Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Counting it All

"I, *Charlynn slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come: Hello! Faith Under Pressure..." *James 1:1 The Message

Fourteen days from today I will be in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I can tell you with all confidence I have been "called" to return there along with a fellow servant to once again, teach and disciple women, Sunday School teachers, and leaders in ministry. I can tell you with all confidence today I am experiencing "faith under pressure."

But the brother of Jesus (James) was not speaking of himself when he penned his letter - he was addressing the recipients. So YOU, dear reader must be experiencing pressures of your own!

"It is impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that He exists AND that He cares enough to answer." Hebrews 11:6 The Message

We (those of use being squeezed by circumstance, believing in what is invisible) are being trained and equipped for Kingdom work! But, make no mistake about it - IT IS NOT EASY, and it is NOT FUN! Today, my lack (not enough funds to cover the cost of the trip) looks more like poor planning than a gift:

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open..." James 1:2-3 The Message

Today, I am "counting it ALL joy," as some translations of the verse read - ALL means ALL; not just the stuff we can figure out "why" it is happening (saying yes to going before the money was in the bank) but also the things for which we have NO IDEA or explanation (my old Blackberry dropping TWO HUNDRED addresses and failing to get updated reports out AND suddenly crashing as I was writing this)!

"If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help." James 1:5 The Message

I'm praying today. And as the apostle Paul told the believers in Phillipi "what I desire is that more be credited to YOUR account." (Phillipians 4:17) I'm GOING by faith. I receive a blessing by witnessing first-hand the delight on the faces, the sounds of praises to the King in Swahili, and the dance of joy as they worship the God of all tribes. Your blessing comes in SENDING. Your earthly monetary contribution is credited to your eternal account that will never be affected by economic downturns, interest rates or who's in power politically.

When King David took on the Amalekites to rescue their kidnapped women, there were soldiers who were too tired to join the fight. (1 Samuel 30:9) After the victory, the ones who fought did not want those who stayed behind to share in the spoils of war. But the King made sure ALL got an EQUAL share.

"The share of the man who stayed with the stuff is to be the same as that of him who went to battle. All will share alike." 1 Samuel 30:24

I might be the one who flies 24 hours, drives across the African savannah 8 hours, washes off the grit of the road with cold water and a bucket BUT the Harvest is equally shared between us because the Father sees each part as IMPORTANT, one not better than the other. I confess I've questioned His reasoning on this (just like the soldiers of David's war) as I've wrestled with mosquito nets and no comforts of home. I know His ways are not my ways, and He is just, faithful and listening to my prayers and my pi**ed off pity party.

"Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. James 1:12 The Message

TODAY, take a moment to count your joy! Count your blessings, even though they look like discomfort, inconveniences and despair in the visible. Look at your circumstances full on in the face and trust the promise of His Word: "Therefore we do not lose heart...for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes NOT on what is seen..." 2 Corinthians 4:17

TODAY, take part in the battle advancing the Kingdom in Tanzania. Say that prayer! Make that donation! Praise God for the supply and the account He is keeping on your behalf!

"So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace." 2 Corinthians 4:16 The Message

Smiling like an origami swan
Waiting for the unfolding!

Sunshine After Rain Ministries
10024 Regal Park Lane #217
Dallas TX 75230

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Monday, July 22, 2013

At the Edge of Berakah

"When the worst thing happens- whether war or flood or disease or famine - and we take our place before this Temple (we know You are personally in this place!) and pray out our pain and trouble, we know that You will listen and give victory.

And now it's happened..." 2 Chronicles 20:9-10 The Message

I've heard often in ministry, "You preach the sermon YOU need," and I'm feeling that old pastoral adage deeply. Let me explain: a few days ago, I took my friend and frequent mission traveling companion to the airport. As we made our way to that familiar territory she related a variety of things about the trip had unexpectedly changed, including one of the team leaders had to cancel at the last minute for emergency health reasons, (which meant his wife would also not be going). Her first report after the team's arrival in the field included additional interruptive happenstances.

I encouraged her with truths found in the Word; the Lord took Gideon's army of 32,000 down to 300 (Judges 7), as well as one of my favorite passages of Scripture telling of a battle faced by King Jehoshaphat:

"We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." 2 Chronicles 20:12

She took note of the passages, and I also shared news the team leader of another organization (on a medical trip to Central America) had to undergo emergency surgery while still in the mission field. Their leader had been alerted to a potentially dangerous health crisis just days before he was to board a plane.

