Monday, July 6, 2009

Book Review: Surrender All

Surrender All

Surrender All
by Joni Lamb

Hardback: 203 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
First Released: 2008

Author Website

Source: Unrequested review copy from media and public relations agency

Back Cover Description:
The path of surrender always leads to contentment.

Sometimes life doesn't make sense: Your heart breaks. Your dreams shatter. You feel confusion about your purpose, alone, or fearful for your future or that of those you love. Sometimes you simply want...more.

With eye opening insight, TV executive, talk show personality, and inspirational singer Joni Lamb shows how to meet the struggles and hardships of life with one powerful act of faith.

Once searching for answers herself, Joni wrote a letter to God: "I wonder over and over again what my life holds and where I'm going...Show me the path to follow."

The same sure thing she's discovered is what the extraordinary personalities she's interviewed over the years talk about in this book. Learn about the path they've taken, and how to move beyond fear and disappointment into the life that waits when you surrender all.

"There is a place of peace, power, and purpose in this world," Joni shares, "and it begins with one word. Surrender."

Surrender All is a "Christian living" book. I received this book due to a miscommunication, but I decided to read it anyway. The book is mostly a series of personal testimonies that illustrate various types of surrender to God: surrendering your marriage, your children, your career, your health, your friendships, in daily life, in loss, and in failure. She does occasionally refer to Scripture, but usually in only general terms. While the points made in the book are in line with what the Bible teaches, I would have preferred a more frequent use of specific scripture quotes to show this.

I had one main concern about what the book said. On page 25, under "Step 2: Offer a Prayer of Surrender," Ms. Lamb writes:

Once you realize how much you need the Lord, the next step is to ask for God's help and intervention. You can't surrender to His will until you invite the Lord to forgive your sins and to come into your heart and your life. This isn't a one-time deal. It needs to be repeated every time you face a challenge in any aspect of your life.

She then talks about praying to accept Christ as your lord and savior. Later, she also refers to coming to God in repentance for sin as offering a prayer of surrender, and I assume that's the part Ms. Lamb meant needed to be done repeatedly. My concern is that some people might think Ms. Lamb is saying you've lost your eternal salvation every time you sin instead of you're "saved" once and come in specific surrender and repentance after that.

Parts of the book are very Christ-focused. The problem with personal testimonies is that the focus can subtly slip from what God can do with a surrendered life to what man has accomplished (i.e. the praise and awe becomes focused on the person instead of God, who deserves all the credit). Some testimonies were very God-focused, but others not as much.

While there are some pretty amazing testimonies in this book, the book's main focus on experiences instead of scripture made me nervous. After all, other religions use personal experiences as proof, too. However, Surrender All is not a bad book despite my reservations about how Ms. Lamb chose to write it.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

The desert surrounding the holy city of Jerusalem sounds like a romantic place to get a call from God, but it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. The ground is hard and unforgiving, full of deep and deadly crevices, as if a giant creature had carved the land with massive fingernails to trap unsuspecting travelers–much like the Path of Surrender we followed to obey that call. But here is where my husband, Marcus, and I began the journey that brought us through “crevices” deeper than any we saw in the Sinai Desert as we traveled through Egypt.

We had only been in the Bedouin region for a short time, when Marcus noticed something unusual: a satellite antenna poked up from the top of each tent in this dry and barren landscape. It seemed incongruous, this modern technology in so simple and harsh a land. Marcus realized that God had been planting a vision in his heart and mind, telling him that television is a tool for spreading the Lord’s teachings to a vast audience–anywhere in the world, day and night.

God had come up with a very tall order for us in the Holy Land. At that point, in March 1983, we were newly married. We were on the road constantly, preaching and ministering with revivals in twenty states. We knew nothing about operating a television station, Christian or otherwise. So when the Lord spoke to Marcus while standing on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem about moving to Montgomery, Alabama, he said three things to God.

1. Why would You ask me to stop doing something You were blessing–evangelism!–in order to go and build a Christian TV station?
2. Lord, I don’t know how to build a Christian TV station.
3. Lord, I don’t have a million dollars to build a Christian TV station!

You might think that God would respond with a lengthy dialogue to answer all those questions after giving Marcus such a tall order. But all He did was repeat the assignment: Go to Montgomery and build a Christian television station.

Marcus and I were excited by this, but we were also flustered and more than a little clueless about how to get started. We puzzled over it for several months. Then, in the fall of 1983, Marcus decided that we needed to seriously focus on it. He suggested that we go on a three-day fast to make sure we were clear on what the Lord wanted us to do.

Like most other women, I’d done my share of dieting, even back when I really didn’t need to diet. But I’d never gone on a three-day fast where you didn’t eat even a carrot stick or a bran muffin. Let me tell you, it is no walk in the park. I thought I was going to die! After the first day, the headaches were excruciating. But we both persevered through prayer, and when it was over, Marcus felt the Lord had made it very clear that we were to find a way to start a Christian television station.

By the following January, we were in Montgomery.

Read more from Surrender All.


brknhrt said...

I haven't seen this book, but your review is interesting. I agree with your concern over the way she worded the "daily" requirement of the prayer of surrender. I think a Christian book, especially a Christian "self-help" type book is very difficult to write and I tend to be a little harder on them.

Debbie, ChristFocus said...

I'm glad you found my review interesting and useful. I tend to be picky about the wording in Christian non-fiction books, especially when it comes to something as basic and important as salvation.

As I said in the review, though I was concerned by the wording, I'm pretty sure this is a case of poor wording rather than wrong teaching.