RUBYOur ministry is experiencing a little Christmas miracle and I wanted to share it with you so you could pray and possibly join in on the adventure. Two weeks ago, I wrote to our monthly partners to tell them that our end-of-year need was $78,000. Raising this amount enabled us to end the year in the black, overcoming a difficult year of management turnover, expensive bus repairs, and surviving the negative financial impact of a law-suit brought against us by a former manager. We’ve been given an unprecedented opportunity to turn our great financial need into a beautiful, God-directed surplus that moves us forward in our ministry goals to expand in to events for tween boys—something we have been planning for upwards of five years. In short, any tax-deductible donation you provide between now and December 31st will be quadrupled! I’d love to tell you the story of how God has provided so you can whoop and holler me me and my team.

Read More

mouthDear Single Girl:

You have a battle ahead. To live a life of purity in this world will not be easy. The rhetoric will hurt you. Boys will hurt you. Even friends will turn on you.  You’ll be accused of “repression” and “small-mindedness.” When you defend your virginity, you’ll be called “frigid.” Your sexuality may even be questioned. Sometimes you’ll be fighting the battle alone when everyone else is at the party.

It’ll get lonely.

That’s why today I want to challenge you to pick your fight! What I have to say is not for the faint of heart, so just close this page right now if you don’t have what it takes to fight FOR Jesus…and FOR yourself. But if you’re in for the win, read on.

Read More

394171_486168934750454_2004371168_n-1Imagine being molested by your dad and then abandoned by him. It would mess you up. Such was the story of “Caitlyn” who I met after she attended one of our Pure Freedom events. At the time, she was a resident in a home for the most at-risk teen girls in the nation. One look into her eyes betrayed the woundedness.

Then, I overheard her talking about how she wished she and her house mates could have Boyfriend Bears. It brought tears to my eyes. Here’s one of the most hardened and hurt teens you’ll ever find. And she wanted a white, cuddly bear to hold. You won’t believe how she responded when she got it.

Read More

GET LOST LOVE FEASTWelcome to the Get Lost Online Love Feast! Thanks for joining me and hundreds of teen girls from across the nation. It was a blast touring these past few weeks to prepare for this feast! Let’s devour the love of God so completely that the violent craving is a distant memory!

Each day I’ll post worship music to focus your heart, a key Bible verse, and a prayer to pray just prior to a short excerpt from the love feast chapter in Get Lost: A Girl’s Guide To True Love. If you want to go deeper, just get a copy of the book.

Get Lost in His Proposal • Inviting Others To The Feast

Focus your heart in worship by listening to this song:

“Carry The Cross” Christy Nockels

Gain heart focus by praying Scripture out loud:

Lord, Your Word says that people will know that I’m Yours by how well I love. I want to love well. It also says that a great way to express that love is to invite others to be Your disciple too. Imagine all the love in this world if we could master Your great commandment. Please help a great movement of love to begin with me as I seek ways to share Your agape. (Based on John 13:35)

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:35

He was wearing those funky shoes designed with individual toes. You know the kind? They were worn and dirty. Had walked a lot of places. In his hands he held a book titled Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hahn. Any other time, my mind would fly into action, internally debating what was wrong with that title. This time, however, my heart responded with more intensity than my brain.

What is that? I didn’t know. But some sort of emotion was welling up.

He opened a little black journal and began writing. I felt sure he was recording deep thoughts. Heavy determinations. My eyes traced the faded tattoos on his left arm. These were young arms, so why was the ink scarred, stretched, and aged? As if it had been blasted away.

I didn’t let my gaze go any higher. When you’re seated next to someone on a plane, making full-on eye contact means you’re ready to talk. I didn’t feel like talking. And this was an international flight. If I started now, I’d be engaged in conversation for a long time.

Thirty minutes later, I could sense by his open, floppy hands that he’d fallen asleep. So I looked over at his face.

And gasped.

He was beautiful. My heart was transfixed by smooth features, a gentle, barely-there mustache, and a soft scar that ran from his neck to the hole where his eye should have been.

I wept.

And I cannot tell you if it was because his eye was missing or because he was so beautiful to me. I’m not generally prone to tears. I knew God was speaking to me, and I needed to figure out what he was saying.

Why am I thinking of my own son right now? Is his mother’s heart broken by this disfigurement?

A while later, he woke up angry. Complained to me about the food service on the plane—chicken for first class and nothing for us—and ordered some Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Then some more.

Suddenly, he was chatty.

“What are you working on there?” He pointed to the pages of this manuscript on my tray table.

I told him about getting lost in God.

