Just Call Me Dad available at Westbow, Amazon and Barnes and Noble (links below book cover)

 

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Available in Decatur, Il  at   PLAY IT AGAIN SPORTS

Click below to listen to a 15 minute interview that I did with Eric Nichols at WBGL Christian Radio      WBGL Community Matters Just Call Me Dad Part 1

Click below to listen to Part 2 of the Interview which is my favorite   

WBGL Community Matters Just Call Me Dad Part 2

 


Do Kids Come with an Owner's Manual?

Do Kids Come with an Owner’s Manual?

Excuse me for being old fashioned.  My great new idea is actually one of the oldest ideas around.  How do we change the world?  I believe that if we build the home, then we can do just that.

One January long ago, I was in Chicago attending Saint Xavier University and playing baseball.  Everyone on the team hated January because it was all about athletic conditioning.  Especially me.  I was a catcher who wasn’t a big fan of aerobics, the fad at the time.

As we got ready to head into the gym, I told my buddies, “I can’t go in there.”

They were all like, “Yeah, right!  Nobody likes conditioning!”

“Guys, I can’t go in there,” I told them.  “I am going to be a dad.”  To this day, I can still see the looks on all their faces.  Earlier in the day, I had received a phone call from my girlfriend telling me the news.

Up to that point in my life, I had been a very self-centered person.  My life had revolved around me and baseball.  In an instant, I felt like I was a different person.  Instead of going to conditioning, I went to McDonalds, bought six cheeseburgers and started my journey to Decatur to confront my situation.

I have recently had a book of mine published by WestBow Press entitled Just Call Me Dad: 13 Principles for Better Dads, Better Kids and a Better World.  In my book, I talk about this journey I took of becoming a dad.  It was a shocker at the time, receiving that news, but thirty-three years later, I love my life with James Walter Minton, Jr., my life as a dad.

Who is responsible for the next generation?  Today we seem to be focused on trying to fix society without ever really fixing the individuals who make up society.  When I learned I was going to be a dad, somehow I instantly knew that it was my responsibility to take care of this child I created.  Do people understand this personal responsibility?  While I might have got the responsibility part right, I had to admit:  I had no clue how I was going to pull off this whole fatherhood thing.

As I mentioned, I believe that if we build the home, we can change the world, but how do we do that?  Is there an owner’s manual or a set of instructions for that?  Are the nine months of pregnancy there to give the baby time to grow or to give the parents time to read the manual?

I believe there is Heaven and hell, and Earth with a little bit of both.  Parenting is no different.  The toughest hood you will ever go through is parenthood.

I was and am far from the perfect parent.  I remember when J. J. lost his first tooth–I probably shouldn’t have hit him that hard. I am joking, of course, but I did make my share of mistakes.

What happens if we stop having kids?  A lot of people think that way these days, that we should just stop having children altogether.  I disagree.  Times have changed, and they continue to do so.  Women, for instance, have made tremendous advancements in the world outside the home, but is that at the expense of the family?  It’s not easy raising children, building the home so we can change the world.  Parenting is hard . . . but necessary.

What happens if we stop having good kids?  It seems to me that today a lot of us are completely focused on having our best lives NOW! We want Heaven here on Earth.  As we go about our everyday lives, it is hard to focus on the big picture, but sometimes, I think, it is important that we stop and consider the grand scheme of things.  As Jase Robertson pointed out, we have to ask ourselves these three questions:  How did we get here?  What are we doing here?  How are we leaving?1

We used to be a nation with a motto of “In God we trust,” but today it seems we want to get Him out of the public square.  These people who want to keep God out of the public square have a few problems, however.  What year is it?  It’s 2019 A.D.  What does A.D. stand for? According to according to Merriam-Webster, it stands for “anno Domini,” in the year of our Lord.  In other words, as Phil Robertson2 points out, we count time by Jesus.

How fast does the sun move?  The sun seems like it rises in the east and sets in the west, but in reality it is sitting still.  The sun is ninety-three million miles away, and the trip around it is 584 million miles3.  Does anyone have 584 million miles on their car?  No, but your car travels that far every year as the Earth revolves around the sun.  If the sun were any closer, we would burn up.  If it were any further away, we would freeze.  That ninety-three million miles is just the perfect distance.  I could go on and on about this, bringing up points about how finely tuned our world is.  To me, this speaks of a Designer.

Give yourself a thumbs up.  Now take the time to really look at your thumbs.  What is unique about them?  There are six billion people in the world, and we all have a different thumb print, even identical twins4.  You know why, of course.  It’s so we can have all these different crime dramas on tv—just kidding again!

I believe that science is the process of figuring out what God already knows.  I look around the world, and I see no way that this could have happened just by chance.  There are basically two schools of the thought on this:  One school of thought holds that there is a Designer, while the other school of thought, subscribed to by the atheists, is big on evolution and the idea that the universe came into existence by chance and that we evolved and adapted from there.  If evolution really were true, wouldn’t mothers have more than two hands, and if this world has a Designer, shouldn’t we look to Him for the owner’s manual for our kids as well?

Today there is a lot of talk about toleration.  However we want to live our lives, we are told, it’s okay.  There are lots of other ways for people to live their lives, of course, and we are told that all those ways are equally valid.  As a consequence, society has to beat down on things like Christianity and a Bible-based worldview in order to raise up all the other lifestyles and religions of today to the same level.  If you believe in traditional marriage, for instance, you are labeled a hater.  Many people today have adopted the approach of:  You have your truth, and I have mine.  As Frank Turek points out, “Is that true?  Is it true that there is no truth?  Because if it’s true that there is no truth, the claim ‘There is no truth’ can’t be true, but it claims to be true. “5

I look at this like not brushing your teeth.  Maybe you can get away with it for years, but at some point, it is going to catch up to you.  You are going to suffer some serious pain and probably lose your teeth if you don’t take care of them.  Can we teach our kids to be good without God?  Read up on humanism; it is basically what we teach in our public schools.  How is that working out for society?

In the end, I believe there is an owner’s manual and that owner’s manual is the Bible.  I have always been a big fan of famous UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.  He was considered the greatest coach of all time, but he was not just about teaching his players how to win a game; he was great at teaching these young people how to be winners in life as well.  When my kids were growing up, we kept lots of Wooden’s sayings on our refrigerator, which is a great place to get teenagers’ attention:  They make frequent visits to the ice box.  I posted things like Wooden’s Two Sets of Threes:

Don’t cheat!  Don’t lie!  Don’t steal!
Don’t whine! Don’t complain!  Don’t make excuses!6

I put Wooden’s Seven Point Creed up on the refrigerator, a creed that included such sage advice as:

Make each day your masterpiece!  Make friendship a fine art!  Read deeply from good books, especially the Bible!7

I posted this pearl of wisdom:

Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.8

And let us not forget the family favorite:

Good, better, best, never let it rest, until your good becomes better, and your better becomes best!9

Where did John Wooden learn all of this?  From his father Josh.  By todays standards, Josh was not a success.  He lost the family farm during the Depression.  He spent most of his life doing odd jobs just to get by.  Still, he was able to influence untold generations by what he instilled in his kids.  One of his secrets was reading good books to his kids at night, especially the Bible.

I have to believe that a big part of the big picture is responsibility for the next generation.  We are stronger, faster and have more knowledge.  If you ask me a question, I can google to find the answer, but doesn’t it feel like we are dropping the baton with our kids, like we are not passing on American Christian Family Values?

Princeton Professor Robert George, who is part of the Heritage Foundation, states, “Adults have a duty to prioritize the needs of children over their own desires.  Have we forgotten that?   From abortion to the border to the porn culture to the divorce culture to the failure to protect childhood innocence, adults seem to be saying ‘me before you.’”10  From video games, to movies and tv shows, to hip hop music, we put so much garbage into our kids, how can we not expect to get garbage out?

TV used to help us in raising our kids.  There is an Andy Griffith video you can find that is entitled “Opie and the Spoiled Kid.”  The child doesn’t follow the rules.  He gets punished and instead of respecting authority, he goes and gets his dad to take his side.  It seems to be a popular theme today to demand your rights.  Everybody deserves to be the center of the universe.  That is a great way to end up with a bunch of spoiled brats.  Andy has a great line where he says, “If we don't teach kids to live in society today, what is going to happen when they grow up?” 11

I believe the God of the Bible is the Designer of life and His most important creation is us.  Therefore, if we want to raise good kids, we need to consult His owner’s manual.  One of the passages in this owner’s manual is Romans 8:5-8.  To paraphrase, it says that if we live according to the flesh, we die.  We get eighty years or so here on Earth if we are lucky.  A few of us will win, but most of us will lead pretty ordinary lives filled with a lot of ups and downs.  However, if we live according to the spirit, we have life and peace.

How do you deal with the death of a three-year-old or a high schooler?  I don’t know how you get through those things without a sense that God has a plan.  My extensive research has led me to the conclusions that Christianity is true and Jesus is the answer.  Christianity has the most plausible explanation as to how the world came into existence, what we are supposed to be doing here, and how we are going to leave.  Christianity is the only religion where God reaches down to us.  It is not about how good we are, but how good God is.

A man was within weeks of dying.  He wanted to take his video games and other toys with him, so he gathered up his things and put them into a couple of suitcases.  He told his wife to put them in the attic, so that when he was getting swept up into Heaven, he could grab them.  After he died, his wife went to check if the suitcases were still there or not.  They were, to which she replied, “I knew I should have put them in the basement.”

I think it is so important that our kids know that when life is over, it all goes back in the box.  We can’t take our toys to Heaven, but we can take our kids and our loved ones by ensuring that they, too, have a place prepared for them there.  Warren Buffett was once asked what success was.  He responded that at the end of your life the people who should love you, do love you.12  Not a bad answer for a man with a lot of money, but I would take that one step further:  Will your loved ones join you in Heaven?

I believe our biggest job today is, as it always has been, to raise good kids.  How do we do that?  We need to get the L out of our kids. By that I mean, we need to take them from a WORLD-view to a WORD-view.  From W-O-R-L-D to W-O-R-D, just remove the L, and we can build the home and change the world.  But that doesn’t just apply to kids.  We could all use some Christian character development.  We all need to be focused on building the home.  To paraphrase Arthur Guiterman’s poem, “Education”13:  No written word no spoken plea can teach our youth what they should be; not all the books on all the shelves, it is what we, as teachers and parents, are ourselves.

If we want to get the L out of our kids, we need to get the L out of us.  Often kids don’t listen to what we say, but they are always watching.  We need to make sure they learn Bible-based principles from our actions.  J. J. is thirty-three today, and now he is raising two boys of his own.  I also have a twenty-three- and a twenty-two-year-old.  I am so thankful that with help from a lot of places, including my church, I was able to build my home and through that, through raising good kids, I was able to change the world for the better.

Footnotes:

  1. Burton, Natalie. “Jase Robertson - How'd you get to the Earth, Why are you here, How are you leavin'”.  Filmed [December 2012].  YouTube video, 4:43.  Posted [December 2012].  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpj7CyzxJN4.  (Accessed July 18, 2019).
  2. Centennial Institute. “Phil Robertson - Western Conservative Summit 2016”.  Filmed [July 2016].
    YouTube video, 48:34.  Posted [July 2016].  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIq1XmnG4-U.
    (Accessed July 18, 2019).
  3. Northwestern University. “Space Environment:  How Do Objects in Space Travel?  What Are the Oribital Lengths and Distances of Objects in Our Solar System?”  Northwestern.edu.  http://www.qrg.northwestern.edu/projects/vss/docs/space-environment/3-orbital-lengths-distances.html.  (Accessed July 18, 2019).
  4. Washington State Twin Registry. “Do Identical Twins Have Identical Fingerprints?”  WSTwinRegistry.org.  https://wstwinregistry.org/2015/10/01/do-identical-twins-have-identical-fingerprints/.  (Accessed July 18, 2019).
  5. Matty John 14:6. “4 Questions that Show Christianity is True”.  Filmed [February 2017].  YouTube video, 27:48. Posted [February 2017].  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3qtyzpaAgY.  (Accessed July 18, 2019).
  6. Rosenbloom, Steve. “John Wooden.”  Chicago Tribunehttp://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2005-03-06-0503060569-story.html.  (Accessed July 18, 2019).
  7. Wooden, John, and Steve Jamison. Wooden:  A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court.  Lincolnwood:  Contemporary Books, 1997.
  8. Wooden, John and Jack Tobin. They Call Me Coach.  New York:  Bantam Books, 1973.
  9. Johnson, Ken. Journey to Excellence.  n.d. Helping Hands Group, Inc., Compact disc.
  10. George, Robert P. Twitter Post.  June 16, 2018, 8:24 PM.  https://twitter.com/mccormickprof/status/1008188510363422720?lang=en
  11. The Andy Griffith Show. “Opie and the Spoiled Kid.”  Directed by Bob Sweeney.  Written by Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum.  CBS, February 18 1963.
  12. Schwantes, Marcel. “Warren Buffett Says the Greatest Measure of Success at the End of Your Life Comes Down to 1 Word:  More Profound Wisdom from the Oracle of Omaha.”  Inchttps://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/warren-buffett-says-it-doesnt-matter-how-rich-you-are-without-this-1-thing-your-life-is-a-disaster.html.  (Accessed July 18, 2019).
  13. Guiterman, Arthur. “Education.”  Garfield News, December 11, 1925.  Accessed July 18, 2019.  https://4.files.edl.io/614d/05/04/18/162029-75f8d559-754e-4ead-bc23-be70ea1ba01a.pdf.

 


The Four Themes of Just Call Me Dad

Just Call Me Dad: 13 Principles for Better Dads, Better Kids and a Better World, has four main themes.

 

Theme #1:  Don’t be THAT dad!  Being a competitive athlete, it was a difficult journey for me to become a dad, but this world needs dads to step up our game.

 

Theme #2:  You can learn a lot from John Wooden and great quotes.  I think most things in life are pretty basic, and a short quote like “Don’t be a victim” can take you a long way toward success.

 

Theme #3:  God has a plan.  My plan was to be a professional baseball player and a broadcaster, not to become a dad during my junior year of college, but my book is about how things worked out the way they were supposed to.  It may not have happened exactly as I drew it up, but God had a plan.  He still does, and we are all a part of it.

 

Theme #4:  Christianity is true.  I put together one hundred or so Sunday school lessons using videos I found on the internet, and I organized the best ones into the thirteen principles.  Using this contemporary approach to present the Bible, I share these true stories, which I call modern-day parables, with the reader.  This book also contains 140 Bible verses and a wide array of examples of Christian apologetics.

Connect with Jim on Facebook


PRINCIPLE #9 PREPARE YOURSELF FOR OPPORTUNITIES   

Opportunity-ahead-sign-337-wide

 

Let’s work together to develop your children’s Christian character.

Over a thirteen week period, we would like to walk you and your children through the thirteen principles.   Five times a week, we will text you and your children one of the videos or lessons mentioned in the book.  This will allow you, your children and us to communicate back and forth regarding any questions arising while reading the book and reviewing the material sent to you.  

Through this process, we hope to help your children figure out Better Kids Game Plans that include their career paths, getting them to think about their purposes in life and whom they are going to eventually marry. This process is intended to help them develop good habits and a serve rather than deserve attitude.  

Finally and most importantly, if God’s plan isn’t for your children to have the normal eighty years here on Earth, would they be prepared to go to Heaven and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25, verses 21 and 23)?  

“Prepare your child for the path, instead of the path for the child.”–Tim Elmore

To learn more, check out www.betterdadsbetterkids.com or email us at justcallmedad1313@gmail.com. 

We are supported by www.businessmeninchrist.com. 


Teachable Moments The final chapter from Just Call Me Dad! 13 Principles for better dads, better kids, and a better world.

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 NIV:  “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” 

I remember when Gary Yuenger was teaching me to hit a golf ball.  He said you have to hit the ball with the big muscles in your back.  I couldn't figure it out.  I wanted to throw my hands at the bottom of the swing, and that led to a lot of short shots that drifted to the right.  Then I did it.  I hit one just right.  What he had been telling me now made sense.  Back when I was playing a lot, I got down to a five handicap.   I have had a lot of fun over the last fifteen years since I successfully learned how to hit a golf ball.

I wish I could tell you that parenting was easy and give you just that one perfect piece of advice.  The fact of the matter is it is just like anything that is worthwhile:  It requires hard work.  There’s a great quote from Robert Fulghum (quoted by Bonita Jean Zimmer in Reflections for Tending the Sacred Garden):  “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”

I have always told my kids to do as I say, not as I do, because I know I am a flawed human being.   Jesus should be the standard to judge by, not me.  In reality, though, a great deal of what kids learn is caught and not taught.   

My goal was to set my kids’ moral compasses in such a way that they knew the difference between right and wrong.  I love the concept of the thirteen principles because these are simple little phrases that you can remember.  If you can get this code of conduct ingrained in your kids’ hearts, you can expect them to make better decisions down the road.

