Monday, October 31, 2011

The Tehran Initiative.. a Tyndale Review

Ripped from the headlines... another thriller from Joel C. Rosenberg!

The world is on the brink of disaster and the clock is ticking. 
Iran has just conducted its first atomic weapons test. 
Millions of Muslims around the world are convinced their messiah—
known as “the Twelfth Imam”—has just arrived on earth. 
Israeli leaders fear Tehran, under the Twelfth Imam’s spell, 
will soon launch a nuclear attack that could bring about a second holocaust 
and the annihilation of Israel. The White House fears Jerusalem will strike first, launching a preemptive attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities that could cause the entire Middle East to go up in flames, oil prices to skyrocket,
 and the global economy to collapse. With the stakes high and few viable 
options left, the president of the United States orders CIA operative David Shirazi and his team to track down and sabotage Iran’s nuclear warheads 
before Iran or Israel can launch a devastating first strike.

The Tehran Initiative is Rosenberg's second book in his second thriller series.  As many are asking... is it fiction or fact?  Rosenberg weaves a tale of counter intelligence and espionage that rivals Tom Clancy.  However, Rosenberg has an amazing grasp and ability to write about the mindset of Islam and the very immediate threat that Islam is to Christianity.  

Through my affiliation with the Tyndale Blogging Network, I was sent a copy of The Tehran Initiative to read and to review.  It was a great read!  Very engaging and gripping. I only wish I had realized that it was the second book in a series.  If I had known, I would have read the books in order.

I do recommend The Tehran Initiative and if you find it as enjoyable as I have, please check out all of Rosenberg's works.  

**Disclaimer...I was sent a copy of The Tehran Initiative for my honest review, I received no other compensation.

so much left to surrender... day 31

Truly, I want to live a surrendered life.  I want to surrender my all to His care.  I want to be a masterpiece for Him.

I'm not there.  I haven't arrived.  I have much to learn... much more to surrender.  In this "instant society" with our instant pictures through digital photography, instant communication via social networking and instant food through the drive-thru, I find it hard to wait.  

Surrender is a journey... the destination will be the day I see my Savior face to face.  The pilgrimage is my day by day choice to surrender rather than fight... to lay down my cares rather than run into the battle myself... to trust and obey.

... and to not get overwhelmed at my incompleteness but to continue striving for a life of surrender.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Surrender All... day 30

All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In his presence daily live.

I surrender all, to you Jesus I surrender all, all;
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all

Saturday, October 29, 2011

the end or the beginning?... day 29

This blogging journey of 31 Days of Surrender is coming to an end... two more days of October, two more days to compete the 31 day challenge.

I jumped into this challenge, at the last minute, wondering how anyone would ever be able to write daily posts for an entire month all on the same subject.  All I knew is that I was being prompted to try this... and that surrender was the topic.

Surrender has never come easy to me.  I fight... a lot.  However, in this journey of living a surrendered life, I'm learning that freedom is in the surrender... joy is in the journey... and a life surrendered is a life used for His glory.

This month of 31 Days of Surrender has been a month of life lessons taught to my heart by my Rabbi Teacher.  There have been things I thought I would certainly write about and things that I have been hesitant to mention.  Somewhere along the way, though, I think I even surrendered this challenge.  I found Him directing my words and posts.  I felt Him leading me when and what to write.  I followed Him as He taught me.  He's been gentle and kind and taught me through humor and heartache.  I'm learning that it is not a 31 day kind of lesson... its a life long journey of daily surrendering all that I have to Him.

Monday won't be the end of the journey for me... instead, it will be the beginning of surrendering the rest of my life.

Friday, October 28, 2011

surrendering my mind... day 28

For although we are walking in the flesh, 
we do not wage war in a fleshly way,  
since the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, 
but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. 
We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing 
that is raised up against the knowledge of God, 
taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (HCSB)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

surrendering the guilt... day 27

Guilt.  It is one of my enemy's favorite weapons to use against me.  

...and, just in case you were wondering, it usually works well for him.

Therefore, there is now no 
condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
because through Christ Jesus 
the law of the Spirit who gives life
has set you free
from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2

There is no guilt under the blood of Jesus Christ!  If I cling to the guilt, am I essentially saying that His blood was not enough?  Do I take on the role of god when I surrender to the guilt... carrying that which has already been forgiven?  