Using more than a few f-bombs to punctuate his convictions, he told me that Christians were hypocrites, the Bible was made of words voted on by fallible men, and no one has any idea what happens after we die. “Living people talking about an afterlife is like virgins talking about sex. What do they know?”

He had a point.

He reminded me again that Christians were hypocrites.

I told him that I agreed. “Many Christians live hypocritical lives.”

After a little more conversation about what was wrong with Christians, he gave me a lesson in curing marijuana. In case I’d ever need it. Told me that his travels would eventually take him to Nepal, where they age it so well that he thought he might smuggle some into the U.S. Then he told me how. In case I’d ever need to.

“What happened?” I asked, gesturing toward his face.

“Thanks for not ignoring it,” he said, softening instantly. “Most people just stare. Afghanistan. Buddy stepped on a land mine. Didn’t make it. I took some of it on my left side. Lost my best friend that day.” He went on to say his unit took more losses than any other in all of Afghanistan during his time there.

“I’m sorry,” I muttered. “And thank you.”

We were quiet.

“That must be really hard for your mom,” I said, fishing for an answer to my heart’s bleeding.

He straightened. “Don’t know. My parents aren’t involved in my life. Well, we do have an e-mail relationship. They’re missionaries, and I grew up with my dad telling me I can’t lose my salvation. Now he says that I have.”

“Oh,” I said. Before I responded with a theology lesson, I mentally checked in with God’s Spirit. Pausing. Listening in my heart. I felt that I wasn’t going to sort that one out for him on a flight to Panama. I changed the subject. “I couldn’t bear it if I weren’t in my son’s life. He’s twenty-two. How old are you?”

“Twenty-five.”

I wanted to take him home.

We continued talking even after the plane landed, hesitant to separate. We went through customs together. Waited at baggage claim together. He told me he was just beginning a two-year tour around the world. Didn’t know where his journeys might take him.

I was praying the road might lead back to his mom.

And to Jesus.

When his backpack finally arrived, he strapped it on and stood squarely in front of me.

I hugged him as I would my own Robby. Held him long and tight.

“I love you, buddy.”

And then he left.

In the book of Revelation, we find a familiar passage:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (3:20).

The illustrations we often see for that verse feature a blondish, blue-eyed Jesus standing outside a big oak door. Pretty fake. A better picture would show His dark Middle Eastern eyes looking directly into yours. He has no desire to enter some little picture-perfect building. His intention is to be invited to fill a human heart.

This verse is often used to invite lost people into a love relationship with Jesus, but that’s a gross misuse of these words. They actually weren’t addressed to unbelievers, but to the Church at Laodicea—to believers.

They are for you.

And for me.

Jesus is asking you and me to feast with Him. To eat of His presence and to be satisfied. And He is pointing to another, bigger feast, which brings us back to the beautiful picture that marriage presents of Christ and His beloved bride, the Church.

The book of Revelation is filled with wedding talk. One Bible scholar says the language of human love kicks off from the start:

The first word of the book suggests as much. The term apokalypsis, usually translated as “revelation,” literally means “unveiling.” In John’s time, Jews commonly used apokalypsis to describe part of their week-long wedding festivities. The apokalypsis was the lifting of the veil of a virgin bride, which took place immediately before the marriage was consummated in sexual union.

And that’s what John was getting at. So close is the unity of heaven and earth that it is like the fruitful and ecstatic union of a husband and wife in love.78

The climax of the book of Revelation in chapter 19 finds us witnessing the wedding of Christ to His Church. And then,

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”

Revelation 22:17, niv

That’s you and me—in cooperation with and obedience to God’s Spirit—extending His proposal of spiritual marriage to those who’ve yet to accept it. If we truly love Jesus, our lives will be consumed with inviting others to love Him too.

So why didn’t I try to solve the theological confusion in my friend on the airplane? Well, I did. Let me explain.

No one has ever won someone to Christ by being right. We win people with love. So I just loved my new friend. Didn’t try to set things straight on the differences between Jesus and Buddha. Didn’t try to convince him that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. Didn’t try to tell him Christians are perfect. We’re so obviously not. On that he was right.

We can be such Pharisees.

It’s easy to become so consumed by rules about living out the faith that our hearts become hardened, cold. We grow so obsessed with being in the right that we lose sight of what’s most important to God. Just like the Pharisees of Jesus’s day.

One particular Sabbath a bunch of Pharisees overheard Jesus teaching. Over the preceding weeks, they’d been growing jealous of Him. How had this simple, unattractive man from Nazareth gained such attention from “their” followers?

