FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Who Will You Surrender To?

with Dennis Rainey | April 14, 2011
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The ultimate issue in your marriage and in every aspect of your existence is deciding who or what you will surrender to. Dennis Rainey challenges the listener to fully surrender to the One who matters most.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • The ultimate issue in your marriage and in every aspect of your existence is deciding who or what you will surrender to. Dennis Rainey challenges the listener to fully surrender to the One who matters most.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

The ultimate issue in your marriage and in every aspect of your existence is deciding who or what you will surrender to.

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Who Will You Surrender To?

With Dennis Rainey
April 14, 2011
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Bob:  On the battlefield, surrender is often associated with disgrace and defeat.  In our spiritual lives, surrender is where we begin to find life.  Here’s Dennis Rainey.

Dennis:  What does surrender look like?  It’s a long obedience in the same direction -- little steps of faith followed by thousands of steps of faith, stumbling, getting up, stumbling, getting up, but still following.

Bob:  This is FamilyLifeToday for Thursday, April 14th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  We’ll hear today how spiritual surrender can change not only your life, but your legacy – your children’s lives and your grandchildren’s lives as well. 

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition.  When we were onboard the FamilyLife Love Like You Mean It Cruise back a few weeks ago, I remember hearing a conversation from somebody who had heard your message the last night we were onboard the boat.  You spoke to everybody who was there, and in fact, we had the whole ship.  Every stateroom was somebody who was onboard the cruise to be a part of our group.

Dennis:  I’ve been on cruises before with another Christian leader, and have spoken at those events, and there have been 400 or 500 people, and there are 2000 people onboard.  That’s a different type of cruise.

Bob:  It’s a different feel.

Dennis:  We had the whole boat.  2300 people, and you know, by the time it was over, Bob – this is a cool story – we had impacted the people who served us.  They had watched The Art of Marriage, which is our new video conference.  We put it on the video screens in all the rooms to be looping through the entire video conference 24/7. 

We found out that the crew was staying up until 3:00 in the morning to watch it, because they knew we were going to hit port the next morning and they hadn’t seen all six sessions.  And the maitre d stood up in front of all the people eating dinner – you eat dinner in two shifts, and he said the same thing in both shifts.  He said, “The crew has all voted.  We want to take you with us on all of our cruises.”

Bob:  He said in 19 years of being on board a ship this was his favorite group of customers.  Now do you think –

Dennis:  He’s said that before, to all the groups –

Bob:  Does he say that every week?  But you did have a sense that the crew really did enjoy meeting our listeners and being a part of the event.  It was a great week.  I remember after you had presented your message on the last night, somebody who had not been in to hear it said to somebody else, “What did Dennis talk about?”  Whoever it was who they asked, he just said “Well, it was classic Bill Bright.”  That’s what they said.

You gave a message on surrender, and here we were onboard a marriage cruise where we’d been talking about marriage themes.  But you tied it together by saying the ultimate issue in your marriage, in your life, in every aspect of our existence, is who is your master?  Who are you surrendered to?

Dennis:  Yes, and we don’t hear messages like this it doesn’t seem to me much anymore, and I felt compelled to give a wrap-up message just challenging people – hey, come back to the Savior and let’s make sure we’re all settled up here and you are fully surrendered to the One who matters most.

Bob:  Well, we’re going to share it with our listeners today.  This is part two of Dennis’ message on surrender from the Love Like You Mean It cruise here a few weeks ago.

Dennis:  What does surrender look like?  Let me give you three thoughts about that.  Number one:  total relinquishment of your life to Jesus Christ.  Signing it all over.  It is the unequivocal abandonment of the rights of your life to Jesus Christ. 

I like what Jesus said over in John chapter 12.  Again, he does not mince words.  He lays it on the line.  In John 12, verses 24-25, and I’m going to read an extra one here.  He said, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone.  But if it dies it bears much fruit.” 

