NEW! Intimate Connections

Take Our Current Survey

Three Things Survey

Answer a quick question about what you would like to have more of in your marriage

Popular Series

Click the arrow to show/hide series

Search Journey to Surrender

Blog Archive

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lessons from my 2013 blogging life

As the year 2013 draws to a close, I have been thinking a lot about what lessons I've learned from blogging this year. 

It's actually hard for me to summarize this year at Journey to Surrender. It is one in which I seriously considered ending my blogging endeavors altogether, although I ultimately decided that my heart won't allow me to lay it down - at least not yet.

The Weight

The state of marriage in the US weighs heavy on my heart. The news is mostly not very good. Marriage rates continue to trend down significantly.  More children than ever are being born out of wedlock and cohabitation rates have soared. People just aren't as marriage-minded as they used to be. These are the unhappy, hard facts.

Marriage weighs on my heart because I know these hard facts also weigh on God's heart. I am compelled to continue plugging away at this marriage thing because it matters to Him. A lot. Marriage was his creation, and it pains Him to see it demeaned and diminished.

The struggle for me is that I want to do much more than I am able to do. I want to reach more people with the great news of God's design for marriage. I want to write more, teach more, and help more couples discover and attain all that God has for their marriage.

The Wait

I've got  nearly 100 notes in my "Post Ideas" folder. I have dozens of initiatives waiting in the wings. I don't lack ideas, I lack time.And more time isn't in the cards for the foreseeable future. When you have a demanding full-time job, blogging is just hard.

I can see countless opportunities and ways to do this thing "better." The difference between where I am in marriage ministry and where I want to be is great - sometimes discouragingly so. I could give you a long list.

For now I continue to just do the next thing, to write the next post, even when it's been longer between posts than it should have been (as with this one). I do what I can in other areas, with social media, with book and other writing projects, and with leading small groups in our church.

I want to be faithful, and I will continue to press into what God has called me to while I wait for "what is" to catch up to "what could be."

Of course, it's not easy to wait while bearing a weight.

The Hope

What weight have you been bearing? What weight has you in a season of waiting for fulfillment? What area of your life do you see some misalignment between "what is" and "what could be?"

Is it the weight of wanting more out of your marriage? More emotional, physical or spiritual intimacy? More passion? More communication? More trust?

Do you struggle with the weight of financial burdens? Or health issues? Do you bear the weight of issues with your children or extended family? Unemployment or underemployment?

There is good news for those of us who wait with a weight. His name is Jesus, and He is our hope and our confidence that our wait is not in vain.

Let me encourage you (and myself) with some truth from the Word:
  • "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;" (Phil 1:6)
  • "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (James 1:4-5)
  • "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt 11:28-30)
  • May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews: 13:20-21)

Take Heart

Whatever you find yourself longing for, whatever you find yourself wanting and waiting for, take heart. God is good and has only good intentions for you and me. Even when I am not, He is eternally faithful.

Here are a few things you can do to help turn your season of waiting into one of hopeful and joyful anticipation:
  • Do the next thing you know to do.
  • Be faithful in the little things.
  • Pray. Pray a lot.
  • Practice being thankful. Out loud.
  • Soak up the promises of Scripture. Think on them often.
  • Release control to the Lord. He is trustworthy.
  • When you take control back, release it to him again.
Maybe you can tell that I mostly wrote this post for me. If you find yourself in a similar season of waiting with a weight, I hope it offers some encouragement to you as well.

I leave you/us with this blessing from Romans. This is my sincere prayer:

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy 
and peace in believing, 
that you may abound in hope 
by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13

photo credit: alphaspirit /

Monday, December 16, 2013

What Headship is not: the Nice Guy, the Dictator and the Loser.

I've mentioned before that the top Google searches that land folks on my blog consistently fall into one of two arenas.  The first is something like "my husband refuses to lead." The second, following closely behind in number of hits, is "my husband acts like a dictator" or something similar.

These two errors on the part of husbands point directly the dual edge sword of headship that I discussed in my last post. That is that husbands should follow Christ's example of being both strong and good in their role as head in their marriage.