They decided to test Him.

“Teacher.” The sarcasm oozed from their voices. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36)

Jesus knew they wanted Him to pick a commandment and stick it to the crowd. Surely there was one He could use to correct them. Put them in their places.

He didn’t do it.

Ignoring all of the Ten Commandments, bypassing the Levitical law, He said,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.… Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39).

Love God. Love others.

He told them to focus on love. It’s not that the other stuff doesn’t matter. Jesus knew that the book of Deuteronomy included all those rules for a reason. To help us see that we’re not enough in and of ourselves, and to keep us moving toward Him. But on their own, those laws are nothing. Our theology is nothing. Without love? Nothing. (See 1 Corinthians 13.)

The particular truths of our faith fall into place only when people extend and receive love. Jesus said, “On these two commands depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40). In other words, the rules and great teachers have nothing to offer if they don’t come wrapped in love.

The Pharisees didn’t say much else that day. They were silenced because Jesus didn’t support their passionate fixation on the laws, nor did He negate them. Instead, He trumped them. His wisdom was too weighty for their foolish minds to grasp.

They actually thought they were inviting others to follow God with their rules.

They weren’t.

And neither can we.

People won’t know you love Jesus because you march in a prolife rally or picket against same-sex marriage. They won’t know you love Jesus because you refuse to smoke or drink with them. Living a nearly perfect life won’t count for much, and winning a theological conversation about the difference between Buddha and Jesus won’t help either. I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t do those things, but if you do them without love, you will never succeed in inviting someone into a relationship with Christ.

We can easily become like the Pharisees in sharing the gospel.

Unless we open the door of our heart when Jesus knocks.

If you have questions about how to do this, return to Love Feast Day 1, where I explain it more clearly. It is no mistake that we have come full circle. Hear me on this: When I was a twenty-something, I was fully saved and fully certain of it, but my life bore little fruit. I wanted desperately to be on the front lines of ministry, but every attempt failed. I was using my words to tell people about Jesus and nothing was happening!

Until.

I heard the knock of Jesus on my heart’s door. He wanted to fill me with His Spirit more deeply. I opened the door and invited Him to overtake all of me. And He did.

It was as if I’d experienced Him for the first time. I was changed, and the satisfaction in my life—the fullness—spoke more loudly than any words I could have used.

To be clear, I’m not saying that extending love to the lost never comes with a clear invitation—a proposal, if you will—to enter into a love relationship with Jesus. Sometimes you have to be direct, but such interactions must be saturated with love. After someone has tasted of your deep reservoir of agape, you can invite that person to the wedding feast.

Write Your Story

The Great Commission is found in Matthew 28:19–20. It says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I believe this call to action from Jesus is a natural response to the greatest commandment to love God and love others. How are you living this out in your life? If you can’t write about that, confess to the Lord whatever is holding you back and then write out your intentions to join the Spirit in inviting others to feast on His love.

For a talk-show meet’s video-style video of me and some of my favorite girls talking about today’s Love Feast, watch this video.

This is a partial excerpt of Get Lost: A Girl’s Guide To True Love (Chapter 16). I’m happy to provide this as a gift as you join us for the ten day love feast. For the full text of Day Ten of the Love Feast, you need a copy of Get Lost. This is the last day of the Love Feast, but the book has a lot more to add to this experience.

GET LOST LOVE FEASTWelcome to the Get Lost Online Love Feast! Thanks for joining me and hundreds of teen girls from across the nation. It was a blast touring these past few weeks to prepare for this feast! Let’s devour the love of God so completely that the violent craving is a distant memory!

Each day I’ll post worship music to focus your heart, a key Bible verse, and a prayer to pray just prior to a short excerpt from the love feast chapter in Get Lost: A Girl’s Guide To True Love. If you want to go deeper, just get a copy of the book.

Get Lost in His Sacrifice • Submitting To His Cross

Focus your heart in worship by listening to this song:

“Hosanna” By Hillsong United

Gain heart focus by praying Scripture out loud:

O Lord, You created me in Your very image. In the image of God You created me. You created me female, distinct from male. Through this distinction, together we can be a full picture of You. Sometimes this happens in marriage when You call a man to leave his father and mother and to hold tightly to a wife. One wife. In that way, we become one flesh just as Your distinctly different parts—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—are really only One God. This is such a mystery to me, but You say marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, and I choose to believe that. Thank You for letting me reflect You as a woman. Help me to do it with the same kind of sacrifice that You displayed and want to see mirrored in my life. (Adapted from Genesis 1:27; Ephesians 5:31–32)

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Matthew 16:24–25

A sinful woman comes to a feast where Jesus is reclining.

