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And it’s on sale…

Whether you use a Kindle, I-Pad or Nook – Pure Love, Pure Life is on sale for $3.99 at all the major e-outlets.

Sale is on until March 13th – feel free to get the word out!

Oh, and if you’re looking for some other great e-books (on sale) by Zondervan, click here to check them out.

 

My white-knuckled grip on virginity

I didn’t get it. I thought staying pure was just about being a virgin. Whatever happened, I just needed to make sure I stayed a virgin. I could do anything and everything else, but as long as I stayed a virgin, I would be okay, I would be pure.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Everything.

When you think of living pure as everything you can’t do, what do you end up thinking about? Everything you can’t do. Not only that, you usually give yourself permission to do anything and everything leading up to those taboo things. Purity becomes a line in the sand, one you can’t help but put your toes right up against… with your eyes glued to the sand just beyond. What would it feel like to step right there? We think. Where the sand looks so warm and inviting?

Oh friends, living pure is more than saying “No” to sex or “No” to pornography. Pure living is really about the amazing things we can pursue. It’s going after God with all our heart, loving friends from an overflowing heart, serving the world around us with passion and vigor. If all that you think about is the stuff you can’t have, you’ll go crazy with desire. But if you focus on other things to do, to think about, to be about, you’ll find the temptation diminishes and that when it does come, your strength increases.

Think about dieting. I’ve tried all different kinds of diets in my lifetime. Usually they involved completely avoiding one type of food. No carbs. No fat. No lima beans. Whatever the restriction is, by the end of the second day I’m toast. I can’t get carbs or fat or lima beans out of my head.

The only time dieting really works for me is when I am going after something good. Like in just a few months I want to do a triathlon. I’ve been training and trying to eat in a way that will help me swim the reservoir, bike the mountain terrain and race up the trail. By saying yes to something good, I’m accomplishing a goal I never was able to complete by saying “No” to other things. By keeping my eyes focused on the prize of completing my first triathlon, it makes it easy to turn away from unhealthy stuff.

So it is with pure living. Focus on the things you can say “Yes” to and the “No” will come that much easier.

Say yes. Say yes to God, say yes to good, say yes to this pure life.

For more tips on saying yes, check out Chapter 12 of Pure Love, Pure Life, Exploring God’s Heart on Purity. You can get a copy here. Or if you have your own ideas, share them in the comment section. Also visit www.purelovepurelife.com and click on “Saying yes…” to find ways to pour your passion and energy into changing the world for good.

Originally posted on SUSIEMagazine.com. To read an excerpt of Pure Love, Pure Life on SUSIEMagazine.com, click here. The excerpt begins after the first paragraph about Pure Life Day.

The man at the end of the pew

I shared this on my regular blog, God has Dimples. I share it here, too, because it’s Valentine’s Day and I think some of you may need to be reminded of God’s heart this morning. 🙂

She came into church a few minutes late. She felt bad, but she’d been taking care of a friend’s dog and was running behind. She slipped into the service and noticed a few spots empty.

A man sat at the end of the pew so she went to him,  hoping to slip by and take the open seats.

He refused to move.

Embarrassed, she just wanted to find a seat quickly.

She went from behind, helping her daughters scramble over the back of the pew to get into the open seats.

A few moments later, her girl turned to her. She had a runny nose, and there were no tissues to be found. Her daughter went to where the man sat, hoping to squeeze out to get a tissue.

He refused to move.

“He kept giving us dirty looks,” the mom said to me as we walked around the dog park together this morning. “I didn’t mean to be late—it was only a few minutes.”

She shook her head, “We haven’t been back since.”

I was speechless. There was so much I wanted to say, but all that came out was, “I think that moment broke God’s heart.”

I haven’t been able to shake her story since I left the dog park. How many people have been turned away from God’s love by the man at the end of the pew… or others just like him? How many times have I turned people away by being cold and unmoving or judgmental and self-absorbed?

Because Jesus isn’t like that.

Jesus would have smiled broad at her, stood up and ushered her in to the pew. He would have looked at the girls with warm, tender eyes—welcoming them without saying a word. He would have pulled a Kleenex from his breast pocket and handed it to her daughter with a smile and a wink. It’s okay, his look would have said, blow away.

