Nicki Minaj and Other Top Female Role Models

MTV-VMAs-Nicki-ArianaThis last Sunday night MTV revealed something new about today’s most popular music stars… they are mostly female.

It was an incontestable reality at MTV’s VMAs this year. Ladies swept the awards. In fact they won almost every single award except Best Male Video.

So what are our daughters gleaning from these female role models?

The VMAs
Sadly, the entertainment industry is providing most of the role models for many young people today. And if you glimpse at a show as powerful as the MTV VMAs, a show that last year was cable’s #1 entertainment telecast of 2013 among 12-34 year-olds, you’ll discover who many of these role models are, and you’ll garner a pretty accurate a sampling of their content and fashion choices.

In fact, if you had been secluded on a desert island for the last 20 years with no phone, Wi-Fi, or electricity… and now fancied a crash course on today’s pop-youth-culture… I would tell you to simply watch the MTV Video Music Awards (the VMAs). Each year this show truly provides a sobering glimpse into the porthole of what teens see, hear, and emulate daily. (My good friend David R. Smith and I just finished our brand new Youth Culture Window article about that event, The Girls of the MTV VMAs. You can read that HERE.)

So, without rehashing what we just wrote in that YCW article, who are some of these key female role models in the limelight today?

Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea, Ariana Grande… they were all there, all have songs and videos at the top of the charts, and all are on our kids radar.

For the sake of this blog, let me just focus on Nicki Minaj. After all, she not only has just beat Michael Jackson out with more hits in the Billboard Hot 100, she was one of the most featured artists Sunday, performing literally three times (more than anyone else).

Nicki Minaj
I’ve blogged about Nicki before. Nicki kicked off the show this year with a performance of her new song Anaconda… a song bearing the title about a guy’s penis.

This rap tells the story of her sexual encounters with a few boys, but also discusses her recreational drug use:

I’m high as hell, I only took a half of pill
I’m on some dumb sh*t…

The song goes on to talk about having sex with the guys that love her big butt:

He can tell I ain’t missing no meals
Come through and f**k em in my automobile…

But it goes into more detail, talking specifically about each of their genitals:

This dude named Michael used to buy motorcycles
D**k bigger than a tower, I ain’t talking about Eiffel
Real country ass nigga, let me play with his rifle
P**sy put his *ss to sleep, now he calling me NyQuil…

Like it or hate it, this song debuted at #19 on the Billboard charts, and is currently No. 5 on the iTunes charts. (You can read the entire lyrics to Anaconda here.)

Some people respect Nicki because she’s a strong female figure who isn’t afraid to carry a little extra weight on her backside. Nicki made that clear on Sunday night, twerking her backside, singing about it, and displaying it proudly in various revealing outfits.

Confident? Definitely.

Responsible? Principled? Decent? You’d have to watch her performance, singing the lyrics above and simulating sex with her dancers on stage.

What do you think the millions of teen and tween girls in the television and Internet audience will glean from Nicki’s performance?

Is it any surprise that our daughters are slowly becoming sexualized by elements like this in our pop culture?

How can we teach our girls truth in a world so abundant with these lies?


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In Your City

Faith-HappeningsFinally… someone created an online hub for Christian happenings!

It’s like this. Every time someone brings me out to their city to speak they always want to publicize their event, their training, or their conference… and depending on the city, some have some good “word of mouth” networks to get the word out… but most don’t.

For years I’ve been commenting, “I wish their was one ‘hub’ where people could go to and see what events, resources, speakers, etc. were available in their own area.”

It’s finally here! And by a group I trust.

My friend Greg Johnson has pulled together a fantastic team of people and developed (and you should jump on their today and sign up- it’s FREE, of course).

Here’s the official press release you may have already seen:

Finding just the right faith-enriching information can be a daunting task. How does one keep up with the latest books, blogs, and music? Find a church in a new area? Discover devotionals that resonate? Locate local serving opportunities? Choose a Christian school?, launching today, was created to fix that frustration. is a free, online resource for Christians that contains an array of valuable, faith-based content all in one place. This powerful, complete directory is curated and customized to individuals’ unique needs and locations. Site visitors may become members by completing a short survey in order to receive free, tailored emails about their interests.

The site offers a mix of national and local Christian resources including: devotionals for diverse interests; album, video and book releases; targeted, inspirational blogsby renowned Christian authors; concerts; events; serving opportunities; ministry support; a church database; education options and more. Over a year in development, is comprehensive and accurate.


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My Top 10 Post Surgery Activities

Jonathan-hospital-gownThis morning, as you read this, I’m being rolled into surgery for a rotator cuff repair.

It’s been six weeks since I first tore my shoulder (something I’ve replayed in my mind over and over again, regretting more and more each time I think about it), and now that I’m starting to feel a little bit better… I get to start all over again!

Surgery is at 10AM this morning. Luckily, it’s an arthroscopic surgery (unless he finds something more), but he still said to count on four to six weeks with no mobility, and six months before I’m even picking up a coffee cup without wincing. (Nice!)

The timing is actually perfect. August is always a pretty lax month where I take time with my family, and I have almost four weeks before I begin a pretty insane speaking schedule on September 6th. So what does that mean for me for the next four weeks of immobility?

Glad you asked! Here are my plans.


10. Trying to break a new record of the most movies watched in a 24 hour period! (Or the most movie hours… like the day I watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy– the extended editions!)

9. Avoiding email like it’s 1999 (yes, typing actually hurts).

8. Playing stool softener roulette. During post surgery clogs, discovering how much it actually requires to get things moving… not exploding!