The others are feasting on food.

She’s there to feast on His love.

Upon her arrival, the others turn up their noses. They don’t understand why she’s even there. They know her scandalous past. But they wonder if Jesus knows.

For the record, He does.

And He knows that her past is precisely the reason she is there. She wants to erase it. Start over.

She takes out a little alabaster jar of expensive perfume. Breaks the wax seal on top. Pours the expensive perfume on Jesus’s feet and wipes them first with her tears, then with her hair.

The meaning is clear.

She’s completely His.

No man will want her now that the symbol of her virtue—that jar with its wax seal intact—has been ruined. In her world, only a woman with such a jar would ever be chosen by a man. She knew what she was doing when she broke open the jar and spilled out the perfume. She was saying, “There’s no one else that I could love like You. And nothing that means more to me. My future is dead. I’m Yours completely.”

Jesus once said:

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love [agape]has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:12–13

He loved you enough to give His life for you.

Do you get that?

Maybe you can identify with my confession: I have heard the story of His death so many times that my heart has become hardened. (If the person in the movie theater eating popcorn and opening candy wrappers next to me during the crucifixion scene of The Passion of the Christ theatre is any indication, I’m not alone.) How can I say it so that you hear the story in a fresh way? So that you don’t brush past the grief and loss and gravity of His sacrifice?

Let me just remind you how the earth groaned and suggest that it has not mourned in such a way since:

“It was now about the sixth hour and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed” (Luke 23:44–45).

Darkness covered the land for about three hours in the middle of the day. The sun hid. I believe the hush may have been suffocating. Fear-filled. All nature seemed to lose its ability to function, stunned by the horrific sacrifice occurring at the dead center of God’s love plan. Creation reported the enormity of the sacrifice. The depth of the spiritual darkness.

It cannot go without noting that the sixth hour was the exact time that the Jewish priests would begin the slaughter of the Passover lambs. Passover, you’ll recall, was the Jewish feast that had brought Jesus and His disciples to Jerusalem. They would have been among two and half million faithful observers crowding the city. Each family would bring a lamb for the priests to offer up. To picture the gore of the scene, simply consider this: in the year AD 70 Jewish historian Josephus recorded that the priests offered up more than a quarter of a million lambs on the Temple’s altar—256,500 to be specific.73 Each lifeless and blood-drained. You can imagine the stench of dying flesh, pools of blood, and the mad swirl of flies that descended onto the sacrificial lambs.

In timing His death to the day and hour that the Passover slaughter began, Jesus provided a vivid picture of what He was rescuing them—and us—from.

His body lifeless.

His blood drained.

The stench of death on Him.

The flies swirling on His body.

Just soak that in.

Stop.

Meditate.

Imagine the weight of the darkness. The hollow silence. The fear that tormented those at the foot of the cross. Surely all of life was coming to an end.

And it was.

At least life as it was once known.

Luke 23:45 reads:

“And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.”

At the moment of our dear Savior’s death, the darkness subsided. The three inch thick temple curtain that separated mankind from the presence of God in the Holy of Holies ripped in two, giving us access to His presence.

Our freedom from sin and death came at a great cost, but our Savior held nothing back.

And He encourages you to love just as sacrificially.

We don’t always get to choose our sacrifices, as the sinful woman in Luke 7. Sometimes sacrifice is thrust upon us. Such was the story of Heather Bullock.

She had a dream life complete with a dream guy. And a dream proposal that happened on a boat while dolphins jumped in the water. On top of all that came a dream house highlighted by a rainbow overhead when Heather and her fiancé found it. (No kidding!)

After six years of dating, this college senior’s life was going just like she’d planned. The wedding invitations had been sent. Her dress was ready. The next three months couldn’t go fast enough.

Then came the text.

He didn’t love her.

He wanted out.

Taylor Swift’s twenty-seven-second breakup telephone call from Joe Jonas doesn’t hold a candle to this heartless act. Breaking an engagement by text?

Heather was left breathless. She cried more tears than she thought possible. Spent hours in the fetal position. Tossed and turned and watched old episodes of I Love Lucy through the night.

And her Savior saw her. The Word who was and is and is to come, may just have inspired these words for her long ache of a night:

You have kept count of my tossings;

put my tears in your bottle.

Are they not in your book? (Psalm 56:8)

For the next four weeks, she mourned the death of her love and her life as she knew it.

Then came the sun.

