The Foundation of a Legacy
About the Guest
What kind of legacy are you leaving to your children? Today on the broadcast, Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham talks to Dennis Rainey about the importance of leaving a spiritual legacy to your children.
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
What kind of legacy are you leaving to your children?
The Foundation of a Legacy
Ken: My father never had much in the way of material things. He left enough for my mother to live on so that she could see out her days here on this earth and be able to have food on the table and so on. But what he left us was so much more valuable than anything material. It was a spiritual legacy, a love of the Lord and a love of His Word and stand upon His Word, and that's the legacy our father left us.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, May 30th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We're going to talk today about making sure that the stuff we leave our children is the right stuff. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. This is going to be a little controversial. Do you think this is going to be controversial, what we're going to talk about?
Dennis: Leaving a legacy?
Bob: Well, no, not that part.
Bob: That part's not controversial, but we're talking with a guy who is best known around the world for being a supporter of a literal six-day creation as is found in the Book of Genesis, and there are some Christians who – that's controversial, to bring that up.
Dennis: I guess you're right, Bob, and I guess, to that degree, you would be right again – that this might be a controversial guest that we have on the broadcast.
Bob: But that's okay because we agree with him, right?
Dennis: I agree in the biblical account of Creationism, and, of course, we're speaking of Ken Ham. Ken, welcome to our broadcast.
Ken: Thank you, great to be with you.
Dennis: I was with you at your ministry's headquarters where you're building the Creation Museum there near Cincinnati and got a chance to tour the museum while it was under construction, so I've not seen the finished museum yet, and I look forward to doing that at some point in the future.
Ken and his team have done an outstanding job of building some dinosaurs and really doing a tasteful job of taking us back to the Bible and walking us through Creation as it occurred. And Ken is also the father of five children and four grandchildren. He and his wife, Mali, live near Cincinnati, and we're just thrilled you're here because you've just come up with a book along with your brother, Steve, called "The Genesis of a Legacy," and it really is centered around your father and his love for the Scriptures.
Ken: That's true and, in fact, this particular book is really our testimony as to why we believe the way we do and stay on the authority of Scripture and when I look at our father, the thing I remember most about him was sitting in his chair as we'd walk in front of the house and there he is with his glasses on, and he's reading the Bible and underlining the Bible, and he would stand on the authority of the Word of God. He would never knowingly compromise the Word of God.
He brought us up to know not just what we believe but why we believe what we do. I'll never forget times when – you know, we were transferred all over the state of Queensland in Australia, my father was a teacher, and at times we'd go to places where there were no churches. My parents would start Sunday schools, where there might be one or two churches, and he would want the church that's still in the Bible the best.
There were times when the preacher would say things that were not biblical. And my father would sit there with steam coming out of his ears, but then at the end of the sermon – I remember one where the pastor said, you know, the feeding of the 5,000. He said, a little boy took out his loaves and fishes and everybody else did the same. You know, what an example. Wow, my father was – he got up out of the pew there at the end of the service, and all the children, he would march us up with him, stand us there in front of the pastor, open up the Bible, "It is written, thus saith the Lord, haven't you read?" And he would quote the Scripture to him and tell him that it wasn't just a little boy set an example, this is a miracle of the Lord.
That's the legacy our father left us. Our father never had much in the way of material things. He left enough for my mother to live on so that she could see out her days here on this earth and be able to have food on the table and so on. But what he left us was so much more valuable than anything material. It was a spiritual legacy, a love of the Lord and a love of His Word and stand upon His Word.
Bob: You know, some little boys would be embarrassed if their father marched them up to talk to the pastor and to challenge the pastor, and they would go, "I don't want to be like that when I grow up."
Ken: Well, you know, maybe we were just used to it. I mean, it happened from when we were born, I guess. We just thought it was normal behavior.
Bob: How you're supposed to act.
Dennis: Well, you didn't grow up in Christian nation. Australia has an interesting history. Share that with our listeners.
