The Serenity Prayer column is published on the first Friday of each month in 2019. We’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today.

” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will…”


The typical image of surrender is a criminal with hands raised above their head signaling that their hands are free of any weapons. While we may not be a common criminal who has been caught breaking the law, scripture tells us that stubborn willfulness, which is nothing less than pride, is one of the worst sins against God.

The LORD detests all the proud of heart.

Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

~ Proverbs 16:5

Lucifer, before his fall, was one of the angelic hosts in heaven. But because of his beauty his heart became pridefully and he saw himself greater than God. He coveted God’s power and rebelled against God’s authority. God then cast Satan out of heaven along with one-third of the angels who were in league with him.

Pride brings a person low,

but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

~ Proverbs 29:23

When we hold on to what we will for our lives instead of surrendering to God’s will for our life this is the sin of pride. By humbling ourselves, trusting in God’s will and plan for our lives we put ourselves in a position to be honored.

So then, surrender to God.

Stand up to the devil, resist him

and he will turn and run away from you.

~ James 4:7

Surrender can be a scary thing. Letting go of our plans and trusting the unknown can be uncomfortable. The faith-walk is definitely not for the faint of heart! Even getting to a place where we’re able to surrender is difficult at times.

A process of steps is helpful here:

    1. Silence and Solitude: Beginning the process of surrender I must first find some silence and solitude. Actual silence and solitude may be impossible depending on the particular situation or circumstance. I may need to inwardly find the silence and solitude when in a crowded environment.
    2. Settle in Peace: Having found some silence and solitude I must then settle my anxious mind from worry. Maybe I’ve been reliving yesterday’s regret or fretting tomorrow’s uncertainty. Either way, I must find some mental peace. To help settle my mind I imagining a boat floating across a lake or river.
    3. Surrender Mind Body and Soul: To get to the place of surrender that I’m seeking I close my eyes and visualize myself floating on my back in a swimming pool. The peaceful stillness of the water holds my anxiety at bay and allows me to rest in God’s loving hands. I am then able to be fully surrendered in the moment, mind body and soul and to what God has for me here.

As we listen to this wonderful song by Matt Redman let’s contemplate surrendering to Christ’s power working in, through and for us. With our arms held high and our hands open grasping nothing, we can give ourselves over to God’s loving grace that brings us what’s best in His perfect timing.


One of the biggest challenges for the recovering person is getting to the place of surrender. Not only is this important, it is critical to the recovery process. This can be a tough, especially for those of us who are stubborn and willful! Before we will truly surrender we may have to go to the darkest of all places, possibly near death.

What does it mean to surrender your life?

The sense of not knowing can be paralyzing for some. We can’t go back but we can’t go forward either. We’re stuck sinking in our own quicksand of uncertainty and doubt.

How can we save ourselves? 

Surrender: to yield to the possession or power of another; to give oneself up to an influence, to abandon or relinquish; to resign; submit.

When I read Webster’s definitions I see myself walking in sin and addiction having already surrendered; just to the wrong side. I had yielded my power and abandoned myself to my addiction and the evil forces driving it.

Usually, when we think of surrendering, we think of a criminal surrendering to the police with their hands up; or perhaps in the old westerns and war movies — someone waving the white flag of surrender to the opposing forces. In these situations the surrendering party believes they have given up any hope of victory. These are good images of surrender because that is exactly what we must do when we surrender. We have to give up. But when we surrender ourselves to God we actually have hope for real victory.

The key element in the process of true surrender is accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. Until we do we are trying to do everything in our own power and we know how that works – it doesn’t! We must first humble ourselves before God, fall on our face and confess our sins; acknowledge Jesus’ death on the cross and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. Jesus Christ took the pain we suffer in addiction to the cross. Why should we want to continue to carry that ourselves? Healing begins immediately when we give ourselves over to Him and let him carry our burdens for us.

Surrender means to relinquish control over what we consider ours: our property, our time, our “rights”. To properly surrender to God we are simply acknowledging that what we “own” actually belongs to Him. But not just what we own, what we think and do also are His. He is the Giver of all good things. Also, the degree in which we surrender determines the degree in which we grow in our character. So if we are still holding on to something, by not surrendering it to God, that can inhibit our potential for spiritual growth and full recovery.

Similar to salvation, surrender is a gift we receive from God; we can’t will it for ourselves. But also like salvation, the gift of surrender requires a response from us: acceptance. And there must be fruit: a changed life! Actually living a life surrendered to God is so much easier than trying to do it on our own. But it is a daily choice, sometimes moment by moment, with every breath. So stop right now and do a few deep breathing exercises…God’s way in, my way out… You may not be happy about it right now, but in the bigger picture of life, you’ll be glad you chose to surrender your pain, your addiction, your life — to God.


So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. ~ I Peter 5:6-7




Image Credit: christingasner / 123RF Stock Photo

Celebrate Discipline :: SUBMISSION


SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: habits that nurture spiritual growth; exercises unto godliness.

SUBMISSION : aligning my will and freedom with God’s will and freedom; submitting to others in love and reverence for Christ.

“Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.” ~ Romans 12:1

The Discipline of Submission has been abused by our culture and by religion. When we make the Discipline the goal it puts the wrong emphasis on it. The Disciplines themselves are a means to an end. They themselves are not the goal. Their value is the means God uses to give us the freedom we seek.

The freedom that corresponds with the Spiritual Discipline of Submission is the ability to lay down the burden of always getting our own way. It helps when we realize that the world won’t end if we don’t get what we want. It may be painful today, but life does go on. It’s up to me to trust that what God wants is far better for me than what I want.

In Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster we see Submission functions in several ways:

  1. The first act of submission is to the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. We are to yield our mind, body and spirit for His purpose; living each day in an attitude of surrender.
  2. The second act of submission is to God’s Word. As we submit ourselves to Holy Scripture we look to the Holy Spirit for interpretation and application to our life.
  3. The third act of submission is to our family. With a submissive heart family members graciously make allowances for each other, listen and share as required.
  4. The fourth act of submission is to our neighbors. By performing small acts of kindness, sharing food or tools, caring for children, we are acting with a submissive heart. 
  5. The fifth act of submission is to the Christian community. Just as in our family and our neighborhood, we are called to serve the members of the body of Christ. Serving poor, the sick, or simply working in nursery can all be acts of submission.
  6. The sixth act of submission is to the despised and broken in our world. Like Mother Teresa and others before her we must find ways to identify with those who are rejected.
  7. The seventh act of submission is to our world at large. We don’t live in isolation. Our environmental responsibility affects people around the world and generations to come. We must live daily with the future in mind.

While these six areas of submission are all vital, the primary one I’m focusing on is the first. I believe when we yield our mind, body and spirit to God the others will fall in place. 

There’s no doubt that submitting ourselves to God is the most difficult of all. For me it is a daily, sometimes moment by moment, challenge. But as we keep Christ front and center of our Spiritual Disciplines we will be drawn closer to his heart and He will make the rest possible.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What experiences with submission have you had?

If you can’t see the screen below CLICK HERE to watch this week’s music video by Aaron Shust.


Celebrate Discipline by Richard Foster
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
So You Want To Be Like Christ by Charles Swindoll
The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard

Photo credit: designpics / 123RF Stock Photo

Living Life Lessons :: EFFECTIVE LIVING

In the Living Life Lessons column each month I’m sharing various lessons God has taught me over these last eight years. Today I want to talk about living effective lives.

Whether we recognize it or not our lives effect others. If we want to have a healthy effect on our circle of influence we need to take care how we live.

Our strategy for effective living begins with SEEKING WISDOM. Some of us were fortunate to have parents that taught us right from wrong, others maybe not. So where can we find wisdom? The Bible says that wisdom comes from fearing God. This isn’t the trembling-in-your-boots kind of fear, but rather a reverential fear–appreciating God for who He is.

The second requirement in our strategy for effective living is MORAL APPLICATION. Once we have reverential fear we begin trusting in God. By allowing His Word to speak to us personally we come to place of obedience. Our heart lines up with what Scripture says, our spirit is convicted by the Holy Spirit and that makes us ready for changed actions.

The third requirement for effective living is PRACTICAL APPLICATION.  Our hearts have been softened by God’s Word, we’ve sought His wisdom and have begun to obey in our actions. These are often challenges to our daily lives. For me the only answer is to keep God’s Word close to my heart and mind throughout the day. That may mean carrying a 3×5 Scripture card with me everywhere I go.

Results of practicing the above three steps is a healthy, positive and EFFECTIVE LIFE. How do we know? We will begin to actually experience what God does as He honors our obedience. It may not happen right away but we must trust, have faith and expect to see God’s blessing pour out. Just like earthly parents, God loves when His children are obedient and He promises to give us a reward!

Over the last few years I’ve been able to put these steps into practice. There have been times when it was easy and other times, like now, were more difficult.  Today God has me under His refining fire again, taking me to a higher level, which always means change and a deeper surrender to His will for my life.  But as I’m working this process again, I’m going back to what I know works… pulling out my 3×5 cards and relearning some lessons.

My child, listen to me and do as I say and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. If you live a life guided by wisdom, you won’t limp or stumble as you run. Carry out my instructions; don’t forsake them. Guard them, for they will lead you to a fulfilled life. ~ Proverbs 4: 10-12

Do you have a system in place that helps you make needed changes in your life?

If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE for one of my new favorite Hillsong videos!

Life Application Study Bible
Life Recovery Bible

Photo credit: imagehitasia / 123RF Stock Photo

The Road to Recovery :: Step 6


STEP SIX: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”~ James 4:10

PRINCIPLE FIVE (Celebrate Recovery): Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.  

“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” ~ Matthew 5:6

In the previous steps, as we began removing the addictions and dependencies from our life, we came face to face with our deeper character defects and discovered a lot of brokenness inside.  Facing our brokenness can be overwhelming and painful.  But if we’ve made it this far we must be ready for God to change us. 

Thankfully God doesn’t measure us on how hard we work. But rather on the condition of our heart. He wants us to mourn over our sins and admit our brokenness. When we bring our brokenness to Him, He promises to forgive us, comfort us and cleanse us. Along with this cleansing God will satisfy our emotional hunger and help us overcome our character defects.

To go forward we must die to our old coping mechanisms. These comfortable “friends” who carried us in troubled times can no longer be a part of our life. But with the loss of anything familiar they need a proper burial. We must turn away from our defective ways, cover the shame with God’s love and allow ourselves time to mourn the loss. 

I can look back with fond memories knowing my defects are no longer my friends.

A difficult part of working Step 6 is not knowing who we will be when our defects are gone. They may have caused a lot of pain and suffering in the past, but at least this defective person is familiar. 

Who will we be without our character defects? 

Will our friends and loved ones still accept us when we become this new person?
The bigger question we need to ask is: “Are we really willing for God to remove all our addictions and dependencies?” The truth is we can’t even become willing without God’s help!

We must be honest with ourselves and realize we may never be “entirely” ready for God to remove our defects of character. What’s important is that we stay close to God and keep moving in the right direction. As we do we will get as close to being ready as possible. When we do our part, God will meet us there and take us the rest of the way. 

In fact, by dying on the cross, Jesus met us more than half way! He went all the way for our faults, failures and addictions. It helps me to visualize my specific areas of weakness nailed on the cross with Christ.  

It is only on the Cross of Christ that our defects of character can be removed. 

Dear God, thank you for bringing me this far on my recovery journey. I ask for Your help to make me entirely ready to change all my character defects. Give me the strength to deal with all I have turned over to you. Allow me to accept these changes you are making in my life. Help me be the person You want me to be. In Jesus Christ’s name… Amen

CLICK HERE for our Road to Recovery theme song.

Life Recovery Bible
Celebrate Recovery Bible
The Twelve Steps for Christians

HEALING HURTS :: 2 Steps to Overpower Anger

Can you hear the scream?  How many times have you found yourself in this position?

There was a time in my life when I looked just like this photo. I was so full of anger that I couldn’t function normally. God showed me a vision of a volcano boiling deep inside my spirit; bubbling up and overflowing, the anger spewed out of my mouth with vulgar hateful words followed by actions that destroyed anything in my path. 

On the surface my anger was directed mostly at God because my husband and I had been betrayed by some Christian friends. Below the surface I had unknown childhood hurts and wounds that fueled the raging fire I carried within. I managed my pain with substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors which only fueled the fire. Soon my anger was out of control and so was my life. Then my loving Heavenly Father put me in a time out compliments of the county jail. It was the best thing that ever happened to me!

When anger runs our lives we are a danger to ourselves and to those around us. Uncontrolled anger is devastating and no one is exempt from its repercussions. It destroys marriages, shatters friendships, brings down businesses, breeds violence in our communities and war among nations.