It rose over lingering thunderheads that Thursday morning, creating a spectacle of God’s glory that called even a brokenhearted bride to worship. It felt like a promise to her crushed spirit. In the morning rush to her student teaching assignment, she snapped a quick picture with her iPhone. She didn’t aim. She didn’t look. Until she got to school. There she grabbed her phone and glanced down to see what she’d captured.

It wasn’t what she expected.

Tears flowed. Not tears of grief but of hope.

In the photo on her iPhone the glorious morning rays served as a backdrop to a solid telephone pole, which created the unmistakable silhouette of the cross. Heather found herself breathless once again, but this time from the magnificence of a certainty that she knows a Love that never leaves, never hurts, never rejects.

(Creation still reports the truth of the Sacrifice to us, doesn’t it? But now it sings with the lightness of hope—of new life springing up in our places of death.)

At some point, each of us must choose if we will hold tightly to the broken pieces of our shattered plans as victims do, or if we will drag them up and hoist them onto the altar of sacrifice as victors do. Heather chose victory.

The sacrifice is evident in her seemingly supernatural ability to thank God for the groom who left her…because he told her before the wedding and he respected her desire to remain pure. (Now that’s a girl diggin’ for gratitude!)

The sacrifice is what gave her the strength to crumple up the wedding vows she’d written with her fiancé and renew her vows with Jesus.75

The sacrifice is what gave her the strength to abandon her plans completely and ask God to reveal His plan for her. And it’s what brought her to me.

You see, on one of the bad days, she decided she might just have to become an astronaut. Even visited the NASA website to learn how. Upon hearing of her wayward Googling, a true friend helped her redirect it.

“Let’s Google ‘ministry internships for Christian women,’” her friend suggested.

They did.

And found mine.

For a blessed season of my life Heather was been continuing to heal, all the while fearlessly pouring out everything she has into the hearts of teen girls through my ministry. (Which I’d take over being an astronaut any day!) That’s what I call sacrifice. Giving Him everything, when it feels like nothing is left.

Heather modeled for the photo on the cover of Get Lost which is quite fitting. She’s as lost in God as she’s ever been.

God’s will is what we would choose if we knew what God knows.76

—Nancy Leigh DeMoss

I realize that this devo seems to be all about breaking up with boys. That was not my intention when I drafted it, but then I realized that if we are to truly be released from the Violent Craving (which I taught about on tour and you’ll find more on it in the book) we must be willing to sacrifice our hopes and dreams for marriage even if we are never called to do it. This is a book, after all, about getting so lost in God that a guy has to seek Him to find you.

But the sacrifice is not just about boys.

It can be about anything.

For me it has been about horses.

I remember the first time I sat on a horse. Though still a little girl, I felt power and energy perched atop that sorrel Quarter Horse belonging to my Uncle Ron. My desire to have one of my own was birthed in an instant.

As I grew older, I thought I might outgrow my desire, but I never did. So I never stopped asking God to give me a horse. Just one! Then in the midst of writing books, organizing ministry events, and even starting a Christian high school with my husband, I sensed God ask me to stop asking.

“I’d like your horse,” I felt God whisper.

I wept. I didn’t want to give Him my dream.

I grieved. Wrestled with God for a good week. “I’m doing a lot for You. Can’t I just have this one thing? I’m working hard for You. Please!

I felt God say, “I need your resources right now. That’s a distraction.”

Though I knew it was true, my heart’s response was so ugly. I pleaded. I begged.

Then He reminded me of how much He’s given.

That His cross was far heavier.

That this was a really small one for me to carry.

At last I willingly sacrificed my love of horses. The desire was erased. Surrendered completely like nothing I’ve ever known in my life.

And I was okay with that.

What enabled me to do this was certainty in the fact that God is no killjoy. He delights in giving us good gifts. In fact,

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

God wants to give you so much. In fact, the book of Ephesians says that everything He has is yours. But He asks you to give everything that is yours to Him.

Write Your Story

Did any specific dream or item come to mind as you read the stories of the sinful woman or Heather Bullock or my love of horses? If so, start there. Begin to write about it in the lines below and ask God if it is something He wants you to sacrifice. Here’s the real question: is it His? Could you give it to Him if He asked for it? Will you, if He already has? He wants all of you.

For a talk-show meet’s video-style video of me and some of my favorite girls talking about today’s Love Feast, watch this video.

This is a partial excerpt of Get Lost: A Girl’s Guide To True Love (Chapter 15). I’m happy to provide this as a gift as you join us for the ten day love feast. For the full text of Day Nine of the Love Feast, you need a copy of Get Lost.