What Does Surrender Look Like?

What Does Surrender Look Like?

Recently, I was asked by someone what surrender really looks like:

Surrender comes down to you taking inventory in your heart the areas which you truly haven’t given over to Him. You and only you know what they are. Surrender happens not only in the most powerful worship services or in the light of impactful ministry. It happens I think most often in the quiet moments when no one is watching. When you’re alone and by yourself. Are you prepared to surrender your preferences, desires, feelings, opinions, rights when it’s just you and Jesus?

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Quite often in the OT, when the Israelites were truly following the Lord, they established memorials (not idols) to remember the Lord speaking or doing a miraculous thing on that particular day. For the journey you’re pursuing right now, mark this very day as being the day you’re committing your life for a greater purpose than your own desires. Psalms 118:24 says, “THIS is the day the Lord has made. We will REJOICE and be GLAD in it.” It’s learning to live completely in the present and allowing God to have your heart in this very moment. Everything. Holding nothing back.

Will there be slips? Mistakes? Second looks? Temptations? Absolutely. But the goal for you Luke is the process. So I suppose I would say surrender happens not just in a moment or a day, but in the process, the journey that you’re taking. And that journey for you begins each day as you commit to do your very best.

Toxic Thoughts

Toxic Thoughts

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

A challenging passage that I was reminded of today followed by an equally convicting question:

“What are some of the causes of toxic thoughts in your life?”

Wow, I definitely need to mull that one over and yet I know I’d have pages upon pages to write on the subject. This passage speaks to me the reality of the battle in this life. Much of it takes place externally but perhaps more of it happens I the inside – inside our thoughts. At almost 7 years of recovery the battle to fight off lustful thoughts and fantasy is virtually a non-battle for me. I’m thankful for this that God’s power in me has helped me to overcome.

But as we all know the battle for our thought lives far surpasses sexual impurity. It spans into all directions and areas of darkness that the human mind is capable of. From selfishness, bitterness, anger, and pride. And a gazillion other areas that don’t even have room to be mentioned, our thoughts are able to go to some pretty evil places. And I do mean evil in the broadest sense of the word.

Thankfully, we’re given the power to literally take hold of toxic thoughts and surrender them to Christ. It’s certainly not always easy, but it refines in us a Power greater than ourselves.

3 Simple Ways To Build Intimacy Within Marriage

3 Simple Ways To Build Intimacy Within Marriage

If you’ve been married for any length of time, you know that the relationship you have with your spouse should be like no other. Two people who’ve made a commitment to each other have started on a journey to merge their lives together. This is almost always a beautiful and messy process all at the same time! At least it has been in my marriage so far.

The process of becoming closer to my wife has gone through a lot of transformation over the years and yet I’m still learning. This word, INTIMACY, has taken on a deeper meaning for me as I’ve discovered what makes my wife tick and what she craves emotionally from me.

For some people, a phrase like “intimacy within marriage” is a scary one, while for others, it just equates to sex.

The truth is, intimacy relies on a lot of different things all working together, making it something we must learn in order to put into practice.

So what steps can you take today to build intimacy within marriage, especially if the flame feels like its starting to go out? Here are three that I’ve found to be landmark actions that I need to take to build intimacy within marriage:

1. Encourage

Your spouse needs to know that you love them and that you’re pleased with them. That you find them attractive and gifted at what they do. Encouragement requires you to KNOW your spouse and be PRESENT to their frustrations, fears, and anxieties. It also means celebrating with them on what goes well. If you’re not used to talking, start practicing! We all need encouragement, especially our spouses. Remind them on a daily basis all of the great things you see coming out of their life. Something we often forget is the weight that our spouses often bear upon their shoulders. We should be helping to take those burdens off of them through our words and our actions.

2. Serve

Way too often, we can get stuck in a mindset that our work, responsibilities, and task lists are more important than the GAZILLION things our spouses do on a daily basis. This couldn’t be further from the truth! One of the greatest ways to build intimacy within marriage is not only sharing chores like doing the dishes, vacuuming the living room, and washing the laundry, but also giving your spouse the occasional time and space to flourish. For example, you might take the kids off their hands so they can go hang out with a friend.

Bottom line: share the load by serving one another.

3. Touch

Before your mind goes straight to thinking that I’m just talking about sex, realize that touch is way more than physical intimacy. This is an area where I’m still growing in in my marriage.

Hugs, kisses, and especially back rubs are all crucial points of touch throughout the day. There are moments when I’m at work that I think about my wife and realize how much I love her and how thankful for her I am that I want to run up to her and just hold her in my arms. Am I following up on that thought and actually doing it? It’s only one form of touch, but oh so important. One of the greatest killers to a marriage is a cold, distant spouse who’d rather hold the TV remote than their partner’s hand.

