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Tuesday, June 28, 2011
After our anniversary date, which consisted of a nice dinner and a show, I read my last post to my wife as a sort of anniversary card.

While she greatly appreciated my loving words, she was a bit concerned that it might leave the wrong impression. She felt it was important that I also clearly explain how my own attitudes and actions of surrender have led her to the kind of loving surrender that I described last time.

I hesitated at first, thinking it was going to sound too much like blowing my own horn. But as I thought about it, I decided she was right. So here is my shot at telling the rest of our Surrendered Marriage story.

His Love Comes First

The truth is that my wife’s willingness to love me in a manner reflective of how the church loves Jesus (with things like, trust, service, honor, submission and commitment) is because of and in response to the Christ-like love I have shown her. Of course my love is but a faint reflection of the infinite, selfless, unconditional, and perfect love of Jesus, but I have made it more than clear, for years and years, that my desire is to love her more and better than any other human could, to come as close as possible to loving her as Jesus does.

She knows my heart and that my heart is for her. In fact, I have made it clear to her that my number one goal is to serve her and to love her well. It is every husband’s responsibility and should be every husband’s goal: love your wife selflessly, daily and tangibly, in the things you say and the things you do.

This is not some optional theory. It is the basis of God’s design for marriage. Period.

It’s All Mutual

Everything I said in my previous post, about how my wife knows me and loves me and takes delight in delighting me is true in the reverse. I have spent our entire married life learning about her, about who she is, how she is wired, gifted and called. I do all I can to see that my leadership of our marriage and family causes her to thrive and to step fully into the destiny that God has on her life. I am purposeful in delighting her, because her happiness and fulfillment are my highest earthly priority.

In my case, it consists of things like knowing how she likes her tea and making it for her most mornings, even though I am not a tea drinker myself. She also loves it that I collect tea bags during my business trips around the world and bring them to her. I schedule and re-schedule trips to make sure I am home for special occasions or whenever family needs dictate. She knows she can call me anywhere, anytime, and I will drop whatever I’m doing to attend to her needs. Whether she is lost and needs directions, has an issue with one of the children, or just needs reassurance about something, she knows I am there for her and that she is my priority.

I am far from the perfect husband. But I do everything I can to make sure she feels as blessed to be married to me as I do to be married to her.

100-100

Perhaps we haven’t yet arrived at the ideal state: the 100-100 marriage that I talk about here often, where we each are giving 100% to the other, holding nothing back. Still, that is our goal.

We are both able to be who we really are with each other, and that is a wonderfully freeing thing. As we strive toward being completely one in spirit, soul and body, we know that each of us has grace for the other’s shortcomings and mistakes. We try to give and receive that grace freely. It is this understanding that allows us to be “naked without shame” with each other; that is, to be genuine with each other, to bring the fullness of ourselves to our marriage, without pretense, trepidation or shame.

As husband, I realize that I set the cap on how much blessing we enjoy in our marriage. So I aim high! I encourage every husband to do the same.


Sunday, June 26, 2011
Twenty nine years ago today, a beautiful, sweet and amazing young woman gave herself to me. I suppose she really had no idea what she was getting herself into, but I was deliriously happy that she was more than willing, even excited, to spend her life with me.

I had loved the girl for five years and dated her a bit more than for four. (You can read the rest of that story here). She was my dream come true. I had known it since our first kiss. And suddenly she was mine, and our adventure through life together, our own Journey to Surrender, began.

Here we are today, twenty nine years in. Hard to believe, really, that it has been that long. And we are more in love now than ever. I can say that with all sincerity. Our love is deeper, stronger and sweeter than it has ever been. I am convinced that’s how it is supposed to be. Still I am very thankful that I am among the few who get to say that.

I am a very blessed man!

She Gets Me

Jenni knows me to the core. She has a deep understanding of who I am, how I am wired and how God has gifted and called me. Yes, she knows my quirks and weaknesses as well, but loves me in spite of my shortcomings.

