Convictions: The Heart of a Legacy
About the Guest
On the broadcast today, Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis, a ministry devoted to upholding the authority of the Bible, fondly remembers his late father, a principal with unwavering convictions who loved the Word of God and taught his children to do the same.
Ken HamThe president/CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis-U.S. and the highly acclaimed Creation Museum, and visionary behind a popular, full-size Noah’s Ark, Ken Ham is one of the most in-demand Christian speakers in North America. Ken is the author of many books on Genesis, including the eye-opening book Already Gone, coauthored by re...more
Ken Ham fondly remembers his late father, a principal with unwavering convictions who loved the Word of God.
Convictions: The Heart of a Legacy
Ken: If we don't do anything, if we just have children and leave it to the world or leave it to others, how are you going to pass that legacy from one generation to the next? It takes a lot of hard work, it's not something that just happens, but too many fathers, I think, don't take on their role of spiritual headship, but they leave it up to others, or they're too busy at work, come home, and then watch television, and don't really take that active role and then we wonder why we're losing the next generation.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, May 31st. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What are we doing as parents today to invest in the next generation? Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. You know, the first time I remember hearing the word "legacy" is when I was in the 6th grade, and my sister was going off to college, and she was going to go through sorority rush, and my mom had been an Alpha Phi in her sorority.
Dennis: An Alpha what?
Bob: Alpha Phi.
Dennis: Sorry, I've not heard –
Bob: You've not heard of the Alpha Phis?
Dennis: I've not been aware of the Alpha Phis recently.
Bob: Mom was an Alpha Phi and Julie thought maybe she'd want to be an Alpha Phi, too, and so I was asking Mom how all this worked, and Mom said, "Well, she has to go to all these parties and has to get invited," and I said, "Well, do you think they'll invite her?" And Mom said, "Well, she should because she's a legacy." And I said, "Well, what do you mean, she's a legacy?" And Mom explained that because Mom had been in that sorority, Julie should have an inside track. Almost as if to say, "We know your mom and because we know your mom, and we know that you're her daughter, you're in."
Bob: You know? And, in a sense, now, as I think about legacy from a different context, there is still a part of that old sorority/fraternity tradition that applies, isn't there?
Dennis: There really is, and what it means is going to the bank on the previous generation. Not literally to the bank in terms of financial gain but on their character and their reputation and who they were known as in the community, and we have a friend back with us again here in the studio today, Ken Ham, who has written a book called "Genesis of a Legacy." Ken, welcome back.
Ken: Thank you.
Dennis: Ken is the founder and president of Answers in Genesis, and as I mentioned on an earlier broadcast, a ministry of kindred spirit with FamilyLife in terms of their belief in the Scriptures and family and passing on legacies to future generations, and he also has given leadership to the newly opened Creation Museum there in the Cincinnati area and, Ken, we're looking forward to getting back to your area and going through the Creation Museum.
Before we get into more about this subject of legacy, because, really, the Creation Museum is all about that as well. Share with our listeners a little of your vision of what you hope the Creation Museum will be.
Ken: You know, I do see the Creation Museum as really part of the legacy my father left me because the way he trained us to stand on the authority of the Word of God and proclaim the Gospel to the culture and to give answers to what we believe, and that's the reason that the Creation Museum is really in existence.
That the Creation Museum is really all about standing upon the authority of the Word and helping people to know why they believe what they do to defend the Christian faith and to proclaim the Gospel. So it's a walk through biblical history using animatronic dinosaurs and the planetarium and the special effects theater, seats that vibrate and all that sort of things, and it's edutainment, I think they call it.
Dennis: Well, I've been there. I haven't seen the finished museum, but what I saw was very impressive, and the reason I liked it is it gives young people and parents alike, singles as well, a biblical worldview. It gives them the picture of the six days of Creation from a biblical perspective, and it does it with entertainment in mind, and I think people are really going to flock to this, personally.
Ken: Oh, I think they will and no just Christians, I think non-Christians, people you can't blow into church with a stick of dynamite. I think they'll get to a place like the Creation Museum because they're interested in that sort of thing.
