Guy Doud, recipient of the National Teacher of the Year award, recounts his childhood school experiences and how they helped shape his teaching career and passion for reaching kids. (Part 1 of 2)
With humor and candor, speaker Ken Davis shares some of the life lessons he's learned and encourages listeners to live their lives to the fullest through exercise, good nutrition and enjoying their family. (Part 2 of 2)
Ken Davis: And I can get up in the morning and run for 10 miles and come back and I feel like I can conquer anything. And I am able to what God asks me to do. And it’s affected my spiritual life and it’s “spected” my – it’s – it’s affected my emotional life. Hasn’t affected my speech. (Laughter)
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: Today on Focus on the Family, Ken Davis shares some pretty radical changes he’s made in his life, and that’ll inspire you in the coming New Year. Your host is Focus president, Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, this was one of our most popular programs of 2018, and we left our listeners with a cliffhanger last time. We said that Ken had a mid-life revelation after someone took his picture at the beach. That is a non-starter, right there. And today, we’re gonna hear the rest of that story, and more importantly, what Ken did about it.
John: And if you missed part 1 of the presentation, get in touch. We have the entire message on DVD. And our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY – or find details about it at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Here now, Ken Davis on today’s episode of Focus on the Family, and we’re gonna start with a short recap in case you missed last time.
Ken: Ben Franklin said that many men die at 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 75. And life isn’t without pain. I could tell you about coming down a hill on a bicycle doing 51-miles-an-hour. It’s aw – I put it on YouTube. It is the most exciting thing. Scares you to death. There are curves. There are bugs. (Laughter) At 51-miles-an-hour on a bicycle, a bug is a dangerous thing. (Laughter)
My wife says, “Honey, you are one acorn away from death. (Laughter) Don’t do – don’t do that.” So I’m comin’ down 50-miles-an-hour and my eyes are buggin out, looking for acorns. I’m lookin’ for acorns. (Laughter) You can’t see ‘em very good, ‘cause you’re doin’ 51-miles-an-hour.
And I’m lookin’ so hard for acorns, I didn’t see the stupid dog. (Laughter)
And I determined somewhere as all of this was happening to me, that this is something that I need ju – not just for my physical life. This is something that I need for my spiritual life. This is something that I need for my emotional life and my social life.
I have to say just for a second to my friends who are 65, you’re not dead yet! But I was actin’ like it. I was actin’ like it. God isn’t through with you yet. This life is not a waiting room for death. I have another author, one of my favorites, who quoted something on this. His name is Paul. He was writing to some of his friends in a letter called “Philippians” and he said this. Uh – this has changed my life. It has changed the focus of my life. I look at it every single day. Paul said, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.” He was not talking about, “Well, when I die, I would like to be raised from the dead.” He was talking partly about that, but he was specifically talking about knowing the power of God’s resurrection in his life now!
I told you, I’m a believer. I am a follower of Christ. I say that to tell you this: that if Christ is not raised from the dead, then I and every person who claims to be a follower of Him is a fool. Paul told us that, too. But if He is raised from the dead, then there is the possibility that we can know the power of that kind of resurrection, the power that overcomes death. And we might be able to taste a little of it now. I want that.
There was another sign of life that came to me. I had let my body go. I had let my morals go. I had let my spiritual life fade into some kind of zombie-like existence. I – I was coasting. I’m looking at less years left than I have behind me and I started to coast. I was on a beach one day with my grandchild, my granddaughter. And someone took a picture that shocked me into reality physically, holdin’ the hand of a little girl, who if she had been 100 yards from shore and called for my help, I couldn’t have helped her. I could not have helped her. There was nothing I could do. I had let every part of my life slip.
And if you face what I was facing now, this is not a condemnation of you, I’m telling you that physically, what we allow to happen to us physically, affects so many other areas of life. And this became an example of what I could be. When I saw that picture, I was so embarrassed. I remember people on the beach yelling, “Move, we want to see the ocean.” (Laughter) Environmentalists pouring water on me, trying to push me back into the water. (Laughter)
I decided I didn’t want to live like that anymore. And I found a sign of life in a weird place called “discipline.” We think of discipline as a bad thing, like someone beatin’ the daylights out of you. That’s not discipline. I’m talkin’ about the kind of discipline where you decide that you will do the work to live, the discipline that a pianist takes when they do hours of training so that they can play beautifully. And when they want to play with their heart, it’s available because they know the basics. The discipline that it takes to get out of this kind of a dead place that I was, physically.
