LISTEN

It’s my word for the new year.

One word that holds so much power & requires so much practice.

Stop. Be still. Be quiet. Listen. Really listen.

To your husband. To your children. To your neighbor.  TO YOUR GOD.

Love them with your attention. Your full attention.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak & slow to become angry.

James 1:19

You’ve got my attention, 2016. Go ahead. I’m listening.

The MINE Sign

Last spring/summer while using a Sunday School room in a local church I noticed a handwritten sign on the closet door that warned others from using the food & drinks stored there.  It was “theirs”.  My group used this classroom twice for an unsponsored Bible study.  The unashamedly signed note was not intended for us, but for the church’s youth group.  What a relief.  When I saw the sign I shook my head & laughed & audibly spoke to the lady (whom I had never met & who was not there with me while I was talking to her).  I said, “(Her name here), I know you.  You’ve been in every church I’ve ever attended.  As a matter of fact, I’ve been you.”

Anyone have a clue what I’m talking about?  WHO I’m talking about?

Yesterday I was blessed to meet up with her again.  Different lady.  Different church.  Same condition. It’s called the “Mine Sign” disease.  This is MINE.  I’ll make a sign.

As most of us head to a building this morning to gather with other believers, let’s be very careful to know that it is just that – a building.  With stuff.  Not OUR stuff.  Just stuff.  If it is our stuff, then it’s worthless.  Until we let HIM have all of our stuff it won’t be useful.  Until we let Him have us, we won’t be useful.

My daddy taught me that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

It’s the people inside those walls that matter to Christ.  Not your stash of Little Debbie cakes & fruit punch.  Not your dry-erase board.  Not your favorite pew or your classroom with a view.  Not the ornaments on your perfectly decorated Christmas tree.  Jesus gave His life for those people – those wildly precious children that touch the decorations & write on the chalkboards!  Jesus LOVES those little ones that drive you crazy.  You think you’re there to teach them, don’t you?  Actually, God put those babies there because you & I have so much to learn from them.

Let’s take down our signs & open our arms.  Your perfectly planned lessons & color-coded notes make zero difference if you’re not touching lives with the love of Jesus.  When my children fight over a toy or game we take it away based on the fact that when an object becomes more important to our children than their brother or sister it needs to be removed while they rethink what & who is important.  When we value our positions & our possessions more than we value people we need to take a break until our priorities are back in line with His.

God’s love is the cure for our condition.  Heal us today, Lord!

a decade of days

10 years as Mr. & Mrs. Charles Davis Corley.

3,650 days of choosing to stay.

Not the sappy, romantic anniversary post opening you’d expect?  Listen, there is no greater evidence of fierce love than choosing to stay day after day after day.  My husband can get under my skin faster than anyone on the planet.  He knows how to press my buttons & he does.  He is the most insensitive man I’ve ever known in my life.  There are days that he makes me want to rip my eyeballs out of my head.  Other days I consider jerking his toenails off one by one.  That’s truth.  He would say the same thing about me, but probably worse.  I don’t always want to love him, but I choose to love him. Over & over & over & over.  And I choose to stay. Thankfully, he does the same.

Ten years ago, we vowed to stay together.  We made the decision to choose one another every day for the rest of our lives.  I did not promise to be nice all the time.  I did not promise to cook gourmet meals (or cook at all).  I did not promise to clean house (ever).  I did not promise to like the way he does things (anything).  He didn’t promise to bring me flowers (ever).  He didn’t promise to rub my feet (or my back).  He didn’t promise to enjoy listening to me ramble on about everything (and nothing).  Unfortunately, he didn’t promise to do anything at all in a timely manner.  He simply promised to stick around.  So did I.  We promised to be in this together. No matter how much we might want out.  Absolutely I’ve wanted out.  Most definitely he’s wanted out.  But we stay.  ‘Cause we promised.  And ’cause God is faithful.  And HE promised.

Isaiah 14:24 “The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, ‘Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, & just as I have planned so it will stand'”.

And it has.  And it does.  It remains standing.

Today I promise once again.  To stay.  Always.  Only because I want to be here every day for the rest of your life to drive you completely out of your mind.  You’re well on your way, Baby.  Well on your way.

I love you, Chuck Corley.

Fiercely.

For now.

For always.

Won’t you stay?  Just a little bit longer?

RIGHT to die?

Fearful.  Intimidated.  Not words I’d use to describe myself.  Until now.  It’s come to my attention that I’m afraid of rocking the boat when it comes to very public controversy.  It bothers me to think that I might offend someone or make them mad by offering my thoughts on a hot topic.  It unnerves me to think that someone might respond in heated opposition.  Yikes.

Today I’m facing the fear & risking the backlash.  Sometimes we believe something so strongly we can’t help but speak it.  That’s where I stand today on this issue of “right to die” or “death with dignity”.  This one burns me to the core so in search of my own relief I’m going to write.

As a preface to this I want to make clear that I have never been in such a tragic situation & I have no idea what it feels like to be given a gruesome life sentence or to be the family member of someone who has.  In no way do I know what that kind of pain is.  I can only try to imagine.  Also, my opinions are based on my faith & are directed to believers, Jesus Christ followers.  My very strong feelings are not intended for anyone except Christians.

As a woman of God I believe that to take my own life for any reason at all is wrong.  Period.

-I.am.not.God.   I’m not Him so I don’t have any business playing His part by ending a life that He gave.  (Psalm 139:13-16)

-I believe in God & His power to heal.  If I end my own life on Monday & my miracle was waiting for me on Tuesday….well…see?  (Isaiah 53:5, Matthew 4:23)

-As a child of God, I no longer have a “right” to myself.  I am not my own. I was bought at a price. (I Corinithians 6:19-20)

-Jesus didn’t die a dignified death. He didn’t get the option to be overmedicated in the privacy of His own home instead of being publicly beaten, spit on, mocked, & crucified.  And I have the audacity to think I deserve something a little prettier or tidier?  (Luke 9:23)

My heart aches for the families that face such unfathomable choices, but precious people loved by an almighty God, it was never your choice to make.

Don’t Call Me Common

Christians, would you please hear a shout from this simple country girl from South Carolina this morning? 

YOU ARE NOT COMMON! 

If you have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, I’ve got news for you! 

YOU ARE NOT COMMON! 

You are more than a conqueror!!!  MORE!!  THAN A CONQUEROR!!

No more excuses like “I’m only human.”.  PHOOEY!!!!  And contrary to the Bible.

When you invite Jesus to be Lord, He takes up residence.  He moves in!  He makes Himself at home!!  JESUS!!  The One who heals the blind, the deaf, the lame.  The One who casts out demons!!!  The One who resisted the temptations of the devil while in the most vulnerable position to give in!  The One who raises the dead back to life (spiritually & physically)!  The One who endured unthinkable, unimaginable torture for your sake & mine, was brutally murdered for your sake & mine, then rose from the dead Himself for your sake & mine!  AND WE HAVE THE AUDACITY TO THINK & SAY THAT WE ARE COMMON???  Just human???? 

Shame on us.

Folks, we mock the cross of Christ & deny the power of the Holy Spirit when we sell ourselves short.

Now if you think you’re nothing without Him you’re right & if you think I’m worthless without Him you’re dead on, but here’s the thing – I’m NOT without Him & if you belong to Him YOU’RE NOT EITHER!!

The Holy Spirit of God Himself, the Creator of this vast, marvelous universe dwells within ME & YOU!!  OH HALLELUJAH!!  Whatever holds you back from walking in the power of the Spirit, throw it off!  Stop it!  Fear is not from God.  That’s not a redneck girl’s opinion.  That’s BIble. 

We can’t live in fear & sin & bondage & mediocrity & file it under “just human”.  Your “just human” filebox was trashed when you got “just Jesus”! 

Let’s talk about COMMON sense.  I am not open for the “Well, God gave us common sense” debate.  In my opinion, that’s just one more excuse.  One more way to rationalize our unChristlike behavior.  For the record, when I say unChristlike I’m not talking about the Baptist list of preferred sins – smoking, drinking, drugging, etc..  By unChristlike, I mean our PET sins.  You know the ones – WORRY & GOSSIP & COARSE JESTING & GREED & QUARRELING & COMPLAINING.  We are unChristlike when we use our COMMON sense to say that we’re going to be poor because of gas prices or healthcare or whoever sits in the White House.  Listen, my bank account may empty because of all those things & I may end up broke as a joke, but I.will.not.be.poor. (thank you, Connie Post!) BECAUSE OF WHO SITS ON THE THRONE OF HEAVEN.  The earth is His footstool!  And guess what??  HE’S MY DADDY!!!!!!!!!!!  Aaaaaaggggghhhhhh!!!!  IS THAT AWESOME OR WHAT??!!

Recently, someone very close to me argued this point with me about common sense, but I refuse to relent.  I am a SUPERnatural woman because I have the SUPERNATURAL God IN me & I am IN Him.  I do not see that Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, Hosea, John the Baptist, Paul, or JESUS used common sense.  They were regular people, but they lived unCOMMON lives.  They were weird.  They were risky.  They were dangerous.  I would not dare call any of these giants of our Godly heritage COMMON.  So I dare not call you that & you better not call me that!

Whew. That one was itchin’ to get out!

Have a SUPERnatural day!!!!  JESUS IS LORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bathing in Discipline

UPDATED:  This is a post that I wrote over a week ago, but did not publish because I couldn’t get the videos embedded.  Reading it fresh today makes it even more interesting in light of discoveries I’ve made since writing it.  More on that later!

 

Before I had even showered yesterday morning the Lord had already spoken deep conviction into my soul.  By the time I got to the shower I knew I needed more than a physical washing.

The past week has been incredibly unproductive for me.  Discouragement began to settle on me early in the week & I allowed myself to sink into a nothingness mode on a daily basis.  My perspective was way out of whack & in turn, my attitude was rotten.  Of course, instead of feeling apologetic to those around me I felt sorry for my own self.  I was having a full-fledged, week-long pity party.

To make matters worse, some of my people were experiencing extra happiness & had a spirit of celebration.  This sent me into a downward spiral of self-pity by the week’s end.   This is that place of “woe is me” & “why them” & “why not me” & “it’s not fair”.  Surely you’ve visited this unlovely place from time to time?  It is the lonely land of the perpetual whine.  Maybe whyne instead of whine?

True to form, my Lord & Savior, my Teacher & Friend, my longsuffering Father answered my questions.  Among all of His amazingness is faithfulness.  Even when it’s not what I want to hear He is faithful & true.

He answered me with Matthew 25:14-30 & with these quotes from Erwin McManus’ Uprising:

“God entrusts us with His resources & then holds us accountable for what we do with them.”

“…he distributed the resources according to each individual’s ability.  He didn’t give them more than they were capable of managing well.” (in reference to the master in Matt. 25:14-30)

In a painful few moments, God revealed my laziness.  Let me insert here that I despise laziness.  Needless to say, I was very offended that my Master called me lazy.  Me.  Ouch.  He didn’t stop there, but continued to show me that I’ve not managed some gifts in my life very well.  I’ve proven myself to be incapable & not ready.

Have you heard Christine Caine’s message on passing the baton of faith?  I’ve heard it twice, but delivered to two different audiences.  I’d recommend the Liberty University address for younger folks getting started & the Catalyst one for folks already in leadership roles.  Frankly, I’d recommend either one for anybody!

When I saw these messages a while back I nodded in full agreement.  I’m still in full agreement, but sadly having to admit that I’m the one who would drop the baton.  At 40 years of age & 35 years of those as a believer I’m still struggling with my position in the exchange zone (listen to Christine’s message!).  I’m like the servant in Matthew 25 who has not been a good steward of everything the Lord has given to him.  In addition to my disgust for laziness, I’m also disturbed by fear among believers.  However, here I am holding back where I should be moving forward & I dare say it’s because of fear.

Conviction is not pretty & it’s tough to swallow, but I’m so thankful for it!  He disciplines those He loves!  He disciplines His own!  Though I regularly shower, there are unseen impurities that need to be washed away!  Though I regularly stay in God’s Word & prayer,  there are unseen impurities that need to be washed away!  Without the Holy Spirit’s light on the dirty places of my life I would remain the same & eventually develop a stench.  My desire is to be faithful & to invest wisely, to be ready & to be positioned well, to be clean & to smell good!

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”   2 Corinthians 2:14

How about you?  Any hard convictions lately?

begin

wow. was that directed at me? is today the day? the time to begin?

i keep putting off beginning this blog. i’m ready to do it. i can see it in action.

but beginning. beginning seems to be the hardest part.

so today (although a day late to the party) i suppose i will begin.

go ahead, tonya. just do it.

this must be the thing stopping you. this blasted beginning.

begin. don’t look back. just begin.

this is true for everything, isn’t it? the beginning is what gets us. if we never begin, we never….

begin writing. begin serving. begin running (again). begin a new church. begin. begin. begin.

the discovery is that I’ve not begun. what’s been holding me back & had me frazzled for days? what’s keeping me crazy when i know exactly where i want to go?

here it is.

it’s the beginning.