The Importance of a Godly Legacy
About the Guest
Perhaps you've heard some successful man or woman identify the source of their success by admitting that they simply "stand on the shoulders of giants." For pastor and speaker Crawford Loritts, those shoulders belonged to his great-grandfather, Peter Loritts.
Crawford LorittsCrawford Loritts (B.S., D.Th., Philadelphia Biblical University; D.Div., Biola University) was the senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. He has served as a national evangelist with the American Missionary Fellowship and the Urban Evangelistic Mission, and as Associate Director of Campus Crusade for Christ. He co-founded Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas. He is a frequent speaker for professional sports teams, including three Super Bowls and the NCAA Final Four...more
Some successful men or women admit that they “stand on the shoulders of giants.” For Crawford Loritts, those shoulders belonged to his great-grandfather, Peter Loritts.
The Importance of a Godly Legacy
Bob: Are you training your children to think vocationally or missionally? Dr. Crawford Loritts says we need to be having conversations like this with our children.
Crawford: “The objective is not to be a lawyer. He may call you to be a lawyer, but your objective is to use the legal profession as a platform to reach the greatest number of people possible,”—whatever God lays on their lives to do. You may say, “Crawford, she’s only 16.” Well, it’s never too soon to begin sowing in their minds—if that’s the direction in which they are going—how to integrate that platform to make an impact.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, November 14th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We all need to be thinking purposefully/intentionally about the legacy our lives will leave. We’ll talk more about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. How far back can you go in your—in the Rainey family tree—have you tried to dig around to see—
Dennis: Well, I kind of dug around a little bit and shook some things out of the tree that fell out and decided not to go any further back. [Laughter] No, I’m actually—my brother has done a great deal of study around ancestors and traces a bunch of family members back, I think, to eastern Tennessee—a number who came over from other countries. But I’m not—I’ve never been one who has been much into genealogies and past ancestors.
Bob: I’ve got maybe three or four generations back as far as I’ve been able to go and to hear some tales that my mom has shared about distant great uncles or family members from both sides of the family tree.
And it is interesting, when you look three or four generations back, to see a little bit of who you are today has been shaped by choices that people made a hundred years ago.
Dennis: That’s right. I think, many times, we’re not really thinking about how our lives that are being lived out today are impacting future generations—our children, our grandchildren, and even beyond. I just know this, Bob—the Bible really calls us to live a fruitful life and to be obedient to Jesus Christ all our days because there are future generations at stake. Our lives do have some mystical tie to the future.
Bob: Yes, that’s one of the themes that we hit on in the video series that we put together called The Art of Marriage®, which is designed as a video event that any couple can host in a local church.
And I am mentioning this because we are starting to hear from folks, who are thinking ahead to next year—thinking to February and the fact that Valentine’s Day comes on a weekend.
It’s Saturday, the 14th, coming up next February. And folks are thinking, “That would be a great weekend to have a Friday night/Saturday event that we could host in our community / in our church and invite folks over and spend some time focusing on God’s design for marriage.” And part of that design is this issue of our legacy.
Right now, we’ve got a special offer going on where, if a listener will agree to take 20 couples through The Art of Marriage video event, we will give you the event kit free—with the DVDs. Everything you need to host the event is right there as long as you’ll agree to take 20 couples through the material. If you don’t think you can do 20 couples—you say you can do 10 couples—we’ll give the event kit for half price if you’ll do that.
You can get the details when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER,” and then click the link for The Art of Marriage. Take advantage of the special offer we’re making, right now, and then start thinking about a time when you could host an event like this in 2015.
One of the people who is featured in The Art of Marriage is our friend, Crawford Loritts. He is in there with Voddie Baucham, and Al Mohler, and Russell Moore, and Wayne Grudem, and Michael Easley and—a great line up of folks who present the material in The Art of Marriage.
Crawford is the pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. He is a well-known author and speaker. In fact, he spoke, not long ago, at one of our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways on the subject of a legacy—how powerful a legacy is. He reflected, in his message, on his own heritage—on the legacy he has received going back to his great grandfather.
Here is Part Two of that message from Dr. Crawford Loritts on the power and importance of our legacy.
