Medley of Tributes, Part 1
About the Guest
Dennis Rainey encourages listeners to honor their parents. Hear some memorable tributes from Andrew Palau, Jani Ortlund, Crawford Loritts and others pulled from the FamilyLife Today archives.
Various GuestsFamilyLife Today features marriage and family experts who have devoted their lives bringing biblical principles to people in ways that positively change their lives. With each program, we are continually reminded that people throughout the world are receptive to the messages of love and hope offered by our radio guests.
Dennis Rainey encourages listeners to honor their parents.
Medley of Tributes, Part 1
Bob: Nancy Leigh DeMoss remembers being challenged as she read Dennis Rainey’s book, The Forgotten Commandment, about the need to honor her father and her mother.
Nancy: I found that it was important that I stop being a taker and get on the giving end in this relationship with my parents—that I was to develop a grateful heart, to focus on those areas in my parents’ lives and their walk with the Lord that contributed positively to my life—to make a big deal about those—to express to them, to God, and to others the gratitude that I rightly ought to have for their investment in my life.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, March 20th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll hear today from Nancy Leigh DeMoss and others about the importance of honoring our fathers and our mothers. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. Anyone who has listened to FamilyLife Today for any length of time has undoubtedly heard you, near the end of a program say, “I’ve got one final assignment for you.” And if they’ve listened for any length of time, they know what’s coming next—the guest usually doesn’t know what’s coming next.
Dennis: No. They get blindsided by it.
Bob: But you sneak up on folks with this final assignment. Usually, it’s because, in our conversation with a guest, we have visited their relationship with their parents at some level. You decide: “Well, if we’re going to talk about your time with your parents, we need to—
Dennis: —“end our time by talking about blessing your parents and honoring them.”
So, I’d turn to them, at the end of the broadcast, and I’d say: “Okay. What I want to do is I want to seat your mom / your dad across the table from you. Bob and I will leave the studio; and I just want you to look them in the eye, and I want you to give them a tribute. Can you do that?”
Bob: For some folks it’s easy; for some folks it’s a challenge. But I don’t remember many people saying, “I don’t think I can do that,” or, “…want to do that.” I think there’s something in us—we want to be able to say these things to our parents.
Dennis: Yes. There’s something about doing it on radio—of truly lifting up your parents and, “I want to honor you for what you have meant in my life.”
Bob: Back 20 years ago, you wrote a book on the subject of honoring your parents. That book is now being re-released in a 20th Anniversary Edition. It’s called The Forgotten Commandment. It challenges us to honor our parents and to take the tangible step of writing out a written, formal tribute that we would hang in their home or that we would present to them in a special way, where we speak words of honor.
I remember one of the guests we had on FamilyLife Today,who we talked with about this subject, was Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She had heard you give this message in a local church. It challenged her to write a tribute. She came back and shared that story with us.
[Previously Recorded Interview]
Nancy: Dennis, I believe this is an important commitment for all of us, as the children of God. One of the Ten Commandments is the command to honor our parents. It is the first commandment with promise—that if we do honor our parents—that it will go well with us, that we will be blessed, that generations to come will reap the blessing of that obedience. There’s also in the Scripture a curse that is promised to those who reject their parents. So, if we want to walk in the way of blessing, then we will honor our parents.
If you’d asked me a few years ago, “Do you honor your parents?” I would have told you that I felt that I did; but in recent years, I’ve learned—thanks, in part, to the book, Dennis, that you wrote—learned some of the ways that, without intending to, that I had really dishonored my parents. God used that tool to bring repentance to my own heart, to give me understanding, and to show me the need to go further in this pilgrimage of honoring my parents.
I grew up in a godly home. I have always had a sense of gratitude for that heritage. I have felt a commitment to honor them. And yet, as godly as my parents are, there are failures, and faults, and flaws in their lives. I found that in some of those areas I was, as you say in your book, putting my parents in prison to my expectations of what it meant to really be a godly parent.