I started setting goals for myself that I had to match. I signed up for a triathlon, 64 at the time. I signed up for a triathlon. Now not the Iron Man, not the stuff people do where they pass away. (Laughter) I did more like a – a Styrofoam person. (Laughter) You know, where you run from the bed to the bathroom and fill up the bathtub and then pull the plug and fight against the current. (Laughter) Go into the basement, pump up a bicycle tire and then go back to bed. (Laughter)
I signed up for a sprint triathlon and I began training for that triathlon, began to run and to walk. It was painful. First time I ran, I made it maybe a mile. I don’t remember how far I made it, maybe a couple of blocks. Took my cell phone out, called my wife and said, “Come and get me. Can’t go any further than this.”
But the next morning I got up again and I did it again. And the next morning again. And pretty soon I was running two miles and then eight miles and then 10 miles. And I discovered it only happened from discipline. But guess what? The discipline – I’m gonna tell you, it’s not hard after a while to run 10 miles. It’s not hard to run eight miles for me. Do you know what’s hard for me? To get out of bed. (Laughter and Applause)
If – this is the truth – if I make it to the door and close the door, whatever I have planned to do is over in just a little while. I rode bike, because that’s part of a triathlon. I live in Tennessee. There’s nothing but hills in Tennessee, nothing but hills. Couldn’t make it up the hills. Uh, “Hello, come and get me.”
And then I decided, “I’m not calling anyone anymore. If I have to make it up the hill, I will walk up the hill,” and I walked up the hill. And then finally, I was riding up the hill and then pretty soon, I was riding up the hill and coming down at 51-miles-an-hour and then riding back up again, so that I could do it again.
There’s a say – I see this ad on TV. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. I want to tell you the truth, a body at rest, tends to rest in peace. (Laughter) In our culture, at the age 45, the quality of life begins to decay. At 45! And by the time we reach age 60, 65, most people spend from – those last five or 10 years up to about 70, totally incapacitated, living a minimum quality of life.
And I found out in my research that if you are willing to discipline yourself to one hour, 45 minutes to an hour, doesn’t matter, where your heart rate is up in that aerobic range and then two or three times, you do something we never do – ‘cause it’s hard – we push ourselves to where it’s almost to the limit, just for a little while, just to get our heart pumping, just to remind our body, we’re still alive. We’re not layin’ down. If you do that from age 45 to about age 65, you can increase the quality of your life.
And I can get up in the morning and run for 10 miles and come back and I feel like I can conquer anything. And I am able to do what God asks me to do. And it’s affected my spiritual life and it’s “spected” my – it’s – it’s affected my emotional life. Hasn’t affected my speech. (Laughter)
I have a friend who says, “It’s worth doing something poorly the first time just to get started.” And when you fail at it or when it doesn’t work right, you’ll learn how to make it better the next time.
I saw another sign of life in my family. I don’t think there’s anything that makes life worth living more than love. Nothing. These are my three fairy granddaughters. Are they not beautiful? (Applause and Cheers) That’s Kylie and J.J. and Lexie, my fairy granddaughters. You remember I told you I won’t let anybody lie to me? Now I’m gonna tell you the truth. Look at me. Look at me. They are fairies. I would not lie to you. They have wings.
When I come into the house, they hear my voice and they come running from all over the house and their feet leave the ground (Laughter), ‘cause they are flying. I would not lie to you. (Laughter) And they wrap skinny little arms around my neck and they whisper in my ear the words I was born to hear, “I love you, Grandpa.”
John: You’re listening to Ken Davis on Focus on the Family. And we have his entire presentation on DVD. It’ll have a lot of extra content and laughs, too. It’s called . And we’ll invite you to call for details: 800-A-FAMILY – 800-232-6459 – or you can donate and request that DVD at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Let’s go ahead and hear more now from Ken Davis.
