The Legacy We Leave Behind
About the Guest
Today on the broadcast, Answers in Genesis President, Ken Ham, talks to Dennis Rainey about the legacy of noble character that his father left to him. Hear Ken share his father's last wishes and how he honors his dad still today.
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 talks about the legacy of noble character that his father left to him.
The Legacy We Leave Behind
Ken: My father taught me two things – he taught me if something looks like it contradicts the Bible, you go back to the Bible, you make sure, and you take the right understanding of Scripture in context according to the literature, you know, the radical, historical, interpretive method, when you have that right [unintelligible], and you're sure that's what the Bible is saying, then you know there is something wrong with that is being said outside of Scripture, even if you don't know what it is, then you don't doubt the Word of God. You need to wait for answers.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, June 1st. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. As parents, are we teaching our children to look to the Bible for answers, even when the culture is pressing them in other directions?
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. You remember a little while back when we had Greg Vaughn as a guest on our program. He talked about dads writing letters.
Dennis: I've been doing that. Have you been doing one of those?
Bob: I haven't started yet. I need to carve out the time and make it a priority.
Dennis: I've sent a couple of letters and have had some phenomenal response to that, Bob.
Bob: Well, it's interesting, because he said most of us don't have anything in our dad's handwriting. He didn't, and he said that's something of great value that he would love to still have – something in his dad's own pen.
I got to thinking about that, and I thought, "What do I have that my dad handed down to me?" Whether it was a letter that he sent or anything that he gave me and said, "This is something I want you to have." And as I started to think about it, my mind went immediately to material things that a father might hand down to a son, and then I thought all of us have something that a father hands down to us, either for good or for ill, and that's character, that's a legacy, right?
Dennis: Right, and your dad gave you a legacy of character. I'd like to make a guess at one of the things that I bet you thought about, because you had it hanging in your office for a number of years.
Bob: Yes, I've got a – and my mom did this. She took a picture that she had of my dad as a young captain in the Army, and several of the medals that he earned in World War II.
Dennis: Talk about character.
Bob: And I have his Purple Heart and his Bronze Star and his Army of Occupation medal, and his 359th Infantry Division insignia, and the oak leaves from being a major, which he was a major when he retired. And then he was a part of the group called the Texas and Oklahoma Division. They called themselves the "Tough Hombres." They used the T and the O and called themselves the Tough Hombres. And I've got all of that hanging in my office just as a reminder of my dad's courage and his commitment to defend our country.
Dennis: And you think about that – that has to be a time, something you look to and take courage yourself as you face tough issues in your own life, leading your own family, moving into the future. And we have a guest who has been given courage by his dad, because his dad was a courageous man from another country, from Australia, and Ken Ham joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Ken, welcome back.
Ken: Thank you, great to be with you again.
Dennis: Ken is the founder and president of Answers in Genesis, which is a kindred spirit ministry because they believe in the same biblical game plan for marriage and family and interpreting life that we do and really believe in the authority of Scripture, and Ken's written a book called "Genesis of a Legacy," and he along with his brother Steve have really shared about the life of their father and the impact.
I have to ask you what Bob was just talking about – what do you have tangibly to remind you of your father. Do you have a letter he wrote you in his handwriting that affirmed you as a man? Some object of memory that just rivets you back to the man who impacted you the most?
Ken: Well, I do have something very special that my father left for me, and it's a little model Noah's Ark, and that little model, Noah's Ark is …
Dennis: Noah's Ark, now how big of a model are we talking about here?
Ken: It's not that big, it's only about two feet long and …
Dennis: He built it out of balsa wood or something?
Ken: Yes, he built it out of – I'm not sure what sort of wood it was, but it's an interesting story. My wife and I, you know, we've lived over in America for about 20 years, and one way we got ourselves back to Australia was to organize a tour and take Americans back and teach them a bit of culture, that sort of thing, get them over to Australia and take them up the East Coast.
My family used to get involved in Brisbane, and my father used to look forward to these times when we'd bring this group of 35 to 40 American tourists, we'd bring them to their home for a barbecue and a big meal, and my father would give them a devotion. He would teach from the Bible, and they also enjoyed that.
Well, in the year that my father died, he died just before we were coming over to Australia, and so when we arrived in Australia – we still went ahead with the tour, and my mother still wanted them to come to her place, and so we came in that evening with the American tourist group, and in the swimming pool – my mother had a house with a swimming pool at this stage.
In the swimming pool, there was this model of Noah's Ark floating, and it had a Kentucky flag on it, and it had an Australian flag on it. My father had built this ark. He wanted to surprise me. He even weighted it in the bottom so it would turn on its side and not turn over. He really put a lot of thought into it. I mean, he wasn't a builder or anything like that, but he spent a lot of time, my mother said, on this because he put that there, and he did that because he knew of our ministry, the Creation ministry, and he's one that stood on the authority of the Word of God, and he knew how important it was not to compromise, and Noah's flood was important for him in regard to being a global flood, and there was something that he'd come across in the church, where people were saying it was just a local flood.