Certainly there are many more ideas for building intimacy in your marriage, but these have been some of the biggest in mine that I’ve grown in over the past few years (and continue to grow in).

We have a responsibility to NOURISH and CHERISH our spouses. Through encouraging, serving, and contact, we can do that and build true intimacy within marriage! We must take action and pursue our spouses on a daily basis, just as Jesus pursues us.

Bonus question: Do you take time out to pray with and over your spouse? What about spending time digging into scripture together? These are so important for the spiritual life of a marriage. Believe me, I know keeping all of this at the forefront of your marriage can be tough, but it bears fruit in the long run.

I’m of the opinion that there’s one person that God has planned for you to commit your life to and love for the rest of your life. To me, this means that I only have one real shot to get it right and so I want to make it count. I carried a lot of lying, deception, and dishonesty into our marriage because of an addiction to pornography that controlled my life. So I’ve had to really learn the above three actions in pretty drastic ways.

It’s never too late to build intimacy within marriage if you feel like it’s missing. But it takes intentionality and healthy actions on your part that help make your spouse a better person. It’s a lifelong journey of beautification and deepening of our love for each other here on earth. But it’s so worth it.

God’s Desire for Reconciliation

God’s Desire for Reconciliation

Recently, I was reading a devotional by Eugene Peterson, author of the Message Bible. The title of the devotional was fantastic: “Desire for Reconciliation”. It’s central text was Genesis 3:1-10, which you can read here in the Message.

The passage talks about the serpent’s deception of Eve, the couple’s decision to rebel against God’s purpose for them, and God’s response to Adam when the man & woman were hiding in the garden.

After the reading, a reflection question came up: “How does this passage speak to your situation today?” And I jotted some notes notes down about my feelings of the passage. Here’s what I wrote:

God desires relationship with His sons & daughters. Too often, we hide because we’re afraid of what God will “see” when he looks at us or in us. Will he still love us? The answer is a definite & resounding YES! Because beneath shame & fear we really do long to be “seen” ultimately by Someone who will love us for who we are, not what we have done. I love how God’s primary question wasn’t: “How could you do this?” or “Why did you do this?” Truthfully, he knows the answers to those questions. No, his primary question was: “Where are you?” God wants to find us and to be close to us — even in the midst of the the worst decisions we could possibly make. What an incredibly comforting reality!

Do you feel God calling out to you today, asking you that same question: “Where are you?” Take some time to read that passage and think about how you would answer the Lord.

Having a Healthy Sex Life After You’ve Had Kids

Having a Healthy Sex Life After You’ve Had Kids

This a fantastic video from Ryan & Selena Frederick, authors of the blog, Fierce Marriage, regarding the subject of how to have a healthy sex life after you’ve had kids. How do you continually connect emotionally & physically? I love how they handled this topic with such grace & truth. What a great resource for every married couple, especially those with little kids!

This Conversation Tool Will Transform Your Marriage

This Conversation Tool Will Transform Your Marriage

One of the greatest things I cherish about my relationship with my wife is our commitment to complete honesty. Believe it or not, this is a characteristic that didn’t come instantly on day one of marriage.  It’s one that’s been cultivated over the last 7 years.  And I believe each and every day, it’s gotten better. But it’s only gotten better because Tracey & I have practiced. And as one person I heard revise the classic quote, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.”

One method in particular that’s really been helpful for us came from a counselor friend of ours (the same guy who initially helped me out of my sexual addiction). It’s called FANOS. It’s an acronym that stands for Feelings, Affirmation, Needs, Ownership, & Sobriety. In addition to our normal conversation each day, once a week we’ll have a more intentional check-in time with each other where we have a chance to go much deeper. Note: This is usually done when there is no kids around! 🙂 We each go back and forth sharing on each letter of the acronym. Let’s briefly break down each word:

  • F – Feelings: How am I feeling this week? (emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally etc.) This is a huge one so don’t skim over it. Go deep here.
  • A – Affirmation: What ways can I possibly encourage my wife this week? How can I speak to her as a wife, mother, daughter of God? Speak life to your wife.
  • N – Needs: What needs do I have from her (again emotionally, physically, spiritually, sexually, etc.)? Again, this is an important one so don’t just think “more sex, please” on this one. Be real.
  • O – Ownership: What can I take ownership of this week that I’m not doing so well in? Guys, we should have plenty to express here! As a husband, dad, worker, whatever, what are areas that you can grow in?
  • S – Sobriety: How is my sobriety going this week? This question is typically only for you so be honest. If there were slips, confess them. If there was growth, share it. Don’t leave anything out on this one. Details are important.

I love this model for communication with my wife.  We practiced it early on in my recovery journey and have just recently come back to it for a model of conversation. I pray that it’s helpful to you as well as you grow in oneness with the man or woman God has given you!