time in God’s word studying what He wants me to be in that role? You see, God in His wisdom gave us guidelines all throughout His word concerning the role of wife/husband. A simple study of Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 would not only help with our home life but also teach us that the husband-wife relationship is a picture of what the church should be like. Since those who live faithfully in the church will be in heaven one day, I need to prepare by being the kind of wife/husband I need to be.
  • As a young Christian person, am I focusing on God’s command to obey my parents? Many today show no respect for parents (and many parents neither demand nor deserve respect), but God’s word is clear concerning this (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20). When you make that decision to put Christ on in baptism, you need to begin preparing for eternity by being obedient to your parents.
  • As an employee, am I preparing for eternity by giving an honest day’s work for a day’s pay or am I simply being a people pleaser (Col. 3:22)? So many today work from their homes, and it would certainly be tempting to just do the minimum and then relax the rest of the day. When you travel for work, do you put in your time and fulfill your full obligation, or cut back just a bit because you are away from home?
  • As members of the body of Christ, are we preparing for eternity by the example we set – in our Bible study, attendance, benevolence, lifestyle, dress, language, entertainment, etc.? Do we just fit in here with the world because that is where we are now, so we’ll live like everyone else around us (2 Cor. 6:14-18)?

I’m praying you’ll add to this list those things which apply specifically to your walk of life.  Isn’t it time for all of us to focus less on the here and now, and more on our eternal home?

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also”  (John 14:2-3 ESV).

Are you preparing for eternity while blessed with the time to do it?


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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

How Titus 2 Will Transform a Church (and Save a Bundle of Money in the Process)

Families are struggling. Even in the church, families are going through rough times. We can act like it isn’t happening, or we can face it head-on.

While there is nothing wrong with this approach, for many congregations the default response is to hire someone. “Let’s get a younger preacher who can relate to these families.” (Never mind the fact that, since he’s young, he’s probably struggling, too!) “Let’s add a family minister to our staff.” “We need to add a counseling center.”

Trust me, none of these are necessarily bad things, and in many cases, they can provide a great help to a congregation.

But in our rush to think of staffing as the solution, are we forgetting a Biblical (oh, and far less expensive) method? It’s found right in the middle of the book of Titus, and it might just transform a congregation.

Interestingly, chapter 2 begins by introducing us to the phrase “sound doctrine” (which just means “healthy teaching”). Typically, when we think of “sound doctrine,” we think of issues like the plan of salvation or pure worship. Those things are true, but what is interesting is this: that’s not the subject under consideration in Titus 2. What is? What is the “sound doctrine” Titus is supposed to preach and hold to? The relationship between older Christians and younger Christians!

For example:

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in the faith, in love, and in steadfastness. (Titus 2:2)

Don’t you think there might be some younger men who would see that type of example and understand what it means to be a godly Christian man? What if these older men were willing to teach some classes or even just take a younger man under their wings and show them what it means to walk in the faith?

What about our Christian ladies? Paul had that covered as well, and it didn’t take bringing on another staff member:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (verses 3-5)

It’s simply about living the right way and being willing to pour that into the next generation.

Here’s what I often see as a problem, though. Younger men and women (and I’ll let you decide what is “younger” and “older”) have some issue and, instead of the church asking a wise older person to teach or help, they simply go to their peers for advice or (more often) validation.

Of course, we need peers as friends. They can provide a sounding board and a place where we can know we are not alone.

But God’s Book says the older ones are to be teaching the younger ones how to do things in this life God’s way!

Older Christians, that means it is time for you to step up to the plate and do what God has commanded you to do! Instead of seeing an issue and helping to pay for another staff member, you roll up your sleeves and help that struggling dad or that hurting mother! You show them what God’s Word says and you share your immense wisdom with them.

But younger Christians, that also means you have to swallow your pride, not think you or your generation has it all figured out, and actually listen to the wisdom of these wonderful saints! Instead of trying to seek out a hired hand who is more “relevant” and in the same boat, why not listen to someone who has been there and still carries himself or herself with Christian grace?

You want to transform a church and help your families? I’ll take God’s plan any day of the week!


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Are You the Victim of a One-Way Relationship?

Over twenty years of counseling has brought some valuable insights to my ministry. One of those insights is that those who are struggling with their loved ones often feel as if they are in a one-way relationship. I’m not just speaking here of husbands and wives. I’m talking about all relationships: dating couples, parent-to-child and child-to-parent, sibling-to-sibling and friend-to-friend.