Now listen to what Jesus said about finding life.  “Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves me, he must follow me and where I am, there will my servant be also.  If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”  What’s Jesus saying?  Trust me.  Yield to me.  Give it up.

Barbara and I did this, not only in college, but we formalized it in our first year of marriage at our first Christmas.  I think the date was December 17th, 1972.  And before we gave each other anything, we both wrote out a Title Deed to our Lives. 

I’m going to tell you, if I’d brought these Title Deeds to show you, because we opened them like twenty years later, some of the stuff we’d written on there was silly.  What we thought was important was absurd.  But you know to us at that moment, it was precious.  It was what we were struggling with, and so we signed over the Title Deeds to our Lives and signed it over, and gave it all to him and said as a couple, “Whatever you want to do, wherever you want to take us, wherever you want us to go, we’ll go.” 

When we opened those envelopes twenty years later, what God had given us in terms of life, in terms of abundance – and I’m not talking about material abundance, although we enjoy that to a great extent in America more than any other people on the planet – I’m just talking about friends, I’m talking about community, I’m talking about life, I’m talking about family.  You see, when you give it up to Jesus Christ, what he gives back is the adventure like none other.  Total relinquishment of your life to Christ.

Secondly, a long obedience in the same direction.  What does surrender look like?  It’s a long obedience in the same direction.  It’s little steps of faith, made over and over and over again, tens of thousands of times.  You come into a relationship with Jesus Christ by faith.  You walk with him, you surrender to him, you experience him day by day, by faith.  It is stepping out, trusting what God is doing, and wants to do in and through you.  It may be a simple matter in stepping into someone’s life, to touch their lives around a very personal small matter, but for you it’s an act of faith.  That’s important. 

It’s a long obedience in the same direction.  Hebrews 12:1-3 talks about this, actually 1 and 2.  It says, “Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself so that you may not grow weary or faint-hearted.”

One step at a time, trusting Jesus Christ for who he is, that he is the King.  It’s a life that listens to what God is asking you to do and then does it.  Imagine that!  I am trying to do more and more of what I’m sensing the prompting of God’s Spirit in my life to do; to say something to someone, to step out and minister, to give, to be a part of someone’s life and not just merely question myself, should I do that or should I not do that? 

The older I get, I take heart the great quote by C.H. Spurgeon, the great English preacher.  He said, “It was by perseverance the snail reached the ark.”  Sliming my way to the finish line.  You don’t have to do it perfectly.  You’re going to be surrendering your life over and over and over again to Christ.  It’s like peeling an onion, getting deeper and deeper in your commitment.  He reveals more of that.

Third, it means a battlefield assignment on the front lines.  Some of our wounded warriors could tell us about this.  Far too many Christians today think that life takes place on a romantic balcony, not on a spiritual battlefield.  They’ve traded the battlefield for a playground.  And again, I’m not against playing.  I’m not against having fun; I have a lot of fun.  I have my hobbies – both Barbara and I do.  But you know what?  I want to be with the King of Kings and be a part of overcoming evil on this planet, and pushing back against what the Devil of Hell wants to do to destroy marriages and families for generations that follow.

A.W. Tozer put his finger on this with a very interesting quote comparing our day with a day long gone.  Listen to what he said about the original founders of America, and their style of Christianity. 

“In the early days,” he said, “when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men conceived the world to be a battleground.  Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell as constituting one force, and they believed in God and righteousness and heaven as the other.  Man, so our fathers held, had to choose sides.  He could not be neutral. 

“For him it must be life or death, heaven or hell, and if he chose to come out on God’s side, he could expect open war with God’s enemies.  The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here below.  The Christian soldier never forgot” –listen to this – “The Christian soldier never forgot what kind of world he lived in.  It was a battleground, and many were the wounded and the slain.”

Are you on a war footing?  Are you going into battle armored up?  Are you on a mission for the King?  If not, what is your mission?  Why are you here?  What’s God got you here for?  It may be your mission right now is as simple as caring for and nurturing the next generation.  Moms, there is no more significant calling than that. Dads, protecting your family spiritually the same. 

Tozer made this statement about the spiritual battle.  He said, “But I’ll tell you something.  It’s a delightful thing when you know you’re close enough to the adversary that you can hear him roar.  Too many Christians never get into lion country at all.”  You ever heard him roar?  Have you been on the battlefield?

Well, what does it mean to surrender to Jesus Christ?  Let me just put a little more of an explanation to it. 

  • Jesus Christ didn’t come to take sides; he came to take over.
  • Jesus Christ didn’t come to be a spare tire; he came to be the owner and driver of your life. 
  • Jesus Christ didn’t come to have your attention for two hours a week on Sunday.  He came to be the center of your affection and attention and focus of your existence.
  • Jesus Christ didn’t come to have your half-hearted partial love.  Instead he came to command us to love him with all our hearts.
  • Jesus Christ didn’t come just to be our Savior from God’s wrath, judgment and hell.  No, he came also to be our Lord and master, so you can taste heaven now. 
  • Jesus Christ didn’t come just to be your buddy or a pal; he came to be feared, to be reverenced, to stand in his awe and to be worshipped and then obeyed. 
  • Jesus Christ didn’t come to satisfy all your needs and wants; he came to enlist you in his army and do his work here on this planet. 
  • Jesus Christ didn’t come to just give you life.  Listen to this:  He came to live in you and through you and love others and impact their lives through you.
  • And finally, Jesus Christ didn’t come just to give you a happy marriage and a holy huddle as a family.  He came to use your marriage; he came and redeemed your marriage and your family to use you to change the world.

I want to close with a great illustration of what I’m talking about.  I have a very odd habit.  I collect and keep in my Bible funeral programs.  Now you may think that’s odd.  Well, if you read Ecclesiastes 7 it really isn’t. 

Ecclesiastes 7 says it is “good to go to the house of mourning, because in the end the living take it to heart.”  And so I’ve got three of these.  I’ve got my mom’s, 91 years old.  Here’s Mary Grace Tucker, an eleven-year-old little girl, whose dad said at the funeral, “I refuse to ask the question ’why’ until I am standing before the only one who can answer that question.” 

And then, there’s this one:  James Edgar Chip Whitmore, Jr.  I got to tell you how I came to attend this funeral.  It’s fascinating.  It was in a staff meeting one day, and staff meeting ended and I was interrupted by this gentleman coming down the aisle with a microphone in his hand.  He said, “Dennis, Dennis, the meeting’s not over.  I’ve got something I need to do.” 

He came all the way down to the second row, right down here, and he knelt before a young lady whose name is Karen, and he said to her, “I want you to know that I love you and I want to leave a different legacy than the one I’ve been given.  Will you marry me?”  And of course she said “yes” and all the women in the audience oohed and aahed and it was a great staff meeting.  What a way to end it, you know? 

Well, I got back to my office and I go, “I’d like to know what was behind that little phrase, “I want to leave a different legacy than the one I was given.”  So I wrote him an email and asked him, “What’s behind that?”  He wrote me back and told me that he was the only son of his father, who had been married 15 times, some for only six weeks, and that he wanted to do something with his life that left a different legacy than his father had left. 

So the question is really two-fold for you.  Will you surrender your life to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?  Will you participate and get involved in a lifetime of surrender, but beginning at a point of saying, “You’ve got me.  Let’s go.”  You pick yourself up when you fail.  Will you do that?

But a second thing I want to challenge you to do:  maybe you’re already surrendered.  Will you obey him and do what he wants you to do?  And I’m hoping that some in here will step out on the battlefield of marriages and families to push back on the evil that threatens the church, a nation – actually, the nations of the world – and make an impact by becoming a homebuilder and making a difference where you live, and be a part of a group of people who say, “I refuse, we refuse to do nothing about a crisis in the Christian family and in the family of the culture, and we want to be a part of the solution by taking the Gospel to them.”

Bob:  Well, we’ve been listening again to part two of a message from Dennis Rainey on the subject of surrender, a message that was presented a few weeks ago on the FamilyLife Love Like You Mean It 2011 Cruise. 

I think a part of your message was surrender is going to involve enlistment.  If you’re surrendered to Christ, that doesn’t just mean that you sit back and go, “Okay, I surrender.”

Dennis:  No.  If you’ve surrendered, your life isn’t your own.  You’ve got to get on with what God’s got for you.  And you know what?  I’m convinced what he wants to do through every Christian is make disciples around the world. 

The Great Commission is not for a select group of people.  The Great Commission is for all followers of Christ.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” 

And so really as we wrap up today’s broadcast there are three issues.  Number one:  Have you surrendered?  Number two:  Are you about the King’s business?  And if you’re not, we have some tools here and some ways for you to get involved.  It’s called Homebuilders, and you know what?  You can make a difference in the marriages and families in your community.  Call us and let us show you how.

And third, I want to challenge you to come join us on the next cruise.  We’re going to do this in a little less than a year, next Valentine’s.  We’re going to fill the boat again.  It’s already a third full right now. 

Come join us and be a part of a cruise that is going somewhere, and I’m not talking about the islands.  Now the islands are great, and I’m going to tell you, it’s fun.  The entertainment is world class; we’ve got Paul Overstreet coming, we’ve got Voddie Baucham speaking.

Bob:  That’s right.  Gary Thomas is going to be with us, Michael O’Brien is going to be back onboard with us, Matthew West will be joining us this year; a great lineup of folks.

Dennis:  It really is.  Come join us and be a part of the cruise.  I’m going to tell you; it could change the course of your life.

Bob:  Alright, we’re not going to do that.  Just turn off his mike if he’s going to start doing puns like that.  If you’d like to join us on the Love Like You Mean It Cruise in 2012 go to our website,  There’s more information about everybody who’s going to be onboard.  You can get all the information you need.  Again, click on the link for the Love Like You Mean It Cruise when you go to

And for those of you who were listening as Dennis talked today about what spiritual surrender looks like, maybe that’s a new thought for you.  Maybe you have never had a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ that comes through surrendering our lives to him. 

We would love to send you a book that is called Pursuing God that explains what the Christian life is all about, and we’d love to send it out to you for free.  You can go online to to request it, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY and ask for the book Pursuing God.  Again, we’ll send it out to you at no cost to you.

Let me also mention a wonderful book by our friend Francis Chan, a book that talks to all who are followers of Christ about going a little deeper in your walk with him, in your surrender, your commitment to Christ.  We have the book Crazy Love in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center, and you can request a copy again, online at or by calling 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “TODAY.”

You know, we need to say thanks to those of you who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, who make it possible for us to do what we are doing here through this daily radio program, on our website, through our events and our resources.  We appreciate your support that makes all of that possible. 

This month, if you can help us with a donation of any amount, we’d like to say thank you by sending you a DVD.  It’s a movie called Magdalena that tells the story of the life of Jesus through the eyes of Mary Magdalene.  It’s perfect for your family to watch as you get ready for the Easter season, and because it also has overdubbing in Spanish and French and Mandarin, Korean, Arabic, Russian and Portuguese, you can pass this DVD along to someone who is a native speaker of one of those languages, and give them a special Easter gift when you do. 

Request the movie Magdalena when you make a donation online at  Just type the word “MAGDVD” – type that in the key code box on the online donation form, or call 1-800-FL-Today, 1-800-358-6329.  When you make a donation over the phone, just ask for the Magdalena DVD and again, we’re happy to send it out to you, and we do appreciate your ongoing support of this ministry.

Now tomorrow we want to make sure you’re back with us when we’re going to have a treat.  We’re going to talk to a country music singer/songwriter, in fact a guy who’s going to be joining us on the Love Like You Mean It Cruise in 2012.  Paul Overstreet is our guest tomorrow, and I hope you can be here for our conversation with him.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today

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