There are many reasons to be angry today. Just watching the news can get tempers flaring. The world has us running hard and fast with emotions in a frenzied state. Millions are unemployed and those fortunate to have jobs are over committed, overworked and often underpaid.  Many people are outraged with their corporate pensions slashed, homes lost, or suffering with painful debilitating illnesses.

Anger is an emotion that centers on getting control. With God’s hand seemingly absent we take over the situation. Anger clouds our judgment as we become consumed with problems and pain. Before we know it our anger escalates from a simmering indignation to a blazing rage.

What can we do to keep anger from taking control?

**2 Steps to Overpower Anger:

  1. Ask yourself: Can I change the situation?
  2. Take action:  If you can change the situation, change it. If not, release it to God.

These steps may seem oversimplified but they are basic common sense. The challenge is dealing with our emotions. Once we can step back from the situation and remove our emotions, all we need to do is access the situation and our ability to change it. If we can’t change it the only thing left to do is give it to God.

My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done. ~ James 1:19-20 (Contemporary English Version)

Acknowledging our powerlessness over situations we humbly go to God not demanding our rights but surrendering ourselves and the situation to God. We may feel powerless, but in fact we are the only one with the power to release our anger to God. No one else can do that for us. Once we release our anger God will give us the grace to overcome it. 

In what recent situations have you struggled with anger? 

How are you dealing with your anger?

Meditate on Surrender with Hillsong.

**Biblical Counseling Keys: Anger~Facing the Fire Within by June Hunt and Hope for the Heart

Walking Through Steps Two and Three…

Step Two
We came to believe that a Power greater that ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step Three
We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.

In October 2004, my husband, Bill, and I attended a marriage seminar where Dr. Doug Weiss taught on Intimacy in Marriage. At this seminar, I became aware for the first time that I was a sex addict and saw my powerlessness over my addiction. (see Working Step One blog below)

Steps 2 and 3 go hand in hand for me. I can’t really separate them, because the time in which the changes took place is so closely related. For me Step 2 was really about coming to the end of myself. Realizing, that I could no longer carry the weight of my addiction/guilt/shame. Some people don’t like the part…admitting insanity…but like the saying goes… “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” That sounds like the definition of addiction to me…so addiction and insanity must go hand in hand. Step 3 was finally getting to a place where I knew I had to give it all up and totally surrender to God’s will for my life, no matter what it meant. Anything could be better than what I had been doing for myself.

At this point in my life, I was a practicing Buddhist. Intuitively I knew I had a spiritual problem, but in my stubborn pride I wasn’t going to go to God for help. Instead I went the Eastern Philosophy/Indian Mystic route. One day in November 2004, I was upstairs in my prayer closet, reading and meditating on the Buddhist bible. I wanted so much for the teachings to sink in; to internalize them, for them to come alive in me. I even tried to memorize portions. But it simply wouldn’t stick. I’ll never forget, God spoke to my spirit at that moment and told me– those words won’t stick because they aren’t the Truth. I never read it again.

It was nearing Christmas season and Bill very sweetly, offered to take me around Houston to some local church celebrations. I cautiously agreed, but went with a good attitude. We went to a Living Christmas Tree choir program, A Christmas Antique Car parade, and finally a live reenactment of the Bethlehem city, where tour guides took us through the different events from the night of Christ’s birth.

Over that period of two weeks, God had been gently tugging at my heart strings, inviting me to come back home to Him. Softly whispering to me that He still loved me, no matter what I had done. Our son, John, had come home from Denver for Christmas, and Bill asked if we could all go to church as a family. John and I both reluctantly agreed.

I can’t tell you what Dr. Young preached about that morning, I just knew it was time to make things right. On the Sunday morning after Christmas, December 26, 2004, at 2nd Baptist Church in Houston, I was born again. Walking down the isle that morning was like an out of body experience. My body, just got up and went. Sobbing uncontrollably, certain, I wasn’t worthy to be received, yet desperate for God.

Since 2004, God has been so gracious to give me a deep hunger for His Word. Through the Bible and my different studies God has brought about incredible healing in my life, my marriage and my family. Sure, there is still some work to be done. But one thing I know for sure… I may not be where I want to be, but thank God, I’m not where I used to be!

God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases Him. — Philippians 2:13