Ken: Well, it does, I mean, I know you people here in America pride yourselves on the fact that your founding fathers had great convictions. I tell people "Hey, our founding fathers in Australia had great convictions, too."
Bob: They'd all been convicted.
Ken: Convicted of a different sort, but Australia is a pagan nation. It inherited that British system. It was sort of founded on the Bible in the sense of its morality, and when I grew up, when I think back in the '50s, for instance, Billy Graham came to Australia in 1959 when I was a very little boy, extremely little boy, a tiny little boy.
Bob: Right, so young.
Ken: Very young, but in those days prayer was mandatory in the schools. Students would have prayer in assembly before they went into school. Bible readings were also mandatory. You'd go into class and reach for the Bible, and most people had a knowledge of the Bible, an understanding of terms like God and Adam and Even and sin and Jesus and so on, and that's why you could have an evangelist like Billy Graham come and preach and thousands would respond.
Australia is very much like America today. We now have whole generations who have come through an education system devoid of the knowledge of God, Christianity is taught against, it's a different culture today. And so you have a lot of influx of different people from different cultures around the world. Today you say God, people don't hear the "God," they heard back in the 1950s. Now it's a Muslim God or a Hindu God or what sort of God.
But when I grew up in Australia, even though people would – if you talked about God, would know that you're talking about the God of the Bible. Nonetheless, probably less than 2 percent of Australians are born-again Christians and about 5 percent or so would attend church more than once during the year. So it was a pagan culture.
Dennis: And so your dad was really a trailblazer?
Ken: He really was in that sense, and the thing I remember about my dad and my mum is that they were always inviting missionaries to come and stay with them. In fact, the Open Air Campaign – you might have heard of the Open Air Campaign. It started in Australia, that particular mission organization and it's spread around the world – they often had them come and stay with them and as a result of one of those programs where they ran a mission to outreach to young people – that was in the days when you could load 55 people in a Volkswagen, and you didn't have to worry about seatbelts, but they used to go around and collect young people from the neighborhood and they had such a heart to bring them to these programs.
It was one of those programs, we were about 10 years old, this missionary gave us a challenge and that is if we want to give our heart to the Lord and be a missionary for the Lord, and I went for it and said, "Lord, I want to do what You want me to do, I want to go where You want me to go. I believe what my parents have taught me, and I really want to be totally committed to You."
And it was one of those programs that my parents were responsible for organizing where I made that real commitment to the Lord. I remember my brother, when he was with my father when he was dying, and I wasn't there, I was over here in America, and he asked my father a question that I guess we never really asked him. It was something that we always sort of wanted to know, but it was "Why did you love God's Word so much? What gave you such a fervor for God's Word?"
And he explained to my brother, my brother, Steven, and my brother Robert – my brother Robert is with the Lord now – but he explained to them that when he was a young boy about 16 years old, his father died. I never knew his father. And when his father died, he said he didn't have an earthly father, so he turned to the words of his Heavenly Father. And he read the Scriptures over and over and over and over again, and he had such a love for the Word of God and such a stand on the authority of the Word of God. He would never knowingly compromise the Word of God. He hated compromise.
I remember him opening up a little devotional book in Australia, and when it came to the account of the flood, and this devotional book from a fairly conservative Christian group said, "Oh, it was probably just a local event." I mean, you could almost – it was like a steam train with the steam pouring out of his ears, and he wanted to write to them and say, "They can't do this. We've got to write to them. We've got to tell them. We've got to counteract this wrong teaching," and that's the environment I grew up in.
Dennis: Do you think it was because it brought such hope to his own life? In fact, in your book you wrote about your dad. Your dad said, "I believe we need to read the Word of God, believe the Word of God, defend the Word of God, live and Word of God, and teach the Word of God to our children." His life was all about that and for him to have the steam pop out of his ears was because it was a part of his heart and his life. It was part of his convictions, right?