She has invested herself over the years in knowing me. Her time, her effort and her prayers have all gone into finding out what makes me who I am. It hasn’t always come easily and it didn’t necessarily come quickly. It took years. That’s part of the Journey. The truth is that this part of our love relationship never stops. As I grow, mature and change, her understand of who I am must grow along with me.

There is great comfort and freedom in knowing that she knows me so well. And I know that she loves who I am.

She Loves Me

My wife loves me and loves me well.

She is willing to look past my failings and shortcoming, to give grace in the places that I have not fully matured, and to love me “as if” I was already the man God intends me to be. She sees in me what I can be, not just what I am.

She strives to love me as the church loves Jesus. She loves me for the protection and provision I give her, but more than that she believes in my desire to love her with Christ-like love, even when I fall short of that ideal. Her gift of submission to me, of following my lead and remaining under my covering, does not always come naturally or easily (she has an admitted strong-willed streak).

And she is generous in showing her love:

She Delights Me

My wonderful wife is purposeful in doing things that she knows make me happy. She has spent her life learning my desires and dreams, and she goes out of her way to make them come true. She delights in delighting me.

She will say that her young love was selfish and that it took her years to learn to be more selfless. I would say that she has always loved me selflessly, but it is true that through the years, as she has come to know me more deeply, she knows better how to please me.

I could rave on her more. (For example, she is beautiful, fun, loves life and knows how infuse every little thing with joy.) But you have probably already stopped believing me.

The long and the short of it? I love this woman deeply and passionately. And I consider myself to be a very blessed man.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Part 7 of “What I Believe About Marriage”


Today I’m wrapping up my series describing my take biblical marriage. Of course, I’m not really ending the topic here, because that’s more or less what my entire blog is about. But I’m satisfied to have at least laid the foundation of what I believe the bible says about marriage and why.

In case you missed any of it, click here to go to the first part of the series.  See below for links to all seven parts.

You may have noticed from my web address and the blog title that I use the term “surrendered marriage” to describe the type of marriage I aspire to have. It’s the type of marriage that I think God had in mind when he envisioned it before he even created us humans. It’s the type of marriage that is represented by the bridal paradigm, which is the notion that we are the bride of Christ and he is our Bridegroom. It’s the type of ideal marriage that we, as weak and faulty people, cannot fully achieve but should continually strive for.

Vertical and Horizontal Surrender

The surrender I speak of happens in two principle dimensions: one vertical and one horizontal.

I’ll first address the vertical. Foremost of all, every Christian couple is called to live in whole-hearted surrender to the lordship of Christ Jesus. That means both husband and wife commit themselves to His loving leadership, acknowledging that Jesus is the center of their individual lives and of their marriage. The foundation of a surrendered marriage is based in this vertical surrender.

Second is the horizontal surrender of husband and wife wholly unto one another.

Surrendering the Way of Self

A surrendered marriage calls us to surrender self. It means living selflessly and self-sacrificing instead of living self-centered and self-satisfying. It means living against our human nature, because our natural path is the path of self. Rather than focusing on the question of “what are my rights?” and “what do I get out of this marriage?” we are instead to focus on “what can I give to benefit and bless my spouse?” and “What can I do to strengthen our marriage?”

Surrender means caring about the things your spouse cares about, even if they aren’t things that would naturally matter to you. Surrender means maintaining a culture of honor in your home, attending to one another’s needs, being willing to sacrifice your own desires in order to delight your wife or husband.

Surrender is Not Compromise

A surrendered marriage sets aside the notion that 50-50 compromise is the ideal and instead goes for 100-100, where each strives to give 100% to the other. Giving 100% of yourself calls you to bring your whole self, the good and the not so good, naked and unashamed, into your marriage. Each brings his or her own entire self so that the two of you can be joined together in spirit, soul and body. This is what it means for two to become one. You live as one flesh for the benefit of each other and of your marriage.

