Making An Impact

It’s interesting to see what people will write about you when you don’t know they’re writing it.

For example, a few months ago, I finally decided to get online and see what this “Legacy” that my family keeps mentioning is all about. While I was blown away by the number of fantastically written articles and podcasts that I saw (not that I’m biased), what struck me as the most interesting was what my family had written about me in the “About” section.

For those of you who have only heard about me from this short snippet, most of what was said is true. I will point out two flaws in this paragraph, however. The first is that I am not the perfect “preacher’s kid” model that I’m built up to be. I still have major faults and sympathize with my worldly friends more than some might believe. The second is that I am 13 no longer, having turned 16 this past March. [Editor’s note: Whoops!]

This personal realization regarding what those closest to me decided I should look like to the world reminded me that every person carries with them some level of influence on those around them. In a way, this is God’s mode of communicating to us that we are all alike and are made to coexist peacefully, a fact that many in today’s world would deny altogether if totally honest.

However, this coexistence can also cause a great deal of chatter. When someone does something that is deemed significant, we want to talk about it. Hence, both Facebook and Twitter have hundreds of millions of users worldwide. Although the public announcement of an event, especially an impactful one, is sure to garner some attention, it is also true that some of the greatest stories about a specific person are told without their knowledge.

I’m a history geek, so I have experienced this fact firsthand. Without getting into the ongoing debates about the causes of World War I, the truth of the downfall of the Olmecs, and how involved E. T. was in the construction of the pyramids, I would call attention to one historical figure who many still talk about today. Paul, the apostle of Christ, is credited as the writer of several letters addressed to several churches of the first century. While Paul probably believed (and hoped) that his letters would be read some time into the future, it is doubtful that he had prior knowledge regarding every published commentary or speech given on his material. Whether his writings would be acclaimed or criticized by each individual member of his audience, the author had no idea.

All of this serves to bring to my mind the fact of OUR impact. Any letter any of us writes will probably never gain as much traction as those of Paul, but we still influence those close to us. This is both fantastic and frightening because, as we all know, even Christians are still human. While we are flawed, we can still choose to love those around us enough to make an impact and help them find both their way and their Way. Often, the decision to love the lonely kid down the hallway, or even a close friend, is a struggle. When I remember the impact that my Savior made for me, though, it’s no contest.

Matthew 5: 16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

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AUTHOR: Lucas Tatum

3 Words We Need to Remove from Bible Study (and 3 We Need to Always Keep)

Ask any Christian, and they will inevitably speak of how important it is to read, study, and talk about the Scriptures. Bible study and Bible discussions are vital to the growth of a Christian.

However, too often, we allow three words to stand in the place of a true study of the Bible, or (more often) a true discussion about the Bible.

They are three words that we need to remove from our Bible discussions, because they do not help one bit. What are those words?

“I feel like.”

How often do we hear (or say) that our feelings are what matter when it comes to matters of morality and doctrine?

Maybe some of these sound a little familiar:

“I heard our preacher say that a lot of people are going to end up in hell, but I just feel like a loving God wouldn’t do that.”

“When someone talks about there only being one church, all I can think is that I feel like other people are doing their best, too.”

“For all these years, we’ve been saying that only men can lead in public worship, but I feel like that was just something from an ancient and out-dated culture.”

While few of us would take it to that level, far too often, we hear similar thoughts in many of our Biblical discussions. Far too often, when we talk to others about moral matters–and even far too often in Bible classes–someone saying “I feel like” is the trump card. It is as if one’s feelings are the end-all-be-all of the discussion.

Certainly, our feelings matter. Christianity is not a cold, heartless religion. How we feel about things does matter.

But there is a major problem when our feelings are the driving force behind what we believe and stand for. Feelings are fleeting. They change. They can be easily manipulated. My feelings have no more authority than yours on a matter.

Thus, we cannot use “I feel like” as the major foundation in our Biblical studies.

So, what can we use? It is another three-word phrase, and it is one that needs to always be statement number one when we are considering any matter of doctrine or morality. What is it?

“The Bible says.”