Ken: Oh, it certainly was, and I saw that every day. It wasn't something that was just now and then with him. It was all the time. He was principal of schools, elementary schools, and he was promoted every three years. He got the best report you could ever have from those who inspected the schools, and his schools were the best in the area, and the reason is because with him, he would often say, "If you're going to do something for the Lord, you have to do it properly, and you've got to throw yourself into it."
And he saw himself in the position that he was in; was there because the Lord allowed him to be a principal, and he had all these students under his care. He wanted them to see that he lived consistently and that he cared for them, and he wanted them to have the best education possible, and he also wanted them to be influence for the Lord, which was why he would invite special people into the schools to give programs for them, and his heart was he wanted them to love him. He disciplined them, but at the same time he gave them such a standard of education that they couldn't get in other schools in the area.
Dennis: We're talking about a legacy here, and you're using your dad as an example of a man who left a legacy, and you're saying at the heart of that legacy were convictions. And I just want to stop, Bob, for our listeners, because I think today in this culture we are so busy, we're doing so many things that as parents and as husbands and wives and single people who are living our lives, we may not take a step back long enough to evaluate, "What are my convictions?" What brings about steam like Mr. Ham had as his son observed that as a boy?
We must be a people today who have convictions, and I think that's the beginning point as you talk about leaving a legacy.
Bob: Do you think your dad could be an elementary school teacher today? Do you think he could live out those convictions that he lived out in the '50s in Australia?
Ken: You know what? He'd have a very hard time, and the reason he'd have a hard time is because if he felt that, as a Christian, he couldn't do some of the things that he needed to do or couldn't say some of the things he needed to say or stand up for what's right, you know, he was known as Merv the Stirrer, because he would stand up for what he believed and even in the church and some people would call him a "stirrer."
There were other teachers just wanted to smooth things over, but my father would say you've got to do what's right. I remember once when there were a couple of people in the choir, and they found out that there were homosexuals in the choir. My father said, "You know what? We want them in the church because we want to minister to them, and we want to give them the Gospel and show them we love them and help them and teach them from the Bible, but they can't be in the choir as an example to the others in the church." And he got quite stirred about those sorts of things.
Dennis: You know, I'm glad you mentioned what you just said, though, about here is a man who was committed to truth, but he also loved people.
Dennis: And, you know, if we compromise love and just hold the truth, which is easy to do, you know, I have a high justice side to me, and I feel many times God prompting me to say, "You know, Dennis, you need to make sure you are kind as well as right, because if you take people apart and don't love them, you'll never convince them about the Gospel."
Bob: Is it Ephesians 4:15 that says we are to speak the truth in love? Those have to be held in proper balance.
Ken: And even in 1 Peter 3:15 where it talks about "Be prepared to give answers with meekness and gentleness," and I think that's something that all of us have to learn, and I've learned over years, hopefully, more and more, because it is easy just to come out and sound judgmental and harsh when you're talking to people, and I just want to say I just praise the Lord for the fact that my father was spiritual leader in our house, and my mother saw him as that and together, to bring up their family, and because of his leadership that I am where I am today.
Bob: What did that look like in your house? His spiritual leadership and what kinds of things did you do as a dad because your dad modeled them for you?
Ken: Well, one of the things that we made sure of as parents, you know, my wife and married and have children – right from when they were born we started reading to them from the Scriptures, because that's what happened in our home.
And teaching them from books – people thought we were crazy when we started to show books to our children when they were born and going through the pages. They grew up loving those books. My father understood the concept that you need to teach people to acquire a taste of things for when they are young, and that taste will be with them when they're older.
An example I give in the book that we wrote, it was about Vegemite and how Australians love this food called Vegemite.
Dennis: Bob has actually had this.
Bob: I had Vegemite when I was in Sydney, and I understand it's now banned in America, is that right?
Ken: Yes, they banned it because it's got folic acid in it or something or other. We need to start to "Save the Vegemite" campaign in America. This is a black paste that has a real salty taste but right from when we were born …
Bob: It's awful, by the way.
Dennis: It looks like road tar on toast. I'm sorry, but it really does.