I found that it was important that I stop being a taker and get on the giving end in this relationship with my parents—to focus on those areas in my parents’ lives and their walk with the Lord that have contributed positively to my life—to make a big deal about those.
Bob: There are listeners who are thinking: “You know what? I’d just rather not mess with it. I’m 26” or, “I’m 31. I’m pretty well cut off from my parents. I don’t want to have to deal with going through all the gunk. Can I just move on with my life?”
Part of what I hear you saying is: “You can’t. The Scriptures insist that you move toward honor.”
Nancy: Not only do the Scriptures insist, but it is impossible for us to really distance ourselves from our parents. We cannot go through life and separate ourselves from that relationship—so many have tried. I think, Dennis, I’ve listened, over the past several years, to the stories of a number of single men and women who have sought to go back and establish relationship with their parents.
I think a couple things we need to highlight here—one, that it may not be easy. This is where the cross comes into our lives. The cross of Christ is a picture of the innocent being willing to absorb and bear the pain that the guilty inflicted upon Him. As men and women—adult children—we need to be willing to, if necessary, cross those barriers—get past our own selfishness, and pride, and expectations—yield up our rights and be willing to bear the cross on behalf of others—and with no expectation of how the parent will respond.
I think, if we go into this thing of honoring our parents with the sense that: “This will make it the wonderful relationship I always hoped for it to be,” then I’m still going as a taker.
I have to go into that willing to honor parents, who may not be honorable—willing to honor parents, who may have sinned grievously against their children, and may never come back seeking forgiveness.
But if we could see them as wounded people, who desperately need to be healed, then we might be willing to step into the shoes of Jesus, who went to the cross. He was willing to be wounded so that by His wounds we might be healed. It is our willingness to be wounded—to bear the wounds of those who’ve wronged us—that ultimately may become the means to their being healed.
Bob: Well, that, of course, is Nancy Leigh DeMoss talking about the power of expressing words of honor—something that we’ve invited a lot of guests on FamilyLife Today to do. We’re going to get a chance to hear from some of those folks on today’s program.
One of the people we’re going to hear from is the former National Champion Coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, and the founder of Promise Keepers, Bill McCartney, who—I don’t know if he ever wrote a tribute to his mom and dad—
Dennis: No, but he had received one. Coach Mac just talked about the profound emotional impact that this can have on a dad’s life.
[Previously Recorded Interview]
Bill: Nineteen ninety-five—over the July 4th week—our children were all gathered together. What had happened was—one of them had read your book—and in reading the book, had gotten an idea from it and had passed it along to the others. So, they asked Lindy and I to sit down—and they had a surprise for us. We started with Mike. He read his tribute to us. It just touched us unlike anything could have.
We got four plaques—each one written in script in great detail—about things that they remember about the upbringing, both with their mother and with their father.
They were generous with me. They had to be because their love for their mom is so profound. It comes out in these tributes that they paid to her. I tell you, when he started reading these things, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. It stayed that way through all four of them—very deep, touching stuff.
Bob: I think it’s good to hear from the perspective of the one being honored, just how—
Dennis: You could hear the emotion in his voice. He’s reliving it.
Bob: Yes, how meaningful that is for a parent to have children come back and speak words of honor. We had a guest on FamilyLife Today—this was a number of years ago. Jani Ortlund is the daughter-in-law of Ray and Ann Ortlund.
Ray was the pastor of Lake Avenue Congregational Church in southern California for years—well-known author and speaker—his wife, Ann, a well-known speaker, as well.
When their daughter-in-law, Jani, was on FamilyLife Today, you said, “Do you want to give a tribute to your mom?” She did that—she spoke words of honor to her mother.
[Previously Recorded Tribute]
Dear Mom, how I love you. Some of my earliest memories were sitting in your lap, having you turn the pages of my favorite book, House Full of Prayers. You always seemed to be ready to read to me, even though you were busy caring for all four children while Daddy traveled all week.
I remember on Friday afternoons—you slipping into the bathtub and spraying yourself with perfume—getting out of your work clothes and into your dress to greet Daddy as he returned after a week of traveling throughout the upper Midwest.
