“I Can’t Take a Whole Week Off Work!” : 4 Reasons You Should Attend Polishing the Pulpit’s Spiritual Renewal Weekend

One of the common responses I get when I try to encourage people to attend Polishing the Pulpit is that it is a week long and people say that they just cannot take a week off of work.

However, did you know that Polishing the Pulpit (PtP) actually begins with “Spiritual Renewal Weekend?” This part of PtP starts on Friday evening and concludes with worship on Sunday morning.

If you have never attended PtP, let me encourage you to dip your toe in the water by attending Spiritual Renewal Weekend. I always tell people that, if you will do that, you’ll be finding ways to attend the whole week as soon as you possibly can.

Here are four reasons you should attend Spiritual Renewal Weekend.

You Will be More Encouraged than You Can Imagine. Are you even slightly discouraged? Why not take a weekend to let the Word of God and the fellowship of about 4000 Christians lift your spirits! You will be deeply encouraged, both through Scripture and through friendships.

Your “Idea File” will be Overflowing. If you are a preacher, Bible class teacher, elder, or deacon, it can feel at times as if your well of good ideas is running dry. Just one weekend of study and practical lessons can change that. I come back each year with more ideas than I know what to do with! If you will listen with your ministry or area of service in mind, you will not run dry again for a long time.

Your Kids Will be Spiritually On Fire. If you will bring your children, you will be blown away by what PtP does for them. The classes, games, singing, and more are absolutely top-notch. While there is a ton of fun, it is remarkable how much learning of the Scriptures goes on in such a short amount of time. My kids ask about it all year long!

There’s No Better Way to Spend a Weekend. Many people take weekends to float on a lake or go hiking. Those are fine, and there is nothing wrong with that. But what better way can you spend a weekend than growing in faith, being built up and encouraged by fellow Christians, and enjoying God’s creation in the Smokey Mountains?

Spiritual Renewal Weekend is fast approaching, and I cannot emphasize it enough: it is worth your time! The dates are August 18-20, 2017 in Sevierville, Tennessee. If you will come, you will be uplifted and–as the title emplies–renewed.

For more information, follow this link.

Oh, and as a bonus, if you stay through Sunday morning worship, you are given a flash drive with all the lessons from the whole weekend, so you can learn and grow even more throughout the year! Just add that as a 5th reason we hope to see you in a couple of weeks!


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Why Being Popular is Overrated

It’s no fun to be hated. It’s no fun to be disliked. It’s no fun to have things said about you that are demeaning. It’s no fun to be thought of in a negative light.

We all want to be well thought of. We might not need to be the center of attention, but we would probably all at least desire to be liked. And since the 21st-century culture is now screaming, “Tolerance!” – nobody wants to be considered the intolerant one. We don’t prefer isolation and rejection. We all need some sense of acceptance by the public in order to feel like we are worthy or good.

Well, guess what? Being popular is overrated! Listen to what Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). Jesus spoke plainly about overrated things. Riches are overrated (Luke 6:24). Being full is overrated (Luke 6:25). Good times are overrated (Luke 6:25). Being spoken of well by all men is overrated (Luke 6:26).

There are several reasons why being popular is overrated:

1. Not all men have faith (2 Thess. 3:2). It really doesn’t matter what men think since men are fallible. While it may matter to some degree how we are perceived because of our influence for Christ, since the majority of the world is lost (Matt. 7:13-14), being popular is probably not the way to go.

2. Popularity is a snare that leads to watered down principles (2 Tim. 4:3). I have seen many once-influential men lose their soundness when given the spotlight. Not wanting to offend anyone we often are tempted to stop standing for what God says is morally and doctrinally pure and right. It is unfortunate but often people don’t want to listen to the truth. Popularity can influence a person’s stance on things that must never be compromised.

3. Popularity seeks to please the wrong audience. Paul spoke all over the world to every kind of crowd. What was he trying to accomplish in those opportunities? He said in Galatians 1:10 – “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” In the end, it is really only going to matter what God thinks of us. This means whatever we say or do needs to be for His glory (Col. 3:17) – not to our own glory and certainly not to please everybody else.

If there was ever a person who knew that popularity is overrated it was Jesus. In one week, He went from being the grand marshal of a parade to being enemy number one. He went from Rabbi to reject. He went from Messiah to misfit. The same Man who was followed by the mob was also crucified by it. Because men are fickle, and their hearts are evil, and their opinions are mostly incorrect.

The Day of Judgment is going to shine on the unpopular.

“But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:19-20).


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

A Television Commercial, A Phone Call, & A Public Service Announcement

Since I don’t pay much attention to television commercials for alcoholic beverages, I almost missed something I think is important. You may not agree that it is important, but maybe you will agree that it is at least interesting and thought-provoking.

The commercial was for Jack Daniels whiskey. Did I really hear what I thought I’d heard? Were they really saying that the town in which this beverage is distilled is “dry?” 

I did some checking on the internet and found out that this was, indeed, what they were saying. The sale of alcoholic beverages is against the law in Lynchburg, Tennessee. I found out more than that. I discovered that the entire county (Moore County) is “dry!” 