It really helps people understand the two worldviews – you know, biblical worldview, secular worldview, different starting points, and then we teach them about that, and then we admit that our starting point is the Bible, so we talk about where it came from, its origin, how it all came together, and answer some questions about that, and then we start building from there, and to show them that when you take that as your axiom, the Bible as your starting point, and that's really what axiom really means, and you build your way of thinking and go out and look at the world, we can explain why people are here, why there's death in the world, why have different people groups, why there are fossils all over the world, and also what the solution is to man's dilemma, the solution in Jesus Christ. And so that's really what it's all about.
Bob: People who are going to make their vacation plans this year to come through Cincinnati to go to the museum, how long should they plan to spend in the museum?
Ken: Well, I would say most people, if they want to watch all the videos, go to the theaters and look at everything that's there, probably at least a day.
Bob: It's going to take a full day.
Ken: At least a full day.
Ken: We even have Noah's Ark café there. I'm not sure if we're going to have Brontosaurus Burgers or something, but it will be something like that.
Dennis: It's not second-rate. This is, what, approaching $30 million in terms of total cost?
Ken: Yes, approaching $30 million in total cost. The interesting thing is, we've had secular people, experts, who have built theme parks and other places around the world who said they couldn't build it for under $100 million, and it's got that sort of quality and that sort of technology in it. It's as good as or better than anything Disneyland or Universal Studios could do.
Dennis: Didn't you tell me when I was there that the dinosaurs – and I'm saying this for Bob's benefit, because I know he's going to want to see this – that the dinosaurs were actually built by the same guy who helped put together Jurassic Park's dinosaurs?
Ken: One of the people that's on board with us, he actually was a professor at a school. He taught the students who built dinosaurs like those on Jurassic Park. He actually taught those students – taught them how to do it. That's the sort of quality people that we have there, too. And so you better be careful when you come, Bob, because we'll put you on exhibit as a dinosaur.
Dennis: He got you back, Bob. Well, back to the subject of legacy, I've done a little research on this myself, Ken, and found that, it's interesting, the word "legacy" is not found in the Bible. But the Bible is all about legacies.
Ken: Yes, in fact, I use one of the verses there it talks about leaving an inheritance to your children and to your children's children. I like to apply that in regard to this and say our father didn't leave us a material inheritance, he had none, really, to leave, but he left us a spiritual inheritance, and that's what that legacy is all about.
A good reminder of all that, I think, is looking at the Israelites, and when you consider Joshua, and you consider Joshua and the elders that were with him, that's one of the great miracles, and it's very interesting, they were told to take 12 stones and build a memorial. So when your children ask what mean these stones, you won't forget to tell them of the things of the Lord. Pass on that legacy to that next generation.
And the sad thing you read about there is that when the elders that outlived Joshua died, he said the next generation served vile. And you can lose that legacy in one generation, and I believe, to put it in a modern context, I think what we could say happened was that the Israelite fathers just left it up to the TV – I'm putting it in modern context – left it up to the television or the public schools or others and didn't really teach them, remind them of those things.
I mean, that's one thing my father always recognized is that you don't just read the Bible once and think you know it. You need to read it over and over again, and we're simple creatures, and we don't want that salt, anyway, and we would rather not have it because of our sin nature. We're advised against God, and so that you have to be reminded of these things over and over and over again, and that's what God told the Israelites, you know, make sure you tell your children, don't forget to tell your children.
Look at Psalm 78 – "Fathers, teach your children." Tell them not to forget to teach their children and not forget to teach their children, fathers teach your children. The fathers forgot to teach the children, and you lose it in one generation, and then it's very hard to get that back and that's why we look at it – that our father passed on something to us that we're passing on to our children, and we praise the Lord we see our children passing it onto their children.
Dennis: And one of the points that you make in your book is that God doesn't have any grandchildren. That's an interesting phrase. What do you mean by that?
Ken: Well, when you look at the family, consider this – the family is the first and most fundamental of all human institutions, which God ordained in Scripture, and the family is the educational unit to pass His knowledge from one generation to the next, and Satan knows if you can destroy that in one generation, I mean, look at the Australian aborigines. When the Australian aborigines were first discovered in 1770, as Captain Cook sailed up the East Coast, an anti-god spirituous culture who had dreamed visions about the Flood and about Creation, and it sounded like Genesis.