End of Program Note
Ken: This little girl’s name is Jaden. Jaden is my princess. We have a connection. It doesn’t matter whether we are plowing or whether we are cutting down trees or hiking through mud, Jaden’s always wearing her sparkly princess shoes and her little princess clothes. Everything has to match.
She and her three sisters and my wife, went into the mountains, 10,500 feet camping with these beautiful children. Oh, they had a marvelous time. They loved the campfire, stick little sticks into the campfire until they start on fire. And then wave ‘em in the air until it’s just a red glowing thing. And then poke your sister with that. And then (Laughter) stick it back in. Wave it in the air. Until finally they couldn’t keep their eyes open anymore. And so, we tucked them into their sleeping bags. Popped up in the morning when the sun rose. “Can we have a fire again?” All the wood is gone, so we went hunting for wood.
Little Jaden, I did not want little Jaden to get hurt and so, as we crossed this little logging road that was near our campsite, I said to Jaden, “See this stick.” It was about the size of this. I said, “Take this to your grandmother.” And – and she took it. She was so proud. I could still see her draggin’ it across the road. And when she was almost to the campsite, we turned to get the bigger stuff that would hurt her.
That was the last we saw of Jaden. Evidently what happened was, Jaden got almost to her grandmother and then she decided, you know, “I would rather be with my grandfather.” And so, she turned around and started to find us and wandered into the wilderness at 10,500 feet.
She was gone for 3 ½ hours. We were out of our minds. Let me tell you what happens in the first hour or so. You think, maybe on the next breath of wind, I will hear her voice. As you run as fast and far as you can run and call her name in every direction you can possibly go. You think maybe I’ll see her now standing by this tree. Maybe she’ll be where this road runs out. Maybe she’s – oh, I hope she’s not down by the river.
But after about 2 ½ hours, you begin to brace yourself for the very worst. Then a marvelous rescue team that came because we found a forest ranger and he called them and they were there just so quickly. They lined up a mile above the campsite to search downhill, because children do not go uphill. They go the easy route, downhill.
In the meantime, I had searched the river and thanking God that she was not there. And then I had to search the swamp. There’s just this small swampy area filled with potholes and brush that – that fights your every move. And I prayed, “Don’t let her be in here; don’t let her be in here.”
And I was making my way through that swampy area when I stumbled and I fell on a small pool of water, maybe a foot and a half deep. I had run for three hours. I had called for three hours. I could not get up. I could not move. My strength was gone. My voice was gone.
And on my hands and knees, I prayed to God that day, “Dear God, please God, take my career. You can have it. Take my savings. Take it. God take my house. Take them.” And finally, the final thing I said from my knees to myself, because my voice would not carry anything; it was gone. “Take my life; take me, but please bring this baby back.”
I didn’t know it, but at about that moment a teacher – they were going up into the mountains to hike and they came across a beautiful little blonde girl sitting on a rock, where the roads run out and only wilderness begins. And the teacher said, “This can’t be right.” That’s why she’s a teacher. (Laughter) And she walked up to my little Jaden and she said, “Honey, are you okay?” And she said, Jaden said to her, “I cannot talk to you.” (Laughter)
And the teacher said, “I am not a stranger. I’m a teacher.” (Laughter) And she said, Jaden said, “Well, okay then.” (Laughter) “My grandpa is lost.” (Laughter) I knew nothing about this. I finally was able to regain my feet and stumble back into camp. And as I stumbled into our little campsite, the radio on the forestry guys belts came to life with these words, “We have found Jaden. She is alive and well.” And I collapsed again. What a great (Applause) – what a wonderful – what a wonderful thing. (Applause)
I remember seein’ her little blonde hair flying in the wind as they brought her back on an ATV. By the way, J.J. had walked 2 ½ miles straight up the mountain. She was a mile and a half beyond where they were lined up to search downhill for her. She came back and I grabbed her hands. This was a moment of change in my life. I said to her, “You are a bad, bad girl!” (Laughter) Do you believe that?
Ken: Does anybody in here believe that?
Ken: How about this? “How many times have I told you -” (Laughter). Not even close. How about this? “Wait till your evil grandmother gets her hands on you.” (Laughter) No, I will tell you what I said to her. I know what I said to her. I could only whisper it, but I said, “I love you; I love you; I love you; I love you, I love you.” That’s the only words that would come out of my mouth.
