When I Found Jesus Outside the City Gate

{By Jennifer Dukes Lee} (In the event you haven’t heard of the Love Idol Movement taking place on Facebook, it’s simple. Many of us know the power of approval and comparison which have the ability to control us and Jennifer Dukes Lee is encouraging us to break this cycle of addiction, in her new book Love Idol.  Make her feel at home, will ya?)

The country church near our house was hosting an ice-cream social. My husband and I weren’t members of the church, but the event was open to the public. Short on offers for Friday night fun, we decided to go.

Before we left, I stood in front of the mirror, thinking I could cleverly hide my flaws. Our youngest daughter had been born six weeks earlier. I was an exhausted mom, and tried to cover up all of my postpartum blah with concealer. I slipped a striped dress, two sizes too big, over my head. I hoped it would hide the extra weight, which I carried on my body and on my very soul.

I was still trying to figure out who I was, as a wife, as a mother, as a woman. On top of being postpartum, I had recently left my job as a metro news reporter, and was groping my way toward faith.

I was also incredibly lonely. I was longing for a real friend in a new community—someone who would accept me as I was. And where I was – on the outside.

At the time, I felt more “outside the gate” then I ever had before. I didn’t know it yet – when I was standing at that mirror – that that was the night when I’d begin to find Jesus right out there with me — outside the gate. That was the night I would begin to see through the gray haze, and find Him coming toward me, when a woman walked across the room.

It happened shortly after our family found seats at the end of a long table in the fellowship hall. A woman named Michelle sat down beside me and asked to hold the baby.

That night, Michelle saw someone whom no one else saw. She saw underneath the fiction I had tried to manufacture at the bathroom mirror.

I thought I had been convincing. “Umm, no,” she told me years later with a chuckle. Not even a little. “God kept whispering to me, asking me to reach out to you, but I kept saying no. I wasn’t brave enough. I’d never done anything like that. But He kept saying, ‘Go.’”

Michelle remembered how a woman named Elaine had reached out to her years earlier, when she was a pregnant teen in a small town where people talked. Michelle hadn’t forgotten what it meant to be shown Jesus’ love at a time when she felt particularly flawed.

So she reached out to me. The next day, Michelle and her husband invited us over for dinner.

Soon, we became best friends; later, we joined that country church.

Perhaps the greatest gift Michelle gave me that night was the reminder of who I am in Christ: not overlooked because I no longer had an impressive job title, not judged because I couldn’t yet fit back into my old jeans, not expected to have it all together.

Real had become our new black.

And “outside the city gate” had become our new safe place – our hiding place, our Jesus-is-always-with-us place. I didn’t have to be scared anymore.

Because He comes to the broken and the lonely, right where we are, not where we think we should be.

{This post includes a partial excerpt from Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee. Copyright © 2014. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.}


New Picture (7)Jennifer Dukes Lee used to cover crime, politics, and natural disasters as an award-winning news journalist. Now Jennifer uses her reporting skills to chase after the biggest scoop in history: the redemptive story of Christ. That’s front-page news. She loves to tell the story; t’will be her theme in glory! Jennifer clings to the hope of the Cross, and she’s passionate about sharing the Good News through story. She believes in miracles; she is one. She marvels at God’s unrelenting grace for people who mess up—stumbling sinners like her, who have been made whole through Christ. Jennifer is a storyteller and a grace dweller, and she invites you to join her on her blog at www.JenniferDukesLee.com and also at www.TheHighCalling.org, where she serves as a contributing editor. She and her husband, Scott, met while attending Iowa State University in Ames. They returned to the Lee family’s century-old farm near Inwood, Iowa, in 2002. They have two daughters, Lydia and Anna. Jennifer invites you to connect with her on Twitter @dukeslee

TO LEAVE A COMMENT<———-click here.



This week’s book give away goes to Ricky! We look forward to sending you Prodigal God.  (The number was randomly picked with http://www.random.org/.)

Now we’re off to the next book!

Love Idol“If you, like so many of us, spend your time and energy trying to earn someone’s approval—at work, home, and church—all the while fearing that, at any moment, the façade will drop and everyone will see your hidden mess . . . then love may have become an idol in your life. In this poignant and hope-filled book, Jennifer Dukes Lee shares her own lifelong journey of learning to rely on the unconditional love of God. She gently invites us to make peace with our imperfections and to stop working overtime for a love that is already ours. Love Idol will help us dismantle what’s separating us from true connection with God and rediscover the astonishing joy of a life full of freedom in Christ.”~~Amazon

To Enter:

  1. Leave a Comment. If you already have this book, leave a comment anyway and if your name is drawn, we’ll send the book to whomever you choose. Be share you leave a way for us to contact you in your comment.
  2. Share this through any of these: Email, Facebook, Twitter, Email, Instagram, Pinterest, Blogs, or In-Person 😉  {Consider this like a phone book for folks to look up our number and find us, if they’re so inclined.}
  3. We’ll draw a name and announce it next week. We’ll contact you privately for mailing information.
  4. Thanks! We look forward to hearing your stories.



