Ken Davis shares humorous illustrations and heartfelt stories to remind dads why it's important to spend time with their kids, speak with kind words and live a life committed to Jesus Christ. (Part 1 of 2)
John Fuller: On today's "Focus on the Family," Ken Davis shares some humorous encouragement for men, especially those of us who are dads.
Ken Davis: I got kicked out of Lamaze class—probably the only guy in the world to be kicked out of Lamaze. (Laughter) They showed a movie (Chuckling). I said, "Run it backwards." And the lady didn't have a sense of humor.
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John: As you can see, Ken had a bit of an attitude about being a new dad and you'll hear why on today's edition of "Focus on the Family" with Focus president and author, Jim Daly and thanks for joining us. I'm John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, Ken Davis never planned to become a parent. That was obvious, but now he's a proud father of two and a grandfather of six. And today he's gonna share encouragement for us dads, as we anticipate Father's Day this weekend. And you know, men have a special role in the family. I like to think so. They show their daughters what to look for in a future husband, how a man should treat his wife and they show their boys how to be a good husband, a father and a man of integrity. At least that's what we're trying to do. And no matter how old your kids are, every day is a good day for a father to lean in and spend time with your children. It's the best part of my day. I love that part of fathering.
John: Hm, yeah, I've often said at the end of a day here at Focus, I'm going home to my real job--
John: --because it is such a special role. Well, today's guest, Ken Davis, has a knack for inspiring. He's an author of a number of books, a motivational speaker and he teaches speaking skills to ministry professionals and corporate executives. Here now, Ken Davis at a Promise Keepers event in San Diego several years back. And he's just starting his opening story on today's "Focus on the Family."
Ken Davis: A little boy sat at his desk perplexed. After some thought, he got down off the chair and he went into the kitchen, where his mother was preparing dinner. He said, "Mom, where did I come from?" His mom froze. She had been meaning to talk to her son about this, but she was too busy now. And she hadn't expected him to ask so soon.
So, she put him off one more time with the old lie she'd been telling all along. She said, "Son, the stork brought you." He hung his head and he started back toward his room. And as he passed his den ... the den, he saw his grandma sitting in there, knitting.
And so, he went in and he said, "Grandma," crawled up on his grandma's lap. He said, "Grandma, where did I come from?" Grandma wasn't gonna touch this with a 10' pole. (Laughter) She said, "The stork brought you." (Laughter) Same way as he brought your mom. Same way as he brought me.
The little boy climbed down off his grandmother's lap, went back, crawled up in the chair and began his school report with these words. There hasn't been a normal birth in our family for three generations. (Laughter and Applause)
I tell you that to say this, to warn you that there has never been a normal birth in our family. God did not give me an athletic body. He gave me a twisted mind and I'm gonna use it until the day I die. (Laughter) Second, to tell you this, that in the message I'm going to give you today, it's taken from the book of Malachi. The situation is much the same.
The book of Malachi shows a people who have not experienced what God had intended for them to experience for a long, long time. These were a people who had lost touch with God. They had all of the form of religion; they had all of the form of faith. On the outside it looked good, but on the inside they were lukewarm. They were absolutely dead.
There's a story that I love about a woman who looked out the window and was horrified to see her German shepherd shaking the life out of the neighbor's rabbit. They had, had trouble with this neighbor, and this was going to make it worse. So, she grabbed a broom and ran outside, and she beat on that dog until he dropped the rabbit.
She looked down at a rabbit which was very filthy and extremely dead. She didn't know what to do. So, she picked the rabbit up on the end of the broom, brought him into the house, and dumped him in the bathtub. She turned on the spray and cleaned him off on one side. Then she tipped him over with the broom, and directed the shower spray onto that side, and cleaned that off until it was clean. She thought for a moment, and then she went and got her hair dryer, and blew him dry on both sides. Then she got a[n] old brush and combed him out until he looked pretty good.
When the neighbor wasn't looking she hopped over the fence and propped him up in his cage. (Laughter) She didn't want to be blamed for this. About two hours later she heard the neighbor screaming. She ran outside, pretending like she didn't know what happened. The neighbor came to the fence. All of the blood had drained from her face. This lady said, "What happened? What happened?" And the lady said, "Our rabbit, our rabbit, he died two weeks ago, and we buried him, and he's back." (Laughter and Applause)
Malachi comes to prophesy to a group of people who were not unlike that rabbit. From all outward appearances they looked okay, but on the inside they were dead. What is interesting is that they had not turned against God; they had just turned away from God. They had been propped up in their cages.
The theme of the book of Malachi, I believe can be wrapped up in a couple of simple points. God says to these people, "I have loved you." And then He says to them, "You have, in spite of that love, despised My name." And the last part of the book of Malachi is so clear, that judgment is coming. The people of Israel were moaning and groaning. They were dissatisfied. Israel remained a weak little providence [i.e. province] in the midst of a powerful secular nation, in spite of the prophecies of their ... their coming power; they were still weak. They were calling out for God to do His judgment and they had lost their seriousness about God's law. Does this sound familiar?
Malachi, chapter 4, verse 5 says this—after all of this impending rhetoric about judgment, all the impending rhetoric about what God is going to come to do to the evil around them—He says this: "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day the Lord comes. He will turn--listen--He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." Some translations indicate that it might be, "before I come to strike the land with a curse." And then the Scriptures are silent for 400 years.
John: You're listening to Ken Davis on today's "Focus on the Family" and you'll hear why Ken really didn't want to have children in just a moment or two. Now get a CD of this program when you call 800-A-FAMILY or at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Let's return now to more from Ken Davis on today's "Focus on the Family."
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Ken: Now, who is this prophet Elijah? The prophet Elijah is John the Baptist. In Matthew, they speak very clearly identifying him as John the Baptist—the one who would make a way for the Lord; the one who would introduce He who was the light. And John himself said, "I am not that light, but I come to bear witness of that light." Indeed, dads, indeed, husbands, indeed, sons, it was Jesus Christ that would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. It was Jesus Christ that would turn the hearts of the children to the fathers.
Nationally, personally, our eyes have turned from God just like the people of Israel. The result is, we have a broken relationship with God, and because of that broken relationship with God, we are experiencing broken relationships with the people we love the most on the face of this earth.
I would like to share with you some evidence that men's hearts are returning to their children, and that the hearts of the children are turning to their fathers. This is only evidence. If you were to take this as techniques for being a better dad, you will miss the whole point of what God is trying to say to us. Techniques don't work. You can come and learn 15 of the greatest techniques of fathering, the greatest techniques of being a good Christian, the greatest techniques of having marvelous patience, and if you walk out of here without the real key, it will disappear in the first traffic jam outside the door.
Here is the first evidence: a commitment of time. Zig Ziglar says, "Love is spelled T-I-M-E." We live in a culture where we don't have time for the people who are most important to us, where we don't take time for our children, where we are busy building careers, where we are scraping to just make ends meet, and we forget that the greatest ends we need to meet are the needs of our wife, the needs of our children, the needs of our dads, the needs of our moms.
Love is spelled "time." Aren't you glad that God didn't send us an e-mail? Aren't you glad that He didn't send us a fax? Aren't you glad He didn't leave a message on our phone system? Aren't you glad He sent Jesus to live among us and take the time to prove the love of God? (Applause)
I heard a story of a young man whose dad said to him, "Let's go fishing." They sat all day long and didn't catch a thing. Years later, the man was going through his journal and found a journal of his son. This dad had written in his journal on that day that he took his son fishing, "Didn't catch a thing; a whole day wasted." He opened the journal to the same day and saw his son's entry. "Spent the whole day with my dad--greatest day of my life." (Applause)
A word to those of you who have young children: The window of opportunity for investing time in your child will be gone tomorrow. My child was born, and I didn't even want children. It isn't that I hated children; it's just that we met one. (Laughter) We went to a house to eat. They sat me next to a 1½-year-old child to eat. Gentlemen, that's the grossest experience in all of life. (Laughter) That kid had food spread all over me and my wife. I'll never forget when he turned to me and spoke to me in a language I did not understand, food up to his elbows, going "ding ga, ga, ne ga de ga." I whispered to him, "You touch me, I'll drop kick ya." (Laughter)
You think I'm kiddin'. (Laughter) On the way home I said to my wife, "I don't ever want to have children." She was rubbing food stains from her dress. She said, "Neither do I." A couple of weeks later we sat in a doctor's office (Laughter), and the doctor told us that we were incapable of having children. He said, "It's physically impossible." And God's ears perked up. (Laughter) I have a 21-year-old daughter we named "Physically." I['ve] got a 17-year-old that's "Impossible." And I wouldn't trade those two children for anything on the face of the earth. (Applause)
I want to tell you something. I came from a strict home. I rejected many of the things my parents taught me. I probably don't raise my children the same way my parents raised me, but I am so grateful that they raised me in such a way that abortion was never an option. (Applause)
About three months after the doctor's visit, my wife sat me down and said, "I'm gonna have a baby." I was angry. I said, "Why'd you do that?" (Laughter) I have not been a good husband all my life. I'm still workin' on being a good husband. And if my wife had followed the dictates of advice that she had received, she would have left me long, long ago. I was angry. She was making $22,000 a year working in a bank. I was working in the ministry making $8,000 a year. I liked it that way. I didn't want it to change. I thought children would ruin my life. I had a bad attitude right up until the day they were born.
