Roger Marsh: Well, hello there. I'm Roger Marsh. And today on Family Talk, we're sharing the enlightening second half of Dr. Dobson's recent conversation with grandparenting expert Larry Fowler. Larry Fowler is the founder of Legacy Coalition, a national ministry focused on equipping Christian grandparents to fulfill their biblical role of impacting their grandchildren for Christ. Larry and his wife Diane have two grown children and seven grandchildren, and they live in Riverside, California.
The Legacy Coalition serves and ministers to grandparents through podcasts, webinars, blogs, and other resources. The ministry also conducts a national conference on Christian grandparenting called the Legacy Grandparenting Summit, which is coming up next month on October 21st and 22nd. Now, to learn how you can attend the summit in person or at one of the satellite locations, just visit drjamesdobson.org/broadcast. Today, Dr. Dobson and his guest Larry Fowler will be sharing some stories from their own lives.
They'll also talk about the importance of blessing your grandchildren and what that actually looks like in real life. Let's go there right now.
Dr. James Dobson: We were talking last time about building relationships with your grandkids. I had another godly grandparent, a grandmother in this case, who was grouchy and cranky and boring and never played with me. When I went over to the house, I was bored. I guess, I was not influenced by particularly that one because she loved the Lord, but she never seemed to understand that why relationship mattered. And again, it illustrated for me the importance of taking the time to know that child. You have written in some of your materials that is important for grandparents to bless their grandchildren. Talk about that.
Larry Fowler: Well, I had only heard the word blessing. I wish I would have known this years ago. I'm guessing you had this on your show many years ago and I missed it.
Dr. James Dobson: We did.
Larry Fowler: The whole idea of the verbal blessing and pronouncing the Levitical blessing over your kids was something that is a pretty new idea to me. I have only known of that idea for maybe 10 years. And if there's anything I wish that I would have known early in my journey as a grandparent or even as a parent, it is this.
Dr. James Dobson: I'm sorry. We learned that from the Jewish community.
Larry Fowler: We do. We do.
Dr. James Dobson: Israel in early examples.
Larry Fowler: We have kind of done away with rituals in our Christian faith that are actually very important teaching tools. That's one in the Jewish faith. That's a very, very important teaching tool in addition to all the other benefits of a blessing. But I see the blessing as we're talking about as the opposite of prayer. Prayer is speaking to God on behalf of others. A blessing is speaking to others on behalf of God. And who better to do that than a grandpa or grandma into the lives of grandkids?
We regularly bless our grandkids, especially the little ones that live near to us. My youngest is now six. When he was two, we would take him for the afternoons and he'd have a nap at our house. He would protest the nap every time. My wife, Diane, would tell him," Micah, it's time for your nap," and he would say, "No want to take a nap." He would protest, and she wouldn't listen to it. She just say, "Okay, but before you do, grandpa wants to give you a blessing."
She would bring them over to me, and I would take this very, very active, never standing still two-year-old. Put my hands on his head and something miraculous would happen. He'd stand still. I put my hands on either side of his face, look him in the eyes, give them a great big smile, and I'd say, "Micah, the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you a peace. Now, go take your nap." And you know what? He never protested his nap after I pronounced the blessing.
He would go right up and lay down and go to sleep. And that was it. And after a while, he wanted it. He would say, "Grandpa, you give me peace." Because at two years old, that's what he called it. He remembered that last phrase.
Dr. James Dobson: You think he understood what you were doing?
Larry Fowler: No. No. Not so much. At one point, this is still when he's two, he said, "Grandpa, what's peace?" Try explaining that to a two-year-old. I'm not sure he had a comprehension, but he knew it was something loving and positive and good. As our grandkids have gotten older, of course, how we do it as different.
Dr. James Dobson: These are wonderful ideas, Larry. We're talking to Larry Fowler. Have you written a book on this?
Larry Fowler: No, but there's some great books out there.
Dr. James Dobson: Why not?
Larry Fowler: Well, because there are some good books out there. I have chosen to write on some things for which there are no books. Gary Smalley and John Trent have an incredible book on the blessing.
Dr. James Dobson: As a matter of fact, you asked me if we've done a radio program on this subject then. It was with them.
Larry Fowler: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I mean, they're wonderful. There's not so much the need for that. A good friend of mine, Kevin Harper, has written a book called Courageous Grandparenting. And in that book, he has a chapter on the blessing. There's material out there on... And there are videos it too, where parents and grandparents can watch to get an idea of what's meant by the blessing.
Dr. James Dobson: Let me read you something I wrote since we're on that subject.
Larry Fowler: Awesome!
Dr. James Dobson: This is from my book Legacy. By the way, I think it's important to understand the difference between a legacy and an inheritance. And inheritance comes from what you give, usually materially in money or property or whatever it is. An inheritance is things.