No guilt today.  His blood is enough for me!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

surrendering the battle... day 26

...all the assembly will know that the LORD
does not deliver by sword or by spear,
for the battle is the LORD's
and He will give you into our hands.
1 Samuel 17:47 (NASB)

I've been burdened lately with a battle.  A battle bigger than the one a young shepherd boy walked into many years ago... an ancient battle between the Israelites and the Philistines and a huge man named Goliath... between good and evil. 

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.
Your adversary, the devil,
prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)

The battle continues today.  The enemy of young David has not given up these thousands of years later.  He still fights to the death to seek and destroy.  Jesus acknowledged the battle...

The thief comes only to steal
and kill and destroy: I came
that they may have life and 
have it abundantly.
John 10:10 (NASB)

There is nothing fair about this battle.  Unlike young David, I battle that which I can not see.  The apostle, Paul, recognized the unseen enemy...

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers,
against the powers,
against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness 
in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 (NASB)

My burden is this... this unseen enemy is not only battling for me... he battles for my children as well.  He will use any measure at his disposal to get to my children.  He's the worst bully ever and his greatest desire is to steal, kill and destroy.  He wants to destroy any testimony that my kids would have... he wants to steal them... he wants to kill them.  

Look who's here: Mountain-Shaper! Wind-Maker!
   He laid out the whole plot before Adam.
He brings everything out of nothing,
   like dawn out of darkness.
He strides across the alpine ridges.
   His name is God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
Amos 4:13 (message)

My enemy doesn't play fair and neither do I!  I have the greatest weapon on my side... the God of the Angel Armies!!!  This ugly enemy has tried to convince me that this is my battle and I must fight it on my own.  I have been overwhelmed and out-numbered for far too long.  Just this week, a friend posted this verse from Amos on her facebook wall and to me she said, "Look who's here!"  

 “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving
pay your vows to the Most High; Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I shall 
rescue you, and you will honor Me.”
Psalm 50:14-15

He fights my battles for me... in fact, they aren't my battles... the battles aren't even my kid's battles.  Instead, when I surrender the battle to Him, I can echo young David's words...

...for the battle is the LORD's

... and I've read the end of the story... the LORD wins!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

surrendering preconceptions... day 25

preconception... a preconceived idea or notion

Let's face it... I had a lot of preconceived ideas and notions BEFORE I had children.  I read the books.  I listened to the CDs (yes, Eric, they had CDs then...).  I just KNEW how MY children would behave.  For instance...

my child will never throw a fit in WalMart

my child will never eat gum off the street

my child will never throw food on the floor

my child will always be a respectful teenager and will never flick his hair out of his face

my child will always say "yes please" and "no thank you"

...and on... and on... and on...

and then reality came... in the form of 3 sinful people who all have the same first initial.

Long about the time that I realized that all of my preconceived ideas and notions were far out in left field, I got a sweet note from a friend.  She is a mom of five!  I wisely assumed that anyone who was rearing 5 children probably had at least a little wisdom to share.  In Becki's case... a lot of wisdom. 

God uses our children for our own sanctification.

Becki's note all those years ago was the beginning of me learning to surrender my notions.  I am a much better mom when I don't have preconceived ideas of how my kids should act or be.  Without preconceptions, I can accept them for who they are, not who I think they should be.

Yes, MY children did all those things I mentioned and more.  Yes, my preconceptions have been mostly wrong.

... and, yes, I'm learning to surrender those notions and embrace reality.

Monday, October 24, 2011

surrendering the noise... day 24

At times, my world is loud... really, really LOUD.

... take yesterday for example.  This is the noise that invades my world on any given Sunday from August~the first Sunday in February...



go! go! go! go!

GET him!

NO. WAY.  That was pass interference!

Honestly, I don't mind the NFL Sunday noise.  In fact, I'm often right in the mix... yelling and screaming at the TV... high fiving all those around.  It's the noise of a family enjoying the afternoon... each one watching their Fantasy Football players... and the running commentary of which Fantasy Football team is leading.

It's the noise outside the walls of my house that really gets to me.  I used to think it was something I just had to live with... something out of my control.

In this journey of 31 Days of Surrender, I've been reading my sister's journey 31 Days to Listen.  I'm realizing that I'm a lousy listener.  I listen just long enough to quiet the noise but not long enough to hear anything.  

What if I were to surrender the noise?  
Would I then have the energy to listen?  
What then?
Would I actually hear those around me?

I'm coming to the conclusion that much of the noise in my world can be surrendered.  I can stop dwelling on the naysayers and the complainers.  I can structure my days so that I am not weighed down with so many responsibilities.  I can free up my schedule so that the noise of deadlines and commitments doesn't drown out the voices of Chad, Eric, Emily and Ellen.

When I surrender the outside noise, I can hear the voice of a 14 year old boy and a 12 year old girl work compromise on an issue rather than fighting it out.  When I listen with less noise, I have the energy to hear a very tired child who had a huge weekend.  When I surrender the noise around me, I hear a man who complains little, say... "I'm bothered by this, can you help me work through it?"

When I surrender the noise in my world.. I hear those I love.

linking up with Gabe as I learn to listen more...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

surrendered friends... day 23

My introduction to living a surrendered life came years ago... years before I was ready and willing to do such a radical thing.  

Are you surrendered on that?

Have you surrendered that to the LORD?

Where's your surrender?

We all need friends in our lives that spur us on to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).  My such friend came in the form of a brilliant introvert named Julie who came to serve me and scrub my toilets when I was pregnant and on bed rest.  She has become one of my dearest friends.

Over the years, she has said those very things to me... and more.  Challenging me to pursue a surrendered life.  Praying for my journey.  And, encouraging me every step of the way.  

Surrender.  I don't think I would have pursued a surrendered life without a surrendered friend.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

true surrender... day 22

perhaps this is what true surrender looks like...

resting under the covering of His wings,
living at peace knowing that
Someone will feed, clothe and take care of you

Friday, October 21, 2011

surrendering my wounds... day 21

Surrendering my wounded heart... this very well might be the most difficult area for me to surrender.  My own mother has reminded me, on more than one occasion, that I have the memory of an elephant.  I don't forget the words... the wound... the one who wounded me.  

I tend to clutch my wounds tightly to my soul, holding on, vowing to never be wounded again.  Somehow, I have come to the conclusion that if I hold on to the wound tightly, I won't ever be hurt that way again.

Only it doesn't work like that.

It was a wounding type of day.  Deep... raw... ugly.  Hours later it's just me and the dog wrapped under a blanket.  The house is dark and cold... the windows streaked with rain.  My heart streaked with unshed tears.  Will I let my heart get cold and dark, too?  Will I clutch this wound tightly hoping to protect myself, my kid, my life?  And then I remember...

it doesn't work like that.

Life hurts.  People wound.  Love stings... and there is no such thing as fair.  

Instead, there is grace... undeserved merit or favor.  There is mercy... undeserved forgiveness or compassion.  And, there is forgiveness... undeserved forgetting of an offense.

It's in the surrender of the offense that I see grace... mercy... forgiveness.  It's in the surrender of the pain that I find healing by the Great Physician.  

And, it's in the surrender of the wound that I let it go and love again.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

surrendering my inconveniences... day 20

We sat in rapt attention... all 3000 0f us.  She who we came to hear entertained us with a monologue she had written some years before.  She titled it "Table For One."

Waiter, this is a problem!  These potatoes are lumpy.

She spoke of a woman who entered a restaurant one evening and asked for a table for one.  While she waited for her food she over heard an irate customer badgering the server for smoother potatoes.

Dey beat my fazer in de street.  Dat waz a problem....
Her potatoes are an inconvenience.

With perfect voice inflections, she continued the monologue with a conversation between the woman at the table for one and an elderly Jewish woman from Germany sitting at a neighboring table... a woman permanently scarred, rubbing her death camp tattoo.  

Dey separated my sester and I, 
 one day my sester did not come to the fence to see me.
Dey told me she was dead.
Dat waz a problem....
Her potatoes are an inconvenience.

As Donna VanLiere walked across the stage in front of me, acting the part of three woman, I sat and pondered.  I am that woman who makes an issue of lumpy potatoes.  I am the woman who knows many inconveniences and few problems.  I am that obnoxious woman.