John: And that phrase is critical for you to understand as Ken Davis talks about how that attitude changed when his first daughter was born. We'll hear more from him in a just a moment. Get in touch with us and request a CD of this program. Our number here, 800-A-FAMILY and also get the CD or an audio download at www.focusonthefamily,.com/radio. More now from Ken Davis on "Focus on the Family."
End of Program Note
Ken: I got kicked out of the Lamaze class—probably the only guy in the world to be kicked out of Lamaze. (Laughter) They showed a movie. I said, "Run it backwards" and the lady didn't have a sense of humor. (Laughter and Applause) But the second that child was born, I was overcome with love. This was flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, and I will tell you without a hint of hesitation that I would have died for her in that moment. (Applause) There were three people in the room—me, the doctor, and my wife. Then by only a miracle of God—poof—there were four people in the room. (Applause)
I ran from the room to call my wife and tell her; she wasn't home. (Laughter) I got so messed up. That doctor brought me that little baby in his arms. He said, "Would you like to hold her?" I said, "No"—tears streaming down my face. He said, "Why not?" I said, "Because she'll break." (Laughter) I never saw anything so fragile in all my life. The doctor said, "Stand up," 'cause I was sittin' on the floor. (Laughter) This is a true story. I stood up, and he put that baby in my hands, and a little hand reached up—her whole hand wasn't any bigger than my thumb. And she wrapped that little hand around my little finger, and I made a horrible mistake. I blinked, and when I opened my eyes she was still in my arms. And I was still weeping, but I was leaving her in a college dorm room 700 miles from my house. It went like that.
And in December of last year, that little girl grabbed a hold of my arm one last time, and we walked down an aisle. When we got to the front I kissed that hand one more time, and then I placed her hand in the hand of a gorilla, basically. (Laughter and Applause) I love him so much. He was at Promise Keepers in Chicago with me. I love him dearly, but he's still a gorilla. (Laughter)
Friends, "Jesus looked at His disciples just before He was about to die, and He said, 'A new command I give you, that you love each other like I loved you.'" He said, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples." How did He love us? He made a commitment to leave His throne on high, to leave all of the glory that was His, and come down here to spend the time with us that would allow us to know the love and forgiveness of God. If you want evidence that your heart, Dad, is returning to your sons, your daughters, make the commitment of time. And I'm speaking to you sons, too, because this isn't easy.
I remember sitting in a hotel room weeping once at a message I heard of how important it is for a father to spend time with their children. And Dads, you need to realize this: dream in reality, not in fantasy. I could hardly wait to get home. I got on that plane; it couldn't fly fast enough. I wanted to leave my luggage there. I got my luggage; I went home. I threw open the door, and I said to my daughter, "Honey, I love you. I heard a message on television. I haven't spent enough time with you. We're going to the cabin this weekend, just you and me." And my daughter, who was about 16 at the time, rolled her eyes way back in her head and said, "Is this gonna be a family thing?"