And so here was this ark sitting in the swimming pool, and my mother presented it to me, and she said, "Your father would have wanted you to have this." And that ark is actually going to be on display in our Creation Museum. In fact, down at the chapel, after people go through the Creation Museum, there's a chapel, and on the outside of the chapel, there is going to be a special display, and the ark is going to be in there and also my father's Bible.
My brother David was given my father's Bible, and it meant a lot to him, and he'd written all sorts of notes in that Bible, and it had sermon notes in there, and that is a treasury. To me that is a treasury, because that really represents the legacy that my father left me, and it's worth more than millions and millions of dollars. How do you put a price on a soul in that sense, because my father trained me to love the Lord, and I'm always reminded my father and praise the Lord for him.
Dennis: He pointed you to the authority of Scripture and, Bob, I've been to the museum. It wasn't quite finished when I was there, but I have seen the area where you have a replica of the ark actually built in the museum. Do you think that part of why you have that replica as part of the tour as you follow this journey through this nearly $30 million museum telling the story of the origins of humankind and the authority of Scripture, do you think the reason you have that ark on the tour is because of your dad's model?
Ken: Well, I like to think so. I'm sure it's a contributing reason to that, because when I think of the way I was brought up and the fact that when I went o high school and was taught evolution, you know, in those days we didn't have a Creation Museum, we didn't have all the books that we have today. We didn't have the DVDs that we have today. We didn't have the answers that we have today.
I remember coming home to my father and saying, "What do I do with millions of years? What do I do with the fossils? What do I do with evolution? What do I do with all these ape men? And he didn't have the answers at that stage. And instead of telling me, "Oh, don't worry about that," or "What did the school teaches you?" It doesn't matter. He didn't say that.
What he said was, "I don't have the answers right now to that. We need to search for answers. Just because we don't have them doesn't mean there aren't any. And you don't compromise the Bible, you don't change what the Bible is saying about Creation, about the Flood, you don't change any of those things and so we can't believe them just because you're hearing something that contradicts the Bible."
My father taught me two things – he taught me if something looks like it contradicts the Bible, you go back to the Bible, you make sure, and you take the right understanding of Scripture in context according to the literature, you know, the radical, historical, interpretive method, when you have that right [unintelligible], and you're sure that's what the Bible is saying, then you know there is something wrong with that is being said outside of Scripture, even if you don't know what it is, then you don't doubt the Word of God. You need to wait for answers.
And I remember that the first major book that came along that I found was a book published by Dr. Henry Morris and Dr. Whitcomb, "The Genesis Flood," published back in 1961. It's the book that really started the modern Creationist movement, and I remember going to my father. I'd heard about this book and found it in a dusty old bookstore in Brisbane, in the city of Brisbane, and the bookstore had one copy, and he said he had a special burden from the Lord to have that book there.
Ken: He said the Lord just gave him a burden to put that book there, and he had one copy, and that's what really gave me the first lot of main information to help me know I could defend my faith in this area. I took that back to my father, and he was excited, you know, to think, "Wow, here are the answers. We're now finally starting to get some of these answers."
So "The Genesis Flood," Noah's Ark, that's all got a very special part of my upbringing.
Dennis: And just to finish the story of your father's legacy here, as folks take the tour of the Creation Museum and they come to the ark, what can they expect to see right there? It's really pretty cool. I saw it, again, when it was unfinished, but I was impressed even in its raw form.
Ken: They're going to come to an area that reminds them of "Pirates of the Caribbean." Have you ever been to Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland?
Ken: And the reason is because you're going to walk into this area and suddenly you're going to see 12 animatronic figures. You're going to see them building the ark. You're going to see Noah and his foreman there, and you're going to get a sense of the reality of the ark that is real. We're going to have a big picture up on the wall. There's a great big mural that shows you the size of the ark, and here is a section that we built here.
Dennis: You've actually got a piece of it right there in the museum.
Ken: It's right there in the museum, and you'll say, "So that's that big, and that's this little bit of the ark, wow." And you get a sense of the reality of the ark, and then you can actually walk inside the ark and pretend that, "You know, I'm going on board Noah's ark," and as you walk through that area, there's going to be all sorts of action going on, and questions being answered, and there's a whole series of displays that answer all sorts of questions about the ark, how Noah could fit the animals on board, and so on.
As I grew up, too, people often scoffed at me, scoffed at my father, scoffed at my mother for believing the Bible – "How could Noah fit all those animals on the ark? Do you believe in the Creation account?"