I'll re-post the chart I developed for my last post below:

I proposed last time that the biblical model for your headship as husband is found in being both a good leader and good lover. Growing in your capacity in both the strength and goodness dimensions of your marriage is key to growing in Christlike headship.

My understanding of the biblical model for marriage is that you, as husband, have the role of head, "as Christ is head of the church." Being head is not a role you must earn or work for, it's yours by the fact that you chose to marry. I don't know why, but this is how God has ordained it. You are head even if you don't accept it or your wife does not acknowledge it. (If "head" has too many unhappy connotations, you can also use the words leadership or authority to describe this role).

Looking at the chart above, there are three ways in which your headship can fall short in the strong/good arena. These are worth watching out for, because we all fall into them from time to time.

The Nice Guy

Feminist indoctrination not withstanding, there are many wives longing for their husbands to stand up and take their leadership role seriously. Like I said, more wives come here looking for how to help make that happen than for any other reason.

I'm not making excuses, but the widespread push back against biblical headship, even within the church, has many men reluctant to lead their marriages. Some are afraid of being labeled misogynists or worse. Some have bought into the lie that there should be no distinction in the roles of men and women in marriage. Some have wives who contend for authority, even wives who claim to want their husbands to step up and lead! These men who are hesitant to stand up and take their leadership role seriously are what I call "Nice Guys."

Society and the church have churned out Nice Guys by the millions. They are pleasers who tend to avoid conflict. These are the men who leave most or all the decisions to their wives, either because they are totally disengaged or because their wives argue and put them down for every idea and hold past decisions over them indefinitely. Nice Guys often just give up, rather than rocking the boat or risking trying to lead.

Whatever the reason for their refusal to lead, these men don't realize that their weakness makes them unattractive to their wives over time. And their resulting disengagement leaves their wives feeling unloved and alone. It's not a formula for a passionate and intimate marriage and certainly not a lasting one.

It's Nice Guy husbands that pose the biggest threat to biblical marriage today, because their error is much more subtle and socially acceptable than the next group:

The Dictator

Selfish, controlling husbands give biblical headship a bad rap.

In days gone by, maybe 50 years ago, this was the number one problem with husbands in marriage. This kind of brutish, self-serving husband led to feminism and the desire for egalitarian marriage. Dictators are the reason the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction, giving rise to so many Nice Guys.

Unloving husbands who use their authority to control or coerce their wives are bad news. These are the men who are abusive and flaunt scriptures about wives being submissive to their husbands, all the while ignoring the scriptural mandate for them to love and lay down their lives for their wives.

The Loser

The husband who is both weak and unloving is double trouble.

This kind of husband is self-centered, but lacks the guts to act on it, at least openly. He doesn't care about what his wife needs or wants from him. He is only concerned for himself.  He will manipulate and deceive in order to get his way, but refuses to confront things head on.

The loser refuses to take responsibility for his actions and shifts blame onto his wife. He is controlled by fear, and his buried frustrations may bubble up to the surface as angry outbursts.

The loser doesn't refuse to lead because he in incapable, he refuses to lead because he doesn't care.

 - - - - -

I hope and pray that Nice Guy, Dictator, and Loser do not describe the way in which you act out your headship role in your marriage. In order to make my case clear I have described these non-Christlike behaviors in husbands in pretty strong terms. There are, of course, many less severe ways to screw up headship.  I know because I've done them all from time to time.

There is good news for us who mess up in our quest for biblical headship. It's called grace!  God is for you and for your marriage. His desire it to see you and your marriage thrive. Pray for the strength and skill to lead well and for a revelation of who Jesus is. Pray for your understanding of the love of Jesus to grow deeper, so you can love your wife in the same way. These are the prayers Paul prayed for the church in Ephesians 1 and 3, leading up to the chapter on marriage. These are the keys!
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Ephesians 1:17

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
Ephesians 3:17-18

 Be diligent. Vigorously pursue the kind of headship Jesus displays to us, his bride. When you screw up and slip into actions or words that are weak or unloving, admit your blunder and ask your wife to forgive you. She will admire you for it.