But if the Bible is right, if the history is right from the Bible, then they're my relatives, and their ancestor was Noah, who knew God, who was a righteous man. He was a preacher of righteousness, and somewhere they've lost what they once had, and it only takes one generation to lose that.
And so we are to produce godly offspring to influence the world for Jesus Christ who themselves will produce godly offspring in this world for Jesus Christ generation after generation after generation, and if we don't do anything, if we just have children and leave it to the world or leave it to others, how are you going to pass that legacy from one generation to the next? Who is going to do that? You just lose it in one generation.
Dennis: Each generation has to have its own faith.
Ken: Each generation has to have its own faith and then pass it on to the next generation, and then they pass it on to the next generation, and the next generation influences the world around – you know, if you look at the Doctrine of Baelim, which is interesting to me, Baelim couldn't curse the Israelites, he wasn't allowed to. And so he came up with this idea – "I know how we can get God to judge them, because if we can get them to marry the pagans, then you're not going to get those godly offspring, you're not going to get the next generation. You can destroy their families," and that was really a way in which Satan, right down through the ages, tries to destroy families.
If you can do something that will stop you from instilling that faith in the next generation so they won't instill it in the next generation, and there's lots of examples of that in Scripture to make us realize how very, very important it is that we do what the Lord has prescribed concerning what marriage is all about, what the family is all about, to instill that faith in the next generation so they will then instill it in the next generation and on and on.
Bob: So you're saying if I were to look at two families and in one family there is an unbroken generation to generation transference of faith, I would likely find a very active approach on the part of Mom and Dad to pass along that faith.
Ken: There are always exceptions, of course, but I would say, generally, absolutely.
Bob: But if I'm looking at another family where there is a believing Mom and Dad and children who don't seem to follow after that, you would suspect that that Mom and Dad were not proactive in passing along their faith to their children.
Ken: And, generally – there's always exceptions, of course – but, generally, that's exactly what I see happening.
Bob: And I think of somebody like Eli in the Bible who had these wicked sons, and he was busy about the Lord's work but may not have been doing the job at home.
Ken: I've often thought about that, you know, that here he is, a great man of God, but if he didn't actively train up his children, then he loses it in the next generation.
You think of even Noah and his three sons. You've got Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Then you look at Ham. You know there was some problem with Ham, some sin problem.
Bob: You're a direct descendant from Ham – same last name?
Ken: I'm a direct descendant of Noah.
But if you look at Ham, look at his son Canaan and then look at his descendants. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Canaanites, the people who were judged for their rebellion, their sexual morality and so on, and I would say because Ham didn't deal with that problem, didn't deal with it with Cain being the youngest son and so on – look what happens. Look what happened to those generations and what you said I think is very, very important, and that is too many fathers, I think, don't take on their role of spiritual headship, but they leave it up to others, or they're too busy at work, come home, and then watch television; don't really take that active role, and then we wonder why we're losing the next generation.
Those that take a very active role – my father took such an active role in training up the next generation, and we have made sure, as parents, that we have taken a very active role. You know, our five children, praise the Lord, what we did was no guarantee of their salvation but, praise the Lord, all five children have trusted in Christ, and now we see our children – we have two who are married, we're looking for some partners for the other ones, by the way, if I can advertise for that.
Dennis: There you go. Bob and I have done that here on the broadcast.
Ken: Oh, we have a 24-year-old daughter and a 22-year-old son.
Dennis: There you go.
Ken: But it takes a lot of hard work. It's not something that just happens, it takes work.
Dennis: And I want to be careful to say here, we are not saying that just because all five of your kids are doing well that, therefore, someone who has four out of five or two out of three that are doing well and one who isn't, that they didn't do something right or they didn't do their job right in terms of passing on a spiritual legacy. Our children do have their own wills. They have their own ability to make their own choices, and parents can put it in their heads, they can teach the Scriptures, emblazon it across their minds, but it takes Jesus Christ to put it in their hearts.