So I’m sorry. I’m sorry to each and every one of you who has ever experienced the man at the end of the pew. Dirty looks. Cruel actions. Judgmental hearts.

For today, on Valentine’s Day, you need to know that Jesus isn’t like that. He gave everything to be welcomed into your heart. He loves you with a vast, unconditional love. He stands at the door, warm smile, tender eyes, rose in hand… “Will you be mine?”

No matter where you’ve been, no matter your story. No matter if you run on time or you’re always late. No matter the pain of your past or the skepticism of the present. His love is unwavering, undying, unchangable. His love letter is crafted in the stars, reflected in the sunset, sculpted in the mountain range. He pours his heart out through a song, a verse, the hug of a friend…

And he says, through every means at his disposal…

“I love you. Today and always. Will you be mine?”

The Artist

Sixty hours of work for a giant frozen bear – a bear so detailed that you could see his teeth, count his hairs and admire his claws.

A bear that would melt away to nothing in just a few days.

Who does that?

My husband and I went to the snow carving festival in Breckenridge. Fifteen artists from all over the world came and carved a 12-foot by 12-foot square of snow into the most majestic creations ever.

I was in awe. After all, I have a tough time making a snowman without having to defend my inner artist. “See? That’s the head. Yes, I know it’s a big fat square, but it’s still the head. And yes, I know it’s bigger than his belly, but I meant to do that. I’m an artist.”

At the snow carving festival, I came across a much more gifted artist. He was standing next to his creation and smiling from ear to ear. He kept looking at that bear with such pride. He had made it. It was beautiful. He would overhear people commenting and his expression would change with their remarks. Something nice? Big smile. Anything derogatory? A grimace and a look.

Think of it. He was human, and he was totally wrapped up in a snowy bear that would melt in just a few days.

Imagine how much more so our God. He delights in you. You are his creation. He fashioned you from moment one. He colored your eyes, crafted your smile, delightfully fashioned your personality and gave you your talents. He beams with pride when others recognize his craftsmanship in God-honoring ways. He grimaces and defends when you are demeaned or dishonored.

He is an artist.

He finds you beautiful. He fights for you. He loves you.

You are God’s work of art.

You are beautiful.

When the guy calls…

It’s him. Your cell phone rings and you know it’s him, the guy you’ve been thinking about nonstop for two days. You thought he would text first, open the door to conversation slowly, but nope—he’s calling and suddenly you’re tongue tied and nervous.

“Hello?”

You stumble through five minutes of conversation before he asks you out for Friday night. He has a car and he wants to pick you up.

“Okay.”

It’s not until after you hang up the phone that you wonder how the evening will play out. You’ve made a commitment to purity, so what if he tries something in the car when he drops you off? How do you wiggle out of his embrace without feeling like an idiot? The harder question, what if you don’t want to wiggle out of his embrace? What then?

Great, you think, I probably should have planned this out better.

And that’s the key. You need a plan of action for when the guy calls. It’s way too easy to get caught up in the moment and put yourself in a compromising situation (a situation that you may not want to get out of…). After all, romance, touch and physical interaction are tempting for a reason. They feel good!

Have a plan of action in place long before the phone call comes. Here are a few to think about as you put your plan in place:

Be choosy: Make sure you go out with a guy who shares your values. You want someone who loves God and is doing his best to live it out. It won’t take away the temptation, but at least you’ll be fighting it together instead of standing on your own as he tries to push your boundaries.

Avoid steaming up car windows: You’d be surprised at how something as innocent as a Ford Escort can get you into all kinds of trouble. Plan to meet the guy at the movies or restaurant. If that won’t work, secretly communicate with your family (and/or roommate, neighbor, protective best friend). Your dad can coincidentally bring out the garbage when your date drives up with you in the car or your roommate can be outside the dorm randomly looking at stars as you pull up. It’s smart to know where you (and your date) might be weak and then to gather people around you who can help keep you accountable.

Date in public: It’s not just the car that can open the door to temptation. It can be watching movies on the couch or hanging out alone in any environment. Avoid being alone. When a guy calls, have it already in mind that you only want to date in public, around lots of other people. In other words, a nice intimate picnic for two in the middle of the woods (with warm cozy blanket in tow) is probably a bad idea. Knowing that ahead of time can help you segue the conversation into safer avenues, “Totally. Love a good picnic, but how about we ask Sean and Cassie to join us?”

Have a plan and you’ll be better equipped to keep your commitment to sexual purity.

For more practical suggestions on creating a plan, check out chapter four of Pure Love, Pure Life, Exploring God’s Heart on Purity. Click here to purchase a copy. Have some tips of your own? Share them in the comment section.

Originally posted on SUSIEMagazine.com on January 10th. To read an excerpt of Pure Love, Pure Life on SUSIEMagazine.com, click here. The excerpt begins after the first paragraph about Pure Life Day.

Today is the day!

Happy Pure Life Day!

I’m so grateful for you! I love that you are choosing to stand for our God – saying yes to all the amazing things he has in mind for your life! The good things, the beautiful things, the wonderful God adventures!

Please join us for the live webcast tonight. All you have to do is click here at 7:00 pm EST (6:00 CST, 5:00 MST and 4:00 PST). You’ll even have a chat option to give us feedback and ask questions.

Can’t wait to see you there and Happy Pure Life Day!

P.S. Please let us know how you’re taking part in this day – either post on the FaceBook page or let us know via chat tonight. 🙂

Going wacky over a guy?

From our Ask Away forum:

So my question is, simply, how do you guard your heart from going overly wacky about a guy? I feel like I struggle with that a lot and I don’t want to…

I get it. I always leaned toward wackiness.

People would tell me to guard my heart, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. If I thought a lot about a guy, did that mean I had failed to guard my heart? If I felt butterflies, did that mean I had left a gate open somewhere?

After some prayer, research and life-living, here’s where I’ve landed: It’s not evil to get butterflies. It’s not wacky to spend time thinking about someone. Wackiness comes when we start compromising our values to get someone’s attention. It comes when we push back boundaries in order to get a guy and/or keep a guy. It can also come if we turn away from our first love and let a guy take control of our thoughts.

We have to remember that God is not anti-romance. He loves a good love story. If you look at the Bible, it’s one big love story of a faithful God who pursues and fights for his beloved. God is the author of romance, and in the right time and place, with the right person – it is a beautiful thing. So don’t feel guilty for getting butterflies or finding yourself attracted to someone.  Just ask God to help you keep him first and to hold on to your heart until the time is right. Go to God with all that you feel. Thank him for the joy of romance and ask him for help in keeping your thoughts in check. He is a good God and those are prayers he loves to answer.

Friends are another huge help in keeping your heart steady. We need each other. My friend Jennifer could spot that weird glint in my eye. She had that sixth sense that I was heading off the deep end or about to make a compromise. She’d rein me in and help me keep my eyes on my first love.

Good friends are the best.

I talk a lot about this topic in the book, and break it all down with some practical application. I’d definitely encourage you to get some girls together and go through the chapters. At the end of each chapter, there are discussion questions to help you apply this stuff to real life. Not only will you have the content, but you’ll have the friendships to help keep you grounded.

I hope that helps, and thanks for the question!

(If other readers have some ideas on this topic, please feel free to share them!)

 

If you have a question you’d like to see as a blog post, click here.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of Pure Love, Pure Life, click here.

 

 

Is it too late for me?

From our “Ask Away” option (if you have a question you’d like to see as a post, click here and ask away!)

Today’s question: If you have been sexually active and now want to stop and start all over again, is it possible and does it count to God? Or are you still despised in his eyes?

First and foremost: You were never despised in God’s eyes. Never.

I once saw a bumper sticker that made me smile. It said: “God loves you, but I’m his favorite.”

That’s the way God’s love works. He loves in a way that makes each one of us feel like his favorite. He loves big. He loves huge—not based on what we have or have not done, but based on who he is (Romans 5:8). His love is right there in the middle of a mess or in the deepest darkness. It’s right there when everything inside of us wants to look away or put our head down. His kind of love gently lifts our chin and reminds us that no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done, he will never walk away. He reminds us there is hope, and that if we come to him, he can make things right and even bring good from our mess.

It’s that kind of love that changes everything.