People get hurt when they are constantly giving and not receiving. They feel unloved and unappreciated. They often come to the conclusion that their love is unrequited and that the other person in this relationship doesn’t really know who they are or what they truly care about. This all translates to one terrible reality – although there is a relationship, they feel completely alone!

How does a person get themselves into the one-way relationship mess? Sometimes it is just a matter of choosing. We may be so desirous of being close to another person that we set all boundaries aside and go all in with our devotion even if the other person hasn’t chosen to be so dedicated. We may want more from the relationship than the other person wants, and we may convince ourselves that this other person loves us as much as we love them. It may be that we are born into situations where there is some dysfunction already occurring in our families with regard to equality and appreciation in interpersonal relationships. Thus we become a victim of patterned behavior that was in place even before we came into existence.

How do we change the tide in a one-way relationship? Well, what do you do when you are going the wrong direction down a one-way street? You back up and assess the safety of your current direction. All relationships take two people to exist. You cannot control the activity or the choices of the other person. If your relationship is in trouble, there are probably some things that you are doing that are contributing to its unhealthy status. Here are a few things you might want to try in order to improve your situation:

1. Don’t allow yourself to be treated disrespectfully. Proverbs 22:10 says, “Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave.” It is one thing to be patient and endure persecution. It is another thing to allow yourself to be trampled on by someone who is supposed to love you. Take the Father’s example: God loves us but he also demands our respect and admiration.

2. Don’t be so available. “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine…” (Matt. 7:6). There is a point at which it is unhealthy to continue to extend oneself far beyond the genuine interest or desire of someone else. Even Christ walked away from giving energy to the people who did not appreciate his efforts of love and compassion.

3. Don’t become dependent. “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psa. 37:5). This biggest mistake people make in their search for happiness is seeking to derive it from someone else. People hold on to relationships that are bad for them, hoping that things will pan out. But our clinging post is Christ and Christ alone. He is the one on whom we should and can always depend. Our joy must be derived in and through Him.

4. Don’t believe that constant fighting is normal. “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). You may be in a relationship with a person who always wants to fight. Conflict may be how they seek to get their way. But putting away your weapons is a good idea. It takes two to have a disagreement. Peace will only be found by those who are dedicated to its discovery.

5. Increase the frequency of quality communication and conversation. When Paul and Barnabas were seeking to establish and strengthen the church in Antioch, it says, “They stayed there a long time with the disciples” (Acts 14:28). The two most important ingredients in a relationship are time and communication. There must be time for listening if we want to be heard. There must be time for talking if we want to communicate.

6. Create appropriate boundaries until trust is gained. “Keep your heart with all diligence…” (Prov. 4:23). Most people that are the victims of one-way relationships have never taken enough time for the other person to earn what they are willing to give. There is a reason God instructed us to marry before we give our whole selves up. We are supposed to save the most intimate part of ourselves only for the person who is willing to make a full commitment to obtain it. There is a part of you that should be retained until the other person has earned your complete trust.

Now, just for a moment, think about your relationship with God. Don’t you imagine that, based on your past behavior, God must have often felt that he was the victim of a one-way relationship? And yet He is the one SAFE relationship. He never leaves. He never forsakes. He always loves. He always forgives. He always keeps His promises. He never disappoints. He is the only SURE and absolute relationship that we are guaranteed for all of our earthly lives as well as for eternity.

Perhaps His steadfastness will help us to patiently endure when we feel like we are not getting what we deserve from others. And perhaps in His dedication to us, we can be reminded that the one relationship we need to put the most energy into is the one he has offered through Christ Jesus. He must forever and always be the supreme love of our lives. He is the “one-way.” He is the only way.


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

Episode 93: Our 2017 Thankful List [Podcast]

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With Thanksgiving coming next week, Adam, Leah, Mary Carol, and Turner all sit around and think about gratitude and things they are thankful for. We hope this encourages your family to do the same thing more often!

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Personal Get-Back Coach

I don’t know a great deal about the game of football. I can’t name great coaches of the past or even very many of the coaches of today. I don’t know exactly what the positions are called on the field or who plays what position. You’ll understand what I mean when I tell you that while talking with Adam on the phone a couple of years ago I told him that Vermont was playing that day. He delighted in telling me that “VT” stood for Virginia Tech – not Vermont.