I'm sure, even in your life, you've gone through your own forks in the road, Ken, where you've had to make some tough decisions of not necessarily – well, that demanded obedience. You had to decide whether or not you were going to obey God and do what He had called you to do.
Ken: That's true. In fact, even leaving school as a schoolteacher and obeying the Lord's calling to go full time into this ministry. Imagine if I hadn't done that, maybe there wouldn't be a Creation Museum. Well, the Lord would have raised up somebody else to build a Creation Museum, to do that, but the decision to come over here, that was a …
Dennis: To come to America?
Ken: That was a big decision, because you're leaving your father, your mother, your brothers and your sisters, and, you know, there's on of those Scriptures where it talks about that, about being prepared to do that.
Dennis: And you brought four children with you.
Ken: We brought four children with us, and we had one born over here, so she's both Australian and American.
Dennis: You actually came to America as a missionary to this nation.
Ken: We came as a missionary to this nation because we recognized that America is the greatest Christian nation on earth, and most of the influence, Christian-wise, in Australia came from America, and that's true of many other countries overseas, too. And so we believe the Lord had called us to be a missionary to this nation to call the church back to the authority of the Word of God because we saw the same problems in the church here as we saw in Australia and other places, and we saw the same compromise in the church. We saw the same problems in regard to families who are not building their thinking on the Bible and fathers not being the spiritual head of their house. We saw the same compromise with evolutionary ideas and so on.
You know, our heart went out to this nation, and the Lord just put that intense burden on us to come over here. If you're going to affect the world in that sense – you know, Paul had to go to Rome to reach the world. Now, I'm not equating myself with Paul or anything like that, but if you're going to influence the world, you've got to do from where the world center is, and so I believe that's why the Lord called us over here, and we made that step, and that was a pretty hard step.
Looking back on it, I'm surprised that we did it. You know, when you think about it, but at the time I believe the Lord gave us the faith to do that, and even for our children sometimes children don't like that sort of change, and you worry about how that will affect them and how they view their parents, you know, Christianity and, even me, being a father and being away a lot, as I'm sure you people are, too, you get concerned about how your children see that and will they see it as me not taking the time with them and so on.
That's why I praise the Lord for a wife who has always shown the children that she is 1 million percent committed to what we're doing, and she sees that she's called to do it as well, and her part in this, and she has never been negative about that to the children. I think that's had a great affect on them, a great spiritual impact on them – never seeing her being negative about that sort of thing.
And to go back to what you said before, I totally agree with you. You know, just because you can work hard and do the best with your children, but it's no guarantee of salvation. I've seen parents who are great active parents, teaching their children and so on, have six children, and one of them just, for whatever reason, I mean, each has to answer for their own sins – that was true of the Israelites, too, wasn't it?
You know, why are we in the situation that we are in? "Well, it's your father's fault because of all that they did." "Well, you're blaming us for what they did." "No, you have to answer for your own sins."
Dennis: Right, and what you're illustrating here through your own life is that legacies are built one decision at a time. You string enough good decisions, godly decisions, in a row, then you end up leaving a legacy of godliness to the next generation.
Ken: To us, it was very important that they see us, as parents, being obedient to the Lord and yet, at the same time, we were not to neglect them, and we were to involve them in all of that, too, and explain it to them very, very carefully. It's important for them to see my wife and I as one in these decisions, and I think that had a great bearing on them.
And the great thing about it is that they've seen the Lord bless our family in all sorts of ways and, you know, our children have grown up meeting all sorts of scientists and Bible teachers and others and seeing these people who love the Lord. The Lord has used that in their lives as well, I think, to have a great impact on them, because I've seen all these people who are qualified people, people who have studied a lot, people who have been to university, and yet they believe the Bible, and they believe God created everything in six days as the Bible says. That's had a great influence on them as well.
So the people that they mix with, people that they see, those influences – it all adds up, it all adds together.
Bob: Do you remember an incident that Steve writes about in your book when your parents sat you down and talked about goals for each one of you and for the family, the priorities that ought to be a part of your growing up?
