Dads…and Being One

“I miss my kids. My ex won’t let me see em’ since we’re split. I was a good dad, I just messed up one time too many. My “best friend” and the ex hooked up…I shoulda never trusted him. But I’ll get even, you can bet on that. I’m a good dad.”

Those words, and words similar, I’ve heard many times in recovery meetings. I don’t question those young, and not so young men saying such. If I sponsor someone that is separated from their offspring, I offer what advice I can to help them. The recovering young men want to get straight so they can be involved in their children’s lives. In my humble opinion is that they have a vague conception of what fatherhood means.

Even “straight” men know little about being a dad, often taking what they see on TV and movie dads as the proper way of rearing children. Some have a twisted notion of fatherhood from what their father did, or didn’t do in their upbringing. You know that story, my father gave me nothing so I’ll make sure my kids get everything. Or, my dad gave me what I wanted, so I have to do the same. In both cases, things take priority, purpose and virtuous living has no place in their thoughts of how to raise children.

I am no genius. I see horrific mistakes I made in rearing my three children. I had many of these same ideas. I really thought keeping the kids active covered a multitude of sin opportunities. Entertainment, sports, and the like were priorities…I thought. There was one right thing their mother and I did. We TOOK them to church regularly in their adolescence, when they are the most teachable. The failure, I think, is my thinking that fifty-two plus hours at church yearly would teach them all there is to know about God. If they turned out bad, at least I did my part. How ignorant.

The public school system has over a thousand hours each year to convince our children otherwise. Biological evolution, random chance, meaninglessness, have become the tenets of disbelief we now fight to undo today. Sadly, from what they learn in society and not from their parents, young men and women in recovery rooms worldwide grow up thinking there is no one to answer to for their lives, no principles to guide, no committment to uphold….if it feels good, do it.

Well, it felt good, they did it, they sit in rehabs, jails, recovery groups, and in total confusion of why they are there, how it came to this, and why they cannot see their children. After all, “I’m a better dad than Homer Simpson,” some of them think.

So what should we do? How can I be a better dad? 
(Look in the Book, the Manufacturer’s manual. For the best results, follow the directions.)
“Hear my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” Prov.1:8-9

There is more to say than what I can put here in trying to keep this post short and readable. I will do my best to post again some thoughts I have learned as a parent, both good and bad. For now, think about this; what are you teaching your kids? They will be what you and their other parent are,…is that a good thing? Do you really believe you give enough time in training and teaching them right and wrong? Do YOU know right from wrong?

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!

Being Dad: A Shepherd

I wrote pages of thoughts about fathers. What does it mean to be a good dad, a bad dad, or an M.I.A.? The thoughts may have been many, but would they make a father pause and think, maybe make a change? I couldn’t really come up with a comfort zone in my thinking, what makes me feel I have the answers? We do have the answer book in scripture. By following what we read about a father’s instructions in Proverbs, we can also read through biblical accounts of fathers in the Old Testament, which are examples of how to, or how not to father children to live extraordinary lives. and that is what I suggest, read those accounts. In nearly every account, Bible fathers weren’t good at fathering, perhaps lack of knowing “how to,” performing the same mistakes of their fathers, expecting different results.

One character was named Eli. He had two sons, and they were priests like Eli. Eli knew his sons were bad, fornicating with the young females who served at the temple, doing as they pleased with the sacrifices, disobedient to the laws. They were what we would consider bullies, using their ministry to please themselves. When Samuel came to live with Eli in the temple, God gave Samuel a dream telling him what would happen to Eli and his sons if they didn’t turn from their evil ways. Eli knew about the dream, and asked Samuel to tell him what is was all about:

“What did the Lord say to you? Tell me everything. And may God strike you and even kill you if you hide anything from me!” So Samuel told Eli everything; he didn’t hold anything back. “It is the Lord’s will,” Eli replied. “Let him do what he thinks best,” 1 Sam.3:17-18 ( you can read the entire account in 1 Sam.1-2)

Eli refused to discipline his sons. Hearing what God said from Samuel’s dream, he responds, “oh well, go ahead God, have at it.” I think Eli was fearful of what his sons would do to him if he had them removed from their position. In short, they died, Eli died, and their posterity was removed from the earth. Discipline is a must for a father. Ignoring a child’s bad behavior is wronging the child, or children in ways that are nearly un-reversible. You must discipline, but you must do so in love, or out of a heart of love for your child and their future. That is not using physical, or verbal abuse. It is shepherding your child, steering the course of their life.

The Shepherd of our souls, Jesus, gave man a whole different picture of God as Father. The people of his day didn’t like Jesus calling God his father, that to them, was blasphemy. But Jesus wanted you and I to see God for what He really is…love. He could have consumed Eli and his sons without warning, but even these bullies, He loved and warned them. The beauty of God as Father, knowing that the Almighty Creator wants to be “Abba” to all people everywhere, is astoundingly unthinkable. This revelation of Him is rejected by even the believers who want to see Father as Judge only, fueled by traditional knowledge, and by our darkened understanding. Abba, (daddy), wants us to crawl into His lap like a child in adoration of His multi-faceted character of grace, mercy, and love. He desires to grant us our needs, even our wants, because we are brought near to Him again by the blood of Christ.

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children.” Eph.5:1 NLT

As I stated, I had pages written about dads, that may be just my opinion, not so printable. Being a good dad may not be easy to “ace.” If we take accounts from scripture, real truth, we can improve our ability to father are children with good discipline, not abuse, but by boundaries. Through the Word, we can learn to teach our young, listen to their needs, and lead by example. Devour the scripture, hunger for direction from God in rearing children. above all, thirst for a relationship with Abba, He will direct every step you take in His love.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Being Dad: Communication

It is hard for men to be open about themselves and about their deepest thoughts regarding life and living. Exposing one’s thoughts takes courage knowing you become open to criticism, and that strikes fear in a man’s heart. Being manly and tough means “keep your thoughts to yourself or be a girlish chump.” Nothing could be further from the truth. People who had a communicating father recall his strength of character, how they could tell their dad anything without hearing a lecture, followed by discipline. With a father that is closed minded toward a child’s hurts or hang-ups, the child hides their feelings, knowing relating them to him will bring scorn and ridicule, not love and understanding. The ability to communicate to their child is a quality to be desired as a father…and it is learned behavior.

How I have arrived at these conclusions about fathers has come through personal experience, careful observation, and above all, through truths like these:
“My child, listen when your father corrects you, don’t neglect your mothers instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace, and be a chain of honor around your neck.”
“My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom and concentrate on understanding.”
“My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store up my commands within your heart. If you do this, you will live many years and your life will be satisfying,” Prov. 1:8-9, 2:1-2, 3:1-2 NLT

When my daughter was in her most crucial time in her life, and needed her dad the most, my mind was closed completely. Her decisions were unguided by good counsel, but by an opinionated alcoholic, that was not mature enough to give G.O.D. to her. (good orderly direction) Fortunately, God had his hand on her life. In time, He worked things together for good, yet for a time, she struggled without dad’s help, all alone.

I have personally observed others my age that had an active father in their life. Many of these people were not religious, but had a religious manner of communicating to their children. The behavior of my peers with the active parents, was that of drugs and alcohol is taboo, pre-marital sex is wrong, and college is a must. Those whose parents were religious, most of these, not all, married, had children, and today are still together after all of these years. I had communicating parents, but didn’t listen. I was more set on rebellion, the price was costly, and I paid it.

Being a father is being a leader. Communicating with actions is nearly important as words. For a child to see their father bow his head in prayer, shed a tear in sorrow, belly laugh when something goes wrong, can have a heavy impression. Words themselves, reveal the heart of a father. For father to encourage his children by his honest evaluation, without belittlement, will steer the children in the right direction. Encouragement can only be effective with honesty.

To lie to a child by telling them they are better than other kids, to defend their wrong doing by making excuses, are destructive when the child discovers truth…if they ever do. This method is a lazy father’s teaching technics. Tearing a child down by comparing them to siblings or other kids their age is even worse.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Eph.6:4 NLT

Many young men are fathers way too early in life. Before they have any understanding on how to live themselves, let alone provide for a family, they have one. Society today dictates marriage isn’t necessary, commitment can come down the road. A child born into this world with parents having no direction can only cause a new generation of non-communicating, or dysfunctional families. Encourage those soon-to-be dads. Ask them pertinent questions about being dad. Don’t aggravate or discourage them with “you knew better” wisdom. They may have known better, being a dad requires understanding and teach-ability, not ridicule. If you feel you failed with fatherhood in the past, communicate that to the new fathers, and amend past errors.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Being Dad

Father’s Day is coming up this Sunday. I wanted to write a little about being a father. Since I am a father, I would like to share my experiences and observances of something I have done poorly at times, and okay at others, but never have done with perfection.

Fatherhood is viewed by people from various sources, many getting their views of “dear old dad” from sitcoms and TV dramas these days. When I was younger, TV made dad somewhat human, respected by the entire family. Father Knows Best, Andy Griffith, The Donna Reed Show, and later Cosby, all viewed father as a leader, wise, understanding, and a real household leader. In recent TV shows, dad is the household idiot, kids treat him with disrespect, mom leads the home and has the wisdom and understanding. Family Guy, The Simpsons, and many others, pervert and discount the role of the father in the home, as though the father doesn’t matter. Dads really matter.

“America used to live by the motto, “Father Knows Best.” Now we’re lucky if father knows he has children. We have become a nation of sperm donors and “baby daddies.” Stephen Colbert

“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating…too often fathers neglect it because they get so caught up in making a living, they forget to make a life.” John Wooden

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” Clarence Budington Kelland

Fathers lead. They lead by example, by instruction, and by attitude. That responsibility is the greatest of responsibilities for any man who has sired offspring since the dawn of time. The first and most important lesson a father teaches his children is commitment. By being committed to the children’s mother brings a sense of great security to a child, knowing mom and dad is there. Being committed to faith in God gives a child a sense of direction in life. Being committed to providing for the household gives the child a sense of obligation to do the same as they reach adulthood, and start their family.

Unfortunately, commitment defined this way seems more like a “pipe dream” of an overly-religious person, but that is not the case at all. Some have actually experienced having a father in their home, that is committed and communicating after this manner. How they reached this understanding was from the instruction in their own home, being taught the importance of teaching their little ones with diligence. From the time a young boy reaches an ability to understand, he should be taught about being a father. Many, if not most of the societal woes we experience in our world come from fathers that know nothing about being a father, and completely unconcerned about learning about this monumental responsibility. Sons become just like their dad, whether dad actually raises their child, or just provides the seed, and disappears. Some never know their father and still turn out like him.

Over the next couple of days, I want to write about my experience as a father, and my observances of fathers that have, or are developing good and bad behaviors, affecting the future of their home, and enhancing or destroying their marriage and children’s lives. Over ninety percent of inmates in prison today had no father in their lives. Their sense of right and wrong came from the streets, from media outlets like movies, TV, and gaming. They have little or no sense of spirituality, and every small good they perform, mothers tend to over-praise them to compensate for dad’s neglect. With over-inflated egos, and no understanding of a God they have to answer to for evil they do to others, without values about right or wrong living, prison and or substance abuse tends to be the normal way of life. Tragic.

There is a better way. More to come. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Days Past