So much of last weekend's Extraordinary Women conference spoke to my heart.  I heard it through the filter of my struggle to surrender.  Saturday morning, my heart heard Donna VanLiere say...

Many things are inconveniences...
not so many things are problems.

... in my surrender journey, I discovered there is a difference between the two.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

surrendering the mess... day 19

The Messiah takes our mess
and turns it into a message of hope.
~Lysa TerKeurst

A mess can be a message?  Of hope?!  My mess?? ... only when I surrender it to His care.

I am really good at messes.  Good enough, in fact, some may call it a gift.  I make messes out of just about anything, at any time, anywhere.   Only, it's not a gift.   It's messy... slimy... grimy.

I have messes in my life that I hope no one ever sees.  I hope those who have seen have long forgotten.  I live with the fear that someone, some day will uncover the messes and have a party with the mess... the slime.. the grime... all at my expense.

When Lysa walked on that stage last weekend in Fort Wayne and said these very words, I took hope.  Hope in a Savior, my Messiah, who can take a mess and make a message of hope to others.  I sat and listened to a woman who has completely surrendered her mess to her Messiah and has a message of Hope.  I watched, with leaky eyes, as woman after woman responded to her invitation to surrender to the Messiah.  

Lysa's mess didn't look messy... slimy... grimy to me.  I saw hope... love... joy.  I want that hope... that love... that joy in my life.  Rather than live in fear that someone will uncover my messes, I need to let Someone heal my messes.

Will I let my mess define me or refine me?

I need to surrender my mess to my Messiah and let Him turn it into a message of hope.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

surrendering my gifts... day 18

I should never let my gifting
take precedence over my calling.
~Michael O'Brien

In sharing his testimony as he lead worship at E-women, Michael O'Brien expressed these words of wisdom and they have found their way to my heart.

So often, I have let my gift become the most important thing in my life.  I have vainly pursued using the gift, developing the gift, or even worrying about the gift to fill the hours in my days.

My calling, though, is something I take for granted.  I am called to serve my Master.  I am called to be Chad's wife.  I am called to be mom to the 3 E's.  I am called to be daughter and sister.  

Sometimes my calling doesn't look very fancy.  It isn't shiny and new.  It doesn't sparkle or shine.  Honestly, I've been doing this calling for a long time.  The sparkly calling of a brand-new bride is now 17 1/2 years of hard work, long hours and bumps and bruises.  The fresh new calling of motherhood with the smell of my sweet newborn is long gone.  He rarely smells good anymore.  He's taller than I am and often sports an attitude of equal size.  

I can go on... I've been daughter for 42 years.  I'm confident that luster was lost when I stopped smelling like Baby Magic.  Sister?  Well, there wasn't much thrill there 40 years ago... although, my God is a Redeemer of EVERY thing and has redeemed sister relationships to sweet fellowship of sisters and sisters in Christ.

The point?  God spoke directly to my heart through Michael O'Brien this weekend.  When I grow weary of my calling, I flex my gifts.  I look for something new, shiny, sparkly and fresh to replace that of which I have grown weary.

When my gifting takes precedence over my calling, I use my gifts to glorify myself.  It becomes all about me and nothing about Him.  

...and, when I pursue my calling first, He will use my gifts for His glory.  Surrender.

** I dare you to listen to Michael's testimony of gifting and calling.

Monday, October 17, 2011

hope and surrender... day 17

Sitting in a large conference room with 3,000 other women worshipping God is an amazing experience.  Lifting hands in song and praise... praying and listening... learning and gleaning from those wiser than I... sitting between my mom and my sister, this is how I spent my weekend at Extraordinary Women.

And, I heard it all through the filter of my desire to learn to live a surrendered life.  

Do you not know? 
   Have you not heard? 
The LORD is the everlasting God, 
   the Creator of the ends of the earth. 
He will not grow tired or weary, 
   and his understanding no one can fathom. 
 He gives strength to the weary 
   and increases the power of the weak. 
 Even youths grow tired and weary, 
   and young men stumble and fall; 
 but those who hope in the LORD 
   will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; 
   they will run and not grow weary, 
   they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

Everlasting hope... a key to surrender.  