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1:3).

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Once We Have Encountered Jehovah, Will We Stay?

The book of Ruth takes place in the time of the judges, a period after the Canaan conquest but before the time of Israelite kings. It was a time of war, violence, idolatry, and spiritual confusion. Everybody did as they saw fit (Judges 21:25). It is in this dark and desperate time that Ruth emerges as a person of loyalty, godliness, and character. She literally “found God;” a God she did not know before.

Many people don’t realize that Ruth was raised in Moab. This means she was a descendant of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Though she was related to the Jews, she was not one of them. Her clan worshiped Chemosh, the god of fire, as well as other pagan gods. But when Elimelech left Bethlehem because of a famine and went to Moab, his two sons married Moabite women. Ruth and Orpah were the women they married. It was through this relationship that these two women were introduced to Jehovah.

Tragically, Elimelech and his sons died. Naomi was the mother-in-law that was left with two daughters-in-law, and they were all three widowed. The two young women no longer had any obligation to Naomi. The text points out that Naomi knew this, so she encouraged both Ruth and Orpah to return to their people and even to their foreign gods (Ruth 1:15).

Orpah went back to her people and to the false gods of Moab, but Ruth refused. We may ask, “Why?” Was it out of pity for Naomi? Was it because she was afraid to be alone? Was it because she felt it was the honorable thing to do? Did she just truly love her?

Ruth 1:16 explains that Ruth not only wanted to be loyal to Naomi, but she wanted to worship the same God Naomi did. Ruth had come to believe in Jehovah and had rejected the pagan gods she was raised to know. Something happened in Ruth that caused her to stay with God and not turn back to her old ways.

The story of Ruth begs the question, “What causes a person to be loyal?” Some people are naturally loyal and others struggle with faithfulness and devotion. We can be faithful in relationships for all the wrong reasons. Maybe we stay because it’s normal even though it’s dysfunctional. We may stay out of fear of being alone or the unknowns that go with starting over. It seems that Ruth stayed for the only correct reason anyone might stay when they had a choice. She stayed because she had learned to trust in the one, true God of heaven.

There are going to be times in our lives when the gods we once worshiped will call us to return. There will be moments of doubt and confusion and unexpected turmoil that may test our faith. We may in these moments lose faith in the God of heaven…that He would allow such devastation to infiltrate the life of peace and comfort we have come to enjoy. It is in these moments that our love and loyalty to God will be most tested. Will we stay? Will we cling to him? Or will we go back into the world and seek fulfillment in its temporary solutions?

Ruth must have learned through her marriage into God’s family that Jehovah would not forsake her. She must have learned that He is the one and only Creator and Sustainer of the universe. She must have learned that difficult times come even to people of God, and that we should not be dismayed by such events. In the choice she made to stay she was both temporally and eternally redeemed.

Ruth’s decision to stay with Naomi and to stay with Jehovah was truly heroic. This is why the book of Ruth has been set before us by the Holy Spirit for our consideration. There is a reward that is coming to the people who stay loyal to God.

“In your patience (endurance – ESV) possess ye your souls” – Luke 21:19

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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

My Favorite Pen

It was the time for gift giving this past December. Our children, their spouses, our grandchildren, Donna, and I were all assembled for the yearly ritual.

As you might expect, the grandchildren were especially excited. That just seems to come with the territory when young children are involved.

However, this time there was something different about the excitement. To be sure, one of our granddaughters was excited about the gifts she might (and did) receive. She was also excited, though, about the fact that she had found gifts to give to the other family members. 

We found out later that she did a lot of her “shopping” around the house in which she and the rest of the family live. Her mother told us that she had to step in and “supervise” so that some valuable and useful things weren’t given away.

Finally, it was my turn to open my present! I’ve told people repeatedly that they’ve never seen something exactly like the gift I received. I carry it with me most of the time.

What I received is a combination ballpoint pen and stylus. It is a ballpoint pen on one end and a stylus for a tablet on the other.

Again, before you say that you’ve seen something just like this or before you say that you own one (or several) like this, I need to let you know why I don’t think that is true. You have not seen one that has the story behind it that this one does.