Also, here is a FREE eBook offering we made for you {<—-click to read more}.



22 Comments on “When I Found Jesus Outside the City Gate

  1. Don’t you love when He whispers ‘go’ … and someone responds. Don’t you love when someone did that for you?

    Then how come we drag our feet when He speaks that word to us?

    Good stuff here, Jennifer …

  2. Jennifer….we were loved to Jesus like this in a store front church. A motley crew we were and no one seemed to notice. They just loved us like we already belonged and our lives were changed forever. I love the message your book “Love Idol” delivers to the reader. Nothing we do or don’t do can change how much God loves us. We are already pre-approved.

  3. Beautiful! Brings tears to my eyes. I think far too many people (young and old) feel the way that you did. I pray for those on my heart who need a “Michelle” to walk across the room to them. May we all have the eyes to see the “Jennifer’s” around us.

  4. Because He comes to the broken and the lonely, right where we are, not where we think we should be…. Amen… And may we be just like Him!!!

  5. Jennifer..what a precious gift Michelle gave to not only extend the hand of friendship but to also remind you of who you are in Christ! We all need friends like that and we all need those reminders, maybe on a daily basis. Seeing ourselves through God’s eyes can take time and trials along the way. But He is faithful to reveal the truth of it as we ask, seek and pray. This book is a life changer and will bless all who read, absorb and apply its principles. Thank you for being brave, faithful to write and share your story so that others can live knowing they are pre-approved by God. Bless you 🙂

  6. Jennifer, we all need Michelle’s in our life, no? Thank you for sharing your heart with us {along with some tidbits from the book}. The Love Idol is going to spread some wonderful Seed on our souls. {big bear–squeeze– hug}

  7. This is excellent. I know when I was a teenager, it took the authentic love of people who genuinely wanted to be a part of my life to keep me from turning away from God completely. The pastor’s wife at a church I attended once gave me a bag of clothes and instead of a gift it felt like charity because until then she had barely spoken to me. But when someone befriended me, learned about my struggles, and then asked, “How can I help?” it felt genuine and later I would realize they were modeling what Jesus called them to do, truly loving others.

    Thank you for this. And I pray that whoever wins the giveaway is blessed by Mrs. Lee’s book.

  8. Echoing Tammy’s comment… yes, we all need Michelle’s in our life. And a reminder to me to be that Michelle to someone too. Your words are a blessing to many. It’s a beautiful thing to watch unfold. Much love to you.

  9. Acceptance. Love. Caring. Jesus with everything on. Grateful for the “Michelles” who decide to be genuine Christians to those of us who may not yet fully recognize that we’re #preapproved.

  10. Jennifer, the way God is using you in the hearts and very souls of women just gives me tingles. Thank you for sharing your story and your heart with us!
    Heart Hugs, Shelly ❤

  11. Loved Loved Loved this post sitting or talking or walking with Jesus outside the city gate I felt Him with us you wherever you are? And with me as I read the post not that I am not aware He is with me always but in the since of wherever two or more are in agreement there am I in their mist!!!

  12. Pingback: Some Light, Some Love, Some Music for Your Weekend | Jennifer Dukes Lee

  13. Reading “Love Idol” would be a breath of fresh air for me. Throughout my life I’ve played the “good daughter,” the “obedient-to-a-fault-and-not-true-to-myself” girl at church, and just struggled with this approval stuff. It would be great to read what Jennifer has to say, and to be able to gain some wisdom from what she’s written. I am in need of a mentor right now, and reading this book would be a great start. I’d love to be able to win this giveaway for the free book, “Love Idol” by Jennifer Dukes Lee!

  14. I have always felt the need for approval, and have sought after it in people. I want to tear down the idol.

  15. This is excellent! I’ve often wondered if it is only women who struggle with such approval…is it simply a fallen humanity’s vice? I’m outside the city gate; way outside, but finding it’s nice out here and best of all; Jesus is here too!

  16. Even as an extremely devoted race-runner after Jesus’ own heart and KNOWING He loves and approves of me, I still get that feeling you described. I’ve come to a sad realization the Body of Christ isn’t living up to the same preapproval of each other that He gives so we we can love each other fully into an accepted feeling.

    I wrote a post recently about When Church Hurts and the comments and emails were many and evident of this concern. It breaks my heart in a million places that so many are hurting within.

    I’m so happy you found HER that day. Those HERS and HIMS are the ones we can point out in our lives that listened to God’s Holy Spirit prompting … To love outwards in significant ways.

    It was when I learned God so loved me ahead of TIME, that I learned how to combat this “alone” feeling. It’s just about loving.

    Blessings to you and what a great testimony!
    ~ Heather @40YearWanderer

  17. Pingback: What's in Store for Us, 2014 in Review, & Link Ups - outside the city gate

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