As Mama T (aka Theresa Wells) said, "Hope is knowing in your knower that some day God will do what He says He will do."  

I am choosing to surrender to the everlasting hope of the Everlasting One.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

surrender test... day 16

True surrender... its about my relationship with Him... 
nothing more, nothing less, nothing else...

People are often unreasonable and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
For in the end, it is between you and God.
It never was between you and them anyway.
~Mother Teresa

Saturday, October 15, 2011

surrendering her weekend... day 15

Once upon a time, there was a mom who loved her kids very much.  She did much to show her kids how much she loved them.  Every ball game she was on the sidelines... every recital she was in the audience... and every school program she documented with her camera.  And in fourteen years, she had not missed a moment.

One day, this mom had to make a choice.  You see, her son was chosen... given a moment to shine... an opportunity of a life time.  The mom had other plans.  She had planned a weekend for herself... time away with a life long friend... time to refresh with family.  A girls weekend away.  But he needed her.  He needed her to be with him for this moment in time... his moment in time.  

Oh how this mom loved this teenage boy... this man-child growing up right in front of her eyes.  The decision was made years ago.  She would surrender her weekend to embrace his. She would give up her moment away to give him her time.  She would stand on the sidelines and cheer for him.  She would be in the audience when he was recognized and she would document it all through her lens.

And on this weekend when her mom and sisters are without her at Extraordinary Women 2011, she will love her son.

And, while he may not remember what she surrendered to watch him play varsity starting center as a freshman, and he may quickly forget her sacrifice to see him in the homecoming court... he will never forget that she was there... and that she loves him very much.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Absolute Surrender quote... day 14

God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, 
or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you. 
Do we not read: "It is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). ...learn to believe...

Absolute Surrender
Andrew Murray 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

surrendering my heart... day 13

Gently, graciously and with lots of love God took me on a field trip 3 1/2 years ago to the ER with my beloved.  In the wee hours of our 14th anniversary, I followed an ambulance 40 miles to the nearest heart center.  Tears streamed down my face as I said over and over, "God, do you realize my heart is in that ambulance?"  

My greatest fear had been losing my man... the one whose heart is intertwined with mine.  That very fear became a potential reality when he was diagnosed with a 4.8cm ascending aortic aneurysm.  

What I didn't realize on that trip to the ER was that the hardest part was yet to come... since my man is young and otherwise healthy, the doctors determined that it would be best to simply monitor this aneurysm often, rather than risk greater problems by attempting to fix the issue.  They did casually mention, though, that at 5 cm they would become concerned.  What?!?  .2 cm is all that stood in the gap.  Oh, and the fix?  Open heart surgery  complete with 15 min on the heart/lung machine.  My fear exponentially increased day by day.  

For the first 6 months, I surrendered completely to the fear of the unknown.  Each day I dreaded the phone call that would tell me that the aneurysm ruptured and that Chad was dead before anyone knew it.  Though he would often reassure me and say, "this aneurysm changes nothing.  God is still in control." I still chose to live in fear.  I justified this by accepting others comments...
Aren't you afraid?

Can't he die from this?

Did you know this is how John Ritter died?

The night before Chad's first follow up echocardiogram and CT scan, I slept little.  He held my hand through the echo and I sat in the waiting room during the CT.  I prayed continually... 
God, you know I can't live without him.

God, Eric needs his dad.

God, please just heal him so I don't have to be afraid anymore.

Though I prayed continually, I felt no peace.  Instead, all I had was a heart gripped with self-absorption, fear and uncertainty.

There is no fear in love
But perfect love drives out fear
because fear has to do with punishment. 
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18

The Sunday after meeting with the Dr. to hear that the aneurysm had not changed, I stood to worship... tears streaming down my face.  We were singing of God's grace and His mercy.  Who was I to sing of these gifts when I stubbornly refused to accept them?  Who was I to stand before my Creator singing of His love and obstinately clinging to fear?

The journey of surrendering Chad's heart... my heart... started on that Sunday in November almost 3 years ago.  It's been a journey, rather than a destination.  I wish I could say that I live every single day in completely surrendering this aneurysm.  

Instead, I surrender my heart and his every day.