Crawford: I’m thoroughly convinced that one of the ways, as Christians, that we fall short is that we don’t give our kids the right vision.
We so much want them to be fulfillers of our own ego needs that unwittingly—unwittingly—we give them the wrong vision.
You know what? I almost caught myself doing this with our oldest son. He was courted by a number of major schools. Karen and I, both, thought he would go into law or politics—he—that or business—usually lawyers do go into business one way or another. And I thought—we thought he was going to do that. He was being courted by these schools, but God did a deep work in his heart and life.
And Brian has always—when he was four, he gave his life to the Lord. All through school, he has always been a pretty good witness. In fact, he had an evangelistic Bible study when he was in high school—and some of the guys he played ball with and stuff really respected him. God really used him.
But a special work was done in his heart and life the end of his junior year in high school. He went overseas with Student Venture, the high school ministry of Crusade, to the Philippines. He came back and he said, “Dad, I believe God has called me to fulltime Christian work, and He wants me to be a pastor.” Well, I was excited about that, really.
But you know what? Financially, it would have been cheaper for us if he had accepted one of these offers from some of these other schools. I found myself saying to him, “Son, well, you know, you can go and major in liberal arts; and then, go on to seminary.” But he said, “No, Dad, I believe God has called me to go to Bible college. I said, “Are you sure?” [Laughter]
I’ll never forget—walking one day and praying. The Lord—He didn’t say this audibly but: “Crawford, you’ve raised that boy to trust God. Why are you discouraging him from that lifestyle?” Don’t stand in the way of what God wants to do in those kids’ lives—don’t you do that! And I just said, “Son, are you sure?” He said, “Dad, I’m sure.” I said: “Okay. Now, my job is to help you translate that vision into reality.”
We need to give our kids the right vision. Whatever they do, their whole lives must be the arena to reach the greatest number of people possible. That’s the Great Commission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. And lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”
Whatever God lays on their lives to do, we have to make sure that we challenge them—that whatever it is that they want to do—whatever it is that they want to do—that God has called them to do—that we challenge them that this must be the platform to reach the greatest number of people possible: “God has not called you—your objective is not to be a lawyer. He may call you to be a lawyer, but your objective is to use the legal profession as a platform to reach the greatest number of people possible.” We’ve got to give our children the right vision.
Someone once asked—they asked Helen Keller, “Is there anything worse than being blind?” To which she responded by saying, “Yes, having sight but no vision,”—having sight but no vision.
What is it that you see? What is it that you see beyond your life?
“That you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest part of the earth.” The reality of Christ in your life / in your family gives credibility to your bold witness: “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” What kind of legacy will you leave? Come help us—come with us and help change the world by building a legacy of destiny.
Dennis has asked me each time I share this presentation, or the one on dads, to share this story. My last name, Loritts, is a French name. I ain’t French, but it’s a French name. My great grandfather—his name was Peter—
—was a slave on a Louisiana plantation. Most of you probably realize this—that slaves were given the names of their masters.
The story is that, during the Civil War—and we don’t know all of this / all of the facts here—but during the Civil War, apparently, Peter migrated with the family that owned him to Catawba County, North Carolina. That’s where our roots are. And Peter was an illiterate man. He couldn’t read, and he couldn’t write. In fact, the name, Loritts—it is spelled L-O-R-I-T-T-S. Anybody that spells it that way, anywhere in the world, is directly related to us. We surmised that somebody just spelled it phonetically for the old guy, and it stuck.
Peter—evidently, there was a benevolent owner—in that, when he was released during the Emancipation Proclamation, they gave him a large portion of land.
Through a number of years, he acquired some more land. He acquired about 350 acres of farm land there in what is now known as Conover, North Carolina.
Peter had two things, though, that has marked each succeeding generation. It’s that the old guy used to sit on the front porch of the old homestead—and I remember the old homestead. It was torn down in the late ‘50s, but I remember as a little kid—when I was five or six years old—I still can remember this old house. He used to sit there and rock back and forth and sing and pray. He loved Jesus with all of his heart.