I want you to know something very important: God is proud of you. He is so proud that you want to live pure. He is proud that you want to choose his way and walk away from the choices you’ve made in the past. He is proud because when you do that, you are living it out that you believe in him, love him and want to live a life that loves him back (John 14:21).

You can’t change the past, but you can set it at God’s feet, accept his grace and move forward living differently. I can vouch for that (with all that I am) because my past wasn’t perfect either. If you pick up a copy of my book, you’ll see that my story isn’t so different from your own. But God did something amazing in me. He really did change me from the inside out.

It’s what he loves to do, and what he will do in any heart that pursues him.

So the best way to move forward when you’ve been sexually active in the past is to first talk to God, tell him all that you’re feeling and imagine him looking at you with tender, compassionate eyes. Tell him that you’re sorry and that you want to live differently. Then get together with people who are living the same way. Go through Pure Love, Pure Life (or any other good purity book) together. It will help to have some practical tips for when that temptation comes along to sideline you. Connecting with others will also help you stand strong.

Bottom line? Know that you are deeply loved by our God. He made you, He delights in you, He’s proud that you want to live for him.

So yes, no matter your past, that kind of love can help you live differently from this day forward.

 

If you know of a friend who would like this post, please feel free to forward it on. If you would like to sign up and receive weekly blogs on purity, click here. If you would like to purchase your own copy of Pure Love, Pure Life, click here.

The Virgin Diaries – what do you think?

I read an article in the Vancouver Sun recently. Here’s a little clip:

“Confessions of a 29-year-old virgin.” That’s the title of the emotionally revealing blog of four virgins from British Columbia’s Fraser Valley who are looking for some good men for marriage and “holy” sex.

The Abbotsford, B.C., women’s online “virgin diaries” have suddenly made them media stars. Their quest for guys led to a video about them appearing Wednesday on the popular show of Ellen DeGeneres, who proceeded to get in some virgin jokes.

The virginal British Columbians, all of whom are 29 or 30 and evangelical Christians, were also set to be videotaped Wednesday night for an upcoming appearance on HLN’s Dr. Drew Show.

And this Sunday evening three of the four young B.C. women will be starring on a pilot program called The Virgin Diaries on the TLC network. The program includes video of the young women dating eligible men, all of whom also happen to be virgins.

The extroverted B.C. women, all members of a small church in Abbotsford called The River, began their blog four months ago because they were tired of being stereotyped as defective for being virgins (actually one confesses to being a “born-again” virgin who wants to start over). They are fighting back against a sex-saturated culture, and looking for guys, in the name of spiritual “purity.”

I would love to hear your thoughts on this article. Is it a good thing? Weird? Uncomfortable? Creative? There is no right or wrong answer, just share your opinion.

It’s here! Will you sign our Pure Life pledge?

It’s done!

We just posted the purity pledge for the Pure Love, Pure Life book. If you click here, you can sign it. Or copy and paste this URL to get there: http://purelovepurelife.com/?page_id=36

Will you please join me and sign this pledge for purity? And share this link with anyone who might be interested in doing the same? I’m so excited for what this will mean for all of us. To stand together in a movement toward good!

Here’s what the pledge says:

  • I choose to stand for purity. I choose to say yes to God, yes to his love and yes to the amazing adventures he has in mind for my life.
  • I choose to guard myself physically so that I can enjoy the best kind of romance with my future husband. I’ll keep the boundaries I’ve set for myself and if I’m struggling with too much temptation, I’ll do my best to pour that physical energy into sports, adventures or other healthy outlets.
  • I choose to guard myself emotionally by protecting my heart and choosing not to go wacky over a guy.  In fact, I’ll do my best to pour all that passion and energy into making a difference for good in the world.
  • I’ll guard myself spiritually by spending time with God—worshiping him with my favorite music, hanging out with him in his creation and enjoying his people. I won’t let anything get in the way of my relationship with him.
  • And anytime I feel even remotely like I’ve tiptoed out of bounds, I’ll run to God instead of running the other way.
  • I choose God’s way. I choose God’s love. I choose God’s best. Today and always.

Oh, and an added bonus to signing the pledge? You’ll be entered to win a free Pure Love t-shirt and a free book. Wahoo!

Thanks for standing together in this!