I do, however, know enough about the game to know what is supposed to happen on the field. The object of the game is to get the football into the opposing team’s end zone. Jim and I enjoy watching some football on Saturday afternoons and he enjoys explaining some of the rules of the game. 

A few days ago, at half-time of the game we were watching, the sports commentators were showing some footage from other games that day. In one of those clips they showed a coach who was obviously angry and who had gotten out on the edge of the field. A man behind him pulled him back behind the sideline. The coach again, in his anger, went out onto the edge of the field, and once again the man behind him pulled him back. The coach’s response was to turn around and slap the hand of the man who was pulling him off the field.

At this point, my newest lesson about football began. Jim mentioned that he had heard that officials were trying to do a better job this season in keeping coaches off of the field. Therefore, the role of the get-back coach has increased importance. It is his responsibility to keep the coach off of the field! What a job! I wonder what the pay for that position is! I’ve seen some of those coaches!

While thinking about my new knowledge about the game, I began to think about something else. How many of us wish we had a personal get-back coach? Someone who would help us when we begin to enter a territory we shouldn’t be entering! We do, and they come in many forms.

In a good marriage relationship, husbands are the get-back coach for the wife and the wife is the get-back coach for the husband. You see, when you love someone you are constantly looking out for their welfare. If I see Jim getting into a situation that I think might put him in danger of any kind, I will pull him back as many times as it takes to keep him in safe territory. Ephesians 5:15 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise…” Paul goes on the say in verse 17, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” And then in verse 21, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” He says all of this before we ever get to the part about wives submitting to their husbands and husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church. Husbands and wives need to be the get-back coach for one another.

Parents need to function as the get-back coach for their children. God calls for us to teach our children diligently concerning His word, which should be their guide for life. Why, then, are so many parents more interested in allowing their children to be taught the things of this world? Why are they allowed to get as close to the edge of sin (and sometimes even enter into sin) and not be pulled back by the people who brought them into this world? “Fathers, do not provoke your children, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). When they are small, we pull them back from the edge of a road, or any other danger we see them near, but often as they begin to grow up, we think our job is to let them test the waters themselves. Parent, take seriously your job of get-back coach.

And finally, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to be the get-back coaches for one another. The apostle Paul said it so beautifully in Galatians 6:1-2, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” God understood the need for a get-back coach before we even knew what football was all about! 

Be grateful for God and His word. Be grateful for a husband/wife who helps you on your way to Heaven. Be grateful for parents who pull you back from those things which lead you away from Christ. Be grateful for brothers and sisters who love you too much to see you slip away from God. Be grateful for personal get-back coaches.

“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back,

let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”  James 5:19-20


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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

Are Some Parents Playing the Wrong Game?

During the recent controversy about the refusal of some professional athletes to stand during our National Anthem, I heard something that caught my attention. The reporter provided the total number of people who play that sport professionally and then reported on the number who did not stand during that time. According to him, that amounted to about 1/8 of the total number of players.

When I heard those figures, my mind went in a totally different direction. I thought about parents who sacrifice time, energy, money, and other resources to make sure that their children participate in sports. I then wondered what would be different in some families if those same parents were that interested in the spiritual training of their children.

I did a little research and found the following numbers about what I’m calling the “big three” sports in our society; The National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Basketball Association (NBA). I also found the total number of high school students who are involved in football, baseball, and basketball. 

There are almost two million high school football players. There are currently 1,696 players on the “active rosters” of the NFL teams.

A little over 475,000 high school athletes play baseball. During most of the season, there are 750 MLB players. When the rosters are expanded toward the end of the season, that number is increased to 1,200.

Almost 550,000 young men are currently playing high school basketball. A total of 450 men play professional basketball in the NBA.

I will let you do the math. I’ve never been very good at it. 

However, it seems to me that one does not have to be proficient at math to see that the chances of playing any of these sports on a professional level are very, very slim. If my “math skills” are even close to being accurate, the percentage is less than 1% for each sport. In fact, I believe that you will find that it is a lot less. 

Now, what if those same parents who are so interested in making sure their children were involved in sports were more concerned about things of a spiritual nature? What if those parents put the same amount of energy and resources into the spiritual growth of their children?