And suddenly it hit me, that’s how God feels about me. That’s how He feels when a child finally comes to Him after being lost. That’s how He feels when someone is living the dead life of a zombie when they should know better and suddenly decide to live fully alive.
We think of God as this person who doesn’t enjoy laughter and fun and we walk around sometimes actin’ like, “Who would want to be a follower of Jesus?” And instead, He loves us. He loves us.
And that changed me except for one thing. I had another question that I struggled with for almost a year. This was the question: what if? Would I be here tonight if it had been a different outcome? And I ran that through my head and it tumbled around in my brain and I – I thought about it. And I asked God about it. And last year, last August, I went up to that area to hunt again. And I came across this site. I came around a corner and I lost it again. This is the ribbon they tied on the tree where they asked me to show where we had last seen Jaden.
And it was like all of what I had thought about came to a conclusion. If Jaden had not come back to me, the only hope that I would have, the only hope that I would have to go on, my only faith, the only thing that would make me want to continue is a faith that knows that God loved this little girl more than I do and that she was with Him.
My hope for my grandchildren is that someday when the roles have been reversed and I’m the one who has wings and I hear their little voices at the gate, that it is I who will fly to them and gather them to myself and say, “Welcome home, little ones.” That’s our hope. It was the hope of people I’ve met through the years as I’ve talked about this issue, who have had tragedy like you cannot believe, who said to me, “If we’d a thought beforehand about this, we couldn’t have handled it. But when the time came, God gave us hope to live fully alive.” Most of those people today have dedicated their lives to helping other people going through those situations.
I am not the same man that I was two years ago. Half of me is gone (Laughter). I am not the same man that I was a few years ago. I’m not coasting. I’m not retired. I’m retreaded and watch out, because I got whatever time I got left to live fully alive and glorify the God that created me. Good night.
(Applause and Cheers)
John: A very thoughtful perspective there on life and what it means to live fully alive, from our speaker today, Ken Davis, on Focus on the Family. And uh, Jim, that story about his granddaughter, Jaden, lost in the forest. Aw, golly that grips me, especially since, as a family, we’ve been out camping and we’ve misplaced a child or two, from time to time, (Laughter)
John: Just for a moment.
Jim: Well, we’ve done, it too, John, so I’m calling the kettle black, I guess. You know, I think all of us as parents have had those moments when we think we’ve lost our child or grandchild and fear absolutely grips our hearts. And I love the point Ken was making there, did you notice? Uh, he spent three hours running all over that mountain, looking for Jaden. And by his own admission, before Ken got into shape, he couldn’t have helped a child 100 yards from the shore of the beach, at that time. That’s a dramatic example and just one of many reasons why each of us need to consider our level of fitness and maybe kick it up a notch. Because you never know when you might need to help save a family member from danger, and it’s gonna require your strength. Not to mention the side benefits of just being healthier.
Jim: And so, John, you’re in good shape. What’s your secret?
John: Well, genes, for one. That helps a lot. And then I do try to work out every day um…
Jim: How does wearing jeans help you stay in shape?
Jim: I’ve been wearing jeans all my life!
John: I was talking of genetics, Jim.
John: Genetics genes…
John: Anyway, between the genes that I’ve been blessed with, the genetics…
Jim: Yes. Not those pants you’re wearing.
John: And working out three or four times a week, uh, I – I think I do probably stay in shape a fair bit, here.
Jim: (Laughing) You certainly do. You got a, you know, wonderful perspective and…
John: A runner’s body is what you’re trying to say (chuckling)…
Jim: A runner’s body. Not a football body, like me. It convicts me a little bit. I’ve gotta do a better job. Uh, here’s a great idea. What about taking a walk as a family? That’s something that we try to do. Our mailbox is about a mile away from our house, so…
John: To reach (unintelligible)
Jim: Yeah. Well, no. But during the summer it’s a nice little walk. Not so good in the winter…
Jim: …when you’re at four feet of snow trying to get to your mailbox. But it’s a great way to have conversation, which Jean loves. And then, you know, for her and I to lose a few calories, probably.
God really did design our bodies for activity. And the more you move, if you start slowly and work up gradually, the better you’re gonna feel. Um, so often, when I do a physical, that’s what my doctor’s telling me. Just move a lot and eat less (chuckling).
