Gaga Trying So Hard…

Posted on: 02/28/11 3:24 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Gaga’s Born This Way video was released today, as announced. And again, she tries to out do herself.

Summary of Video:

– She gives birth to good, then to evil
– She dances around in her underwear, touching herself sexually and carousing with others.

Yeah… that about wraps it up.

We’ve posted a ton of resources about Gaga and this song– I encourage you to check them out.

As for the video now? YouTube has it posted for all to see and the buzz is out. You can bet many of our kids will be watching this in the next few days.

Here’s the YouTube link.

Born This Way On the Mind

Posted on: 02/24/11 1:04 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Gaga’s preachy song Born This Way just continues to grow in popularity. It is #1 across the board (iTunes, Billboard… name it) and the brand new music video for the song arrives Monday.

A few resources that I wanted to put at your fingertips for this song:

I hope these tools are a help to you.


Are You a “Parent”… or a “Friend”?

Posted on: 02/22/11 10:12 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Friend, or parent? Which is it?

In my last blog I highlighted the GQ interview of Billy Ray Cyrus, Mr. Hannah Montana’s Achy Broken Heart. an insightful article, really. I mentioned that the article contained some great pieces of this interview worth discussing.


2. Friend vs. Parent

Part II is more of a discussion for parents to have with other parents (as opposed to Part I, which was a discussion that parents could use with their kids). I find this article particularly timely because last week, the day I read this Billy Ray interview, I had just finished blogging about our kids perspective and the balance between rules and a relationship. In that blog I brought up the fact that we need to listen to our kids, but at the same time know when to put our foot down and say, “Sorry, you’re not going to do that.”

Billy ray seems to be regretting his approach to parenting as he looks back with 20/20 vision. Here’s an excerpt from the GQ interview, where Billy Ray is wondering whether his lack of discipline was a mistake:

“How many interviews did I give and say, ‘You know what’s important between me and Miley is I try to be a friend to my kids’? I said it a lot. And sometimes I would even read other parents might say, ‘You don’t need to be a friend, you need to be a parent.’ Well, I’m the first guy to say to them right now: You were right. I should have been a better parent. I should have said, ‘Enough is enough—it’s getting dangerous and somebody’s going to get hurt.’ I should have, but I didn’t. Honestly, I didn’t know the ball was out of bounds until it was way up in the stands somewhere.”
(, Mr. Hannah Montana’s Achy Broken Heart, by Chris Heath, Page 3)

What do you think? Is Billy right? “You don’t need to be a friend, you need to be a parent.”

My quick take:

We always need to be ready to “be the parent” and be willing to put our foot down, even if it means sacrificing a little in popularity points with our kids. But, please. Don’t use this to swing so far to the polar opposite side of the spectrum so that we are never relational with our kids– talking, laughing, joking. It doesn’t have to be “either/or.” It can be “both/and.” You can be a parent, and still invest in your kids relationally.

Last week in a youth ministry interview I was asked:

“In your book Connect you talk a lot about getting to know kids on a one-on-one basis. Do you believe it’s possible to become so connected with students that they see you more as a peer and you lose your influence in their lives?”

My response- edited for brevity:

I think parents struggle with this as well. “If I spend too much time being their buddy, will I not be seen as their parent?”

I wonder if Christ was accused of that when he descended to earth to become human.

There’s no danger in humbling yourself to be relational- to listen, to laugh, to play. The only danger would be if you lower your standards and try to be something you’re not, or allow yourself to do something inappropriate in effort to “be accepted.” This is a twisting of a good thing. There’s never anything wrong with a coach, a parent, a teacher, or a youth worker spending time listening to a kid share their heart…throwing a Frisbee… cheering together at a football game… laughing through a comedy. I bet more kids wish their dads would be there to do these activities. These activities actually earn trust and help the kid respect dad, or coach, or pastor Jason when he has to put the foot down and say, “Sorry, but you’re not going to do that.”

This is a balance we talk about in much greater detail in my parent workshops.

What about you? Where are you with Billy Ray’s statement: “You don’t need to be a friend, you need to be a parent.”

Billy Ray’s Hindsight

Posted on: 02/18/11 12:06 PM | by Jonathan McKee

My mom always told me, “Hindsight is 20/20.

Billy Ray is starting to see clearly in retrospection… and his heart is aching.

Yesterday I read the GQ interview of Billy Ray Cyrus, Mr. Hannah Montana’s Achy Broken Heart. a fantastic article. It really made me feel compassion for the guy. Some great pieces of this interview worth discussing with our kids. (Funny, I read this interview just after blogging about parenting yesterday where I briefly touched on some of these issues.)

TWO OBSERVATIONS FOR DISCUSSION:  (I’ll highlight one today, and one in my next blog)

1. The Highway to Darkness

This excerpt of the article (edited down a little by me below) is an amazing discussion springboard about how we need to be careful what we pursue and who we surround ourselves with:

When they first came to Hollywood for Hannah Montana, the two of them would drive down the freeway together to the studio each morning, and every day Miley would point out the sign that said
Just before moving out to Los Angeles, the whole family had been baptized together by their pastor at the People’s Church in Franklin, Tennessee. “It was Tish’s idea,” he (Billy Ray) remembers. “She said, ‘We’re going to be under attack, and we have to be strong in our faith and we’re all going to be baptized…'” And there, driving to work each day in the City of Angels, was this sign. “A physical sign. It could have easily said ‘You will now be attacked by Satan.’ ‘Entering this industry, you are now on the highway to darkness…'”
And do you see the show as a big part of what has made things not work in your family?
“Oh, it’s huge—it destroyed my family…
Do you wish Hannah Montana had never happened?
“I hate to say it, but yes, I do. Yeah. I’d take it back in a second. For my family to be here and just be everybody okay, safe and sound and happy and normal, would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I’d erase it all in a second if I could.”
(, Mr. Hannah Montana’s Achy Broken Heart, by Chris Heath, Page 5)

Here are some quick questions– of the top of my head– to ask our kids after reading this:

1. What signs do you see that might be warnings of temptations or influences to avoid?

2. Miley’s mom Tish predicted that they were going to be under attack– what did she do to prepare for attack? Is there something magical about baptism? (Or is baptism, perhaps, a sign of allowing Christ to direct us and clean us spiritually?)

3. Why do you think Billy Ray is regretting the path the family took? (Some of his regrets are detailed in other parts of the interview)

4. What do you think a family can do in this “dark” world to be prepared for temptations we’ll face?

Read Romans 12:1,2.

5. What does this passage say to not be conformed to?

6. How does this passage say we are to be transformed?

7. What can we do to better allow God to transform our minds? What are some of the distractions we might need to unplug from our head? What might we need to put into our head more?

Parenting- from a High School Girl’s Perspective

Posted on: 02/17/11 10:00 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last Saturday I was preparing to teach a 4 hour parent workshop in a small church in Antelope, CA when a high school girl came Kaitlyn walked up to me with her friend and said, “Are you the guy that’s going to be training our parents?”

How’s that for a loaded question?

I smiled and said, “Yep, that’s me. Got any suggestions?”

She said, “As a matter of fact, I wrote a list of things that you should address.” She returned the smile and handed me a sheet of paper with 7 points handwritten in blue pen.

I quickly looked over her 7 pieces of advice for parents and asked her, “Can we look at some of these right now?” Kaitlyn agreed.

I read #1 out loud:

1. Do not wake up kids anytime before 9AM on Saturday.

My eyes looked up at her from her list, “What time did they wake you up this morning?”

Her eyebrows furrowed. “8 AM.”

I nodded disapprovingly. “Sinful! Every parent should know better than that. Let’s look at #2.”

2. Do not talk down to their kids.

I asked Kaitlyn. Give me an example.

Without hesitation, Kaitlyn’s friend blurted out, “Why aren’t you ever home! Why don’t you do your chores!”

With equal speed I inquired back, “Do you do your chores? Are you ever home?”

“Yes, and no.” She replied candidly. “Sometimes I do my chores, but I don’t want to be home because they’re always yelling at me.”

“Hmmmmm.” I stroked my chin. “So how do you wish they’d communicate with you when you don’t do what you’re supposed to?”

Kaitlyn interjected, “They can talk with me like I’m an adult you know!”

The conversation went on for about 5 minutes as people were finishing setup for the workshop. It was a fun interaction. The encounter with Kaitlyn and her friend kept the “teenage perspective” fresh in my mind, warming me up for the parenting workshop.

A few hours into the workshop I read Kaitlyn’s list to the parents and we talked about some of them. One thing we noticed was an underlying desire for conversation rather than overreaction. And her point #7 surprised many of the parents- a call for consistancy from us in discipline. I addressed both of these issues in the workshop.

Here’s her entire list- exactly as written by Kaitlyn.

1. Do not wake up kids anytime before 9:00 AM on Saturday.

2. Do not talk down to your kids.

3. Grounding does not work.

4. Your family is a team, not a government.

5. Ask God for help when you need it.

6. Don’t argue with your kids. Discuss, and assist the situation.

7. Stay firm to what you say.

I love Kaitlyn’s aspiration for conversation. Yes, I wouldn’t agree with everything Kaitlyn said here, but the point is… this is her perspective. This is what she’s feeling. There’s a lot to learn here.

A few months ago my daughter Alyssa was really frustrated with me because I wouldn’t let her go somewhere with her friends. She ended up stomping off, calling me unfair and marching to her room. A half hour later I talked with her about the situation. I asked her to do something. I gave her a piece of paper and told her to write out, “I wish my dad would just…” and write as many of those as she wanted. I told her, “Tomorrow, when we go out for breakfast, I’ll listen to each one of these.” (We go out to breakfast once a week- just me and Lyssy)

I actually describe the whole incident in my upcoming parenting book so I won’t spoil it here. But it was a fantastic conversation. She expressed things to me that I needed to hear. And, after I truly listened to her feelings, she readily accepted where I had to put the foot down and just say, “Sorry, you’re not going to do that.”

It was really a landmark moment in our relationship. And it started with me truly listening to her perspective.

I look forward to talking more on this subject to many of you in my parent workshops at your churches this year.

What do you notice from Kaitlyn’s list?

What can you do to better hear your kids’ perspective?

Video of Us Tackling Bullying

Posted on: 02/15/11 5:33 PM | by Jonathan McKee

10 days ago my son Alec and I tackled the subject of bullying, speaking to a group of 450 kids. I guess that’s better than tackling an actual bully! Believe me… I’ve been tempted.

I promised you to give you a glimpse of that talk, so we just posted a video of part of it on our web site here.

If you’d like to hear the entire talk, you can catch the audio of it HERE in a special episode of our A LIL BIT podcast.

A Quick Little Give-away

Posted on: 02/14/11 12:29 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I know you all love free stuff… so I’m going to go ahead and give you a chance to quickly win some free books and DVDs… in the next 24 hours! (How’s that for “quickly”?)


Tomorrow the movie “Waiting for Superman,” the award-winning documentary shedding light on our country’s failing public school system, releases on BluRay and DVD. I have 5 copies to give away. (I like what they’re doing with the promotion of this film. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each BluRay/DVD goes to benefit, an independent non-profit organization trying to improve high school graduation rates and college-going rates)

And what the heck… I’ll give 5 of my books away too. Any one of my seven books in print.

Winning is simple.

Just pop on our brand new and take a peek around the page. Then come back to this blog and simply post two things: a comment telling us what you think of, and where you live (just city and state is fine- I’ll get full addresses from winners).


I’m Karen from Hershey, PA and I can’t wait to read some of these helpful articles posted in the PARENTING HELP section! They look awesome.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon I’ll pick 10 winners (5 books and 5 DVDS) from the people who commented.

Doesn’t get simpler than that!

WINNERS: I have emailed the following 10 winners of this contest. If you are listed and did not receive an email from me, please use the CONTACT US button at the top of my blog and drop me a note.