You see, when I opened the present and saw what I had received, I thanked my granddaughter. I’m sure every grandparent would do exactly that. That would not be unusual.

What was unusual was her response. She seemed very proud of herself and very satisfied that I liked her gift as she said:

“You’re welcome, Grampy. It didn’t work on my tablet.”

As I joined the other members of our family in laughter, my mind was racing in several different directions. One of those directions has to do with the openness and honesty of children. There is something refreshing about the fact that they haven’t quite mastered tactfulness, political correctness, etc. 

I also thought about the concept of “payback.” As our daughter tried to “make the situation better,” I thought of an incident that happened when she was even younger than our granddaughter is now. We had a couple of elderly ladies in our home for a meal.  During the meal – and for no apparent reason – our daughter said, “You two sure are old, aren’t you?” 

There was a kind of perverse satisfaction on my part that she was now the one dealing with something like this.  As they say – what goes around comes around. 

On a much more serious note, though, one of the directions in which my mind went had to do with how God views what I give Him. When it comes to my time, my energy, my financial resources, etc. do I offer to him only what is left over or what won’t work for me?

If that is what I do, I need to spend a lot more time in studying and meditating on the Word of God. If I will do that, I will find that I am wasting my time. 

God expects and deserves to be first in our hearts and lives. He expects and deserves and to receive only the best of what I have to offer. Anything else is unacceptable to Him.

I’m hoping that this somewhat humorous incident that occurred in our family will cause all of us to do serious soul-searching. I know it has caused this “Grampy” to do that.

By the way; the answer is “no.” The stylus does not work on my tablet. 

I carry it anyway. It is a reminder to me that somebody very special to me did what she could think of to do to try to show me that I am special to her.

I hope the Lord views my feeble attempts to serve Him in the same way.

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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Episode 82: How to Actually Enjoy a Busy Summer [Podcast]

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Summer is a wonderful time of year. If families are not intentional, however, the summer can pass without doing all those things they want to do. On this podcast, Adam and Leah talk about their busy summer, and share a few simple tips for making sure you enjoy these months and all the activities they contain.


Transitions” (Donna Faughn on A Legacy of Faith)

Making Summer Plans” (Arrows in Our Hand podcast)

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Cousins’ Camp 2017 has come and gone for another year. We have worshiped together, played games, done crafts, done sidewalk chalk, jumped at Vertical Jump Park, had our picture taken wearing our Cousin’s Camp T-shirts, eaten food (and lots of it), won prizes, put new flowers on the graves of their great-grandparents, fussed a little, cried a little, laughed a lot, had our talent show, sung together, prayed together, and had devotionals presented by Grampy and the three boys.

This was our fifth year for this gathering and it seemed like everyone had a good time. Three years ago we began assigning a theme for each year. The first theme was “Discovery” and the second was “Exploration.” This year’s theme was “Transitions.”

We’ve had some transitions in our family (just like each family does) that were worth thinking about. Jim retired from full-time pulpit preaching, Luke turned 16 and will be getting a driver’s license, and the younger ones have transitioned to higher grades. While no one moved to another place in the last year, each of them has undergone transitions in their lives as they moved to new places to live and attend school.

We want our grandchildren to understand that transitions come into each of our lives, and while some of them seem of little importance, some are much larger and affect life more drastically.

When the boys gave their devotionals, we were pleased to hear them talk about those in the Bible who underwent transitions in life. They talked about Saul of Tarsus, the Ethiopian eunuch, Jesus, and others who had great transitions in their lives. One even mentioned people from history like Martin Luther who made transitions in life.   

When our final prayer was said on our last morning together, Luke (our oldest grandson) talked about this theme and asked God to help us with the transitions that come into our lives. He thanked God for the time we got to spend together, and asked God for safety as they began to travel home.

Jim and I have been blessed to watch these grandchildren transition through life. With all of the ups and downs they still are moving in the direction of Heaven. Our daily prayer for them is that they will always live in such a way that their final transition will be to their heavenly home. I think they understand that a little better now after Cousin’s Camp 2017…”Transitions.”

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.  Make them known to your children and your children’s children…

so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.“  Deuteronomy 4:9,10

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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

Free Resources for Pew Packers (or Family Devotionals)

Nearly every Sunday evening, I get the privilege of sitting down front with some of our elementary and preschool children at 9th Avenue and leading Pew Packers. While you just never know what might happen during those 10 minutes, it is a joy to watch these students sing and learn Bible facts.

Pew Packers is considered by some to be outdated, but that is only if we treat it as such! Instead, I see it as 10 invaluable minutes each week with these precious children. As such, we are always looking for ways to improve Pew Packers and to make it a helpful time for our students.

Today, I am pleased to let you know that we have compiled a good amount of the information we have used, are using, and plan to use in Pew Packers and we have made it available on our website…for free!

At Polishing the Pulpit last year, I heard someone give an idea for a “Bible Passport,” and immediately wrote down the idea as something for our Pew Packers to do. We waited until after the Lads to Leaders convention to start our “Bible Travelers,” but I think the kids are really catching on.

Each week, we sing some songs, then we rehearse a few Bible facts. If a student memorizes a list, they are given a stamp that reads “9th Avenue Pew Packers Bible Traveler” in their passport. They also can get stamps for memorizing Bible verses.

With that in mind, you will find 3 pages of information on our Pew Packers page:

Bible Adventures Achievement List. This page lists the requirements for students to earn stamps in their passports. Some are very easy (sing the books of the New Testament), because we want quick “wins,” and also because we have some preschoolers in Pew Packers. Others, however, are more difficult. I’m sure that, over time, we will add more lists so our students can earn even more stamps.

Pew Packers Songs. We sing a lot in Pew Packers. Most of the songs are well-known, but we still wanted to provide a recording of the song, as well as the lyrics, just in case some do not know them.

Memory Verse Songs. Since students can earn stamps for memorizing Bible verses, we want to have a resource for families to help their kids with this. So, we have a page where we put short, simple, and memorable songs that teach Bible verses to kids. This list is growing constantly, especially as we emphasize memorizing verses from 1st and 2nd Corinthians this year for Lads to Leaders.

We hope this page is one you bookmark and will use often. Certainly, there are so many other things that can be done in Pew Packers or other similar programs, but we hope this at least gives you some more material to use. If your congregation does not have a program like this, these pages still contain information you may want to use in your family devotionals.

Either way, we hope you will take advantage of our Pew Packers information and help precious children learn the Word of God.

To access the page, simply click here.

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Hurting People are No Different than Fallen Trees

Boom! Whoosh! Clap! Crunch! Crash! These sounds were heard Saturday evening in Cookeville, Tennessee, where I live. Thousands of trees came down all over the county. Many of those trees landed on the tops of houses.

I woke up Sunday morning got out early and surveyed the damage. Many roads were still impassable. It looked like bombs had gone off and there was debris everywhere. If you looked right or left you could see the devastation. Power lines and trees were the biggest casualties. It will take our city a while to recover. It was a “hundred-year-old tree pulled up by the roots once in a lifetime” kind of storm.

When something like this happens to a town, people usually band together. For the last two days in Cookeville, there has been the constant sound of chainsaws buzzing. People are helping their neighbors and friends to recover. A person would have to have blinders on not to notice there was a need. When a huge tree is split three ways down the middle in the center of somebody’s yard it’s kind of hard to just believe that situation will go away. It needs to be addressed. The problem needs solving. It’s not beyond our capacity to solve it so we simply stop what we are doing and get to work.

While this seems so simple, I find it rather puzzling that when people are hurting in ways that don’t involve trees in their yard we often have a hard time noticing. We drive down the road of life, eyes straight ahead and, while people may be in our lives, we don’t look left or right into their lives enough to see that they have an issue. If we would just pay the slightest bit of attention we would see that people are hurting and they need our compassion and concern.

Or maybe the truth is that we CAN see that people are hurting. I recall Jesus telling a parable about a traveler that was robbed and beaten and left for dead on the road. He was passed by two men who claimed to be God’s children who saw his condition and did nothing. Maybe it was because they didn’t want the trouble. Maybe it was because they simply didn’t care. Maybe it was because they were too busy with their own business to pause in their day and lend a hand to a person that had fallen because he was broken by a terrible storm he hadn’t anticipated.

Hurting people are no different than fallen trees. Storms come. People bend until they break. The results are sometimes life-changing and devastating and there is a lot of debris.

Do we notice? Do we care? Will we offer to help? We define ourselves and our real purpose by how we answer these questions.

Because people are much more important than houses, yards, and trees.

“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”

Luke 10:36-37

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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

Photo background credit: Ash Kyd on Creative Commons

A Small Drawer, but With Huge Implications

Not too long ago, I was asked to speak at the memorial service for a fine Christian lady. During the service, something caught my attention.

At one point during the service, I was seated in a location where I had a very clear view of a very small drawer. Because of the location of the chair in which I was seated, I was able to, in effect, look over the shoulder of the body of the lady and see the edge of the bottom half of the lid of the casket. 

As I did that, I saw something I’ve seen a few times before. For some reason, though, this time it caught my attention and caused me to do some thinking. From the angle I had, it was very clear that the casket had been designed with a very small drawer in that portion of the casket. 

I thought I knew the purpose for the drawer, but I decided to go online to make sure I was correct in my thinking. As it turns out, I was correct. I found the following information on

Today’s funeral caskets have the option to come equipped with specialty drawers that allow you to incorporate a uniquely personal touch. Located on the lid or side panels, these memorial drawers are similar to ones you might find in a jewelry chest—small, elegant, and perfect for holding mementos that signify a lifetime of happiness.

The same website also provides the following information and suggestions:

Common items placed in the drawers include:

  • Wedding rings
  • Copies of photographs
  • Favorite books
  • Anything associated with a hobby or sport
  • Military or fraternal organization mementos
  • Letters to the deceased

Other options might include a packet of flower seeds for a gardener, a driving glove for an avid car lover, or some tees and a golf ball for a golfer.

If you are familiar with my often weird sense of humor, it will probably come as no surprise for you to learn that I smiled a little when I read the following on that same website:

“If you do choose to bury the deceased with some personal items, it’s important to remember that these are items you will not get back.”

On a much more serious note, I truly believe that there are some huge implications which may, in some ways, be symbolized by a drawer in a casket. Among those implications are the following:

  • Love does not stop when a heart stops beating.  Love lives beyond the grave. In fact, according to my understanding of 1 Cor. 13, love is greater than both faith and hope because, unlike them, it lasts throughout eternity. The love that God has for His people and the love they have for Him will never end. 
  • Sometimes, we wait too late to express how we really feel.  I wonder how many notes have been placed in caskets or how many words have been said as a person looks into a casket that would have done a lot more good if that had happened while the person was still alive. 
  • Something does not have to be huge to be great.  There was no huge storage container sitting next to that casket. There was only a small drawer in the casket itself. “Daily doses” of seemingly small acts of kindness probably do more to demonstrate love for spouses, parents, etc. than huge, elaborate gifts and/or celebrations.
  • We have an innate belief in life beyond the grave.  I have known many (too many) people who live as though this life is all there is to their existence. However, when I have been able to have really serious conversations with them, I find that they really do not believe that. They may scoff at the idea of any concept of judgment, heaven, and/or hell, but they honestly cannot totally dismiss the idea that they will exist somewhere after this life is over. 

Your list of implications may be much, much longer than mine. These are just few that come fairly quickly to my mind.

What you may have expected to see in that short list of implications was something about the futility of trying to take anything with us beyond the grave. That was not an accidental omission on my part. 

There is, in fact, something that we can “take with us” as we depart this life and enter the next life. What I have in mind is not anything that can be provided by anybody else; regardless of how much they love me, care for me, and want to help. It is entirely up to me. 

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them (Rev. 14:13, KJV, emphasis added).

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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

[Quote] G. Campbell Morgan on Backsliding