When my husband and I first started out in ministry it was to youth. He and I enjoyed the energy and excitement which is youth ministry. We firmly believed youth group should be fun, but the focus should always be Christ. If at any point anything we did stepped away from this focus, we needed to rethink what we were doing. One of the things we learned was teenagers are not usually encouraged to think for themselves. They have the ability, but the pressure to just go along with the crowd can deafen their ears and subsequently minds to stop thinking. 

Tommy Newberry’s book, Think 4:8: 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life for Teens from Tyndale House Publishers is a special combination edition of two other books, The 4:8 Principle and 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life especially focused on teenagers. This books seeks to take the practical ideas from the original book and apply it specifically to teenagers. I have not read the adult versions of the book yet, but I was intrigued as I read. I was impressed with how practical truth was presented in a very teen-friendly manner and that Newberry applied it to very real issues teens face. My girls are not yet teenagers, but I will be using this book as a devotional with my 12-14 year-old literature class for homeschoolers to start our day together.

Set up in the style of a devotional each chapter focuses on a different aspect regarding their mindset. The foundation of the book is Philippians 4:8 which is introduced on the first day. Each following day builds on the idea that we need to dwell on the good things and how to do this in a variety of areas including how teenagers regard their parents, how they view themselves, and how to treat others.

The format is consistent throughout the book and is easy to follow. A Scripture is introduced from one of a number of versions of Scripture. Then a short devotional is written to encourage the reader to think more deeply about the passage. Following this is a challenge portion for the reader to plan out how they will change their thoughts. Then they are challenged to put their thoughts into action and given a thought of the day to help them stay on track. Finally is a sample prayer to help the reader know how to pray about their challenge. I think this would be an especially good read for a teenager who is new in their faith and is facing the challenge of changing much of the way they are living their lives.

I reviewed the e-book, but I think this would be better in the physical format if you are considering this for a teen you know because each chapter has space and opportunity for them to respond to what they have read. I would have preferred if this book had been consistent with the version of Scripture used. Although I do not think there is only one correct translation, I prefer consistency in whatever translation is used.

Disclaimer: I received the Think 4:8: 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life for Teens in exchange for an honest review as part of the Tyndale Blog Network.  I was not required to give a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way. 

You Don’t Love Me!

Has your child ever said this to you? We’re going through this phase for the second time of our parenthood…different child, same age range. It shocked me the first time. I’ll be honest…it hurts. It hurts to think my daughter doesn’t think I love her no matter what the reason.

So what prompted this break-my-heart statement? I punished her.

My girls are not perfect…I know this comes as a huge surprise to everyone, right? Before I had kids I thought discipline would be a simple matter. I imagined it going something like this:

1. Child disobeys direct instruction.
2. Child is corrected and punished.
3. Child never disobeys again.
4. Happily ever after.
…and now every mother is laughing, right? Every parent of a child over the age of two knows reality is usually much, much different. 
1. Child disobeys direct instruction.
2. Child is corrected and punished.
3. Child disobeys same direct instruction.
4. Child is corrected and punished. 
and on…
and on…
it goes
This is why my daughter cried and said, “You don’t love me!” It wounded my heart this second time around just like the first, but at least I had been through it before and therefore know there is another side. As much as she probably really felt that way at the moment she said it, she knows deep down we do love her deeply, unconditionally. We tell her all the time, especially when we have to enforce a rule.
Feelings and truth are constantly at war in my own heart. I know God is good. I believe He is sovereign. I understand His will is not my own. I trust He loves me. 

BUT…

I so often don’t feel those truths. Life hurts. Tears fall. My heart wavers. Although I may never voice the feeling, it often lurks beneath the surface.
These moments are the very reason I spend time with God regularly, why I faithfully study His Word alone and with others on Sunday morning. When I’m at my lowest I cannot rely on my emotions. I can only rest on His promises.
He will never leave me nor forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
He has a plan and purpose for every trail I face. (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28-30)
He is on my side. (Romans 8:31)
He loves me. (John 3:16)
The first song all three of my girls learned to sing was Jesus Loves Me. My sweet husband sang it to each of them within an hour of their births as he held them for the very first time. Read these words once again. Absorb them into your heart. Capture them in your memory. When your feelings don’t match up with truth, allow God to remind you of the truth so He can change your feelings. 
Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak but He is strong.

Jesus loves me! Loves me still,

‘Tho I’m very weak and ill,

That I might from sin be free,

Bled and died upon the tree.


Jesus loves me! He who died

Heaven’s gate to open wide;

He will wash away my sin,

Let His little child come in.


Jesus loves me! He will stay

Close beside me all the way.
Thou hast bled and died for me,
I will henceforth live for Thee.

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

The Bible tells me so.