Larry Fowler: Yes.
Dr. James Dobson: A legacy is what you build in someone.
Larry Fowler: Absolutely.
Dr. James Dobson: We're talking today about building a legacy in your grandchildren. Well, I want to read to you from my book on Legacy. Psalm states precisely what God wants parents to do regarding the training of their children. The verses were intended not only for the children of Israel, but for you and me. "This is our assignment. Read these verses carefully. 'O, my people, hear my teaching. Listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables. I will utter hidden things, things from old.
What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us, we will not hide them from their children. We will tell the next generation that praise where the deeds of the Lord, his power and his wonders, the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law of Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children. So the next generation will know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn will tell their children. They would put their trust in God and not forget the deeds, but would keep his commands.
One generation commends your works to another. They tell of your mighty acts. Come my children, listen to me. I will teach you the fear of the Lord.'" Psalm 34:11 and Psalm 78. Isn't that wonderful? That tells us what as grandparents we ought to be trying to do.
Larry Fowler: You know what's fascinating to me about Psalm 78 is I love those verses. Psalm 78 is a recounting of the history of Israel that wasn't all so good. But I think that that Psalm was written somewhere around 500 years after Moses. Maybe somewhere around that time. How many stories from our ancestors of 500 years ago do we know? Somehow they were able to pass on those stories for 500 years.
Dr. James Dobson: Isn't that amazing?
Larry Fowler: And that's the vision that grandparents need to have. It's interesting that there in Psalm 78 dimensions to generations that are not yet born. We tell grandparents, that's a vision you have to have. This is not about you impacting your grandchildren and have them grow godly. Your vision has to be for your grandchildren's grandchildren.
Dr. James Dobson: That's what I was really trying to say with Legacy.
Larry Fowler: That's what legacy is.
Dr. James Dobson: We lose the generational understanding if we're not careful. That's what's worrying me right now about the generation that's growing up now. They don't know Christ and they don't know the Scriptures. They don't know what revival used to be. We lose that generational impact, and that's what we're commanded to do is don't forget the wonderful things the Lord has done in our family. If you have a Christian family, your grandkids need to hear those stories and know about it.
Larry Fowler: Well, and when you're a young parent or a parent of even middle schoolers or teenagers, you don't think so much about passing on the family stories to your kids. When do we start thinking about that? When we become grandparents. That's why the engagement of grandparents is so important. If they're going off on cruises and they're going to just retirement villages and separating their relationships with their children and grandchildren, those stories, those face stories, never get passed on because you kind of naturally don't think about doing it when you're a young parent.
Dr. James Dobson: Kids love stories. They want to hear them.
Larry Fowler: They do. They do. They want to hear them. In fact, I have a few stories. I tell my grandkids, "I'm going to keep telling you these stories over and over again, until you can tell them back to me. Because I want you to be able to tell this story to your grandkids about your grandfather way after I die."
Dr. James Dobson: What do you tell to them?
Larry Fowler: I have a long story that's too long for this, but it's about a time that I saw God perform a miracle and use me to help save a little girl's life that had cancer over in the country of Ukraine. It's too long for this. I tell them that whole story. It's stories of when I saw God work. A much shorter story is one time... We raised our kids in Southern California. One time we were traveling on a freeway there in Ventura County of California, and right in front of me, the two cars crashed and hit each other and I was right behind them.
Instantly I knew there was a car on this side and on this side of me. I couldn't swerve to avoid it. There was only one thing to do, and that was head for the opening right between these two cars that had crashed. God just helped me to hit that opening perfectly. I got a scratch on my left wheel well and a busted mirror on my right side. I actually hit both cars, but I went through without any scratches or any further incident. I tell my grandkids, "God protected us. We could have all died and you wouldn't even be here if God hadn't protected us for that. Now, I want you to tell your grandkids about the time that God saved us from a car accident."
Dr. James Dobson: They go to church and they may not hear the sermon. They'll remember that story.
Larry Fowler: They will remember.
Dr. James Dobson: Larry, you have shared a story about how you got started working with grandparents, and I think it's wonderful. Share it with us.
Larry Fowler: Well, it was very personal first. Way before I was in ministry, it was personal. My daughter's first marriage failed. My son-in-law at that time had made some terrible decisions over and over again, and she'd finally had all she could take of affairs and drugs and different things. She and her three little ones moved in with us. And for a number of years, I was both dad and grandpa. I did not want my grandsons to follow in the sins of their father. And that was the beginning of me saying, "I'm going to step it up as a grandparent."
I still hadn't thought about the biblical component of that. I didn't realize that there were commands in the Scripture about what I was to do as a grandparent. I didn't realize there were examples there, but that was where I got my start. There's just not really any perfect families. All of us have issues and how we'll respond to the issues is so important. God took this tragedy in my family and my daughter's family and He's used that in their life, in her life for good.