In a surrendered marriage husband and wife do not strive for equality, but strive instead to outdo one another in loving, giving and sacrificing. Scorekeeping and competition give way to a new mindset that acknowledges the one-flesh nature of a marriage. "When my wife wins so do I." "When my husband wins so do I."

Surrender of Husband and Wife

A husband’s surrender primarily takes the form of loving and sacrificial leadership. He gives of himself to serve, protect and provide for his wife and family. He invests himself to nurture her wellbeing, to cover her spiritually, and to do all in his power to see her thrive and to reach her full potential. With Christ as his example, he is to love his wife unconditionally.

A wife’s surrender primarily takes the form of submission to her husband’s loving leadership, as the church submits to Christ. She honors him with the gift of her respect and submission, of supporting him and remaining under his protective covering, not because she is incapable or inferior in any way, but because she chooses to live within the ordered partnership that is God’s design for marriage.

Focus on Your Part

The beauty of surrendered marriage, fashioned according to the Bridal Paradigm, lies in what it compels you to give rather than what it permits you to demand. Focus more on what you are giving than what you are getting in your marriage.

Put ten times more effort on fulfilling the things God has called you to in his Word than on what the Bible calls your spouse to do. Worry about your part rather than your spouse’s part. What you will find is that when you fulfill your part, you make a wide pathway that invites your spouse to step more fully into their part. This is the dance of surrender.

So do you have a surrendered marriage?  If not, would you like to?  Start on your Journey to Surrender today!

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Here are the links to the other six parts of this series

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Part 6 of “What I Believe About Marriage”


Last time I directed my comments to husbands concerning their role in what I describe as the “ordered partnership” of marriage. Today I’ll be I’ll be talking to wives about their role.

I’ll save drive-by flamers some trouble by quoting an anonymous comment left a while ago on my post “Respect, Submission and Trust.”
So, you believe in slavery of women? Giving up free will to her husband? So, freedom is only for men? How sad.

This kind of comment is typical of those who don’t bother to really read what I write or understand the heart behind it. How sad. Let me just say up front I don’t believe in any of those things.

Now, let me move on to what I do believe.

First, let me remind you that that biblical marriage is a set of truths in tension. By that I mean you can’t just look at either your husband’s or your role in isolation. A fully functioning, genuinely biblical marriage requires both of you to operate in accordance with what the Word of God says. Examining only a husband’s authority in marriage without coupling it to the fact that he is to emulate Christ in the exercise of that authority is dangerous. Considering the topic of a wife’s submission, without coupling it closely to a husband’s Christ-like love is equally dangerous. Keep the truths in tension.

Love, Honor and Submission

I believe, as I said last time, that your husband is to love, lead and serve you. With that understanding in mind, I believe your counterpart to that is to love, honor and submit to him.

I’m going to take these in reverse order, because truthfully, most people are going to skip to the s-word section anyway.

Submitting to Your Husband

I’ll start with one of several Scriptures that point to this role of a wife in a Christian marriage.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Ephesians 5:22-24

(I’ll remind any husbands that might be lurking here that this passage is directed to your wife. Nothing about this passage implies that you are to get her to submit to you! Your only instruction is to love her!)

It's All Greek...

Pardon me while I parse some Greek here. I’ve read dozens of commentaries, blog posts and articles on this passage. Because this is such a critically important marriage passage, the words are important. What I say here is a very brief synopsis of where I come down on the meaning of these words.

Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word often translated into “submission,” hupotasso, as “to arrange ones self under,” and “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.” I hope you sense the extent to which this is a choice made out of love, not an obligation performed out of duty.

The term translated as “head,” kephale, in the passage above, does not carry the connotation of boss (there is a different Greek word that Paul would have used if that was what he meant). In this context it means something more like “leading by being out front.” I think of something like the lead goose in a flying formation. This understanding of headship is important for understanding what is meant by submission.

Submission is not enslavement. Submission does not imply not having a voice. Submission is not being a doormat. Submission is not subservience. Submission is not even obedience.