America has changed in the past fifty years, I almost do not recognize her. She stood tall among the nations, took in the tired, the poor, the down-trodden. The nations surrounding us, allies, and foes alike, were jealous of the freedoms and prosperity American citizens enjoyed. Everyone living inside her borders seemed to have a courtesy, a kind word, and as you drive through a community, your arm would get tired waving hello as you passed. We were one. Neighbors knew each other by name. Attendants at the fuel station were courteous, we trusted in God and loved our country.
No more. We are divided. We had problems back then too. Many of the problems we have today, but then we helped each other. Then, when a crime was committed, there was punishment. Then, there were few frivolous law suits, and when there was, people thought the suers were pretty evil people to try to get something for nothing. No delusions here. There were child-molesters, racketeering, mobs, gangs, good cops, bad cops, prostitution, drug dealers, thieves and murderers. But today, we have all of that, and much more.
We have division today. We have people who intend to drive us further apart. We have dumbed down this entire society, drunken with pleasure and self-service, willing to place principles into the dung heap and sell ourselves out for things that quickly fade from importance. There is a free lunch from the government everyone!  Seems to be the message of hope people want to hear. No personal pride, no values or standards of conduct, no God to answer to. Yes, we removed deity from the the place of prominence, beginning at home…then to the schools, public places, and coming soon to your places of worship, if they have their way.
The great society that began in the early 60’s, was the initial steps in the families destruction, the need to help a neighbor, and the start of over-crowding prisons, and progressive education. Today, our education system has taken this countries rankings from the top ten to the upper twenties. Illegitimacy rates are off the charts. Heroin, cocaine, meth, you name the drug, is on every corner in urban areas, and reached into small communtities. Alcoholism is now a major worry among adolescents.
 Enough! Have I brought you down far enough yet? There is a way out of this mess. Do you want to know the way? It may cost you some of your “pleasures.”
“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and PRAY, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and heal their land.” 2 Chron.7:14
Yes? No? What will it be? Is it too late? Some think it is. Some think that the Sovereign Lord God is finished, ready to wrap things up. That could be. This is what the end is supposed to look like.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times shall come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of PLEASURES more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Tim.3:1-5
Doesn’t sound like anyone I know, does it you? It sounds like everyone I know including me! Maybe this is it. God has had enough. Why wouldn’t He? Kicked out of schools, homes, government buildings, and churches, Why wouldn’t He say, times up? We can follow the advice in 2 Chron, and repent, really repent, starting at home, then our church. God will finish when He chooses. Are you prepared? Do you think now is the time? Comment if so. I will have more, next time, adding some of your thoughts if you’re brave enough to do so.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith

Fatherless Day

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. I am thankful to be able to celebrate another year with my dear father, and count it a real blessing to have him with us at 82…he looks younger than me. Many friends have lost their parents over the past few years, and I really hope they take the time to remember their dad by saying happy Father’s Day to dads they know.
Many people in America, and the number steadily grows, have no dad to share the holiday with. It isn’t because their dad is in heaven, its because they have no clue who their dad is, or he bolted on them when they were born or very young.
In an article dated 12/1/2006, the Washington Times reported that 36.8% of children born in the US were illegitimate. In 1960, that number was 5.3%…and the people thought that was outrageous. A more recent article on the website,,  site subtitled, “a guide to the political left, entitled the article, “Breakdown of the Black Family,” stated that the black community had an illegitimacy rate of 70-80%…!!! This is tragic! White and hispanic communities do not fare much better!
When a young man becomes fully aware that he has fathered a child, and walks away from that child, determining to have nothing more to do with their young, for whatever reason, he may be sentencing that child to live in utter poverty, to face imprisonment, have psycological problems, and send his posterity on a downhill slide that it may never recover from.
Both of the above articles mentioned noted that the young children from the loins of these fleeing fathers” face more possibilities of living in poverty, placed in prison, with all sorts of other pathologies and problems. Babies having babies is the best way to describe this problem.
There is another entirely different problem in fatherhood this country faces, well actually more than one, but this is a blog, not a book. There are children who have their father at home their entire life, but he is merely a household decoration more than a father. His best advice to his children, “do as I say not as I do.” Are you kidding me? That is how you teach your young? They fully expect their wife, or the church, or their public schools to instruct the children the way to live.
The children want their father’s attention and love, but he’s busy…the game is on right now. The first 7 chapters of Proverbs give you all the instruction you need, on how to raise your children by emphatic, practically pleading to them, about what to watch for in life. In chapter 1vs. 8 My son, hear the instruction of your father… and each of the next six chapters start that way. But in chapter 4, read it all, make your children wise.
“Hear my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding, vs.1, Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth!” vs.5
This father is teaching, and imploring his child the way of living. If you take the time to read these chapters, it may change your child’s future, and your future Father’s Day will be viewed as a day they truly honor their father. Of course, you don’t have to stay around, be a man, and raise your sons and daughters. You can let them be a statistic of illegitimacy. You don’t have to instruct your children, you can go dig them out of the barrooms later on when they are spending the money to feed their children a few years from now. Or you may have the pleasure of seeing them through the glass in a nice federal pen…at least they have food.
Think these things through. Pray for those who are fatherless. Think about how often you sat down with your little ones, and talked about life, and the importance of family, about integrity, and justice, and their importance to you. You can teach them how to play sports anytime, but today, teach them about God, about Jesus, love, etc. and if you bailed on your child, make it right, find a way, ask God to help you do so.
Happy Father’s Day, thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith