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Do You Want to Leave a Godly Legacy in Your Family?

The Scriptures reveal three simple, yet seminal themes relating to the family and God’s Word.

By Dennis Rainey

Patrick attended a men’s conference where he heard me challenge the men to renew the wedding vows they had made before God. At the same time, Patrick’s wife, Beth, watched my message at home on television. A few days later, while planning a weekend retreat for nine couples, Patrick thought of my message.

He was just downloading and printing a copy of FamilyLife’s “Marriage Covenant” when Beth walked in and asked, “What would you think about asking our group to all renew their wedding vows, like Dennis Rainey talked about at the conference?”

Patrick replied, “I think the Lord is at work here, because I was just downloading it to ask you the same question!”

They ended up organizing a special ceremony in which each couple renewed their vows and signed each other’s Marriage Covenant as witnesses. “It was a beautiful expression of our love for one another and for our fellow couples,” Patrick wrote us.

Patrick and Beth decided to renew their wedding vows as an expression of faith in God and His Word. Stories like this show that, if you want to leave a godly legacy in your home, you must start with a foundation of God’s Word.

Biblical themes about family and truth

The Old Testament reveals three simple, yet seminal themes relating to the family and God’s Word. First, God gave us His Word to help us survive in a hostile world.

As Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” His Word is truth. If we are to experience change in our families, we must admit we are lost and need to find our way to the truth of God’s Word.

I often hear Christians complain that the Bible can’t be read in public schools. But do we faithfully read it in our own homes? The Bible cannot light a dark pathway if it’s lying, covered with dust, on an end table in the family room.

Second, God blesses those who honor and obey His Word. When a man and woman are married in a holy, lifelong commitment to God, and when they raise a family according to God’s principles, they receive His blessing. As Psalm 119:2 says, “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with all their whole heart.”

Does this mean they never have problems? Of course not. We are all soldiers fighting battles in enemy territory against a fierce opponent. Your family and mine will take hits. But our setbacks are temporary when we do things God’s way.

Third, the Old Testament shows how God established the family as His primary way for passing on the truth of His Word from one generation to the next. Psalm 78:5-8 declares:

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

The implication is clear. When parents don’t pass a godly legacy to their children, the entire nation suffers.

Societies are destroyed one family at a time; they are rebuilt the same way.

A family reformation

Leaving a godly legacy means choosing to begin what I call a “family reformation” in your home. Simply stated, a family reformation involves knowing, applying, experiencing, embracing, and proclaiming God’s truth about marriage and family. It’s a lifelong process of forming our lives, marriage, and family according to the Scripture. Each component of this definition possesses special significance:

Knowing God’s truth means learning the biblical blueprints for marriage and family. The problem is that too many Christians do not know the Bible. As a result, many marriage and family problems in the Christian community can be traced to this biblical illiteracy.

Applying God’s truth requires following God’s blueprints for our lives and family relationships. This means measuring our attitudes and actions against the yardstick of God’s Word.

Experiencing God’s truth occurs as we apply His Word repeatedly in our family. We’ve found that when couples truly experience how biblical truths can change their relationship, dramatic changes will occur in their families.

In the final two stages—embracing and proclaiming God’s truth—we see a person’s convictions take root and emerge. When someone proclaims publicly that which he embraces privately, he takes a huge step toward maturity and godliness. No longer is he satisfied with just seeing God work in his life and family; now he becomes a soldier for truth, a conduit of love, grace, and life change in others.

Making it practical

Now, let’s take my formula for family reformation and talk about two practical action points you can begin today in your home:

First, regularly read the Bible as a family and discuss how to apply its teachings to life.

Something as simple as reading from the Psalms, Proverbs, or the Gospels at the dinner table will provide nourishment and spiritual direction for a family.

One way to do this is to establish a consistent family night. Every family, regardless of the age of the children, needs some time each week to be together—to learn from the Bible, to have some fun, and to catch up on relationships. This is a time to slow down and to enjoy God and each other.

Second, begin to pray together daily as a couple. I believe if every Christian couple would pray together regularly, our nation would experience a spiritual renewal of historic proportions. Domestic disputes would drop dramatically, leading to a fall in the divorce rate. The impact upon the nation would be incredible.

The enemy of our souls, Satan, knows how effective prayer is. He’ll do anything to prevent it in a marriage. And our flesh gets in the way, too, because prayer demands humility before God. It’s hard to be in the midst of some selfish behavior and then pray with your mate-I know, because I’ve tried and failed!

Yes, prayer is one of the most difficult of all spiritual disciplines. But that’s one of the reasons God gave you His Holy Spirit-to give you the power to obey Him even when it seems difficult.

God wants to work through you so that you can courageously live a life based on the standard of God’s Word. Such a life will spark a family reformation that will continue for generations to come.

What kind of legacy will you leave to the next generation?

Adapted from One Home at a Time. Copyright © by Dennis Rainey, Focus on the Family Publishing. Used with permission. Used with permission.

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