My point in stating what headship is not is to get you to be watchful over your role as husband and to strive diligently to be both strong and good. Your wife deserves that from you, and God is calling you to it.

A note to wives ignoring the headline and reading this post anyway: it is not your job to browbeat, manipulate or judge your husband if he happens to fall into one of the non-Christlike quadrants, even occasionally. It is not your job to correct or coerce him. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. Don't even think of forwarding this to your husband!

Your job is to concentrate on your role in your marriage. In a few weeks, in a Wives Only Wednesday post,  I'll be looking at two dimensions of the your role in your marriage. You'll definitely want to check back for those.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Strength and goodness are independent variables in the equation of a husband's biblical leadership.

Welcome to my revamped and renamed series for husbands. If you are a long-time reader, you'll note the name change from "Man Up Monday" to "Men only Monday."

There are two basic reasons for the change. First, the term "man-up," intended as a slightly tongue-in-cheek expression, was misinterpreted by some as an accusation or indictment against men in general. I don't want to come across as husband-bashing.

Second, I use "Wives only Wednesdays" for my occasional mid-week posts directed at wives. That title rightly indicates a broader focus than just the role of wives in a biblical marriage. The Men Only title will also clarify that the occasional series for men is similarly broad in scope.

One of my goals for 2014 is to more regularly address husbands and wives separately through Men Only Monday and Wife Only Wednesday posts.

Enough with that, on to today's post.

Real Headship

The degree of misunderstanding and consequent outrage over what it means for a husband to be the "head" of his wife is a continual source of frustration for me. It's also a source of motivation for me to work diligently to educate and inform about this contentious issue with clarity and biblical backing.

I'm not going to spend any time in this post revisiting the arguments over the Greek lexicon or whether kephale actually means head. I've read and researched extensively on both sides and can only interpret Ephesians 5 to mean the husband is intended by God to have a kind of authority in marriage. Call it authority, call it leadership, call it headship, call it whatever you will, but whatever term you use, just make Jesus your definition of it.

Charting Biblical Headship

So the question to me is not so much whether  or not you, as a husband, have a God-ordained headship role in your marriage, but rather what that should look like.

I came across something on another blog recently that got me thinking about the attributes of strength and goodness and how these are really independent variables from each other in framing a husband's authority.

Confusing or equating these two attributes of your leadership can lead to a lot of confusion and mistaken understanding. To lend some clarity to this concept, I've put together the chart below:

What the chart clearly depicts is that there is only one quadrant that fits the biblical description of  how you should walk out your authority: with significant degrees of both strength and goodness.

In my next Monday post I'll go a little deeper into what biblical headship is not, by digging into the other three quadrants. But today I want to focus on the "Christ-like" quadrant.

A Strong Husband

The strength axis is a measure of your degree of leadership in your marriage (and family). Rather than being measured by how many decisions you make or rules you set forth, it's measured by your degree of emotional and physical presence. Yes, decisiveness is necessary and often helpful, but it's not the primary measure of leadership.

Demonstrate your leadership strength through your engagement with and involvement in the day to day life of your family. Be vigilantly aware of what's going on and how what's going on affects your wife and family. Be a proactive leader by stepping in and taking action when things start to go off track before crisis sets in.

Christlike leadership also looks like reliable provision, consistent protection, clear direction and unwavering trustworthiness.

A Good Husband

Goodness in a husband, to me, relates most directly to how he loves and serves his wife.

The tricky part of goodness is that "goodness" looks different for different women. Do you know what words and actions best say "I love you" to your wife? Do you do them on a consistent (daily) basis?

For many wives, love needs to be expressed in the form of feeling emotionally connected and knowing that her needs are understood and important to you. These require a significant degree of communication through conversation with your wife, not something all men are skilled at or comfortable with. Then it requires that you act in a manner consistent with your understanding.

Goodness means expressing your leadership with the heart of a servant. Self-serving leadership is what gives biblical marriage a bad rap, and it will cause your wife to resist your leadership and withhold her submission. Selfless leadership is what Jesus models for us. Learn from His example.

What do you think of the way I've charted biblical headship? Did I miss anything significant in the chart above? Share your thoughts in a comment.

