Friday, December 27, 2013

It's in the Trunk

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him." 1 Corinthians 2:9

Christmas has come and gone, and retailers are now offering discounts to make up for lower than expected holiday shopping quotas. I don't know if you got what you wanted, deserved or desired. Here is what I do know: The "Gift" we celebrate during the season is not one that can be "earned" or exchanged, we never deserved it, and the Word tells us it was given when we didn't even desire it ("but God shows His love for us in that while we were STILL sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8) That fact makes me want to sing more carols, and sit in awe knowing Christ came and submitted Himself to being an infant!

Several of my friends recently had babies and they were all dressed up in festive wear for their "Baby's First Christmas" photos. All those sweet pudgy-cheek faces have me contemplating the Christ child even more; His total submission and vulnerability. There is nothing more innocent and exposed than a baby. The portrayal of the horrors of crucifixion were brought to life in the film "The Passion of the Christ." The blood and the pain made me turn away; but the image of the Christ-child draws my heart back to the incomprehensible magnitude of the love of God.

"For this reason I kneel before the Father." Ephesians 3:14

Those little precious bubbling, gurgling faces help me to grasp the patience of Christ to the will of His Father. I have not mastered patience. The Christmas season seems to bring out even more of my flesh (not talking additional calories brought about by feasting) and my frustration. There are lines of shoppers, politically correct sayings (I HATE those), and consumerism rearing its ugly predictable head; "I want MORE, I want it NOW, I deserve it because I've been "good for goodness sake!""

"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him." Matthew 7:11

Christmas Eve, I walked outside and happened upon my neighbor opening her trunk and bringing in an armful of packages. She laughed when I caught her in the Santa act, and said, "I'm bringing in the REST of the gifts," as she made haste to get back inside undetected by her little boy. For all Christmas is now in 21st Century America (UPS and FedEx beware), somehow seeing the joy on this mother's face reminded me of The Father and truly the "reason for the season."

Are you praying for something that seems to have alluded you? As the year comes to a close have your expectations of the past 12 months clouded your vision for the coming year? Are you in a season of hope or one of despair? Is this a time of drought or one of bounty?

"Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison; for we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

One of my friends had an opportunity to take their children to Disneyworld as an early Christmas gift. She had known for months in advance of their departure and had concocted an elaborate scheme to surprise them with the news. Whenever we would talk, she shared some new feature to her plan. Some difficult circumstances also came during the interim. I reminded her of how she felt KNOWING what she was about to share with her kids. The joy, the delight, the thrill she experienced plotting and planning for the Big Day when ALL would be revealed. I said, "That's how Big Daddy is feeling! What you see, isn't the whole story. You're present circumstances (and truly suffering) is not the End. There is something far greater than Disney world in your future!"

I think she felt better. I hope she grasped my small attempt at a big concept, and I hope you do as well. You might not have received all you asked for or deserved this past Christmas, you might even have received the ugly-scratchy-wool-sweater-that-you-can't-take-back called "diagnosis cancer" that one of my friends unwrapped for the holidays. You might have shaken the box and heard the shattered glass of broken promises and unamswered prayers, again - still...

Take heart! For the spirit of the Christ-child, come to earth in a lowly manger and in a stinky stable proves our God is good! If it wasn't under the tree

It's in the trunk

Watching and waiting for the packages to be unwrapped on The Day,
Charlynn

It's time for Year End giving. To make a one time financial gift or to set up recurring monthly donations, visit the website:
www.sunshineafterrain.org

Or by post:
Sunshine After Rain Ministries
10024 Regal Park Lane #217
Dallas TX 75230

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Electric Company

The historic Ice-Maggedon (also know as ICE-ca-pacolypse) that came down on North Texas in the beginning of December left over 500,000 people in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex without power at some point in the storm.* For those of us lucky enough to have electricity during those record breaking low temperature days, the non-stop news coverage of school and business closings, road conditions and power company crews on the scene, kept us thankful for the little things like heat and streaming Netflix!

During the deep-freeze of Dallas, hundreds of area churches were CLOSED! You read right - CLOSED. As my Pastor explained the following Sunday, the decision was reached on Saturday when Church Staff members assessed the grounds and realized the parking lots looked more suitable to be skating rinks, not to mention the hazard they posed to parishioners. The Second Sunday of Advent was silent in the sanctuary, but during the Third Advent Sunday, churches were operational and "Open for Business."

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the LIGHT of men." John 1:1-4

Hearing that familiar passage, just days after power (and light) had been restored to the city, renewed not just a sense of the season, but also an awareness of the role of the Church as the "power" company!

When the electricity is out for more than a few hours during the winter, the need is "felt" as a person begins to get cold. Without light, to see in the dark takes flashlights or candles; and what about the economic impact of all the food stored in refrigerators and freezers rotting without the power on? And last but not least Christmas consumers - this weather event DID cut down the number of shopping days!

From the comfort of my warm and illuminated Sanctuary of Solace, I prayed for the thousands of workers I knew had to get out "in" the weather. I prayed for law enforcement, for health care workers, for postal employees, but mostly I prayed for the Electric Company, especially when the news reported technicians being brought in to assist North Texas from SEVEN other states.

"Jesus, once again addressed them: "I am the world's Light. No one who follows Me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in." John 8:21 The Message

What impact would the Church have on the world if we reacted to "those living in darkness," as committed as we respond to neighbors and friends when the power fails?

Joseph Stalin is quoted as saying, "A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic." You might wonder what's a notorious and nefarious Communist dictator, and an historic weather event doing in a communique seven days before Christmas?

Numbers, my friend. It's all about the numbers.

When I read the "statistic" of 3 BILLION non-Christians in the world, with 1.6 BILLION of those living in East Asia, well I confess I'm not that motivated. It is after all just a statistic with a number too big to wrap my head around, much less my heart. Has the statistic of the "lost" in the world shut down the Church as the Power Company? After all, "those" people are pretty far away from me, not to mention they probably don't even look like me, speak the same language or have the same issues.

When the power fails in a metropolitan city, some of their "issues" like water, food, warmth and electricity, become my problems as well. I can "feel" that. But as a Church how often do we "feel" for those living in "spiritual" darkness?

The workers of electric companies during a weather- related outage, brave the elements to get people "back on line" as soon as possible. They're dealing with life-threatening situations because they appreciate the "need" for electricity and how the crisis is magnified every hour without power. "That's their job," you might respond; and you would be right. But what is OUR job as the Church?

"Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave His charge: "God authorized and commanded Me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you." Matthew 28:18-19 The Message

How much more should we (the Church) work as tirelessly (16-hour shifts during an outage) to see the "reason for the season" shared with those in the dark? What has caused THIS "power outage?" The Holy One of Israel (the reason for the season) has chosen us for the job.

"God also says, 'when the time's ripe, I answer you. When the victory's due, I help you. I form you and USE YOU to reconnect the people with Me.'" Isaiah 49:8 The Message

There are seven more shopping days until we exchange tokens of remembrance (or at least that is what they are supposed to be) of the One who is given, the Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) There are two weeks left in this "Year of Our Lord 2013."

Your generous year-end contribution will assist the ministry of Sunshine After Rain in sharing the Light of the Gospel to a world living without the Power.

"Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of Glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'" Isaiah 58:8 The Message

Standing by the Light switch
Smiling in His Power,
Charlynn

DONATE TODAY by visiting the website: www.sunshineafterrain.org


Or by post:
Sunshine After Rain Ministries
10024 Regal Park Lane #217
Dallas TX 75230


Sunshine After Rain Ministries is a 501 (c)3 organization. All donations are considered tax deductible by the IRS.


*official statement released from Oncor Power Company

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chuck Norris

...never did an Ironman!"

I've been blessed to see and participate in many "inspiring" things in my life. Without reservation, I can tell you watching the athletes of an Ironman competition is the most sacred experience in a secular environment I've ever had. There are so many spiritual parallels found in the dynamics of the race (the motivation, the spectators, the perseverance, and finally crossing the Finish Line).

It's no surprise the Apostle Paul talks about athletes in his letter to the believers in Corinth (1 Corinthians 9:24), and to his friend Timothy (2 Timothy 4:7) as he felt his time on earth was coming to a close; endurance and competition are part of human nature.

I made multiple posters before I went to support my son at the race. The favorite among the participants concerned Walker, Texas Ranger (Chuck Norris), the ultimate bad a$$. My friend and I positioned ourselves at mile 18 on the marathon course and screamed, cheered, shouted, cajoled, and encouraged the athletes for seven hours (after ten hours spent on other parts of the course)!

"...and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us." 2 Corinthians 1:5 The Message

Before you get all sympathetic for the notion of me holding up signs in the pouring rain for soooooooo long, let me say, "Chuck Norris never did an Ironman," and neither have I! I was standing (sometimes sitting), I was NOT running. I did not make a 2.4 mile swim starting at 7:00 that morning, followed by a ONE HUNDRED TWELVE mile bike ride, AND THEN run a MARATHON!

"It's a good work you're doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God Himself!" 3 John 1:5-6 The Message

As athlete after athlete came past us, my friend would ask, "Shouldn't we go and look for Greyson, what if something has happened?" I would reassure her (and myself) my son was going to make it - we were doing our part to see that "other sons and daughters, husband and wives, sisters and brothers," got the "umph" needed to tri-umph and cross the Finish Line.

"If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we're in this with Christ for the long haul." Hebrews 3:13-14 The Message

An Ironman competition is definitely a "long haul," but so to this life of faith. The writer of Hebrews wasn't referring to physical endurance but spiritual perseverance. The faith "Hall of Fame" doesn't mention Chuck Norris, but references men and women who were considered giants in the arena of holy competition, "they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.!"

I wasn't a cheerleader, majorette, flag-girl or mascot in school, I didn't make the cut. Now in ministry, perhaps that's what increases my passion for encouraging others on their journey, whatever it may be; from cancer to PTSD, from abandoned children to abused and discounted women, from the lost in need of salvation to the "found" walking in the fullness of the knowledge of Christ's love, I'm your gal! I probably looked half-crazy as I waved my poster and shouted, "GO! You can make it! You've got this! Chuck Norris never did an Ironman!" (that one always made them smile and keep going just a little bit more).

"When we see that you're just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you're going to make it, no doubt about it." 2 Corinthians 1:7 The Message

It's year-end. The time when all of our mail boxes and in-boxes get filled with requests and petitions for an equally good number of causes and claims. Sunshine After Rain Ministry is entering our 18th year of service to our King. In the coming months we will be undertaking an initiative to serve the Wounded Warrior community and potentially impact thousands (even ten of thousands) of lives. It's going to take more than just your financial support, it's going to take more than just your committed prayer support, it's going to take YOU! It's going to take an "army" to impact military men, women and families.

I'm rallying the troops, I'm holding up a sign, I'm flagging down and waving on, I'm doing whatever it takes to finish the race (and the end of the year) strong. Together we fight the good fight, together we will finish, together we will keep the faith, and faithfully share it with others.

No doubt about it!
Smiling and doing a touchdown kind of dance in His service,

Charlynn (not an Ironman but an IronMom twice)

MAKE A DONATION today by visiting the website: www.sunshineafterrainministries.org

Or by post:
Sunshine After Rain
10024 Regal Park Lane #217
Dallas TX 75230