Dr. James Dobson: Was that the beginning of a mission of ministry?
Larry Fowler: No, that came a lot later. That was all just the personal commitment that I was making to myself and to my daughter. "You know what, I'm going to step it up. I'm going to be the dad to these boys, and I'm going to be a grandpa too." She's since remarried. She now has this wonderful, godly husband that we just love. He's adopted her three kids, and I don't have to be dad anymore. I get to be grandpa now. But he also had a daughter that we met for the first time when she was 14. We've had the experience of trying to connect with a step granddaughter and that's been a journey. We're seeing that God in his grace has made that better as well. We're now having an opportunity to really connect with her a lot more.
Dr. James Dobson: When we began our time together last time, you talked about churches not really focusing on grandparenting. And in your writings, you talk about a ministry vacuum. Is that what you were referring to?
Larry Fowler: That's what I'm referring to. I saw how could it be that tens of thousands of churches across America understand rightfully that they need to equip parents? And after all, that's what your ministry has....
Dr. James Dobson: They're doing that to some degree.
Larry Fowler: They are.
Dr. James Dobson: But we're talking about grandparents here that don't think of them.
Larry Fowler: How can there be tens of thousands thinking about parents and not even one ever thinking about grandparents? That's what we want to change. And now we're seeing hundreds of churches. It's growing all the time. Hundreds of churches that are saying, "We're going to start a grandparent ministry. We're going to equip them to be the disciples."
Dr. James Dobson: What a great idea!
Larry Fowler: Well, we believe in the local church.
Dr. James Dobson: I've been working with families for 44 years or more than that really, and I have not stopped to think about a ministry specifically for grandparents. Grandparents have needs of their own. They need to know how. They need to be equipped and motivated.
Larry Fowler: We know the role is different. You said that. Their role's a little different. You can't parent anymore. Let me say it this way.
Dr. James Dobson: You dare not try.
Larry Fowler: Yeah, you better not try. We say it this way. You're still the parent, noun, but you must no longer parent, verb, unless invited. And that last part's the key. If they invite you, okay. But other than that, keep your mouth shut for the most part.
Dr. James Dobson: Let's talk about the summit that you've got coming, the Legacy Grandparenting Summit. It's going to take place in Birmingham, Alabama and in 110 remote locations. This is a big deal around the country.
Larry Fowler: It's in many of the states. With that many locations, most everybody that is a listener, if you live in North America will be able to drive to a location and participate in the conference.
Dr. James Dobson: How do we find out where they're going to go?
Larry Fowler: Go to legacycoalition.com and there'll be a bar right across the top that says summit. We call it the Legacy Grandparenting Summit. It is the national conference on Christian grandparents.
Dr. James Dobson: What will happen there?
Larry Fowler: Well, it's two days. 9:00 to 4:30 everywhere, but the East Coast. There, it's 10:00 to 5:30, but 9:00 to 4:30 in all the other time zones. There's going to be two sessions every morning, two afternoon, 20 different speakers all with short talks about different issues relating to grandparents. We got music by Fernando Ortega, Scott Wesley Brown, and The Isaacs. We have some couple of wonderful Christian comedians that are grandfathers and can flat out preach too. We have a great thing.
Dr. James Dobson: Do they have to register for this?
Larry Fowler: They do. The cost is $89 at Birmingham, $59 at all the other sites, and it'll stay that way until conference day.
Dr. James Dobson: What is the site that they go to to register?
Larry Fowler: Legacycoalition.com and you'll see Summit at top. Right there, right in the very front, there's a place for you to click to learn all about the schedule, the speaker lineup, where you find the site near you. It's all right there for easy navigation.
Dr. James Dobson: What are the dates?
Larry Fowler: October the 21st and the 22nd, Thursday and Friday.
Dr. James Dobson: Of this year.
Larry Fowler: Of this year. Yes.
Dr. James Dobson: And is this the first one or have you been having it in the...
Larry Fowler: No, we've done three before. We did one our very first year right out of the gate, and we were so favored by having a Chuck Swindoll and Josh McDowell and others as our keynote speakers. Here, we were this little tiny organization. They blessed us with that. We had another one in 2017, then 2019 in February. We were going to do one last year, of course, but COVID postponed us to this fall.
Dr. James Dobson: Okay, friends and neighbors out there who are listening to us, you have heard it. I hope that thousands of you will register for this event. You talked about driving to a location. Can you do it online?
Larry Fowler: No, you can't do it online until afterwards, because this really is a conference where gathering is an important feature of the conference. We know that there are some challenges to that with different regulations regarding mass and everything around the country. But you know what? We're going to plow ahead. We want grandparents interacting with each other, and there will be opportunities later for you to get all the materials and listen to it. But for those two days, your option is to attend the site and enjoy it just like you would a conference before COVID hit.