Vallerie from Espanola, NM
Henry from Douglas, GA
Yong from Chatsworth, CA
Shelly from Denison, IA
Kris from Elkton, KY
Dave from Cookeville, TN
Eric from Wheaton, IL
Evelyn from Auburn Hills, MI
Peggy from Lincoln, NE
Kelly from Hiawassee, GA

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Alec’s Pizza Thoughts…

Posted on: 02/10/11 10:43 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Many of you prayed for my 17-year-old son Alec and I this past weekend as we traveled together in Chicago, then Wisconsin, speaking together about Bullyingand eating a lot of Chicago area pizza!

I told you that Alec would be chiming in with his two cents about the best Chicago pizza. You’ve heard my opinion on this tasty subject before. Now it’s the teenager’s turn.

Here it is: Alec’s Chicago Pizza Review:

So a couple of days ago I had the marvelous pleasure of embarking to the wonderful city of Chicago with my Dad on one of his speaking ventures. Because there is not a lot of room on the agenda for eating healthy during travel, Dad and I decided that since we were going to Chicago we should try and decide which restaurant made the best deep-dish Chicago-style stuffed pizza.
My Dad is a Chicago-style pizza veteran and already believes that Giordano’s is the best, but since the subject was foreign to me we decided that this should be my opportunity to decide which pizza place I thought was best. Whenever we present this inquiry to Chicago natives they will usually say that the best Chicago-style pizza is one of three popular pizza places: Gino’s East, Giordano’s, or Lou Malnati’s. So we determined that the best Chicago-style pizza would be one of those three, and planned on eating at each one of these “havens” for pizza-lovers during our weekend in Illinois/Wisconsin.
The first night of our trip we arrived in Chicago and HOLY SNOTBUBBLES IT WAS REALLY STINKING COLD! I think that the only other time I have ever felt that cold was the time that I went hunting on top of a mountain during a snowstorm. That night we planned on going to Gino’s East, but after a short walk through the treacherous tundra of Chicago we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was closed. Sorry Gino’s, you lost points with me before I even tasted your pizza. So we made a quick re-route to Lou Malnati’s, and sat down within the cozy confines of the restaurant to thaw while we waited for our pizza to cook. I’ll admit, at that point I was so cold that I would have eaten a live animal just to get something warm in my stomach. So I was positively ecstatic when the server brought the pizza to our table, and it definitely did not disappoint my lust for something warm, but I think it might have been a stretch to call it Chicago’s best.
Don’t get me wrong, this pizza was better than anything that we have here in Sacramento, but let’s just say that the pizza was so warm because of the heavy grease-bath it must have been soaked in! Grease was literally dripping down my hands by the time I got to the crust, which was a little on the crunchy side by the way. Lou Malnati’s is known for using a “butter-crust” in their pizza, which is basically just bread soaked and then baked in vast amounts of butter. Aside from the greasiness, I don’t know how to articulate why exactly I wasn’t crazy about the taste of this pizza’s crust. The best I can explain it, I perceive Lou Malnati’s like a deep-fried Twinkie; I like a good Twinkie, and I like fried food, but I’m not so desperate to stop my heart that I would dare combine the two. Same goes for pizza and a crust soaked in butter.
It was on the second day of our trip that my Dad took me to his personal favorite, Giordano’s. I had heard plenty of my father’s exclamations about Giordano’s superiority over the other two restaurants, so I think it is fair to say that I went into the restaurant with a small bias. But I can tell you right now that it would not have mattered if I had walked into that restaurant expecting to get dog poop on a plate, because when the server brought us our pizza I fell in love after the first bite. It only got better, the first bite catalyzed a flood of rich sensations in my mouth which was near perfectly complimented by the cheese’s soft yet firm texture, but when I got to the crust I was even further rewarded by a mouth-watering melody between a crispy exterior and a perfectly doughy center. The most significant things that Giordano’s held over Lou Malnati’s was that it just tasted way less…greasy, and it’s crust was a delicious breadstick “puff” rather than some freak kind of crispy “butter-biscotti.”
The verdict on the best Chicago-style pizza became blatantly lucid after Giordano’s, because we skipped Gino’s East and ate at Giordano’s again. Congratulations Giordano’s and “too-bad-so-sad” Gino’s East, you should have been open past ten p.m. when we arrived!


I think the kid is a better writer than me!

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Parent Seminars

Posted on: 02/8/11 3:45 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I just got to see a copy of the final edit of my upcoming book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent. Standard Publishing did a great job with it. It’s off to the printer now and will be on the racks March 31st.

I received some great endorsements from other authors and speakers in the field. Here’s what Dr. Kevin Leman said:

Jonathan—imperfect parent that he is—shows you how to truly connect with your kid. He brings research and experience and delivers with amazing storytelling and humor.
— Dr. Kevin Leman, author of Have a New Kid by Friday

I’ll share with you some more as the book gets closer.

The timing is good… I’m starting to do a lot more parenting workshops. This weekend I do one at a church in my area. I’ll be teaching for four hours. I’ll spend the first hour or so talking about today’s youth culture and what our kids are learning from the media, then I’ll spend the rest of the time talking about how parents can build relationships and teach lasting values. (Click here if you’re within driving distance of the Sacramento area and would like to attend).

Here’s the official blurb about the seminar:

This seminar encourages parents that they CAN make a difference in the lives of their kids, and equips them to do just that. Jonathan gives us a glimpse into the highly sexualized world of youth culture and exposes the media messages your kids are immersing themselves with. Learn how to filter these influences and teach our kids discernment. Discover how to build lasting values and glean a few ideas that will help you open the channels of communication in your house.

You can find more on our TheSource4Parents Workshop page.


Gaga “Born This Way”

Posted on: 02/7/11 6:03 PM | by Jonathan McKee

For someone typically so immersed in mystery, her lyrics are crystal clear on this occasion:

I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way

Lady Gaga has posted the lyrics to her upcoming song, “Born This Way.” The message of the song is hard to miss. So we dove into the lyrics and provided our two cents in our new Youth Culture Window article, Born This Way: The Theological, Moral, and Scientific Revelations of Lady Gaga’s New Song.

I wanted to let you– my blog subscribers– know first. Our entire EZINE list will receive an email tomorrow morning!

Here’s just a snippet.

If we were to sum up this song’s message, we’d say, “Lady Gaga believes homosexuals are born that way, so let them live that lifestyle because they cannot help it.” As lovingly and respectfully as we can, we must say, there’s a lot about this song, and its message, that’s intrinsically wrong and internally incongruent. Just take a look at some of the key lyrics in this song to see for yourself.

For starters, Lady Gaga encourages her listeners to “just love yourself and you’re set.” Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as that. Honestly, we sometimes wish it was! But it’s simply not. If a guy goes around shooting other people – but loves himself – is he “set” by cultural standards? Just ask anybody impacted by the actions of Jared Loughner. You’ll get a resounding “no!”

Is the woman who displays wrathful anger to everyone a perfectly capable benchmark for civility…so long as she loves herself? Is the kid who steals from others (to sustain a drug habit) off the hook because he loves himself? Nope and nope.

Although a healthy self esteem is a good thing, I’m not “set” just because I happen to love me. Neither are you. Neither is Lady Gaga.


I’m eager to see your comments on the bottom of that article!

Last week I asked for your prayers as David and I worked on this article. Thank you for your prayers and the emails/comments of encouragement. It’s a delicate subject in today’s “politically correct” world. Frankly, much of that is our (Christians) own fault because we’ve been unfair to homosexuals in the past– holding them to an even higher standard than the rest of us sinners.

That opens up a whole nother can of worms. So… you’re getting a double-whammy this week. We also posted another article from David and I: Coming Out of the Closet…and Into the Church: What Should the Church Do About Homosexuality? This article tackles the issue of homosexuality for the sake of youth leaders and adult mentors who need to provide answers to the questions that our teenagers are asking us– questions like, “Isn’t homosexuality okay now? Can’t they NOT help it?” Adults need to be able to answer these questions and provide a Biblical basis for compassion AND the unchanging truth of the Word of God.

Happy reading!