Growing a Legacy
About the Guest
Not everyone leaves a physical descendent, but everyone leaves a legacy. Dennis Rainey tells how you how to grow your legacy by passing on the truth about God.
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
Not everyone leaves a physical descendent, but everyone leaves a legacy.
Growing a Legacy
Bob: Well, I guess there’re some people who I think do that pretty well, but I’ve even looked back at my own life and thought I can talk more easily and more regularly about the objective truth of scripture than I have talked about my own walk with God with my kids.
Dennis: That’s my very point. So would you say you give a higher mark on how we passed on the truth about God than you would our experience of God?
Bob: I don’t know if I would say we have but I would say I have. I would say I get a higher mark in that area. It’s hard to know what's going on broadly, but in this area, I have not done well.
Dennis: Well, I would agree with you. And personally, I think in the Christian community, there’s a lot of safety in the intellectual pursuit of who God is and passing on the truth of who he is to the next generation. I think there’s safety there. When you start talking about your own experience of God that can be a big time threat.
To have your children seated at a table, at the dinner table, or to be driving down the road and say, “Hey kids, let me tell you what God did in my life today. Let me tell you about how I experienced him in the marketplace” or an answer to prayer, I think that’s a far more threatening in terms of disclosure. I think it’s more difficult. I don’t think it’s just difficult on you, I think it’s difficult on all of us.
And yet, if you look at Psalm 78, it’s really what it’s commanding us to do. Let me just read it here. This is really a Magna Carta for what we’re to do with the coming generations, so it really is talking about your legacy.
It says, “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel which he commanded our fathers to teach their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and rise and tell that to their children.”
Bob: So that’s talking about passing along, in this case, the law which was what they’ve been given up until that point, teach your kids the Bible basically is what it’s saying, right?
Dennis: Yes. But in the first part of the passage there, it says, “He established a testimony,” what's a testimony? It’s the experience of God.
Bob: What we saw and felt.
Dennis: And appointed a law. So there is the objective truth of scripture, the absolute truth of God’s word we’re to pass on, but we are also to pass on our testimony. I don’t mean just how we came to faith in Jesus Christ. I believe we’re to pass on to our physical descendants, and if you’re single, to your spiritual descendants, to those you influence, your testimony about how you’ve experienced God.
Let me go ahead and finish it here. It says “so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments. Now, what’s the work of God? Well, it's him working in our midst. It's seeing what he’s doing in people’s lives. It's celebrating God’s goodness and what he’s doing there.
I think we need both, I think we need the absolute truth of scripture and the disciplines around scripture being passed on, but we also need the regular regimen of passing on what God’s doing in your own soul.
Bob: You know you’ve used the word “testimony,” the scripture uses the word “testimony” and I think that’s a good place for parents to start. I wonder how many moms and dads could look at their kids and say, “Okay kids, I want you to tell me the story of how I became a Christian.”
In other words, do your kids know your testimony? Do they know how you came to faith in Christ? If they don’t, why don’t they? And again, that’s a good place to start in telling them about your own conversion to Christianity.
Dennis: And if they don’t take a meal and tonight do dad and have him share his testimony and, maybe a week from now, take moms.
Bob: It's easier for us to read the great story of Daniel in the Lions’ Den and God’s deliverance of Daniel from the jaws of the lion. But some of us have had our own “lions’ den” experiences in life and have seen God deliver us. Why are we reticent to share those stories with our kids? Why do we not go there do you think?
Dennis: Well, do you want to know the truth?
Dennis: I think we’re afraid they’re going to think we are hypocrites. And in some cases, I think we don’t share it because we know
Bob: We’re hypocrites.
Dennis: You with me?
Bob: Yeah, and I follow what you’re saying.
Dennis: Our lives have got compromise and our kids see it, and it's like I can’t do that because to admit that means to admit I’m something that I’m not that they see every day. When you do begin to crack open your soul with your children and with your spouse, at that point, there’s whether it's a vulnerability there that says “I am in pursuit of God to experience him every day.”
I remember coming home, Bob, from work on more than one occasion and if you’ve gotten angry with your kids before you had dinner and you’re seated at the table and you’re starting to talk about something really cool that God did that day, it can cause those words to get caught just a few inches south of the Adam’s apple. I mean you start thinking “will my kids believe me?”
And yet, on more than occasion, we’ve sat around the table and I would tell the stories of who you and I interviewed in the studio and the story of God’s work in that woman’s life or that man’s life or that couple or that family. I want to tell you that is a privilege to hear people’s story. And it's part of what we do here on FamilyLife Today passing on those testimonies to our listeners which hopefully will cause their faith to grow.
Bob: So if you’re going to be intentional about passing on the work of God and the word of God, your own testimony along with the truth of scripture to your children and grandchildren, how do you do that intentionally? What are you doing? Are you starting to do more of this with your kids and your grandchildren?
Dennis: I think you start getting the truth about God by reading the book about God. This is something I can get on my soapbox about, Bob, because we have a generation of young people in our churches today who do not believe in absolute truth, where did that come from, it came from homes that are anemic. Pardon me for getting a little irritated about this, but this work doesn’t begin at church, it begins at home.
It's with mom and dad who crack the book open with their kids and yes they’re going to roll their eyes, and yes they’re going to act like they’re not interested, and yes they’re going to flip peas across the dinner table. They did all that with us, okay. They’ll survive it.
Read the book to your kids and describe to them who God is from the book. If you don’t know where to start, take Isaiah Chapter 40. That’s a great chapter to start in terms of who God is and what he’s like.
Bob: We have resources here at FamilyLife that we have recommended to countless parents on how you engage children at all ages around spiritual developments, spiritual transformation. You can go to Familylifetoday.com and there’s information available there about books we recommend that will help you as a parent live out this assignment right here.
