Monday, February 22, 2016

Passing on Family Stories through the Generations

You are in for a treat. My friend and colleague, Janet Thompson, is my guest blogger today. She will encourage and challenge you in your walk with the Lord. She is also releasing her new book, Forsaken God? You can find out more about Janet and her book a the end of this article. Be blessed!  ~Lori

 Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors? Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. —Joel 1:2-3

The Bible is a resounding call to remember God’s goodness throughout all generations. 

It’s a recorded history of our Christian faith reminding us why we believe and what we believe. Thanks to the saints who have gone before us, you and I have the privilege of reading the same Scriptures and biblical accounts our ancestors read. Now, it’s our job to ensure that God’s unchanging Word prevails and reigns through future generations. We need to pass on the hope we have in Christ by equipping the next generation to read and understand the Bible and accept Jesus as their personal Savior—not encumber them with rules easily broken, but guide them toward a relationship they wouldn’t forfeit or jeopardize for anything or anyone.

The Bible is a thread that intertwines us with previous generations who didn’t have radios, television, smart phones, computers, SKYPE, Google Hangout, tablets, or even electricity. They heard Bible stories told to them or read the Bible by the fire or candlelight, the same Bible you and I read today. No other book in history has traversed the centuries, crossed cultures, and still enjoys worldwide renown—even people who don’t believe in God acknowledge the Bible is a historical book.

 But it only takes one generation neglecting to pass down a heritage to the next generation for a way of life or belief system to vanish. 

That chilling fact underlines the magnitude of our responsibility as parents and grandparents to share the goodness of God with our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and for them to do the same: Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (Proverbs. 22:6 NLT).

God made sure the Israelites had a whale-of-a-tale to tell to future generations. Before freeing the Israelites, God provided a platform to display his miraculous acts and wonders for a story too incredible not to share . . . and we still tell the story today . . . or at least we should:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.” —Exodus 10:1-2

God specifically and repeatedly tells his people to pass down to future generations all the awesome wonders they saw him do because the younger generations weren’t there. God even told Moses to preserve two quarts of manna for “the generations to come” so they would appreciate the unique way God fed their ancestors in the wilderness because manna would never flow from heaven again (Exod. 16:32-33). New generations don’t know God in the same personal, experiential sense as their parents and grandparents, “Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm” (Deut. 11:2).

Telling family stories of God’s goodness keeps the memories alive. We all have them; we need to share them with our children and grandchildren. Can’t you just imagine the generation that came through the Red Sea on dry ground telling their wide-eyed grandkids sitting around the evening fire?
"Kids you wouldn’t believe it! The Egyptians took out after us in their chariots and horses and we ran as fast as we could for days to escape them. But we all came to a screeching halt on the shores of the Red Sea. Trapped between the Red Sea and the soldiers, we thought we were goners for sure. We were terrified … screaming and crying. But then, a miracle happened! God put a cloud between the soldiers and us, and Moses raised his staff over the sea and it parted right down the middle. I mean there was a dry path all the way to the other side!"

The kids are oohing, aweing, wowing, and begging to hear more.

"Yes, sir," great grandpa chimes in. "We thought we were dead for sure, but the next thing you know we were all walking on dry ground to the other shore. When the last person stepped on the other side, the cloud lifted and the soldiers couldn’t believe what they saw. So they thought they’d be smart and just follow us. We watched in awe as their horses started getting confused and bucking them off. And when they were all in the middle … the sea closed up over them right before our eyes!
            I tell you kids it was a miracle like none other. God saved us and we were all free! We were cheering, singing, and on our knees praising God for his amazing goodness to us. Be sure to tell your children and your children’s children about our incredible legacy."

Throughout the Bible, God warns and commands for the sake of each generation to pass down to the next generation the truths in his Word and his amazing goodness to all generations, so they would know him. 

Story-telling, both from the Bible and our personal experiences, is a great way to engage grandchildren and our children.

Steve Green wrote a song with the chorus, “Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.” 

Someday we’ll all just be a memory, but let’s make sure that memory is a good one

In your sphere of influence, starting with your own family and church family, “tell them” all you’ve seen God do and his unchanging truths. Influence the next generations to love and obey God with born-again, Holy Spirit filled hearts.

I pray my legacy to my children and grandchildren will be—Mom/Grammie was a woman who loved Jesus and lived what she believed.

About Forsaken God?
“Janet Thompson’s new book, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, provides a remarkable resource that equips us to intentionally remember the ‘God-incidences’ in our lives. Uniquely written, Forsaken God? inspires us to embrace the profound significance of reflecting on our God-moments and to pass on those memories—and the faith strengthened by them—to the next generation. With creative ways to help us remember God’s goodness in our own lives, prayer prompts, and discussion questions, Forsaken God? is a powerful resource for individuals and small groups alike. I highly recommend it.”
—Stephanie Shott, founder of The MOM Initiative and author of The Making of a Mom: Practical Help for Purposeful Parenting

More about Janet's new book: 

Our morally deteriorating culture has forgotten God's goodness to its own peril. Will the next generation even know God? The very survival of the Christian faith depends on creating a culture of God-memories that must start now! The Bible describes the potential destruction through all generations to people who forget God. The dangers are paramount.
Forsaken God? explores biblical examples of forgetting God as God repeatedly pleads for his people to remember his mighty acts and deeds. Janet Thompson provides an opportunity to recall your own memories of God and learn new ways to remember God's goodness and the power of sharing those memories with the next generation. The author and other contributors share open and honest stories of forgetting God's goodness and offer ways that help them to remember.
Each chapter includes questions and conversation starters for discussion in small groups, Bible study groups, book clubs, mentors and mentees, or with family and friends.
Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten is available at Christian bookstores, Amazon,, and signed at author’s website.

About the Author
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and an award-winning author of 18 books including Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, The Team That Jesus Built, and the Face-to-Face Bible study series. She is also the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.
Visit Janet at:


  1. Thank you Lori for allowing me to share this important truth with your readers: It only takes one generation for a family story, tradition, truth, God's be gone forever if we don't share with the next generation. So let's get busy sharing with our kids, grandkids, friends, family, mentees...we can make a difference in our world one story at a time!

  2. My parents barely/rarely took us to church and rarely told us about God or how he worked in their lives, until we were adults. The little they spoke of and what our grandparents told us, had positive results but as adults, we/I asked, "WHAT KEPT YOU FROM TELLING US OF THIS GREAT WONDER???" When my wife and I returned to church, we were involved in everything and I would tell my daughter Bible stories, as if I or we were living them. As she grew, I would tell her of my experiences with God protecting, and providing for me and us. Even with our struggles, she grew up praying and believing and trusting in this Very Present Active God, in her life.

  3. Praise God Gary you're living out Ps 145:4-7, Deut. 6:4-9 and so many others, and you're experiencing the blessings that I know your children will pass down to their children. It's hard to know why previous generations in your family would keep the amazing wonders of God a secret; but you're fortunate that they gave you glimpses to build on when you started your own faith journey. I hope you will tell the story you share in your comment to everyone who will listen,and even those who don't want to listen. We can turn our culture back to God, one God-story at a time.