What if, because of the example and training provided by the parents, faith began to develop in the children? What if that faith led those children to obey the gospel of Christ? What if that faith sustained them throughout their lives? What if they remained faithful to the Lord until they were ushered into eternity?

What are the chances that a faithful, dedicated Christian will spend eternity in heaven? Isn’t that figure 100%?

Please go back and read those last two or three paragraphs. They do not say, nor did I intend for them to say, that every young person who is reared by faithful Christian parents will, himself or herself, become a Christian and be faithful. All that I am trying to do is to suggest that some parents are playing a game in which the odds are heavily stacked against them – and their children. 

Why spend so much time and effort to prepare a child for something that:

1. They will probably never get to do?

2. They probably cannot enjoy for more than just a few years even if they do get to do it?

Why would parents not spend the brief amount of time they have with their children to prepare them for eternity?

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4, ESV).

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Tim. 4:8, ESV).


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Episode 92: A Candid Conversation about Comparison and Perfectionism [Podcast]

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Being a parent is difficult, but being a parent in the social media age leads to all sorts of insecurities about not measuring up. On the podcast this week, Adam and Leah have an unscripted and open conversation about the struggle many feel with comparing to others and the drive for being good enough.

Resource

Why I’m No Homeschool Superstar” [Read Aloud Revival]

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A Rocky Reminder for Parents

I am in the midst of preaching a series on the Parable of the Sower. The study and preparation for these four lessons is challenging me at a very deep level, as I have been reminded that each of the four types of soil represents people who hear the Word…yes, even the bad soils heard the message!

But as I was reflecting recently on the rocky soil, I was also challenged as a parent, and I want to share that challenge to all Christian parents.

In Matthew’s account of the parable, that section reads this way:

Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. (Matthew 13:5-6)

As with the rest of this parable, we should be grateful that our Lord did not leave us wondering as to the meaning. So, just a short time later, He explained that portion of the parable:

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for awhile, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21)

Certainly, that could apply to any person or virtually any age, but as I was reading through that section of Scripture over and over in preparation for my sermon, one particular application hit me like a ton of bricks. And I pray it challenges me to be a better parent.

As I read about the one who receives the word “with joy,” I couldn’t help but think of those precious children who run out of Bible classes, eager to share a coloring sheet or craft that has helped them learn more about David or Jesus or Moses. They get so excited to attend VBS or a Wednesday night Bible class, and they are willing to hear those basic Bible stories. It is nothing short of beautiful, right?

But parents, here is what challenges me: am I doing anything to help those roots grow deeper? Jesus makes it clear in this portion of the parable–as does the remainder of Scripture–that His followers will face persecution (see 2 Timothy 3:12). I don’t like to think about it, but it is true: those precious arrows that God has blessed me with will one day be made fun of and persecuted for their faith.

If they attend a state university, they will have the science professor with the Ph.D. who blasts anyone who would believe in the “fairy tale” of creationism.

If they stand up for purity in their teen years, they will have people–even who go to church with them–who call them strange and even stupid for not attending the prom or homecoming dance.

If they do not celebrate the kid in school who comes out as gay, they will be put through the ringer as the intolerant Bible-thumper who is obviously a hate-filled homophobe.

And, parents, if we have not helped them put their roots down deep in the Word of God, the words of Jesus might well haunt us: “when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.”

May I challenge you: quit spending so much time making sure your child is a math whiz or a star athlete or a social butterfly, and start making sure your child knows the seed, which is the Word of God.

If not, you may be raising rocky soil.

“Father, please help me raise children with honest and good hearts. Help me focus on Your Word and show them by teaching and example how to learn your Word more deeply and use it more effectively. Help me prepare these precious treasures for the persecution and tribulation they will face, and let me be a help to them in removing the rocks that would block the penetration of Your holy Word into their hearts. In Jesus’s name, Amen.”


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

3 Fun Bible Time Ideas for Families

We readily admit we are not perfect about having a family Bible time each and every night, but it is a highlight of most evenings in our home.

For many families, the problem is getting started. The good thing is that you don’t have to do the same thing each night. You can vary it, and if something doesn’t work for your family, you can move on to something else.

So, in this post, I want to share with you three things we have done (or still do) that are fun and that a family can do together.