I remember you going to work so that I could go to Wheaton College. Thanks for that, Mom. I remember the days when I’d be sick; and you’d bring me a soft-boiled egg and toast-points up to my bedroom and take care of me.
I remember you singing as you ironed, even though you were so tired. I remember you teaching me how to mop a kitchen floor properly and how to cook. I remember you taking me to the Red Owl, there in Minneapolis, and teaching me how to shop on a very limited budget.
I remember your own tears of joy as you showed me your one new outfit for that year when Daddy was going to take you to California with him on a trip. I remember you telling me about how to love your husband and how to love your children. As you look at my four children, I hope you see your imprint in them.
Thank you, dear Mom.
Bob: That’s Jani Ortlund sharing a tribute to her mom when she was a guest on FamilyLife Today.
Dennis: And one of my favorites, Bob, is when we had Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the movie-producer brothers. They had spoken in our interview with them, on numerous occasions, about the impact their father had had in their lives. I’d like our listeners to hear what Alex had to say about the impact his father had had in his life.
[Previously Recorded Tribute]
Alex: I want to say that there are not too many people that would have had a public opportunity to say, “Thank you,” to their dad. So, I first take this as a great honor and a great privilege. I would say:
I don’t ever and have never wanted to be anybody else’s son. I’m proud of my dad, Larry Kendrick.
You are a gift to me—for teaching me to love God—for demonstrating that yourself.
Your struggles were real for me. I also saw you seek the Lord for how to get past them. I have watched you struggle with multiple sclerosis and what it means for you, but I’ve also seen you impact an untold number of people because of your faith—because of your consistency. Dad, I want to say that I love you. I love you.
I could do a lot worse than being just like you—and I am, like Stephen, and like Shannon—the three of us—it is an honor to pass on a faith in Jesus Christ to our children that you introduced us to. We look back, and we do not see a perfect dad; but we see a dad who was very real for us. You were not a hypocrite, and I thank you for that.
I thank you for forgiving those who have hurt you and demonstrating to us that there is a Holy God in heaven who loves us and wants the best for us. We can trust Him with our life. I learned that from you. So, every book that we have written and every movie that we have made would not have been made had you not taught us to walk with the Lord. Thank you, Dad. I’m proud of you, and I love you.
Bob: That is Alex Kendrick sharing a tribute to his father. Do you think that was meaningful?
Dennis: No doubt about it. If you knew more of the story of the impact that his dad had in Alex’s life, it would be even more meaningful for our listeners.
Bob, there is another tribute, though, that I want our listeners to hear today. It’s that of a prodigal.
Bob: Yes. This is Andrew Palau, sharing a tribute with his father, Luis Palau, who is a well-known international evangelist.
Luis, for a number of years, prayed for his prodigal son, who was far from the Lord.
Dennis: He brought his mom and dad a lot of pain. So, this tribute really comes out of a lot of tears.
[Previously Recorded Tribute]
Dad and Mom, I love you. I am so grateful that you never gave up on me. I just thank you for persevering through the difficult days— for having the boldness and the love for me to take me for the walk, and to plant that seed, and help me to know the truth that God did love me, and that He had a plan for me, and that He had made a sacrifice on my behalf. I thank you for writing the letters that you wrote to keep that at my attention.
I thank you for writing the books that would be another tool to bring that lifeline into my life. I thank you for sic’ing the Campus Crusade guys on me, who, in those awkward moments, just persevered to do what they certainly must not have wanted to do. And I thank you for praying faithfully and bringing me to the festival, in expectation that God would do a miraculous work in His time.
If anything good has ever come out of my life, I know it’s because of your dedication to the gospel, and to your faith in God, and your confidence that the Good News has power to radically transform lives. I love you, and I’m grateful.
Bob: Andrew Palau, giving words of affirmation to his dad, Luis, and to his mom—just honoring them with this tribute.
Dennis: Bob, you remember we’ve received—I don’t know—a phone call or, really, a packet—a letter from a woman, in a church in Pennsylvania, who had led her whole church in writing tributes to their parents.
Bob: They had a particular Sunday where they invited everybody to bring a tribute. I think they hung them around the church where people could go and read these tributes.
Dennis: Right. The pastor was incredibly encouraged as he saw adults taking honor back home to their parents.
Her name was Vicki Case. Her parents had divorced. Her dad was a very stoic man, and she wrote a tribute to her dad. I want our listeners to hear the rest of the story.
Bob: She shared about giving a tribute—first, to her mom—and because that went over so well, she ultimately wound up giving a tribute to her father, as well.
[Previously Recorded Interview]
Vicki: It was her 70th birthday—was coming. She wanted a family-and-friends dinner at one of her favorite restaurants. I thought: “Oh! This is going to be the time to do that tribute that Dennis talks about.” I contacted the invitees and asked them to either say something funny, do a tribute, or do something. I knew I was going to do a tribute, but I didn’t want to demand that of them.
We had the dinner party. I read my tribute, and I looked up at each member of the party. There were tears coming down everyone’s faces, including my own. Then, I knew the power of a tribute. My mom had had a tough life, but she was a good mother. She struggled as a single mother.
It was marvelous. She put it in a book—showed people whenever they would come in.
My parents were divorced, and I saw what happened with my mom. I thought: “Oh, gosh! When could we do one for my dad?” Of course, you want to repeat a good experience.
So, Christmas Eve, I found out that my father was inviting his brother down from Ohio—and all of his family—all of his children and his wife. They’re never together—I mean, all the family is never together. I thought, “Oh-oh, this is a good opportunity.” So, I called my brother, my sisters, called the children of my uncle, and told them what I had in mind. We would spring it on the brothers on Christmas Eve—and do tributes to them or something funny.
Actually, my uncle’s family ended up doing quite a routine, but my father’s children did tributes. He didn’t know anything about it. I looked around. It was so quiet. My father is not an emotional man; but what he did was—he came up after it was all over. He said to me—and in a way I didn’t know how to take this: “I understand you were responsible for this.” I thought, “Oh-oh, I’m in trouble now.”
Then he said: “It’s the nicest thing that anyone’s ever done for me in my life. Thank you.” He’s not an emotional person. Two days later, my stepmother calls me and she said: “I want you to know that that night your father sat on the edge of his bed and he said, ‘Now I can die because I’ve heard from all of my children.’” So, I knew the power of a tribute.
Bob: That’s Vicki Case, sharing about the tribute she wrote for her father.
Dennis: You can hear the healing that takes place in that, Bob.
Bob: She talks about the power of a tribute. What is the power that’s there—do you think?
Dennis: I think it’s the power of the Ten Commandments. When you fulfill what God commanded, you’re going, mainstream, into what God wants us to do. I just want to remind our listeners what it says—Exodus 20, verse 12: “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God has given you.” I’ve got—you can see what I’ve got written at the top of it, Bob—“TheForgotten Commandment.”
Bob: —which is what you, ultimately, named the book that you have written on the fifth commandment—as you have encouraged people to honor their fathers and their mothers. The book is just now out in a 20th Anniversary Edition. We believe that there are a lot of young people—in their 20s, and their 30s, and their 40s, maybe even in their 50s or 60s—who need to wrestle with this subject:
“How do I, as an adult, express honor to my parents? Even if it has been a difficult relationship—even if we’ve been estranged—what’s my responsibility to obey and to keep the fifth commandment?”
That’s what you talk about in the book, The Forgotten Commandment. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and order copies of Dennis’s book online. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—and order over the phone. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
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Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Just let us know that you’d like to become a Legacy Partner. Please pray for us this week and next week, as well—pray that we would be able to exceed that goal of a thousand new Legacy Partners joining with us, here on FamilyLife Today.
I hope you can be back with us again tomorrow. We’re going to hear more words of honor from adult children to their parents as we continue our focus on the fifth commandment this week.
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.
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