Submission is the attitude of your heart that says, “I respect you as my husband and acknowledge the leadership that God has called you to in our marriage. I want to keep myself arranged behind that leadership, to follow your lead and to partner with you as we move along our marriage journey together.  I submit to God first, and he has asked me to submit myself to you. I do so willingly and in much the same manner I do this unto Jesus in my spiritual journey. .”

Honoring Your Husband

Your husband probably desires your respect and to be honored by you more than he wants to have sex with you. Yeah, really. That much!

Given a choice between feeling unloved or feeling disrespected, three fourths of men will choose to feel unloved, according to one survey. My own recent informal poll clearly showed respect as the number one need for the most husbands.

The truth is that your husband needs your love for him expressed as respect and admiration in the same way that you need his love expressed through emotional intimacy and feeling cared for.

Dishonoring your husband is a blow to his heart. It says to him, “I don’t love you.”

This is why the Bible says:
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:33

Strong’s defines the Greek word here for respect, phobeo, “to reverence or treat with deference.” Some dictionary definitions I include are: holding in honor or esteem, to pay proper attention, and to show consideration for.

“But you don’t know my husband!” you say. “He can be such a pig-headed idiot sometimes.”

No, I don’t know your husband or the details of his pig-headedness (or whatever you see as his weaknesses), but I still insist that he deserves and needs your respect.

Loving Your Husband

Submission (staying behind him, remaining under his protective covering and supporting him) is the action that flows from an attitude of honor and respect. This is a powerful principle. This is what it means to love your husband.

I agree with Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs, who says that just as your husband is to give you unconditional love, you are to give him unconditional respect. To him it’s the same thing.

Unconditional respect does not imply unconditional agreement or endorsement, but it does imply that in all things and at all times you are to maintain an atmosphere of honor in your marriage. It means not putting him down when you disagree. It means not talking badly about him to your friends or family. It means not browbeating him when asking him to do something. It means not assuming he will do the wrong thing.

But more than what you should not do, I want to encourage toward what you should do to show him love through respect and submission.
  • Tell him how proud you are of him (about something specific)
  • Tell him he is you’re hero
  • Ask him about his day, and tell him how much you appreciate how hard he works
  • Strive to support and agree with the decisions he makes
  • Flirt with him and tell him how attracted you are to him
  • Tell him how blessed you feel to have a husband like him, and tell him why

Even better, ask him specifically what you can do to show him more respect or to be more honoring toward him. Keep your eyes open for the things that matter to him, and do them.

If you want your husband to fulfill his biblical role and lead you with love, do your best to let him know you believe in him, that you respect him, and that you honor him as the loving leader God has called him to be.

Whether he is walking in the full maturity in his role right now or not, your attitude of respect and acts of submission will help to draw out of him the loving leader you want him to be – the loving leader God wants him to be.

Women who embrace the biblical notions of love, respect and submission toward their husbands are not repressed, but actually free and full of power. It’s one of the many ways in which the Kingdom of God is upside down from what the worlds says.


Please see also my Wive's Only Wednesday post "What Submission is Not."


Continue to Part 7:  Just What is a Surrendered Marriage?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Part 5 of “What I Believe About Marriage”


I mentioned last time that I believe that the biblical order God intends for marriage is best described as an ordered partnership. But what exactly does that mean?

Today I’m gong to direct some straight talk to husbands about their biblical role in this ordered partnership. (The wives side will come with this week’s Wives Only Wednesday).

In simplest terms, I believe your role as a husband is to love, lead and serve your wife.

Loving Your Wife

Scripture sets the bar pretty high for us husbands on this one.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Ephesians 5:24 (NIV)

I think the biggest reason husbands don’t do better at loving their wives as Christ loves the church is because they don’t really know how Christ loves the church. Specifically, I’m calling you to invest yourself deeply into knowing the love of Christ through whom the tremendous emotions of God toward you are revealed. Men, you do your wife a great disservice if you shy away from your bridal identity, because it is only in the intimate knowledge of the love of your heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus, that you can truly know how to love their wives. This is so hugely important! Get over it and learn to be a bride of Christ.

A few chapters before Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church, he explains that the love of Christ is so vast as to be unknowable, yet he goes on to say that getting to know it is the very key to a full life in God (Ephesians 3:17-20). It is also the key to knowing what it means to love your wife with unconditional, passionate, pure, selfless love.

Loving your wife means loving her on her terms, not yours. Go back and read my recent post on how the top marital needs of men and women differ so greatly. Loving your wife how she needs to be loved will require you to become a student of your wife, learning how to delight her beyond her wildest dreams. It also requires a daily, consistent demonstration of that love through things like showing tender care, maintaining emotional intimacy and making sure she feels protected and safe.  This is not a quick fix or a sliver bullet. It’s a lifestyle of love.

Check out this amazing description of Christ’s love from earlier in Ephesians 5, just before Paul tells you that this is what you are to emulate.
Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Ephesians 5:2 (MSG)
Leading Your Wife

I believe, as I said in my last post, that God grants a certain authority to husbands in the ordered partnership of marriage.

I know that not everyone agrees with me on this. However, I think the reason so many people have a problem with the notion of husbands having authority in marriage is that they have the wrong paradigm. The authority they think of is the tyrannical corporate boss, the corrupt politician, or the heavy-handed drill sergeant. There are so many examples of authority and power being used incorrectly.

How are you to lead as a husband? Lead with love, like Jesus does. I believe that if the “love” part of your role is fully understood and acted upon (see above), the “lead” part of your role becomes a huge blessing to your wife. Without a good grip on the love part, the lead part can easily turn oppressive and self-serving.

Not all husbands will take up their authority, and not all husbands will wield their authority wisely or well. Regardless, I believe that the authority is theirs nonetheless, because I believe it is authority delegated from God the Father in accordance with his design for marriage. It is not a question of earning your authority, it is really a question of what you do with the authority you have already been granted.

I’ve mentioned before that by far the most common search that lands people on my site is “husband refuses to lead” or variants on the same. This search is followed closely by some combination of the words “husband” and “dictator.” Your goal is to never give your own wife a reason to Google either one!

Believe me when I say your wife probably longs for you to walk in your God-given authority. Yes, she wants you to lead her, but lead her with Christ-like love.

Serving Your Wife

Jesus came to serve and save the church through the ultimate sacrifice of giving his own life for her. Most of us husbands will never be called upon to serve our wives in this way, but we are called to serve them in the way we love and lead them on a daily basis.

How did Jesus serve those he loved? He washed their feet. He calmed their storms. He set them free from bondage. He led the way to the Father. He was full of grace and truth, light and life, peace and joy.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Philippians 2:5-7

Your authority in your marriage does not give you the right to simply make all the decisions or to tell your wife what to do. It comes with the right to lay down your life for her and to serve her. I hate the way some people portray the biblical order and husbandly authority as a thoughtless, disheveled man issuing edicts and orders from his Lazy boy. But you know what? There’s probably a reason, a really bad reason, for that stereotype.

My heart’s desire is to see millions of good, loving, strong husbands walking out their authority like Jesus, in such an exemplary and powerful fashion as to wreck these negative stereotypes forever.


A few related posts:




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Continue to Part 6:  Wives: Love, Respect and Submission


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Part 4 of “What I Believe About Marriage”


If you haven’t read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of my “What I Believe About Marriage” series, I encourage you to do so before reading this post. These definitely lay some important groundwork for the remainder of the series.

Today I’m jumping in with both feet. I fully expect some will be offended by what I have to say, though truthfully I expect that most of those who are easily offended stopped reading here long ago.

Let me state this clearly and without equivocation: I believe that God has ordained a specific order for marriage and families.

There, I said it. You still reading? I hope you’ll stay with me for the next few posts while I dig into this contentious and hotly debated topic, even if (maybe especially if) you disagree with my belief statement above.