The story is told that he had memorized—and I know he was illiterate—but he had memorized entire portions of Scripture. You know what he used to do? He used to make his children and grandchildren read to him over, and over, and over, and over again his favorite passages.
Secondly, Peter had a deep passionate commitment to his family.
We don’t know where he got it from. There’s no record of his mother or his father; but for some reason, somewhere along the line, this old guy developed a deep, passionate commitment to his family. He had three children—my grandfather, Milton; my great uncle, Uncle H.P—Milton’s brother—and their sister, Aunt Georgia.
My Grandfather Milton had seven boys and seven girls—fourteen kids. They were brought up in the heyday of the clan in rural South. Despite all of that, all of my uncles carry with them the signature of Peter that had been passed on to my Grandfather Milton. Each of them has a deep-seated commitment to the family—despite all of that stuff, and all of the Jim Crow, and everything.
Many of my uncles grew up to be entrepreneurs / successful businessmen—really excelled. My dad was a little bit of the black sheep of the family. He went into sports. He played baseball in the all-Negro leagues.
In fact, my mother tells this humorous story that when she first met my grandfather, he said: “Honey, I wouldn’t wish this boy on you for anything in the world. He’s going to drag you all over the country,”—and did that for a while. But that signature was on my father’s soul as well.
In 1941, my parents were married. Shortly thereafter, in ’42, we glamorized the old Negro leagues; but most of those guys had other jobs. And he worked in the coal mines in between things. And there was a natural gas explosion there in Dan, Virginia, and he lost an eye. And his baseball career was ended.
So, in the early ‘40s, my mother and my dad moved out to Newark, New Jersey. All of us kids were born there in Newark, New Jersey. My dad worked for over 30 years for A & P Warehouse. My father never went to any family conference. He never read a book on the family. I don’t even think, other than me telling him, that he knows who James Dobson is. [Laughter] But every Saturday was family day.
I played Little League baseball there at the boys club on Middleton Avenue. My father used to finagle his schedule around because he had to work nights. He used to work the shift four to twelve; but whenever I had games, he would finagle his schedule around so he could be with me. And he would stand in the same place all the time—right along first base, along a chain length fence—and he would just cheer me on.
I never had any need that my father didn’t break his back to supply. I remember an argument that he and my mother had. They needed the money—and I was a little guy. I was about eight years old. They needed the money for something, and it was Christmastime. If my dad had worked the holidays, he could have made triple time; but I’ll never forget these words. He said, “Sylvia, I’m not going to do that,”—my dad’s not a lazy man—“That would be blood money,”—I’ll never forget that line—“and these kids need me around here a little bit more.”
Last April, I was on my way to Africa. In fact, it was late that Sunday night; and I get this phone call near midnight from my mother. My mother was on the phone, and she was crying.
She said, “You better come up here and see about your daddy.” I said, “What’s wrong?” “Well, honey, I’m at the hospital; and they don’t expect him to live.” Well, needless to say, I caught the first flight the next morning up there to Virginia.
I get there, and I don’t want to go into all of this. It’s just a miracle—he almost died three times that week. The last episode, they called us back to the hospital—my sisters and myself. And I’ll never forget this scene. We’re standing around the bed, and I was up near his head. My mother was over here, and my two sisters were down here. And we literally thought he was going to die.
And I’ll never forget him looking at me, and he said, “Well, boy,”—tears coming down his cheeks—“I did the very best I could.” And I knew exactly what he meant by that. I leaned over and kissed him. I said, “Pop, you did a great job.”
[Emotion in voice] See, nobody will ever know who my father was. Nobody will ever know who my Grandfather Milton was. We can’t even find Peter’s grave—although he is buried behind the church there across the street from the old homestead. But every time I stand before a group like this, and every time they mention my name, or they say, “Dr. Loritts,” or every time I sit in a board meeting, or every time somebody reads an article that I wrote—I stand on the shoulders of great men. I stand on the shoulders of people who quietly did the job.
And I want to tell you something—I want to tell you something—if a former slave could do it—
—who couldn’t read and couldn’t write, who never attended a HomeBuilders® Bible study—if my dad could do it, why can’t we do it? Why can’t we do it? Why do we keep believing what these folks tell us about who we are?
That’s what this weekend has been all about. We can turn the tide in this country, but it’s going to take some rolling up the sleeves. It’s going to take some self-denial. It’s going to take some reordering of priorities. It’s going to take some tough decisions, but we can do it by God’s grace. We can do it. We’ve got to turn this thing around.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening, again today, to Part Two of a message from Dr. Crawford Loritts—
—a message about the importance of the legacy we leave. I was thinking about
Psalm 78 and the psalmist calling us to pass on our own testimony and the Word of God to our children so that they will know, not only about God’s deeds in the Bible, but about God’s work in our own lives, and they will know that God has been at work and God’s done a work of grace in our lives and in our family.
Dennis: Bob, I just attended a funeral for my father-in-law—Barbara’s dad—Robert Pederson. Robert lived to be over 90 years of age / married for 63 years. And I’m always amazed when I sit in a memorial service and listen as that life is summarized, thinking that someday all of us are going to have our lives summarized.
Dennis: The question is: “What will be the summary?” What will it be about? Will it be about you and your glory and your reputation?” or “Will it be about what God did in and through you and the lives that He touched and transformed through you?”
You know, a marriage can be very, very powerful for good or for not so good. And in the case of my father-in-law, he gave all of us in the family an incredible gift—both he and his wife Jean—of 63 years of marriage. What a great legacy of covenant-keeping love for a lifetime!
Bob: You know, it was less than two weeks after you went to your father-in-law’s funeral that I stood with my son and his new bride at the altar, as they began their journey together, as husband and wife.
I remember reflecting with them, the night before, when we were at the rehearsal dinner, about the fact that their marriage was going to make a statement about who God is to their friends, to their children, to their community, to their coworkers. How they live, as a husband and wife / how they love one another is going to say something about who God is. It’s either going to tell the truth, or it’s going to misrepresent Him.
And that’s one of the points that we make real clearly in The Art of Marriage video event that we’ve put together that features Crawford Loritts, and Voddie Baucham, and Russell Moore, and Al Mohler, and Wayne Grudem, and a whole bunch of other folks who take us through what the Bible teaches about the importance of marriage. This is a six-session video event designed to be hosted on Friday night and a Saturday. It’s been done in thousands of local churches all around the country. It’s been seen by a half million people so far.
We’ve had a number of folks, who have started looking ahead to next spring—and they have gotten in touch with us and said: “Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday in 2015. So, we are thinking that weekend would be a good weekend to host an Art of Marriage video event.” And this is something anybody can do.
In fact, most often, The Art of Marriage is hosted by a lay couple—a husband and wife who just have a burden for this. It is less frequently hosted by the pastor and his wife at a local church. So, this is something that you could go to your pastor and say: “We’d like to host this in our church. Could we do that?” I’m guessing he’d sign off on that.
And if you will agree to take, at least, 20 couples through the material, we’ll give you the event kit for free. Get the details about The Art of Marriage special offer we are making, right now, when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” You can get all the information there about The Art of Marriage and the special offer we’re making.
If you don’t think you can find 20 couples you can take through this, but you think you might be able to get 10—if you’ll agree to take 10 couples through, we’ll give you the kit for half price. So, again, get more information. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” We hope you will consider this. We hope you’ll make this a part of the legacy you leave to future generations.
And let me just quickly remind you that FamilyLife Today is donor-supported. The cost of all we do, here at FamilyLife, is covered by friends who pitch in and help make it happen. So, thanks to those of you who have done that. And if you’d like to pitch in—make a donation—go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. Click in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, where it says, “I Care,” and make an online donation. Or just give us a call at 1-800-FL-TODAY and say, “I want to pitch-in.” And we appreciate your support of this ministry.
And we hope you have a great weekend.
Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. Elisa Morgan is going to be here. We’re going to talk about how we find the beauty in the broken. She’s going to talk about challenges she faced in her family of origin and some of the challenges she and her husband faced as they were raising their kids. She said, “God is right there in the midst of those broken moments.” We’ll talk more about that Monday. I hope you can be here.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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