Everyday Joni Lamb celebrates how ordinary lives are shaped by an extraordinary God. With a refreshingly candid style communicating a wide-range of relevant issues, she draws millions of viewers worldwide as host of the JONI Show, her daily television talk program, and cohost of Celebration, the flagship broadcast of the Daytime Television Network.
As in her broadcasts, Jonis style is inviting, personal, and passionate as she draws upon her own experiences as wife, mother, and committed follower of Jesus. She also weaves in compelling stories from the Bible and fascination people she has interviewed whose lives have taken unexpected, remarkable turns as they let God take the lead.
Surrender is filled with riveting personal stories that show the power, peace, purpose and rippling effect of surrendering to God ones marriage, family, friends, finances, health, career, and daily life. Joni also gives readers practical help and handles on how to surrender to God every day with simple steps and even some memorable ABCs.
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Joni Lamb is executive producer and co-host of Celebration, the daily flagship program of the Daystar Television Network, which she and husband Marcus, the network’s CEO, founded, built, and operate. The Lambs own more than 50 television stations reaching 75 million homes in the U.S. and every country across the globe, and theirs is the fastest-growing Christian television network in the world.
Joni also hosts the lively and sometimes unpredictable half-hour daily talk show bearing her name, which earned the National Religious Broadcast Association’s Best Talk Show Award in 2004. Broadcast twice daily, the Joni show features an array of notable guests and covers a wide range of relevant issues, controversial subjects, and hard-hitting news topics with candor and wit. Joni appeals to a broad, multicultural audience by focusing on the relevance of faith to every aspect of life.
The Lambs live in Dallas, Texas, and are the parents of three children: Jonathan, Rachel, and Rebecca. Their family ministers frequently throughout the country.
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.
A few years before, Marcus had been helping a Montgomery minister in his efforts to build a television station–long before we had any thoughts of doing it ourselves. This minister, whom Marcus and I had preached for, had gotten a permit for a broadcast license. He’d raised quite a bit of money, but the Federal Communications Commission sets a time limit when it issues permits and the funds weren’t coming in fast enough for him to make the deadline. If you don’t build your station within the allotted time, you lose your permit. Our friend was facing that predicament, so he’d decided to sell his permit.
Again, at that point, we were ministering around the country and not at all thinking about starting a television station. So Marcus had helped our Montgomery friend sell his permit to another group of Christians we knew from Kentucky who’d been looking for a broadcast license. It was strange because Marcus kept getting pulled back into this deal, investing money into the project, even though he wasn’t part of the ownership. It was as if we were being prepared for a role that we could not foresee.
As it turned out, the Kentucky group couldn’t get their deal put together to build a station in Montgomery. By the time they went looking for a buyer, God had clued us in on His plan for us. Suddenly, we were ready to take on the mission ourselves. We entered into an agreement to buy the Montgomery permit. The FCC gave us the same deadline, which was about eighteen months, to get the station up and running.
We gave it our best shot, but we were a couple of newlywed evangelists, still in our twenties. We weren’t venture capitalists. Neither of us even knew what venture capitalists were. Back then, we’d seen our share of church bake sales, but we’d never had to raise such serious capital. Initially we borrowed money from family members. We borrowed against our home. We took money out of savings and sold investments. I’m not sure, but Marcus may have taken a paper route and sold lemonade on street corners, trying to make it happen. As the deadline approached, the vultures were circling. Other groups were trying to buy the permit out from under us because they didn’t think we could pull it off. And we had doubts about it too.
We’d surrendered it to God and did the best we could to follow His plan for us, but as that deadline loomed it sure seemed like we were going to come up short. Marcus told me we were running out of time and money. Finally one day in exasperation he asked me: “Joni, are you willing to lose all that we have and everything our friends and family have given us because we believe God wants us to build this Christian television station?”
I was still new at the wife thing, but I stood by my man as best as I could, and I really believed we had a mandate from God as well. “Whatever you think we should do, Marcus, I’m with you,” I said. At that point, we realized that we could lose everything, but we were willing to take that risk because we knew God had spoken to us.
Marcus felt God had called us to start this Christian station in Montgomery and that we had to do whatever it took to fulfill that mission. “The money belongs to Him, not us. And if I have to work a secular job the rest of my life to pay it back, I’m willing to do that,” he said.
And so we surrendered our finances to the Lord. We risked it all, and we very easily could have lost it all.
As a first grader, Marcus got fifty cents a week for allowance, which covered his recess Popsicle habit since they were only ten cents back then. But then Marcus learned about tithing 10 percent, which meant that he should give a nickel to the collection box at church. He did the math and figured he’d be a nickel short one day a week at Popsicle time. It was one of his first big challenges of faith. Did he tithe or did he keep the nickel so he could continue having a Popsicle at recess every day?
“Even as a little boy, the Devil tried to challenge me about finances,” Marcus says. “He said that a nickel wouldn’t make any difference to our church. The Devil tried to reason that it probably cost the church five cents just to provide an envelope for the tithe. But I put God first then and I always have, especially when it comes to finances.”
Marcus and I have seen, both in our personal finances and in the ministry’s finances, that if we put God first and surrender our finances to the Lord, then He will take care of us. And God was certainly working on our behalf once we surrendered our finances to Him. A miracle occurred. When we fully committed ourselves to God’s will, others invested in that commitment with their own money.
One Sunday afternoon, a man drove by and saw the bumper sticker on our car that said WMCF-TV “45 Alive!” We couldn’t have felt more that the opposite–“45 Dead!”–was true. Curious about what “45 Alive!” was about, the man stopped and came into our studio to see what we doing. I was seven months pregnant with our first child, pushing Marcus around on double-decker scaffolding so he could work on raising the drop ceiling for TV lights. We had the air conditioning turned off to save money, even though it was summer and more than 100 degrees in the room. Seeing our dedication and realizing we were working in this hot building all alone, this man’s heart was touched. He wrote a check for $1,000, and said he would be back the next morning with his pickup truck and tools to help us do the work. We were like little kids building a tree house out of scrap lumber, but eventually others caught the vision for Christian television and joined in to help us.
We built our first television station with borrowed money, baling wire, duct tape, and papier-mâché. I’m serious about that. We got the station up and running and on the air thanks largely to the fact that two other local stations were updating their equipment. They were throwing out all of their old electronics, including a transmitter made for black-and-white television that was being sent to the dump. Whatever they put on the curb, including that transmitter, we took. We had three cameras that looked like they’d been part of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory; our castoff transmitter was the oldest model in the country. I’m surprised it didn’t have a handcrank starter.
But we had the Lord on our broadcast team. His plan–and a whole lot of duct tape and silicone–got WMCF-TV 45 on the air on October 12, 1985 as the first full-power Christian television station ever built in Alabama. Someone told us we were the youngest couple ever to build a television station in the United States, but we knew better. We knew that it was the Lord’s station and the result of His work through us and the many, many other people who pitched in with their money, skills, time, pra...
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