And, see, we'd make sure we'd answer all those questions. A lot of things that I went through as a child growing up and as a teacher, I was a teacher in the public schools, the skeptical questions were asked of me that I couldn't answer. When I found those answers that's why many of these are in the museum because, hey, I had to struggle through those, and I want people to have these answers.
And that's what my father wanted. He wanted us to have those answers, and the Noah's Ark section is a very special section, and I think when people walk in there, they're just going to stand for a moment, and they're going to take in the enormity of it, and they're also going to get a sense of "This was real. This was enormous. This was something that really happened," and that's what we want people to get that sense of.
Bob: You know, if we still had it today, it would really be the 9th wonder, the 8th wonder, whatever number it would – it was an amazing engineering feat in ancient times, wasn't it?
Ken: Oh, certainly, and I'm sure if we had it today there would be pieces of it in all sorts of places all over the world, but, you know, I often wonder about that. You know, when you bring that up, people often say, "Wouldn't it be great to find Noah's ark?" You know, in the Bible in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, and the rich man wanted to come back and warn his brothers about this place of torment, and he couldn't. So he said to Lazarus, you know, go back and warn them so they don't come into this place of torment and so on.
Remember what was said to him. They have Moses [unintelligible] "Nay, Father Abraham, but if one went under them from the dead they'll repent. If they don't believe in the writings of Moses neither will they be persuaded if one rose from the dead," and that's why the Bible is such a focus in the museum. We're not just talking about the evidence of fossils and Noah's ark and so on but helping people understand we start from the Bible is because – just because someone found Noah's ark doesn't mean that they're going to believe the Bible; that's going to convert them. It's the Word of God that converts and it does make sense of the world.
But if Noah's ark is there, I'd like to find it, though.
Bob: You were in the United States when you got word that your father had died. Tell us how you found out.
Ken: I'll never forget – I was in a hotel room in Indianapolis, and we were about to do a big conference in the convention center there. It was an "Answers in Genesis" conference, and the phone rang, and it was my brother – my brother, Robert, telling me that my father had passed away from heart problems and so on.
I hung up the phone and just five minutes later a radio station called, it was time for me to do an interview, and it was the hardest interview I've ever done, and I didn't even tell them what had gone on, and I did that interview because I'd promised to do that and, you know, thoughts racing through my mind and so on.
You see, I knew that my father had problems. I knew he was in hospital, and we weren't sure it was going to happen, but we had a couple of these big conferences planned and lots of people were coming. I wanted to go home to be with my father but, at the same time, he had already told me that all those people that are coming, they need to hear the Word. That's more important. There are people that won't be Christians. There are people that need to be in heaven, and you need to go and preach to them.
And so I walked across the parking lot after I did the radio interview. I went over to the Indianapolis convention center, and I did the talks that I normally gave, and …
Bob: With no mention to anyone of what had just gone on in your life?
Ken: No, I couldn't – I wasn't going to mention that. I think somebody announced it at the conference at the end, mentioned that to them, that they could pray about that.
I'll never forget that. That was a pretty emotional time; that was pretty hard for me in a way. Then I thought to myself, this is what my father said, you know, his legacy to me was to love the Lord, His Word, to preach it, to see people converted, see people in heaven. And so that gave me the confidence to just out there and just give my talks the best that I could. In fact, I was saying, "My father wanted me to do this, and I'm going to do it," and that's what I did.
And then we went back to Australia for a special memorial service. You know what was interesting about that memorial service, you know, a friend of mine went to the funeral and actually videotaped the burial for us in a special private ceremony, and then we went back a couple of weeks later and had a special memorial service, and a lot of people there, a lot of people.
Each of his children got up, and we gave a little [unintelligible] about our father, and there were six of us. Although none of us had spoken to each other at all about what we were going to say, we all got up and basically said the same thing, and it was basically we praise the Lord for our father, he wasn't perfect, none of us are perfect, but he would never knowingly compromise the Word of God, and he taught us to stand on the authority of the Word of God. And every one of us in our own way said that.
I'll never forget, one of my friends in Australia who is about the same age as me, he came up to me afterwards, and he looked at me, and he said, "You know what? I'm going to go home and ask my kids, 'what are you going to say about me when I'm dead?'" And I thought, "That would be a great title for a book, wouldn't it? What are your kids going to say about you when you're dead? What sort of legacy will they be talking about when you're not here? I've never forgotten that, and I think I actually put something like that in the book, actually.
Dennis: You actually did, in fact, as you were sharing just now, I thought of Paul's words to Timothy in 2 Timothy, chapter 4, among Paul's last words to a young man he'd been mentoring – "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus," he goes on to say, "Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching."
Then he goes on to say a little bit later, he says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." And that, really, is what you're challenging people to do in your book. You're challenging them to run their race faithfully as God has set before them just as your father did.