It is good to have rules, such as an 11:00 p.m. curfew, but I think it is more effective to help your kids learn why you want them home at the hour.  Over the years, I have sent my kids many articles and videos of all the bad things that happen after 11:00 p.m., that most drunk driving occurs after this hour, for instance.  It also starts you off running behind the next day.  Most productive people are up and going early and not burning the candle at both ends.  

Sometimes it is OK to say, “Because I said so.”  You are the authority, and your kids should respect that.  That being said, I think it is best to develop a relationship with your kids where they understand that there are methods to your madness.    

The big key is to take advantage of teachable moments!  When your kids have questions, you need to be ready with a great response.  You don't have to be able to answer every question, but you need to be able to help them work their way through the ups and downs of life.  In this book, I hope I have been able to share with you what has worked for our family. 

Kurtis and I talked occasionally about the “I love you, ifs.”  We should love our kids unconditionally.  My parents were incredible at doing that for me.  I have never been very good at it.  I was often guilty of, “I love you, if you get an A,” or, “I love you, if you get a hit.”  The way God wired me, I could make myself physically sick when Kurtis went 0-for-4 in a baseball game.   That was something I needed to work on, and I still do.    

In the introduction, I mentioned how I was with J. J. and my first go-around with parenting.   Too often, I looked at J. J. as my child; I viewed him as an extension of myself and in relation to myself, rather than as an individual in his own right.  It didn’t help that his name was James Walter Minton, Jr.  As a result, when J. J. would do something wrong, I always felt like he was doing it to me.  My mind would say, “Don’t you realize what you are doing to my reputation?”  In hindsight, I realize that I was doing a lot more than he was doing to hurt people’s perceptions of me.  

I did a great deal better with Kurtis and Emily, but I still struggled.  We had a lot of fun with a John Wooden line (mentioned in his February 2001 TED Talk, for instance) that a C is only appropriate for the neighbor’s children.  Writing a book like this puts a great deal of expectations on the kids, but I think they are OK with it.

Try your best to love your kids not because of what they do but for who they are. 

Remember Stevie Urkel on the TV show Family Matters?  After he made a mess of things, he would say, “Did I do that?”  Hopefully you can remember Urkel’s whiny voice.  When I turned fifty years old, Kurtis posted on Facebook:

A big happy 50th birthday to the greatest dad a kid could ask for!  Not only has he instilled in me a passion and love for baseball and the St. Louis Cardinals but also a passion and love for Jesus and sharing his love with others!  Thanks dad for the countless number of things you have done for me and our family!  I am the man I am today because of you.  You’re the greatest blessing in my life!  Love ya and have a great day!

At another point, Suzanne posted a meme stating, “A daughter needs a dad to be the standard against which she will judge all other men,” and captioned that with:

So True!  Made me stop this morning and thank God for the wonderful father my husband is to all of our children.  It’s what attracted me to him some 27+ years ago!  God has been faithful in blessing him greatly in the Dadittude area.  Sure, he’s often the “good cop” to my “bad cop” or the “gospel” to my “law,” and often forgets to hang up his bath towel and knows all about spoilin--but he is a GREAT dad and Papa!  Thanks Jim for leading our family and keeping us centered on Christ!  Loving and appreciating you more each day!

Did I do that?  Did I really go from not having a clue about how to be a dad to looking back and saying things turned out OK?

I think I failed forward.  

Throughout this book, I have mentioned my shortcomings.  It’s not about how great we are; it’s about how great God is.  The One who designed the stars millions of miles away, the One who designed the smallest atoms from which all things are made, that same One is interested in the number of hairs you have on your head. 

There is no way that I can live up to the thirteen principles in this book without God’s help.   Does God still do miracles?  It is a miracle if a guy like me can get better at the stuff that I talk about in this book.  I will never get to a ten on any sort of meter, scale or gauge, but I can improve.

People of the world will tell you that they can be moral without God.  It’s great that the liberals are trying to “out-nice” the Christians.  There are always exceptions to the rule.   As a general rule, however, the world at its worst needs the church and the family at their best. 

To get society right, we need to get the church right.  

To get the church right, we need to get the family right.

To get families right, we need to get marriages right. 

To get marriages right, we need to get men right.  

If we can all have our kids turn out better than we are, then we will build the home and change the world.  It all starts with better dads.

To purchase the book go here      Amazon Just Call Me Dad

or here Westbow Just Call Me Dad