Ken: Do you know why you people eat pickles? You don't know how bad they taste because you were brought up on them from a young age, right? Just like we were brought up on Vegemite.
Dennis: Now, wait a sec, you don't like pickles, is that right?
Ken: They're disgusting. I don't know how you eat those things. See, I wasn't brought up on pickles. I didn't acquire a taste for pickles, so I can't stand pickles.
Bob: You were brought up on Vegemite?
Ken: I was brought up on Vegemite. I acquired a taste for Vegemite, so it's with me for the rest of my life. You know, it's like when Paul talked to Timothy who, from a young age, from infancy, you have known the Scriptures, and that's something that my father understood, and that is if you teach your children to acquire a taste of the things of the Lord when they're young, and set examples of taking them to church and reading the Scriptures to them and teaching the things of the Lord, they'll acquire that taste.
It's not a guarantee of salvation, but they'll acquire that taste, and that's one of the principles my father taught me.
Dennis: You believe the Bible should be taught as our axiom, is that correct? Explain to our listeners what an axiom is and why the Bible needs to be our axiom.
Ken: In reality, there are only two ways of explaining the universe and explaining reality. Either there is one who knows everything, has always been there, and that's what the Bible claims to be the Word of God who knows everything, or man determines truth. I mean, there are, in reality, only two ways of understanding things, and the Bible, over 3,000 times, claims to be the Word of God, claims it's God who created everything.
I mean, the Book of Genesis gives us an account of the origins of all the basic entities of life in the universe. No other book does that. If the Bible is what it claims to be, and it really is the Word of God who knows everything, then that has to be our starting point, that has to be our foundation to build our thinking.
One of the problems that we have, I believe, in our world today is that so many Christians, they don't really start with the Bible. They really start with man's ideas on all sorts of things and whether it's the family or how to bring up children or whatever, and then add that to the Bible. Whereas, my father always taught us, this is a revelation from God, this is the one who knows everything, so your thinking starts right here, and you build your thinking on that.
You don't take ideas outside the Bible and add them to the Bible. You build your thinking on the Bible, and I think one of the reasons we get into so many problems – I mean – how many Bible studies do I remember going to sometimes when I grew up, and people would say, "Well, what's your opinion or what do you think?" And then they all pool their opinions, whereas my father would say, "It's not a matter of our opinion. What does the Word of God say? Now, let's start here and build our thinking here."
Dennis: And because of that commitment to the Scriptures, your dad believed, and so do you, that each of us are theologians. Now, we typically think that a theologian is someone who goes to seminary; someone who has to get a degree in Scriptures after going for two, three, four years, but you believe the average parent today needs to be a theologian?
Ken: Oh, exactly. You know, my father recognized that if he was going to train his children up in the ways of the Lord that he had to study the Scriptures. The Scripture tells us "study to show yourself to prove as workmen under God rightly dividing word of truth" and so on. And there are many Scriptures that tell us about that, and he recognized that if he was going to have children and train them up that he needed to know the Word of God, so he needed to be a theologian and to be the spiritual leader, the head theologian in our family so that he could guide us in the right way, so that he could teach us the truth.
That's true of all of us. My wife and I recognized when we had children what a phenomenal thing this is. I mean, think about it – the Lord is entrusting to us beings who are going to live forever and ever and ever, and He's entrusting them to us to train. We need to make sure we train them in the right way. We better make sure we use His manual, we better make sure we understand what He says about training children not what others say necessarily but what does God say and just what others say on the basis of what God is saying.
And so that's one of the reasons why I recognized Him. My father was a theologian, and he taught us to be theologians. We need to teach our children to be theologians, and so on.
Bob: Douglas Wilson, who wrote the book, "Reforming Marriage," makes the case that a man needs to be the vocational theologian in his home and in his family, and he points to 1 Corinthians 14 where Paul instructs women to keep silent in the church, and if they have a question, they should go home and ask their husbands.
He said, sadly, many women today would say, "Well, I'm not going to go home and ask my husband. He wouldn't know." But Wilson says it's incumbent upon the man not to know everything but to know how to find the answers and to lead his family spiritually into truth.
Ken: You know, I remember at one church I was speaking at concerning the family and raising godly children and so on and talking about spiritual leadership and the husband being the spiritual head and submitting to each other and the roles God has ordained for us, and I had one man come up to me, and he had like five or six children. He had tears streaming down his face, and he just said to me, "Please, can you help me to know how to be a father and a husband and a spiritual head because my father never taught me," and he said, "I just realized I don't know what to do. I don't know how to do it. Please, can you help me?"
And my heart goes out to those people. I think back to the heritage that I have and think of the legacy my father left me and the legacy that we trust that we've left to our children, and then we'll instill that in the next generation and so on and recognize what a difference that makes in your life when you've got that legacy.
Bob: There's a very real sense in which this book you've written is your answer to that man, because as you point to your father's example, Dennis, he's helping not only that man but all of us understand what this picture ought to look like.
Dennis: And, you know, Bob, I think what Ken and his brother have written as a tribute, of sorts, to his father and his spiritual leadership of their family, I think a lot of men are going to get a picture of what it looks like. And in answer to your question that you just asked him, Bob, of what does that look like for a father to give spiritual leadership, and it's found in these pages.
I think today more than ever we need to equip men to be the men who don't have all the answers but who can spiritual lead and love and serve their wives and their families.
Bob: I think there are a lot of guys who have the desire who want to do what we're talking about, and they're not sure exactly what it looks like, and that's what you've tried to give us in the book that you and your brother have written, which is called "Genesis of a Legacy."
It talks about the right foundation for a legacy, the components of a legacy, and then how you build a legacy in your home – all of it by looking back at what your dad did as he was raising you and your brother.
We've got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and I would encourage our listeners who want to be purposeful and intentional as parents, get a copy of this book and begin to map out your own strategy for the kind of legacy you will leave to your family.
The book, again, is called "Genesis of a Legacy." You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and click the red button you see in the center of the home page that says "Go." That will take you right to area of the site where you can get more information about Ken's book and about other resources available from us here at FamilyLife.
In fact, I was thinking about the book you've written and, in a very real sense, Dennis, what Ken and Steve have done in this book is what you've encouraged all of us to do in the book that you wrote, "The Best Gift You Could Ever Give Your Parents." They've written a tribute to Ken's dad, and I know you're not encouraging all of us to write a book as a tribute to our parents, but you have encouraged a lot of us to make a statement of honor to our parents, and we've got information in our FamilyLife Resource Center about the book you've written as well, "The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents."
Again, our website is FamilyLife.com, and if you click the red button that says "Go" in the center of the screen, it will take you right to the area of the site where you can get more information about the resources that I've just mentioned.
You can also call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, if that's easier for you – 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. Someone on our team can answer any questions you have about these resources or make arrangements to have the resources sent out to you.
By the way, also this month we are making available to any listeners who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount, we'd love to send you as a thank you gift a DVD of a message that you gave, Dennis, at a recent Weekend to Remember conference talking to the men about our assignment as dads. And much of what you had to say in that message tied right into what we've been talking about today.
This DVD is something that men could watch together in a small group or something that a dad could take with him if he's traveling and wants to watch something on the plane or it's something that you could pass along to someone else, maybe someone who is becoming a dad for the first time.
You can request a copy of that DVD over the next few weeks. Anytime you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of FamilyLife Today, if you're donating online at FamilyLife.com, when you come to the keycode box, we'd like to ask you to type in the word "dads," d-a-d-s, and we'll know that you want a copy of this DVD. Or call 1-800-FLTODAY and make your donation over the phone and just mention that you'd like the DVD from Dennis and, again, we're happy to send it to you as a way of saying thank you for partnering with us and for your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Well, tomorrow we're going to continue our conversation about being intentional, about passing along a legacy of spiritual vitality to the next generation. 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'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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