7. Calculating the perfect angle to set the recliner for sleeping.

6. Learning to eat with my left hand.

5. Learning to brush my teeth with my left hand.

4. After the stool softener kicks in, learning to roll the toilet paper …. well… there are a lot of things I have to learn to do with my left hand!

3. Growing a beard (although Lori informs me it will not be a real beard, just a patchy imitation. Curse my baby-face!)

2. Sleeping on my back with my arm propped in a brace.

1. And in all reality… counting my blessings! I don’t have to look very far to notice God is very good to me.

Thanks for all  your prayers! (I’ll try to post a comment below with a quick update after the surgery)

Posted in Humor, Personal | 4 Comments

Should I Watch Game of Thrones, PART II

fifty-shades-greyIn my previous post I discussed the growing popularity and availability of sexually-charged entertainment, shows like Game of Thrones or the upcoming movie, 50 Shades of Grey.

Popularity, availability... how about the morality of these shows?

In a world where this kind of entertainment is commonplace or “no big deal”… I’m starting to hear a lot of Christians growing comfortable with it. The Millennial Generation in particular really likes Game of Thrones and doesn’t seem to have a problem watching it.

So that’s why I asked you the question. Is it okay? If we have put our faith in Christ alone and are being sanctified by Him, when does this modern “art” and entertainment become a distraction slowing us down, a sin that we need to “strip off” (Hebrews 12:1,2)? Continue reading “Should I Watch Game of Thrones, PART II” »

Posted in Entertainment Media, Jonathan's Rant, Movies, Sexuality, TV | 3 Comments

Should I Watch Game of Thrones?

Game-of-Thrones-sexyGame of Thrones anyone? How about the new Fifty Shades of Grey?

In a world where this kind of sexually charged entertainment is rapidly becoming the choice diet of mainstream audiences… what are Christians to watch? I mean seriously. How many times do we have to watch Facing the Giants?

I just read an article sharing John Piper’s thoughts on “Nudity” and Game of Thrones, and I was compelled to chime in. Yes, I realize that I’m taking a risk to even speak out about Game of Thrones, especially to my Millennial readers (currently, age 19-34), because… Continue reading “Should I Watch Game of Thrones?” »

Posted in Entertainment Media, Jonathan's Rant, Movies, Sexuality | 14 Comments

Want a sneak peak?

volunteerI just finished a brand new youth ministry book about mobilizing and equipping volunteers for ministry. I turn it in to the publisher in 7 days and would love to get some feedback to make some last minute tweaks before I turn it in.

Anyone want to preview my book this weekend? (UPDATE: I’ve already had an overwhelming response. I can have 5 more people look at it- but they’d need to be able to read it literally this weekend and have me comments by Monday at noon.)

The book is a short little resource, just 10,000 words (that’s like just 2 to 3 chapters of most of my books), part of a creative new youth ministry set that GROUP Publishing is coming out with early next year. I won’t give too much away about the project, but I’ll let you know that Continue reading “Want a sneak peak?” »

Posted in Books, Youth Ministry Management | 6 Comments

Dad’s Version of “Rude”

Dad-Rude-ParodyMagic’s song “Rude” has been at the top of the charts for over a month now, currently at the No. 1 spot on Billboard, Spotify and iTunes. And now, a parody of the song is going viral on YouTube.

Magic’s version (the one you hear playing in Target, the Grocery Store and the gas station literally every hour of every day) is a song about a young man asking his girlfriend’s dad for his daughter’s hand in marriage. When he find’s out the answer is “no’, he decided he’s “gonna marry her anyway.”

Here’s a peek at some of the Continue reading “Dad’s Version of “Rude”” »

Posted in Humor, Music, Parenting, Social Media, Youth Culture | 2 Comments

Promiscuity or Monogamy

true monogamyWhat’s more enjoyable, a monogamous sexual relationship, or promiscuity (sleeping with whoever you want)?

Most entertainment media seems to lean towards the latter. Why is this? Does promiscuity really make more sense?

This week I finished writing a book to teenagers about sex that will be released at the end of this year/early next year. It’s a book addressing some pretty candid questions about sex and intimacy. In a world full of explicit lies, this book shares the explicit truth.

One fun aspect of this project was showing what current research reveals about sexual satisfaction in relationships. In other words, in a world where very few people seem to care what the Bible says, it’s fun to see if Biblical concepts like monogamy actually make sense Continue reading “Promiscuity or Monogamy” »

Posted in Books, Sexuality | 2 Comments

Epic Games

Thumbs-UpIT’S TIME FOR A SIMPLE CONTEST! Submit your idea and the top three ideas win big from my friends over at Download Youth Ministry.


You see, in the last 5 days I’ve been called upon twice by Ashley, my 16-year-old daughter, to provide her with a failsafe game. The pressure was on!

Dad, don’t let me down!

So here’s the two foolproof games I gave her Continue reading “Epic Games” »

Posted in Contests, Youth Ministry Programming | 16 Comments

The Most Pain I’ve Ever Experienced

my-shoulder“You’re 44-years-old. You know you’re not a kid anymore, right?”

I’ve heard that a dozen times in the last four days. Starting with one of the nurses as I was being rolled out of the ambulance into the ER.

It was somewhere between 30 and 40 feet up. It was a bridge and all the teenagers were jumping off it. I don’t know if “teenagers” is the key word there or “jumping” was the key word. Because I’m not a teenager and I “dove.” Regardless, I dislocated my shoulder. (I wish I had a picture to show you. Grossest thing I’ve seen. It was completely out of the socket.)

“Make sure you check the water for rocks and any obstacles.” I always told my kids. Continue reading “The Most Pain I’ve Ever Experienced” »

Posted in Personal | 7 Comments