Ken: Yes, my brother Steven, in particular, I think with the younger ones, Steven is 20 years younger than me, and it was interesting because my younger brothers, Steven and David, grew up in a culture that was different to the one that I grew up in. I grew up in a culture that was more "Christian," if I can say that in quotes, than they grew up in, and I think, too, as time went on, I think my father grew in these sorts of things, and so I think he did more of that with the younger generation, you know, in our family than he did with the older ones.
Dennis: More of?
Ken: Sitting down and setting more specific goals and I think he started to understand the importance of doing that sort of thing and to help them to be realizing their potential and looking at their gifts and their talents and what they should aim for.
That's had an influence on me, too, even though my father didn't do it as much with me, but I saw him do it with the others, particularly my younger brothers, and so we would look at each one of our children and talk to them about praying about what gifts have the Lord given you, what talents the Lord has given you, what do you think you should be aiming for, and we helped to direct our kids. Because we didn't tell them, "You will be this," or "You're going to be this."
You know, our daughter, for instance, Renee, was very interested in biology and physiology and so it sort of came up that eventually she was directed to be a nurse. And one of the things my wife and I have done ever since our children were born, even while they were in the womb, is praying for mates for them, if the Lord would grant that, and praying as to what they would be doing in their life. Because we're not just preparing them for their earthly life, I believe, either. I mean, because they're going to live eternally and have eternal ministries, and the way we prepare them now is going to affect them for eternity.
Bob: You've not just prayed for wives, you've also advertised for it on national Christian radio.
Ken: See, I believe in responsibility and sovereignty. They go hand in hand.
Dennis: There you go. Well, I want people to be responsible and get a copy of Ken's book, "Genesis of a Legacy."
Bob: And then they need to be responsible to do what you encourage us to do in the book – to be intentional as moms and dads to make sure that we are doing the real work of parenting, which is to pour a spiritual foundation underneath our children's lives so that they've got the foundation on which their faith can stand as they grow older, and they begin to embrace their faith as their own.
We've got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and I want to encourage our listeners to get a copy as well. Go to the website, FamilyLife.com, click the red button you see there that says "Go," and it will take you right to the area of the site where there is more information about Ken's book.
There is also information about a book, Dennis, that you wrote called "The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents," because in a very real sense what Ken has done with his brother in this book, "Genesis of a Legacy," is he's written an extended tribute to his father, and you've encouraged us over the years as adult children to express honor in writing to our parents as a way of fulfilling the 5th commandment, of honoring them with our words.
We've got copies of your book in our FamilyLife Resource Center as well. Again, go to tour website, FamilyLife.com, click the red button that says "Go," it will take you right to the area of the site where there is more information about both of these resources. You can order online, or you can call, if you'd like, at 1-800-FLTODAY, and we'll make sure to get the resources that you've requested sent out to you.
There is an additional resource that I want to make sure our listeners know about, Dennis. It's a DVD of a message that you gave not long ago at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage conferences. On Sunday morning, you know, we get the guys together, and we have the ladies together in a different part of the hotel, and we talk to the men about being husbands and fathers and talk to the ladies about being wives and moms, and you spoke to this group of men – I think it was in Virginia – a couple of years ago about being dads. And we've got your message available on DVD.
We're making it available right now to any of our listeners who will help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount. You can request a copy of this DVD. It's our way of saying thank you for your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today and after you've viewed it, you may want to pass it along to others who would benefit from watching this DVD or donate it to your church. Have it put in the church library or available for folks to check out.
Again, it's our way of saying thank you when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a gift of any amount. You can do that online at FamilyLife.com or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY and make a donation over the phone. Just make sure that we know you're interested in getting a copy of the DVD. If you fill out your donation form online, when you come to the keycode box, type in the word "dads," and we'll know to send a copy to you, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, make your donation over the phone and just mention that you'd like to receive the DVD as a thank you gift. We do appreciate your financial support of this ministry, and we hope to hear from you.
Well, tomorrow we are going to continue to look at how we, as parents, can be intentional about the spiritual formation of our children. I hope you can be with us.
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'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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