Kids, you will never know—teenagers, young men—you will never ever know the value of you taking time to be with your dad. How many of you dads in here have discovered that when your kids reach 16, 17, 18, when your heart begins to turn back toward them, just when they get to be the age when they can be good companions, they choose other companions? Young men, if you claim the name of Jesus Christ, make time for your dad. Honor your father with your time. (Applause)
John: Well, that crowd of almost 50,000 men obviously appreciated what Ken Davis had to say at a Promise Keepers event and we do need to spend time with our family members. Jim, what a great message for us to be sharing today on "Focus on the Family."
Jim: Well, it is, John and I hope we can all take this message to heart and really make that extra effort to spend time with our kids. And as children ourselves, if our parents are still here on this earth, to acknowledge the role of our dads in our lives. You know, even though I lost my dad at a young age and we didn't have a great relationship, when Father's Day rolls around, I still want to honor him, to at least think of the good memories that he was able to give me.
John: Well, that's a great approach to it, Jim. I think all of us as adult kids can go back and remember those times. My dad took me to baseball games, football games and I remember hangin' around on Sunday afternoons. He's be down in his workshop and he'd be shining shoes or workin' on the train set and I'd go down there and watch him and he wouldn't make me be there, but I'd want to wander in and see what was goin' on and then maybe I'd drift off. And along the way, we talked about things. I caught his values and those are the kinds of things that showing up allows you to do if you're a dad and just make the time for it.
Jim: Well, I think it's important that we stop and do exactly that. One thing I'm reminded of is, we only have 24 hours in a day. And it goes by faster than we realize and that's startin' to really sink in for me, because my boys are almost 16 and 14. We don't have much longer with them and uh ... it's gonna go by even faster. They're gonna be adults before we know it.
And we have listeners who share great ideas with us all the time and here's one I loved. One couple wrote in to say that the husband requested an early-morning shift at work, so that he could pick up their kids from school every day and spend the afternoon with them. That is an awesome opportunity. I do that once in a while, but I crave it. I wish I could do it more often. That's being an involved parent, when you make those kinds of choices. And it's a good reminder to take a look at your schedule and just see if there are any days where you could spend more time with your children, especially during these brief years when they're at home with us. And it takes some intentionality.
Here's another comment that we received from a wife with a real concern. She wrote, "I want my husband to have a good relationship with our son and it's just not happening. My husband loves sports, but my son is not interested in sports at all. Because of this, my husband acts like they have nothing in common. I can see that my son wants so badly to do things with his dad and he's ignored. How can I help them grow closer?"
John: Well, you can hear the heartache there and what a sad situation. Just from my perspective, we've got six children. They're all different. None of them are just like me. I mean, some are competitive, others, artistic and it can be hard to try to find that connection point.
Jim: It is and as a parent, it's up to you to lean into your child. Find out what they're into and learn about it. It's one of the (Chuckling) hardest things you're gonna do, but you need to enter their world. That will really make them open up to you and you watch. Your relationship will blossom.
And as we've said before on this broadcast, everything else we do here on this earth will turn to dust, including your stuff. We can't take our material goods with us into the next life, not even our favorite sports team, like the Denver Broncos. (Laughing) But we can take our loved ones into eternity if they put their trust in the Lord and that's job one for us as moms and dads.
And that's why Focus on the Family is here, to help you put your family first and to thrive in your relationship with Christ and in your marriage and in your parenting. And as we continue this important work, we really need your help. We're meeting the needs of hundreds of families each and every day and it takes resources to do that. Would you please consider giving to Focus on the Family today? We need to stand together so we can touch people in the name of Christ and help them. And what I'd like to do is, to provide the CD of Ken Davis's entire message for dads when you give us a donation of any amount. And that will be our way of saying thank you for standing for those families that we can help together.
John: Well, that'll be wonderful to have Ken's encouragement in the coming months, time and again. And you might even share this with some dads you know, either out on the sports fields or at church, guys that might need just a shot in the arm to keep going in that crucial role of being a dad.
You can donate and get other resources when you call 800- A -FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly, I'm John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow. We'll have more from Ken Davis, as he explains how Christian love should be like the love of the family dog.
Ken Davis: You can be gone for five minutes, five hours, five days. You come home, that dog is right there at the door going, "Oh, I'm so glad to see [you]; come and see what I've done. Come and see what I've done." (Laughter)
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John: That's tomorrow, as we hear more unique insights from Ken Davis and once again, help your family thrive.
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