When I found that out, my mind went back to an incident that took place possibly a quarter of a century ago. I was working on some material about the dangers involved in drinking alcoholic beverages. I decided to make an unusual phone call.

At that time, we lived about twenty miles or so from a distributor for a major beer company. I decided to place a call to this business and do a little “unusual research.”

I did everything I could to keep them from thinking that I was trying to “ambush” them. I identified myself as a preacher and explained what I was doing to the person with whom I was talking. I then asked what I thought was a fairly simple question: “Do you allow the drivers of your trucks to drink?”

The person on the other end of the call seemed to be incredulous. As I remember it, the question was: “Do you mean while they are working?” 

When I answered that this was what I was asking, you would have thought from the reaction on the other end of the line that the person knew she was dealing with a real nut case. Her answer was emphatic: “Of course not!” 

I had a follow-up question: “Not at all?” The other person in the conversation quickly and firmly assured me that this was the policy. Once again, I thought I could tell from the tone of her voice that she thought I needed to “get some help.”

Here is where we are so far. The entire county in which a famous whiskey is distilled is dry. Also, the policy of a distributor for what is probably the largest beer company in the world is that they will not allow their drivers to use their product while they are “on the clock.” 

What does all of this have to do with a public service announcement? Unless you’ve been under a rock somewhere for quite some time, you’ve probably both seen and heard it.

Buzzed driving is drunk driving.

Since I am a preacher (at least part-time now), I might be expected to approach everything from a biblical perspective. I decided to approach this slightly differently this time. Instead of questioning and/or arguing about exactly what the Bible teaches about the use of alcoholic beverages, I thought it might be good to let different sources weigh in on the discussion.

It seems to me that, even if I had never seen a Bible, I would have a pretty good reason to avoid alcohol altogether. After all; what other product can you think about that never wants you to see their best customers?

Since I do have a Bible, I understand that my purpose in life is to do my best to glorify God in all that I do. I, for one, would find that very difficult to do with a can of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of whiskey in my hand.


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Episode 86: A Powerful Phrase for Moms, Phases in Parenting, and More! [Podcast]

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On this week’s podcast, Adam and Leah share an article with a great phrase for mothers to connect with other mothers, a post about the phrases of parenting, a good Bible reading resource, and some fun banter.

(But no music, due to a wild internet week.)

Enjoy it all–except the music–and find the resources below.

Resources

The Most Powerful Thing You Can Say to Another Mom” (PopSugar)

There’s More to Life Than This Temporary Phase” (Your Mom Has a Blog)

Bible Reading “Time” Chart (Facebook)

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Things I Noticed from a Visiting Youth Group

We have been blessed for the last few days to have a youth group from Arnold, Missouri visiting with us at our congregation in Paducah. There are twenty-four of them including chaperones, and they came our way to knock on doors in our community, invite people to our Vacation Bible School, help with that Bible School, and do other service projects in our community.

It has been extremely HOT for the last few days, but they worked tirelessly at the jobs they were assigned.

Jim and I were blessed to have one of the chaperones and one of the teens in our home for those few days, and to spend some time with all of the group as they met for morning devotionals and gatherings before they went to work.

I want to share with you some of the things I noticed about these young people and those adults who came with them to chaperone.

  • There was no complaining!  Did you read what I wrote about it being HOT? Let me say it again – it was HOT, but I never heard one word of complaint from any of those teens or adults.
  • They were ALL appropriately dressed, and no one complained about having to wear clothing that represented Christ as they went from house to house. No shorts or skirts were too short. No shirts were too low. No T-shirts had questionable pictures or words on them (the boys all worn shirts with collars).
  • They were respectful to all who were around them. They talked to those of us who are older, as well as to those who were younger than they are. Statements like “please” and “thank you” were heard often.
  • They followed the rules and didn’t seem offended that they had to obey them. You see, they had been told the rules before they ever came on the trip, and rather than complain about how unfair they are, they respected their leaders and obeyed those rules.
  • They weren’t late.  8:30 is early in the morning for teenagers, but that was their assigned time to arrive at the building for a devo before going out to knock doors. They were there, appropriately dressed, with smiles on their faces and ready to take on the task. No one stayed in bed because they were tired.
  • It was obvious to me that they have been taught by their parents and church leaders to have respect for their parents and elders who made this trip possible for them. I learned that they have to meet certain requirements to be able to go on this trip. They either meet them or they don’t go. Wow!
  • I was told that as they rode their bus to the different areas of town, they sang devo songs. They weren’t on their phones. They didn’t have earphones in their ears. They weren’t talking about one another. They were singing praises to God. What better way to prepare to take His word to the lost?
  • They were a blessing to all with whom they came in contact.  Some doors were slammed in their faces. Some words were said that were unkind and unnecessary. Some people represented the devil. These young people represented Christ, their families, and their church well.

Did I write this post to show my gratitude for some special people from Arnold, Missouri? Yes.

Did I write this post to plead with all parents, elders, and congregations to hold their young people to a standard which is becoming to Christ? A thousand times, Yes.

It can be done. I saw it this week.

Thank you, Lord, for bringing these young people our way.


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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

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