Dr. James Dobson: Are they held in churches?
Larry Fowler: They are all held in churches.
Dr. James Dobson: But the church is not sponsoring it?
Larry Fowler: The churches are partner in doing this.
Dr. James Dobson: I see.
Larry Fowler: They do all the local work. They provide the emcee. They provide the greeters and everything. They partner with us in this.
Dr. James Dobson: Larry, I hope it is a smashing success.
Larry Fowler: Well, we hope that too. We're really praying a lot.
Dr. James Dobson: It's two days?
Larry Fowler: It's two days.
Dr. James Dobson: Most of it is listening to speakers?
Larry Fowler: Most of it is enjoying the speakers. But I'll tell you, it will transform them. My favorite story is of a couple that have become good friends. I didn't know them at the time. Their names are Tom and Nancy Smith and they live in Pasadena. You know that town.
Dr. James Dobson: I know that town.
Larry Fowler: Nancy was sent by her church to the last one. Tom did not want to go. He could not imagine spending two days listening to speakers about the topic of grandparenting.
Dr. James Dobson: Boy, have I heard that before.
Larry Fowler: In fact, he would tell you, he says, "I thought that was a good grandparent. I thought, well, I love him. I do all these things with them. I think I'm good." He was there. One hour later, he said, "Oh my, God has changed my heart. I got a lot to learn." I'll tell you what? They have dramatically improved their grandparenting. They're wonderful godly people. Were before, still are, but they just didn't have all the practical tools that they learned during this time to be become even better grandparents.
Dr. James Dobson: May the Lord continue to bless this wonderful ministry and bless you. How can we pray for you, Larry?
Larry Fowler: Well, of course, I'm a novice at this thing of leading an organization. I need wisdom. I've been a second guy. I've been a vice president before. I never led anything. The idea of leading an organization is way beyond me. That keeps me dependent upon the Lord. Ministry wise, you can pray for that. The most important thing is I want to fulfill those first two words of Deuteronomy 4:9. I want to watch myself, and I want to end this life continuing to become more godly with each year that passes. I'd appreciate prayer that God would enable those.
Dr. James Dobson: Those tears are precious. You care about this issue, don't you? I hope that that emotion will go out from this studio and touch people across the country and maybe around the world.
Larry Fowler: Thank you.
Dr. James Dobson: Thanks for taking the time to be with us the second time. I really feel your passion and I share it. I'm a grandparent too, and I can take all the advice I can get. Give your wife my regards, Diane. She doesn't like studios, but you bring her here next time.
Larry Fowler: I sure will. I sure will.
Dr. James Dobson: Thank you, my brother.
Roger Marsh: Wow! I don't know about you, but I was certainly inspired by today's program and also yesterday's program, this two part discussion on the topic of leaving a legacy as a grandparent. In Mark Gregston's recent interview with Dr. Tim Clinton here on Family Talk, Mark pointed out that God isn't keeping us grandparents around so we can simply just buy an RV and drive off to the desert. No. Grandparents have a God ordained duty to impact their kids and grandkids for the Lord for as long as they are able.
Now, if you'd like to learn more about Dr. Dobson's guest today Larry Fowler and his ministry the Legacy Coalition or their upcoming legacy grandparenting summit, visit our broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org/broadcast. That's drjamesdobson.org/broadcast. Or give us a call at (877)732-6825. Now, before we close this program, I want to remind you that September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, male or female, regardless of age or background.
If you are someone you know is in crisis and is experiencing difficult or even suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 800-273-8255. That's 1-800-273-8255, or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org. That's suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is help and there is hope.
And remember, if you're looking for specifically a Christian counselor, you can visit connect.aacc.net. That's the web address at the American Association of Christian Counselors. Connect.aacc.net. Sometimes it's that first step of admitting you need help and then reaching out that is the hardest, but it's the most important one to take. Well, that's all the time we have for today. I'm Roger Marsh, and I think Lisa and I are going to spend some time with our own grandkids later. We've been inspired by the contents of today's and yesterday's program.
And if you're a grandparent, I hope you'll do the same. From all of us here at the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, God's richest blessings to you and your family.
Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.
Dr. James Dobson: This is James Dobson again. Before we go, I'd like to remind you that Family Talk is a listener supported program. If you've enjoyed this broadcast, we'd appreciate your helping to keep us on the air. As you know, we talk about everything from religious liberty to the sanctity of human life and raising boys and girls among others. These are the passions of our hearts, and I hope they are for you too. Thank you so much for listening and for being part of this ministry. For more information, go to drjamesdobson.org.