Jim &John: It sounds easy.
Jim: Yep. But uh, and it probably is a lot easier than we make it. You’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it” and as you get older, man, is that really true. You need to find some kind of aerobic activity, keep your heart muscle strong, and then add some weight bearing exercise to keep your bones and muscles strong, as well. So let me encourage you, and uh, myself, if your doctor says it’s safe for you to exercise, go take a walk today.
John: Hm. That’s a good idea. And while you’re out doing that, take this broadcast along with you. Just get the broadcast app at iTunes or Google Play and listen along.
Jim: John, it’s so true. You know, when I meet folks that support the ministry, that’s one of the thing a lot of the walkers will tell me. They download the app and they listen to the app when they walk. And uh, what a great way to pass time and to keep in touch with Focus on the Family.
Let me mention, too, um, it’s obvious, I’m sure, to all of you, but it costs money to produce this program and get it out to you, and hopefully millions of others, actually. So please pray about becoming a monthly partner with Focus on the Family. We are listener supported. And so, the only way that this gets done is through donations. And we appreciate it when you stand with us to help, literally, marriages every day. And um, you know, right down the line. Parents do better a better job, too. What we’re about is family, and doing it in such a way that honors Jesus Christ. And I hope you hear that in the programs that we do.
Here’s one example of the impact we’re making every day. A veteran wrote in and said this: “Being in the military really had a negative impact on my relationship with my wife of four years. Listening to your broadcast has helped me grow in my relationship with my wife and with my God. Thank you, Focus on the Family!”
Folks, that’s – right there. When you give to this ministry, you’re helping families overcome the normal burdens, and some extraordinary burdens, to make sure that they stay close to God, close to each other, and uh, weather the storms that they embrace. Like that man and his wife – helping their marriage thrive! It’s a great way to be a blessing to others. And when you make a monthly pledge of any amount, we’ll send you the DVD of this message from Ken Davis, called . It’s got a lot more material than what you heard – over 100 minutes’ worth – and Ken does add a fun, visual element to his humor. Ask for a copy of the DVD when you become a monthly partner with Focus on the Family today. And if you’d rather not make that monthly commitment, we’ll get the DVD to you for a one-time gift of any amount.
John: That DVD is a favorite in the Fuller household. And you can request your copy when you call 800-A-FAMILY – 800-232-6459 – or donate online and get the DVD at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Be sure to join us next time. We’ll hear from blogger Natasha Crain explaining how do you use everyday situations to help your kids learn about God.
Natasha Crain: I was a lifelong Christian, I grew up in a Christian home, spent hundreds of hours in church, and never turned away from my faith. So I was a Christian through and through, but I did not know how to answer those questions. And it bothered me a lot because I realized that my kids were growing up in such a different world than the one in which I grew up. And I wasn’t prepared.
End of Teaser
Guy Doud, recipient of the National Teacher of the Year award, recounts his childhood school experiences and how they helped shape his teaching career and passion for reaching kids. (Part 1 of 2)
Angela Mills offers wives practical suggestions for cultivating a thriving marriage in a discussion based on her book, Bless Your Husband: Creative Ways to Encourage and Love Your Man.
Radio producer and best-selling author Jay Payleitner offers encouragement and practical guidance for husbands to take initiative and become the kind of man their wives need most. He addresses topics like knowing your wife’s likes/dislikes, being a spiritual leader, how to avoid drifting apart, and much more.
Popular Christian vocalist Larnelle Harris reflects on his five-decade music career, sharing the valuable life lessons he’s learned about putting his family first, allowing God to redeem a troubled past, recognizing those who’ve sacrificed for his benefit, and faithfully adhering to biblical principles amidst all the opportunities that have come his way.
Amy Carroll explains how listeners can find freedom from self-imposed and unrealistic standards of perfection in a discussion based on her book, Breaking Up With Perfect: Kiss Perfection Goodbye and Embrace the Joy God Has in Store for You.
Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, gives an update on the coronavirus pandemic.
Then, offering encouragement found in her book Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to be Noticed, Sara Hagerty describes how we can experience God in ordinary, everday moments, and how we can find our identity in Him apart from what we do.