When we are out of our comfort zone, lacking resources and at the edge of ruinous circumstances, God shows up for His people. I assured her, "He did it for Gideon, He did it for Jehoshaphat, and He'll do it for you! Go forth with singing, the worshipers went before the warriors!"

"After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God; dressed in holy robes they were to march AHEAD OF THE TROOPS, SINGING, Give thanks to God, His love never quits." 2 Chronicles 20:21 The Message

What began as fortification for a friend, became the sermon I needed. The first email I opened this morning related the team leader who had surgery in the mission field last week, passed away! "WHAT?!" I couldn't imagine what my friend (who has now assumed some of the responsibilities for the team) would face in the coming hours and days! I started praying.

The second email I read was from my counterpart in Tanzania, adjusting the schedule for our upcoming return in just over three weeks! What?! Anxiety gripped me. The ministry has NO FUNDING! We don't have airline tickets or visas or curriculum prepared. I don't know what to do, but...

"...they found more loot than they could carry off - equipment, clothing, valuables. It took three days to cart it away! On the fourth day they came together at the Valley of Blessing (Berakah) and blessed God (that's how it got the name, Valley of Blessing)." 2 Chronicles 20:25-26 The Message

It's day one - I know our God goes before us in battle. I know in times of disappointing details, disastrous death, and desperation He is faithful, and HE will get all the glory!

YOU are a part of the choir known as Sunshine After Rain, here are a few of the lyrics for our songs of praise (and prayers):

For the family of team leader, as well as the medical mission team still in Central America, now faced with grief and logistics

For the team in Greece, working the fields to make in-roads with the growing refugee Muslim community

For the leadership in Tanzania, working to make the arrangements for our ministry

For the hundreds of women, Sunday School teachers, lay-leadership, and Maasai villagers who are anxiously awaiting our arrival


"Don't forget to pray for ME! Pray that I'll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, The Message that I responsible for getting out." Ephesians 6:19-20 The Message

Up early, ready to march and getting the Choir together
Smiling too!

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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Voice

"What you possess is genuine and God-sent..." Usher on Danielle Bradbury's performance

I make no secret of my obsession with the television reality show The Voice. During the season, I eagerly seek out fellow "fans" and discuss the latest talent showcased on the weekly broadcast. For my friends and acquaintances who do not share my passionate enthusiasm for this particular competition, I apologize (for my inappropriate comments on coach Adam Levine), but offer a glimpse of what attracts me (other than the aforementioned judge).

Recently I attended the Talent Night of the Joni and Friends Family Retreat (for people affected by disability). The show lineup included "Laughter" (by a girl with Turrets Syndrome who has an infectious laugh), "Singing" (by a boy with Cerebral Palsy who can barely speak) and a "Dance" (poignantly performed by a young couple both in wheelchairs), just to name a few of the 30 or so courageous participants.

No matter what the "talent," what key they are in or "off," the crowd goes wild with applause and shouts of "Great Job. You're fantastic!" It's inspiring and humbling to see parents of the severely impaired, have a chance to unabashedly, unashamedly celebrate the beauty and "talent" of their God-given child.

"You're the winner, you're perfect who you are. You continue to show the world you can be whoever you want to be, just believe. And that is your story; you are medicine for the whole world." Usher to Michelle Chamuell

When I heard Coach Usher encouraging his off-beat, unusual finalist, I was inspired. Here is a creative genius, a man who is at the pinnacle of his career, taking time to build up another artist; someone who isn't quite there yet, someone waiting for their "Big Break."

"So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope..." 1 Thessalonians 5:11 The Message

As Followers of Christ, we might find it easy to applaud the disabled as they courageously take the stage and share their "talent," but why do we find it so hard to offer encouragement to our peers? Why does it take a secular reality TV show to ignite in me a renewed commitment to do what the Bible tells me to do?

"Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshipping together as some do but spurring each other on, ESPECIALLY as we see the big Day, approaching." Hebrews 10:24 The Message

You have a God-given gift! God not only has a purpose and a plan for your life, He also has a job and a mission and the provision to accomplish it! That IS YOUR story, you ARE the MEDICINE this world needs.

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?" Matthew 5:13 The Message

I'm now preparing to take a message of encouragement and hope to Tanzania. I'm getting ready to be The Voice, bringing the good news of the Gospel. It's time for us to share and cheer, so people both near and far can taste and see the goodness of our God!

"I did not expect this huge celebration!" The Voice Season Four Winner Danielle Bradbury on seeing her hometown turn out for her return

"Do you see what this means - all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running and never quit! Hebrews 12:1 The Message

It's hot in Texas -
Guess I'd better strip down
And RUN towards Africa

With a smile of course

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