IDEA #1: Bible Charades

I will admit, we haven’t done this one often, but it is something we did more when the kids were smaller. The idea is quite simple: just let your kids act out their favorite Bible person or Biblical account and guess. This works well when a Bible school curriculum at the congregation is comprehensive, because your children know a lot of people in the Bible, instead of just one or two.

(Of course, you can do similar games with drawing or other artistic ways of depicting these things.)

IDEA #2: Bible Outburst

This one isn’t free, but it is so fun. In fact, our family played another round just this week (which is where I got the idea for this article this week)!

If you are familiar with the board game “Outburst!” then you know about this game. It is the same rules (trying to guess a list of facts), but all pertaining to the Bible. Several Christian bookstores carry this game, and you can also find it on Amazon here. We love this game for a simple Bible time night, but one where we laugh and learn together.

IDEA #3: Sing

I can’t stress this one enough. It’s just you and your family, so who cares if all the notes are right? Just get out a songbook, or just sing some favorites from church from memory. Without really meaning to, this has become our Saturday evening routine for Bible time, as we typically sing five or six songs together, and try to mix both old and new hymns.

This is fun because everyone can pick out a favorite or two and there is also the fun of trying to learn new songs together, or of teaching old family favorites to your kids.

So, there you go. Three ideas. Which will you use, even this evening?


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

What Place Do Sports Have in the Life of a Christian?

Sports dominate our world. So much so that now they are even used to shape politics and moral and religious thinking. Recent demonstrations by athletes only remind us what a big role athletics play in our lives. It’s not that athletes are supposed to be our cultural heroes – it’s just that they have such a huge forum in which to be heard. And as with any advantage that human beings experience in life – the sporting arena has now become an agent by which society is influenced.

I grew up eating, drinking, and living sports. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. All I wanted was a ball since I was old enough to hold one. We lived next to the baseball park. It was literally on the other side of the chain link fence from my house. I became a player. I became a fan. By the time I was 3 or 4 until my teenage years – sports dominated my mind.

It is my contention that we put too much emphasis on athletics. They are, to many, a god. People become so passionate about their teams that they will drop thousands of dollars on one game. They will beat each other up on social media and they will beat each other up physically in the stands. We have all seen those videos where somebody punches somebody else at a ball game. I remember several years ago attending a late September, playoff-run baseball game in St. Louis between the Cardinals and Cubs in which the game was won in the ninth inning on a dramatic home run. I was with my wife and young son and I was wondering if we were going to get back to our car alive.

This article is not about how the general public should negotiate sports – I know that the world is so dominated by sports that for many, it’s what rules them. I don’t expect for the drunken fan to disappear and I don’t expect ticket prices or player’s salaries to decrease any time soon – because the world loves its sports. We are the 21st-century version of the Roman Coliseum. The world is in it for the long haul! The chariot races will continue! But for a Christian – what place can sports play in our lives? Or better yet – when does our love for sports become too great?

1. Sports must not allow us to lose our influence for Christ.

When we allow our passion for our team to change our attitude for the opponent and, through this, we act like a son of the devil, it’s time to repent. This may be that escalated conversation on a Facebook wall. It may be the way a parent treats a coach or umpire. It may be how our behavior towards our family changes inside our home for a 24-hour period when our team just lost the big game – and we haven’t gotten over it yet. We need to remember – IT IS JUST A GAME! In the scope of eternity is never going to matter what team won or lost any game in any particular year.

2. Sports must not allow us to lose our priorities.

When you are good with missing worship for a sporting event on a weekend, you’ve put that event before the only assembly that deserves your absolute respect and worship. Christian parents should plan a way for their athletic, travel-ball family to worship the Lord on the first day of the week. Christian adults who participate in events that sometimes take place on Sunday need to remember to honor and worship the Lord on that day. You have 24 hours. The top priority in that time frame should be your personal reflection on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

3. Sports must not allow us to lose our children.

You can attend every ball game your kids play. You can travel all over the country with them in their athletic pursuits. You can help them receive scholarships through athletic endeavors and thus avail them to a better education and a better standard of living. But if your kids leave the church it won’t be worth it. Sports need to be taught as beneficial but not essential. We can learn so much about life through playing sports. But the things we need to learn to make it to heaven can only be found in God’s word.

So remember – in a sense, it is about winning and losing. Don’t lose your faculties. Don’t lose your focus. Don’t lose your family. By all means, run to win! Just don’t forget to seek the crown that endures.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum