Hurt Feelings, Bad Days, and Little Boys: A Letter to My Daughter About Manhood

You came in the other day and said, “Ask me about my day?” I knew something was up because when I normally ask you say, “fine.” Knowing you had something to share I put my stuff down and quickly got out of my grumpy dad coming home from work routine and sat across from you in the kitchen. You shared about how an older boy kicked a ball at you and called you a bad name. There were tears in your eyes as you relived the moment and felt a shame that wasn’t yours to own.

Fear gripped my heart and I pressed in to give you a hug. I wondered how deep the would was? I wondered if I could mend it with my words, my hugs, or even my tears? Part of me was desperate to mend your brokenness, part of me was wondering how I might break the boy who made you feel this way, and part of me was glad that you had shared it with me.

The part that wanted to heal your brokenness jumped in first. We talked about how this boy was wrong and how you had done nothing wrong. We talked about forgiveness and cleaning the bitterness out of our hearts. We talked about the gospel and how Jesus had loved us and died for us while we were still sinners. We talked about how hard it was to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we knew that if Jesus commanded us to do that, we could do it in his strength and power. So we prayed for him.

Then I came back and let you know that I was jealous for you. As you father when that boy called you a name, he called me a name. That you are my princess (not the word he called you) and that should it ever happen again he would answer to me when I go to have a conversation with his parents. I let you know that you had a bigger advocate who was willing to take on this older boy who seemed so big and brave on the playground but was tiny compared to your father.

Then I was glad that you had shared this moment so we could walk through it together. You gave me the gift of allowing me to be your dad, to hug you, to guide you, to model maleness different than what you experienced on the playground. My prayer is that you forget this incident ever happened and when you come back to read this you have a hard time recalling the event… but that your character has been impacted by it so you are quick to forgive, know deeply you are loved, and walk confidently into womanhood.

There is a kind of boy who pushes shame on others through his words, his actions and even his stares… There is also a kind of man who removes shame that is not yours to carry, who loves you and will give his all for you. I’ll never stop being your dad, but when another man like that enters your life it will be my joy to walk you down an isle to him and give you away. You are my princess.

3 Things You Should Know About My Mom

I haven’t always been the best son.  I have a better mom than I deserve.  She has been and continues to be a great mom.  I’m all grown up now, but I will never miss a chance to get one of her hugs.  Next to my dad she has had more influence on my life than anyone else.  There are 3 things she does with her influence that radically shapes my life.

1. She Prays for Me

Growing up I remember that she prayed for me in family devotional time.  I also remember passing by my parents room and hearing my parents pray for all of us children.  I remember as a teenager coming home drunk one night and passing by her room and hearing her call out to God on my behalf.  One time she got with some ladies and asked God to birth a desire in me and provide a way for me to go back to school (and He did). I wasn’t there, but I’m sure my mom prayed for me before I was born (maybe even before I was conceived).  I believe God answers prayers, I’ve seen Him answer my mothers time and time again.  I am thankful for a mother who asked God for me and clung to promises when I was in the midst of rebellion.  I haven’t always been the best son.

2. She leads me to love the Bible

I remember a kids devotional book with a raccoon on the front (I don’t have a clue why a raccoon was on a kids devotional book).  My mom made sure that in addition to our family devotional time that I began to develop a daily time in Gods word through the aide of this little book.  Later it would be the purchase of an “encounter” teen bible complete with devotionals in the back.  It was in this Bible that I would first document that I thought God might be calling me into ministry.

Beyond equiping me, she was in God’s word every morning too.  Often getting up early to read the bible and do her woman’s devotionals.  I remember several mornings waking up to use the bathroom and find my mom in the living room spending time reading her bible.  I knew she wanted me to get in the habit of reading God’s Word because she was in the habit.  I have a better mom than I deserve.

3. She speaks truth

Several times my mother has spoken with a prophet’s voice in my life.  The time I remember the most was the 16 hour car ride down to college.  She knew I was going into student ministry and took a moment to challenge me.  She said, “Jon, there are a lot of student ministries that are built around games and just hanging out, don’t lead one of those student ministries.  You teach the word.  Love people enough to tell them about Jesus.”  I really took her advice and a study of God’s word is what ultimately brought me to my own true conversion and trust in Christ.

I can imagine that there were countless times as I was growing up that my mom was biting her lip wondering If I would get it.  If I would really listen.  If I would receive the blessings she was giving me.  I am sure there were times that she felt like she was defeated.  I was a very strong willed child.  But she has always had the last say.  Her words even now hang in the air and influence me long after she has said them.  She has been and continues to be a great mom.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: (Proverbs 31:26-28 ESV)

Girls Life Application Study Bible (NLT)

The Girls Life Application Study Bible is a great Bible for pre-teen and teenage girls.  The cover has a leathery feel and is a purple with the imprint of a pink butterfly and flowers.  It is quiet feminine in its appeal.  My wife and daughter (4 years old) were both very interested in flipping through the Bible once it arrived in the mail. The editors and artists who worked on this Bible have certainly done a great job of getting the reader from the cover into the pages of Scripture.

The Bible is full of great insights and articles that catch readers on a surface level and draw them into the text of scripture for an answer.  (Can I just say that it is refreshing to finally see a publisher put out a Bible that challenges teen and preteen girls to see what the Scripture says!).  Included all throughout the text are girl-specific applications.  The New Living Translation is a decent translation to read (especially for girls who are in the preteen age range).

I would highly recommend this Bible to teen and preteen girls who are wanting to grow in their relationship with God.  This is also a great Bible to hand to a girl who is a new believer or someone who is otherwise unfamiliar with the scriptures.  It is apparent that the Bible was designed not only to have a feminine appeal, but to be very user friendly as well.

The retail price is $29.97 (Imitation Leather) and is worth every penny. It is also available at places like Amazon.com for $19.78. I give it 5 Stars and would give it more.  It truly is a great Bible for teen and Pre-teen girls.

One Note: Amazon has it listed as Girls Life Application Study Bible NLT (Kid’s Life Application Bible: Nltse), it is not really a kids Bible, the publishers recommend it for girls age 11 and up (and I would heartily agree with that recommendation).

Disclaimer: As a blogger I received a complimentary review copy from Tyndale House Publishers through the Tyndale Blog Network program.  There was no requirement to give it a positive review, just for the reviewer to call it like they see it.

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.

True Love Waits

I had the opportunity to speak to a local Christian club on the topic of “True Love Waits” and thought it would be great to share my observations here (seeing as parents, student pastors, and even occasionally students stop by here from time to time).

Warning: This content is mature in nature. Parents this may be a good guideline for you to have “The Talk” with your kids.  If they are in upper middle school they probably have heard a lot about sex and it doesn’t hurt to have a Biblical perspective.

You can get a PDF copy of my notes by clicking the following link:  True Love Waits.

A few other places that might be helpful:

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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