Contrary to the way many imagine it, the martial order I speak of has rather little to do with who is the boss, who makes all the decisions, who has the power or a strict hierarchical structure.

Ordered Partnership

Though it is very difficult to describe my view of God’s ordained order for marriage in just a few words that cannot be quickly twisted and misconstrued, if I were forced to do so, I would describe it as an ordered partnership.

An ordered partnership in marriage is one in which husbands and wives have equal value and worth but differing roles. He loves, leads and serves her. She loves, honors and submits to him. Yeah I said submit. However, stay tuned for the Part 6 post to see more on what I think on the dreaded S-word. It’s probably not what you think.

Up front, however, let me be emphatically clear on this point, this is not about who is more and who is less, who is better or worse, smarter or dumber, stronger or weaker. It’s about having a God-ordained order in place in your marriage that reflects His design, as portrayed for us in the bridal paradigm picture of Jesus and the church.

The Authority Question

Now for sure, the “ordered” part does mean that I believe that God places unique authority and responsibility on husbands. However, the implications of the bridal paradigm for the authority question are vast and tend to stand in rather drastic contrast to what many understand about authority. I’ll be expounding more on what that is supposed to look like in my next post, a Man-Up Monday post aimed directly at husbands. Again, it’s probably not at all what you think, so check back, especially if you are skeptical about the concept of a husband’s authority.

What do you think of my description of the marital relationship as an ordered partnership?




Continue to Part 5:  Husbands:  Lead With Love


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Part 3 of “What I Believe About Marriage”


I started off this series (Part 1) by stating that I believe God is the creator and designer of marriage. In Part 2 I explained how I think there are some eternal, biblical principles that God has established. These are principles that we should not stray away from or weaken based on what we see or experience, but instead choose to believe that every marriage has the potential to reach the fullness of what God intends.

In both of those first two posts I made reference to the fact that the Bible often refers to Jesus as our Bridegroom and to you and me (the church) as His bride. Though there are other analogies for our spiritual relationship with God (Father/son, Cornerstone/building, etc.), none other is so powerful in its application to marriage.

This leads me to the second of my basic biblical marriage principals: God has revealed to us a template for the ideal marriage in the relationship between Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5, perhaps the Bible’s clearest and most informative passage on God’s marriage design, makes this principle rather clear:
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:31-32 (NKJ)

The first part of that passage (verse 31) refers back to God’s original institution of marriage, the one between Adam and Eve. Verse 32 then ties that institution directly the bridal relationship between Christ and the church. This is what I (and others) refer to as the bridal paradigm.

It is this bridal paradigm principle that has, more than any other, affected my understanding of my own marriage. As I began to dig deeper into this notion that I am the much-loved bride of Christ, I started to see all kinds of parallel principles between my spiritual relationship with Jesus and my martial relationship with my wife. Even though I’ve been going pretty hard after this notion for several years now, I still feel I am just on the very front end of understanding what Paul calls “a great mystery.”

As I move forward with this series and begin to discuss further what I believe about marriage, you will see this notion of the bridal paradigm pop up frequently. As I said, it is one of my core beliefs about marriage.

At the outset, however, I should clarify what I see as the limitations to the marriage analogy.
  • Jesus came as a man, but he was also fully God. Husbands are not gods or in any way exalted beings over wives. Period.
  • Jesus alone came to give us eternal life and no one but he has the power to forgive sins. A husband cannot be the “savior” of his wife, though he may well desire to be her “hero.”
  • Jesus is the perfect role model for all people, both men and women, and as such there are plenty of bridal paradigm principles that apply equally to men and women.
  • The bridal analogy of Jesus and the church obviously stops short of the sexual and physical relationship between husband and wife, though there are certainly spiritual parallels that do very aptly apply.

How brilliant for God to give us a living template of how he wants marriage to work!! At least I think so. What about you?



Continue to Part 4:  An Ordered Partnership


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