Next: What Headship is Not
Friday, December 6, 2013

In addition to buying gifts for your spouse, I suggest that you also consider giving a gift to your marriage.

In today's post I've suggested a number of excellent marriage books all geared toward fueling the sexual intimacy in your marriage. Many of the resources listed below are in the form of ebooks, which allow you to make an investment in your marriage inexpensively.

To purchase through the affiliate links below, simply click on the book image.  By doing so, you'll be helping to support this ministry.

Pursuit of Passion
Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage
by Jeffrey Murphy, Julie Sibert, Glynis Murphy and Randall Sibert

Mini Review:
  • This would be a great book to give each other, because it's written for both husbands and wives and explores both sides of the sexual equation.
  • I appreciate the way the book explores sexual intimacy from all sides, spiritual, emotional and physical aspects.
  • From the book's authors: "we offer you detailed suggestions on building your sexual connection and pleasure, as well as overcoming common struggles that rob couples of authentic sexual intimacy.
How to Give It:
  • Husbands or Wives can give this ebook. I suggest printing the cover page, putting it in an envelope and tagging it from you to "Our Marriage."
  • I suggest you read it separately, but discuss each chapter together by answering the "Going Deeper Together" questions at the end of each chapter.

 Sex Savvy
A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Wives
by J. Parker

Mini Review:
  • Written for wives by J. Parker, the creator of the Hot, Holy and Humorous blog.
  • Packed with practical how-to tips culled with a smattering of sexual theology, J has pulled this convenient compendium from the pages of her witty and informative blog.
  • From J "Do you want to be a hottie in the bedroom without sacrificing holiness? Would you like someone to share real-life tips on making the most of God’s gift of sexual intimacy in marriage? In Sex Savvy, author J. Parker of Hot, Holy & Humorous gives candid advice for wives on everything from kissing to oral sex to orgasm to sexual positions—all from a Christian perspective."
Giving Suggestions:
  • Men, DO NOT buy this for your wife! It will likely convey to her a message of inadequacy. I would suggest Pursuit of Passion instead.
  • Ladies, buy this ebook for yourself. Print a copy of the cover and put it in a card for your  husband with a little note (use your imagination).
  • Alternately, wives could put this on your Christmas list.  Put a ;-) by it.

31 Days of Great Sex
By Sheila Wray Gregoire

Mini Review:
  • Written as a series of 31 daily challenges, this ebook comes from the author of "To Love Honor and Vaccuum" blog.
  • The challenges walk through the emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of your sexual relationship.
  • Each daily entry has a few pages of background on the topic, plus exercises to do individually and together as a couple.

Giving Suggestions:
  • Consider giving this gift to each other and doing the challenge during January to kick off the new year by focusing deliberately on building up your sex life.

Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex
by Sheila Wray Gregoire

Mini Review:
  • Available in both ebook and paperback form, this is another great resource from Sheila Gregoire to help wives fuel the sexual intimacy in their marriage.
  • I read this book when it came out last year and found it to be full of great advice.
  • From Amazon: "In the Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex, author Sheila Wray Gregoire helps women see how sexual intimacy was designed to be physically stupendous but also incredibly intimate."
Giving Suggestions:
  • Men, DO NOT buy this for your wife! It will likely convey to her a message of inadequacy. I would suggest Pursuit of Passion instead.
  • Ladies, buy this ebook for yourself. Print a copy of the cover and put it in a card for your  husband with a little note (use your imagination).
  • Alternately, wives could put this on your Christmas list.  Put a ;-) by it.

If you've read any of these, feel free to leave your review in the comments!

We Have Moved!

Journey to Surrender
is now

Stay here if you want to search old content.

Click on over if you want to see the latest and greatest!

Connect With Us

Subscribe by email and never miss a post!

New subscribers will receive a free copy of my ebook :

How to Have a Succ-Sex-Full Marriage

My new Heaven Made Marriage Facebook page has lots of extra marriage-related stuff not found on my blog.

Follow Journey to Surrender on Twitter: @marriagejourney.

Subscribe via

Member of:
Christian Marriage Bloggers Association Members Badge

Contributing Writer: