5 Things I’d Tell my Teenage Daugher after listening to “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry

Ok before I start its only fair to say that my daughter isn’t a teenager (she’s 4) and I’m really not a fan of Katy Perry at all.  In fact I highly recommend NOT owning a single MP3, CD or whatever. But because Katy is a really talented singer who gets a lot of air time on the radio  and I work with teenagers (and I can imagine my daughter being a teenager one day), I thought I would provide a little dad like perspective.

Here are five things I’d tell my daughter after hearing “Teenage Dream” on the radio…

1. You are beautiful just the way you are and I hope you find a man who accepts you for you… “without your make up on.”

You need to know that you are beautiful.  Anybody can see that you don’t really need make-up… but I can understand you wearing it to make the other girls feel more confident about themselves.  You are beautiful not only in appearance but in ways that really matter beyond how you fix your hair.

By the way there is nothing wrong with being beautiful.  Your mom is the most beautiful woman I know. But just like your mom, your beauty goes beyond your appearance.  Your real beauty shines when you are selfless and giving to others (I Timothy 2:9-10, I Peter 3:4).

Something you should know about guys your age is that some of them can talk a good game. Sometimes guys will say something like “your beautiful,” but they don’t always mean beautiful like a flower (that should be protected and put on display)… they mean beautiful like a good cut of meat (that should be cooked and eaten).  My prayer is that God brings you a man who will appreciate your true beauty.

2. Sex is good and you will want to “go all the way.”  But just because he seems like the right guy now, doesn’t mean that he is the right guy or that it is the right time.  Wait for marriage.

God made men and women sexual beings. Adam said of Eve (before the fall), “A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Being a woman is part of who you are and as a young woman it is only natural that you would have sexual desires. The key is not to ignore this fact, but to manage these new desires in a way that glorifies God. As a young woman who most likely won’t be married for several more years it is important to guard your purity and have control of your body.

Many guys are living life in transition and are mistaken in their feelings or they carry sinister motives and are trying to manipulate you. A young man worth your time will guard his words and will not lead you on.  The woman pursued by Solomon in Song of Songs offers some wise advice here.  She says, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (Song of Songs 2:7).  Real love is patient and is evident in a young man’s actions long before it appears in his words.

3. Sex is not love.  Inside of marriage it is an expression of love, but outside of marriage its an expression of impatience.

Adam speaks so gently about Eve his wife when he meets here for the first time. The first poem we have recorded is when Adam speaks to Eve and says, “She is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23).
Marriage is the right place to enjoy the pleasures of sex to the glory of God and without shame. Sex in marriage can fuel intimacy, but sex outside of marriage will fuel frustration.  At this point, after Adam says man shall leave his parents house for his “wife,” the Bible records, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).

4. Every Sexual sin is a sin against your body and you will carry scars for you your whole life.

Paul writes in the New Testament to, “Flee Sexual Immorality. Every other sin a person commits outside the body, but the sexual immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). We can do lots of things that will damage our body, but nothing is as personal as sex. When we engage in sexual acts outside of marriage they have a way of robbing us. Even if they are asexual acts (sexual acts that don’t involve physical contact with another person like viewing pornography, masturbation, etc…). We are to flee from even the temptation of these things. Sex was created as a means of intimacy inside of marriage, outside of marriage it tends to destroy. What was fun for a season causes people to become bitter, calloused, and hurt.

5. If you have ever crossed lines sexually (by or against your own will) please know that I love you and you can always come home.

When you were little I used to protect you from things that would hurt you.  Sometimes I even had to make you angry in order to protect you from things you thought you could handle.  Like when you 3 and  wanted to use the meat cleaver to cut vegetables… You totally thought I didn’t get you or appreciate that you were just wanting to help.  I knew you had the best of intentions, but I also knew that you were not ready… yet.

I knew that there would come a day when you would be fully able to chop vegetables on your own.  My long term goal wasn’t to keep you from chopping vegetables, but to prepare you for it. If you had defied me and chosen to cut vegetables with a sharp knife you most likely would have cut yourself.  If you had cut yourself I would have run to your rescue, held you tight in my arms and done my best to stop the damage.

In many ways as your dad I have set out to protect you.  I have given you really unpopular rules not to keep you from an awesome relationship with a guy, but to prepare you for one.  If you find that you have stepped beyond the rules or were forced beyond, and find yourself hurt… please know that as your dad my response will be to run to your rescue, hold you tight in my arms and to do my best to stop the damage.

This isn’t a get out of jail free card or an excuse to try somethings out.  This is an honest plea from your dad to know that this conversation is not about sex, its about you.  Katy Perry has an awesome voice, but the lyrics of her songs promise more than they can afford.  When it comes to relationship advice, please listen to the old man who taught you how to read, tie your shoes, took you out for pancakes every Friday of your life and is still married to your mother… not Katy Perry.

Dads, Daughters and Date Days

Right around 5-years ago I became a dad.  The nurse handed me this precious little baby girl and I knew that it would all be different from that day forward.  My life had changed and all the sudden I felt the pressure to not to drop the ball.

Now She is almost 5-years-old and smarter than I ever imagined a 5-year-old being.  She knows me well.  To be honest, sometimes its uncomfortable.  She doesn’t come with a filter.  In fact that’s what a lot of parenting is… introducing a filter.

Just being gut level honest… It’s not easy to introduce a filter and help your kids process life.  Most of the time the easy thing to do is to go cut the grass (because its over due and you wonder what your neighbors are thinking about your un-kept yard), or read a book (because you need some quiet time after they have tugged on our arm and said, “Dad” a million times in a row just to get you to look at their newest drawing and act like its the best thing since Michael Angelo), or Watch TV while your kid takes an hour long bath and shrivels up like a prune (because you’ve had a long day dealing with other peoples problems… not to mention your own).  Its actually quite easy to just show up, give out a hug, maybe play a token game or two with your kid, talk to your wife, go to bed and do it all over again tomorrow without ever really parenting.

To be completely honest.  I don’t always succeed at taking advantage of all the “dad” moments that I could.  But I know I need to.  I know that I love my kids (no matter how many times they say “dad” in a row while I’m trying to figure out the algebra problems I’ve created  in the check book). I know that they need me.  I know that I don’t want to wake up 20 years from now living with regrets on how I wasted these formable years because someone else said, “that’s normal” or “that really never messed up my kid.” (After all they aren’t accountable for how I raise my kids).

So we have set some things in place in my family in order to capitalize on these younger years with my daughter.  I tuck her in bed most nights and read 1 or 2 stories to her from her Jesus Story Book Bible .  We also pray together.

On some Sunday afternoons we are more intentional.  We have this 105 picture set of pictures describing events in the Bible.  She picks out several pictures and I walk her through the story and how it relates to Jesus and obedience to God.  She looks forward to our time on Sundays and its often in this context that we process how the stories tell us about who God is and how we can relate to Him through our decisions.

My favorite part of the week is taking her out for breakfast once a week before school, we call it a Father-Daughter date.  The regular scheduled time gives me a solid hour of quality time with her.  We do everything from eating pancakes, talking about our her week, sharing ideas on how to color a picture, reading books, to picking up a small gift or surprise for my wife and her mom.  Its often in the context of this date that I get opportunities to share about Jesus with folks we meet there.

Its the date days that I really think my daughter gets to see the fullest picture of her dad.  There is no topic off limits and she often brings up some great questions.  We process life together and I intentionally help unmask the world around her through the lens of scripture. Sometimes we talk to people, sometimes we pray with people, and sometimes we just enjoy pancakes and a good story.

You see, here is what I know.  My daughter reads my actions better than my intentions. So it makes sense that I would be intentional about my actions.  I say that church is a family event, yet when we get there I am pulled a million different places (as I should be) because I’m on staff at the church.  So we arrive together and leave together on purpose (even though it would be more convenient not to).  I say I love her, so I am intentional about spending quality and quantity one-on-one time despite having a hectic and busy schedule.  I say I love Jesus, so I intentionally help her process her world through the lens of scripture.

I want her to know me.  I want her to know that I love her.  I want her to know that I am proud of her.  I want her to know that as a father I will do what is best for her.  Its really not about my good intentions, its about intentionally being a dad. I hope one day she looks back on her childhood and treasures the times we talked over pancakes as much as I do.

What about you?  What are some of the things that you are intentional about with your children?

 

The Bible in Magazine Form for Teen Girls?


Revolve 2010 (Biblezines) Published by Thomas Nelson is a Bible ( the NCV New Testament) geared to look like a teen girls magazine.  To be honest, I had a difficult time even embracing the idea that a publisher would take what many consider to be sacred writings and reduce them to the lowest level of print publication to display them in magazine form.  The literary genres seem to contradict one another.  How do you take the timeless Word of God that has stood the test of centuries of debate and cover it with the trappings of a magazine that emulates popular teen girls magazine?  Thomas Nelson in conjunction with Revolve did it.

I did my best to put my presuppositions out of the way and really examine this book.  There were a few aspects of this “biblezine” that I really liked.  One was that each book of the bible seems to have at least one section designed challenge the reader to go deeper with God’s Word.  Some challenges call for reflection, bible memorization, etc.  Each section also had a little background info to introduce that part of the New Testament.  However, these appear as just token helps amidst a flood of other insights that thought they are harmless are out of place.  There are adds for books, music downloads, quizes, etc. that one would expect in a teen magazine and maybe that is where I struggle most with this.  Even though it’s “the Bible,” I have a hard time seeing where Jesus fits between the “Guy 411: Chad Eastham dishes the dirt on dudes” and “Celeb drama-trauma: Stellar Kart’s most cringe-worthy moments.”  The gospel just seems trivialized as the filler between gossip and advice columns.

I work with students, many of whom are teenage girls who this biblezine is marketed toward.  My real concern is that through the packaging this book is more teen magazine than actual bible.  I want as many people to follow Jesus as possible and for that to happen we must be culturally relevant.  However, there are parts of our culture that need to be confronted not imitated.  I pray for and challenge my students to be culture changers not imitators.

The real scoop is this, teens don’t come into a right relationship with Jesus Christ through bible magazines… they come through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Most often that happens when other teens step out of their comfort zones to share the “411 on Jesus” with their friends.  My impression of Revolve 2010 (Biblezines) is that it is more of a hinderance to the gospel than a help.  I hope I’m wrong.

Revolve 2010 (Biblezines) is a teen magazine with the Bible in it, I really don’t recommend it. You may disagree.  The retail price is $16.99 (paperback), and is available at places like Amazon.com for $11.55.  I gave it two stars.

Disclaimer: As a blogger I received a complimentary review copy from the Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger program  (http://brb.thomasnelson.com/ ).  There was no requirement to give it a positive review, just for the reviewer to call it like they see it.

What a Father says to His Daughter on Valentines Day

I have a pretty amazing little girl.  She turns five soon.  I am anxious, yet hopeful as she grows older and approaches womanhood.  I have a huge responsibility in demonstrating the way real men are to treat women.

valentines day

I take her out for pancakes once a week.  She looks forward to it every week.  Sometimes she goes to sporting events with me, just the two of us.  We call these daddy-daughter dates. Every day she asks if its her day to have breakfast with daddy.  She loves me in a crazy four-year-old way and I love her like any father should.

So here is what I’m saying to my little girl this valentines day and will probably say almost every day of her life.

1. I love you.

Love is not an emotion, it is an act of the will.  I chose to love you and I will never stop.  I love you enough to tell you the truth, to act against your will sometimes, and to do what is best for you even when you disagree.  I love you when you cry over broken toys, scraped knees, and hurt feelings.  I love you when the world is pressing in and you need a place of refuge and strength.  I love you when you have disobeyed the rules I gave you that were to protect you from harm.  I love you when you dance and sing like they do on TV.  I love you when you dress up like a princes and we dance.   I even love you when you are mad because you didn’t get your way, when you are angry with the kid who stole your toy, and when you don’t want to share. I hope you know by now that I love you and that will not change.

2. You are Beautiful

You are beautiful.  You are beautiful not only in princess gowns, play make-up, and jewelry… your  beauty is beyond skin deep.  I am inspired by your beauty when you are kind to your brother.  Your beauty shines when you help your mom.  Your beauty is evident when you bring your bibles in for me to read.  You are beautiful when you challenge me to dance.  You are beautiful.

3. I am Proud of You

I am Proud of you for so many things.  I am proud of you for letting people know when they have hugged you for too long.  I am proud of you when you take the initiative to help others in need.  I am proud of you when you think of me or someone else and you draw them a thank you card.  I am proud of you for picking up your toys with a good attitude.  I am proud of you for wanting to teach your brother what few lessons you have already learned in life.  I am proud of you when you trust me simply because I’m your dad.  I am proud of you when you ask questions (and you ask great questions).  I am proud of you.

To Dads:

We are often good about telling our daughters about when they misbehave or things they could do better.  Somehow it is easier to notice what we don’t like or don’t value than it is to affirm the good that our children do.  It is important that we cheer them on and provide a positive aim as well. Valentines day (or any day for that matter) is a great opportunity to let your daughter know that you love her and affirm the good things you see in her character.  These 3 words of affirmation are something that all daughters need to hear from their daddy no matter what their age.

3 Things I’d Tell My Teenage Daughter After Watching New Moon

Ok before I start its only fair to say that my daughter isn’t a teenager (she’s almost 4) and I’m really not a fan of Twilight.  But because I was forced to see the movie and I work with teenagers (and I can imagine my daughter being a teenager one day), I went to the movies with the eyes of a father.

Here are three things I’d tell my daughter after we watched New Moon together…

1. You are intensely loved by me and worthy of being pursued one day by the right young man.

My hearts desire is that you follow that path that God has for you.  If that includes marriage, then my hope is in giving you away to the right man.  Until then I will do everything I can for you as a father.  I will chase away the creeps, ask you great questions, and perform background checks on any guy that comes through the front door (ok maybe not the last one…but maybe).  I also promise that if you bring home the right guy you won’t find me cleaning my gun or talking about how people get lost in the Everglades and never come out.  In fact it will be a joy for me to give you away one day.  If you bring home the right guy, I’ll pay for the wedding and rejoice on the day that my princess becomes someone elses queen.

2. Some things appear more urgent than they are.

In the movies Edward says all kinds of nice things to Bella (once you take away the creepy 100 year age difference… please never date a man 100 years older than you… thats a whole new level of creepy).  Everyone enjoy hearing nice things like, “you make life worth living.”  Sometimes words spoken softly and sweetly can be mistaken for love.  Real love is a commitment and it takes time to show up.  Guard your self from giving your heart away to anyone who talks a good game.  This kind of talk can make you think that things are more intimate than they are.

Too many young men are careless with their words.  Many young boys are living life in transition and are mistaken in their feelings or they carry sinister motives and are trying to manipulate you. A young man worth your time will guard his words and will not lead you on.  The woman pursued by solomon in Song of Songs offers some wise advice here.  She says, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (Song of Songs 2:7).  Real love is patient and is evident in a young man’s actions long before it appears in his words.

3. Don’t make strong commitments while your life is in transition.

You have grown up so much from the first time I held you in my arms.  You have learned so much.  Every day of your life I have been amazed by you and I am proud of who you are becoming.  I know one day that if it is God’s will that I will give you away at your wedding.

Right now you are going through a time of transition.  You are no longer a child, but you aren’t quite an adult yet either.  You are changing.  Your body is changing and your thoughts, attitudes, and desires are all changing. It is okay to change.  One of the problems with this time in your life though is that sometimes you may not know what you want.  Or you may want two things.  Like Bella in the movie you may have two guys who like you and you may like them both.

A mature woman will act decisively. Even as you become an adult, when you are uncertain I beg you not to commit yourself to anything until you have figured what you want.  This is the reason for the really unpopular rule about how old you need to be before you can date.  I’ll be honest.  My aim is to give you away on your wedding day both physically and emotionally pure.  I know that purity in your marriage will light an intense fire of intimacy and trust with your husband.

I love you and I truly want the best for you.  That day they handed you to me in the hospital was one of the best days of my life.  Everyday with you had been a joyful adventure. I will always be your father and I will always love you.

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  • What a Father Says to His Daughter on Valentines Day
  • Grandpa’s Secret Strategy for Successful Dating: And Why it Worked

    I have this Bible at home.  It is worn out and falling apart from years of use.  It belonged to my grandfather.  The notes and circled verses in the Bible tell of his conversion to Christianity, his love for his wife, and a few other details.  He was one of the greatest men I have ever known.  Though he wasn’t perfect, he was consistent as a role-model.  I used to love to sit with him for hours and hear stories about him and grandma.  I figured if anyone knew how to live out what it means to be a Christian in the context of a marriage, it was him.  So one day, a year or two before he passed away I had the opportunity to ask him to reflect on what it takes to build a strong marriage.  I learned a lot that day, but the thing that stuck out to me the most was that he was genuinely friends with my grandmother.

    Grandpa's Bible

    He shared about how in each venture they undertook, from the farm, to owning a grocery store, to working together in a retirement home, that he loved having a work situation where she was never far and could be by his side.  They were truly great friends and worked well together. If I was going to use my grandparent’s blueprint for a successful marriage, one thing was clear, Avia and I would need to work well together.

    This is really an important issue when it comes to picking and evaluating a future spouse.  Men and women were meant to compliment one another.  That is the gist of Genesis 2:18. God did not intend for Adam to tend the garden alone and made Eve to be his helper.  Men and women were made to work together.  So the question was, would Avia and I work well together?

    To evaluate this and make sure we were building a relationship on trust rather than emotion we took several practical steps.  We didn’t kiss for the first several months that we dated.  We searched for common interests.  We babysat kids together.  We cooked meals together.  We played indoor games like Scrabble.  We played tennis together (and learned its better if we don’t play on the same team).  We worked on crafts together (like sewing identical teddy bears and painting small ceramic houses).  The point was to work on common projects and see how we related.  Most of this we did in her parents kitchen or living room where they could see us interact.

    During this time we also sought out the advice of couples of all ages.  We sat down with newly wed couples and asked what they wished they had done to prepare for marriage.  We interviewed older couples with grandchildren and asked them the secret to their success.  We watched them interact.

    Through this process we learned a lot.  We learned to communicate.  We learned it was okay to disagree.  We learned what we liked and didn’t like.   We learned how to express our feelings.  We learned our weaknesses.  We learned our strengths.  We learned that we were growing more in love with each other.

    Then one night as we were reading the Bible we came to Ephesians 5.  I told her we should study that passage and really start preparing for marriage.  She told me that she didn’t have a ring on her finger and I hadn’t talked to her dad.  She was wise to put a hold on the emotional commitment that such an action would bring until their was a serious commitment toward marriage.  It brought us to a serious point of reflection to see if we were ready to start making preparations for marriage.

    21 Days of Bond(ing)

    Fortunately I was also friends with Avia’s brother Fred.  We’d go up to the church gym every now and then and he would beat me in a game of basketball. One night it came to Fred’s attention that I hadn’t seen all of the James Bond movies.  Fred was an avid Bond fan and owned the complete boxed set.  I didn’t have a TV at the time, so he invited me over to their house and we started watching the Bond movies on a pretty regular basis.

    This provided me with a great opportunity to spend time with Avia her family.  I wanted to see how she interacted with her brother and parents.  She would often stay up late and watch the movies with us.  I remember one night she was sick and had already  gone to sleep.  As soon as she heard Fred and I were there, she woke up and came to the living room to watch the movie with us.  That’s when I knew she liked me.

    As the bond series was ending (21 movies at that time) it became obvious that Avia and I were quickly becoming close friends.  I knew my intentions toward her were for more than friendship and felt it was time to define the relationship.  After we saw the last Bond movie, I asked her to spend the day with me by going canoeing with a large group and a seeing a movie together.  On the ride home I discussed my feelings and thoughts with her and asked her if she would be interested in a dating relationship with a view towards marriage.  We both understood that if either of us saw the relationship wasn’t going to work toward marriage, we would break it off immediately.  She agreed that we could “try it out.”

    Then I did something weird.  I asked her parents if it was okay to date their daughter. They had gotten a chance to know me and they definately knew Avia.  I valued their perspective.  I explained that I was not asking to marry their daughter, but to date her with a view toward marriage.  If they said, no, I would respect that.  But my heart turned flips when they said yes!  I valued their observation and input along the way and  welcomed their sound advice.  I now look back on this time as one of the most treasured moments of my life.   That day God also kindled in my heart a warm appreciation, love and respect for Avia’s parents.