Dennis: Okay, and the second part of this, how you pass on your testimony. You can do, as you said, Bob, share how you came to faith in Christ. But the other way is throughout the day, ask God to help you be more spiritually receptive, to be more in tune with what he’s doing around you. So when you get home at night at the dinner table, you’ve got something to share.
Let me tell you what happened. I walked by this person I worked with and I just felt like God was saying something to me, “you really ought to ask that person how they’re doing,” and I did. And you know what I found out? God does engage us in the common things in life as we live life every day.
I used to call this, Bob, when we were raising little ones, sandbox theology. It's getting down on the level of your kids where they live, and so when they lose their blanket you pray about where the blanket is. When there’s something going wrong at junior high or high school in relationships, and there will be, you pray about those matters and you engage your children in prayer about those matters and you train them in their own experience of who God is.
And then ask them the question, “Who’s experienced God this past week,” “How have you experienced him?” Share a story. And again, we’re not looking for the pious stories of children just mimicking parents, but it may be that way initially with little children. But as they get older, they’re going to have their own stories of what God has done.
Bob: So if somebody asked you today, how have you experienced God today or this week? What kind of a story would you think of to share because I think that’s where a lot of us get stuck as moms and dads?
Dennis: Well, I’m trying to think, Bob, as you asked that question, I put a question to you earlier that --
Bob: I want little time --
Dennis: I want a little time to process, but the reason I’m needing time to process, I’m trying to think of something that is not ministry related because we’re surrounded by things --
Bob: Going on here at FamilyLife.
Dennis: Everything here at FamilyLife in so many different ways. I’ve got a friend who is going through a divorce. I’ve had a chance to just reach out to him and I just tell him I’m praying for him and encourage him and it’s a small matter.
But in my opinion, I’ve tried to model the love of Christ to a guy who is hurting right now and who’s going through a very difficult time in his life. We all run in to those people, they’re all around us. And it may be us, we may be hurting, we may be going through a difficult time.
Bob: So it can be something as simple as God giving you grace in a moment to reach out to someone with compassion, with kindness, with love, and just knowing that as you do that God’s working through you.
Dennis: Right and have having a sense of that and not boasting in it, not piously acting like some Pharisee. Let me ring the symbol and let you know what a great person I am and how I gave this gift away. If you do that, you are defeating the purpose. Your kids are going to see right through you.
But you know what, the parents are listening to us right now, the individuals, the couples, you’re not going to do that. You’re not going to want to pass on some kind of false Christianity that’s pious and not anchored in reality. Just begin to pray and ask God that you do a better job of, first of all, experiencing him and then, secondly, calling it to mind in a way that you could pass it on to your spouse, to a friend, to a coworker, or to your children.
Bob: You know who has been wrestling with that issue in the new DVD that is just on his Larry the Cucumber. And Larry has been listening all week to this series and he’s back with us. He’s just finished starring in a new VeggieTales story called It’s a Meaningful Life where a lot of these same themes are being addressed. And Larry, again, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Larry: Hey Bob, thanks.
Bob: And I want to know you’re in this new DVD but who are some of the other vegetables who’re starring with you?
Larry: Well, there is Mr. Lunt, he’s in there. And there’s Petunia, sweet, sweet Petunia. And pretty much everybody, I mean we actually have a couple of new characters. We have a conductor character and then a little girl character, who I mentioned to you before, her name is Emma. She plays my daughter in the show and she’s voiced by Stevey Joy Chapman. She is a cutie pie. But all your veggie friends are there.
Bob: And she is your adopted daughter in the story and that’s a key part of the message and what it means to have a meaning life to invest in the lives of others, right?
Larry: Yeah, that’s exactly right.
Bob: I really think that that theme, if we stop and think living life is all about self, I think we’ll find it rings hollow at the end of the day. But when we see that our lives invested in the lives of others, that’s where meaningful lives comes from, isn't it?
Larry: Yeah, absolutely, and that’s what my character learns in the film. At the beginning, I’m just kind of worried about achieving my own success and the things that I think are important.
But later, I learn God put me in a place where I have the chance to really affect the lives of those around me and to love those around me and to really make a difference in the people that I love. And that’s a really important lesson to learn.
Bob: Well, just to know that we have a cucumber listening regularly at FamilyLife Today, I mean it does my heart good.
Larry: Yes, I’ve got my little transistor radio right here. You can just picture it. It's awesome, just tuned right in.
Bob: A couple of carrots sticking at the top, I can see it right now.
Larry: That’s right, yeah, not rabbit eaters, carrot eaters.
Bob: Thank you, Larry, for joining us.
Larry: Bob, thank you so much. Thanks for having me on.
Bob: And I hope our listeners will get in touch with us and get a copy of the new It's a Meaningful Life DVD. This week, we have been making the DVD available to anybody who can help with a donation of any amount to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
We’re listener supported. Folks like you keep us on this station and our whole network of stations across the country. If you can make a donation today of any amount, just go online at Familylifetoday.com, make your donation. In the key code box on the online donation form, type in the word “MEANING” so that we know that you’d like a copy of the DVD It's a Meaningful Life sent to you.
Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, make a donation over the phone and ask for the It's a Meaningful Life DVD. And again, we’re happy to send it to you and we appreciate so much your support at the ministry of FamilyLife Today and your partnership with us.
We hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend.
And I hope you can join us back next week. We have a few things we didn’t get to cover this week so we’re going to pick it up next week and talk a little bit more about the legacy that you leave to a generation you will not see. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Help for today! Hope for tomorrow!
We are so happy to provide these transcripts. However, there is a cost to produce them for our website. If you've benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs?
2010 Copyright © FamilyLife. All rights reserved.