Now, I'm going to give you an assignment, Ken. Some of our listeners have heard me do this with guests on our broadcasts before, but I think it might be really special to allow you to give your father a tribute. This book that you and your brother wrote – Steve – is a tribute to your father, but I'm going to ask you to, in essence, seat your father across the table from you right here, and give him a verbal tribute that takes cover-to-cover of your book, and in between it puts your heart.
Bob: And we'll – tell you what, we'll give you a minute to think about that, and I'll let our listeners know how they can get a copy of the written tribute that you and your brother have written to your father. It's called "Genesis of a Legacy." The great thing about this book is it really does give us a pattern, a model, of how we can inspire and encourage our children to walk in the faith, and I think, Dennis, when it comes right down to it, that's the biggest part of our assignment, as parents, is to make the spiritual handoff to the next generation, and, Ken, your book gives us a roadmap for that just by looking at what your father did.
We've got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center. You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com. There's a red button that you'll see in the middle of the screen that says "Go" on it. If you click that button, it will take you to the area of the site where you can find out more about Ken's book, and you'll also see information there about a book that you wrote, Dennis, called "The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents," which is your encouragement for all of us to do what you've asked Ken to do here verbally, and that is to honor our parents with our words in writing by writing a tribute to them, and with Father's Day coming up, there may be some who want to take on that assignment, even with just a short period of time between now and Father's Day. You could still make it a very meaningful Father's Day by taking some time to write out a formal tribute to your father.
There is information about this book, "The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents" on our website, along with the book, "Genesis of a Legacy." Again, click the red button that says "Go," that you see right in the middle of the home page at FamilyLife.com. So go to the home page and click that red button.
Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can make sure that the resources you need are sent out to you.
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This month when you make a donation of any amount, you can request a thank you gift from us. It's a DVD of Dennis speaking at a recent FamilyLife Weekend to Remember conference. It's a message that you gave to the fathers at the conference about our assignment as dads, and we'd be happy to send you a copy of this DVD is our way of saying thank you for your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We appreciate those of you who partner with us in helping to make this program possible on this station and on other stations all across the country, and we hope to hear from you.
If you'd like a copy of the DVD when you make your donation, simply type the words "dads" into the keycode box in the online donation form or mention that you'd like a copy of the DVD when you call 1-800-FLTODAY and make your donation over the phone. Dennnis?
Dennis: It's been our privilege this week to have Ken Ham with us, the president of Answers in Genesis, and I'm going to ask you to give that tribute, a verbal tribute to your dad, and in doing so just address him as you spoke to him with your own name that you refer to him as your father.
Ken: Well, that's a very interesting challenge, and I appreciate the opportunity. If my father was sitting across from me right now, I mean, first of all, I have to think of how do you think someone would train you to love the Lord and know you've got eternity with the Lord forever? I'm not even sure how you thank someone for that, but I would say, Dad, I'll never forget growing up and transferred all over the state of Queensland. I'll never forget the stand that you would take on God's Word as you participated in church meetings and as you told us about that.
I appreciate the fact that you told us about what you did so that we could understand how you stood on the authority of God's Word. I appreciate it so much that you would start Sunday schools, and you had such a heart for wanting people to love the Lord, and you played that out. I saw it happen over and over again, and I knew that you were real. I knew that you meant it.
And the sacrifice that you and Mum would put into making sure that your own children and other children heard about the Word of God and to hear the Gospel. I remember times when missionaries stayed in our home, and they didn't have any money to move on, and I knew you didn't have any, either. But you had a little bit, and you gave them what you had knowing that it was for the Lord, and that the Lord would provide. I saw that sacrifice, and when I saw you challenge pastors – you weren't afraid to challenge pastors.
They'd studied at Bible college, gone to seminary, and you were never afraid to challenge them, and that had an affect on me, because I saw that you were prepared to stand up for what you believed. And when you threw your whole heart and soul into your job as a teacher, because as a Christian you wanted people to see that you worked hard and whatever you did, you did it unto the Lord, and I saw that. I so praise the Lord for that.
I'll never forget your favorite verses of Scripture – "It is written, thus saith the Lord, have you not read" – that had such an impact on me and such an impact on my life, and the fact that you encouraged us to look at what you had called us to do for our ministry here on earth, and you didn't try to force a particular direction on us, but helped us and guided us.
I want to say that when I look back on my life, and I look at our children, look at our grandchildren, now I want to look at the Creation Museum, look at the books that are being written, videos that I've been involved in, it's all part of your legacy because of what you did, because of what Mum did, because you brought us up in the way that you did, this is part of that legacy that has not only affected our children and grandchildren, but thousands, if not millions, of people around the world, and I just want to thank you and praise the Lord for that legacy.
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