Faith & Mental Health Article #2 – Real Change is Possible

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

Faith & Mental Health Article #2 – Real Change is Possible

A new word is being thrown around like we are all supposed to know what it means – mindfulness. What exactly does it mean? According to Merriam-Websters Dictionary –

mind·​ful·​ness | \ ˈmīn(d)-fəl-nəs  \

Definition of mindfulness

1: the quality or state of being mindful

2: the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis

also such a state of awareness

The “guru”community uses this word like it is really something new.The truth is, God’s word has always spoken to us about keeping our minds focused on the right things –

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you be careful to do everything written in it.” Joshua 1:8 NIV

But how do we do that? Is God’s Word telling us to walk around with a Bible open like a monk? No! But it does mean that we change our self-talk.

  1. Self talk – How do we talk to ourselves? What are we thinking about – worrying about – stressing about? What are complaining about? Are we sharing gossip? What do we say in our own minds when we see others on social media with “better lives”?

All of these things can lead to negative mental health. We can talk ourselves into a pit despair. We can also talk ourselves into a far better place. Paul said –

                “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest,  whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.   

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and seen in me, do: and the peace of God shall be with you.” Phil. 4:8-9

How we think and talk to ourselves can renew and transform our minds and bring us peace. While this is easy to say, it can be difficult to do. When you are struggling with depression or anxiety… or maybe even excessive worry, reach out to a Christian counselor you can trust, a pastor, or a close friend.

2. Act as if… – Life can be tough and often seem overwhelming. We can see obstacles and allow them to stop us from moving forward. But God can overcome any obstacle and He makes a way, even when one doesn’t currently exist. I want to add here that while this is a fairly common statement of faith, in the midst of grief, depression or anxiety, it can be tough to do on your own. I would encourage you to seek help in both prayer and in the person of a Christian counselor or pastor. We were not meant to walk alone through these valleys. Paul, in the New Testament, referred often to a church or an individual that refreshed his spirit during his times of great testing. I think we should seek out the same.

This article series is based on the passage – Romans 12:2

“And do not be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

It is important to be mindful of God’s Word and to know what His will is for our lives. It can be challenging to see or determine what that is when we are struggling with our mental health. Notice the renewing of the mind comes before “proving” or knowing, (as it is sometimes translated) the will of God in our lives. The clouds of doubt that swirl in our minds while battling depression or anxiety can make even the simplest things seem impossible.

And let’s not forget where the passage begins – And do not be conformed to this world…

The world has lots to say about you. From social media to pop culture, not to mention all the talking heads that are bantering about their opinions, mixed with “psycho-babble” – none of which is helpful and is often very hurtful. The key is to hear from the sources that bring life to your spirit and truly renew your mind. The world does not know or want what is best for you – that is why we are not to be conformed to it. In seeking what God has for us we are renewed, and God’s will – which is good and perfect – becomes known. That is what brings us the peace that surpasses understanding.

Faith & Mental Health Series Part 1

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

Topics of mental health, including depression, anxiety, psychosis, grief, PTSD, and suicide are everywhere in the news today. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the total age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States increased 35.2% from 1999 to 2018. According to the CDC, there were reports of increases in mental health struggles due to the circumstantial stress during the pandemic. We expected that it would have a causal effect on suicide as well… but it didn’t. According to the CDC, the suicide rate went down by 3% and has stayed down during the past several years.

What can account for that?

I believe there are several factors that certainly contributed to this.

  • First, people were at home more. While there was stress over the situation, there was a shared burden. Families were talking about their fears and hopes. The Bible talks a lot about family. Exodus 20:12 gives us a blessing of long life when we honor our father and mother.
  • Second, when we are with those that we love, there is strength. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” I think this pandemic qualifies as a time of adversity.
  • Third, this time together created an opportunity for family restoration. When people begin to talk, they begin to see the problems, recognize their part -seek forgiveness and offer forgiveness. This brings healing where before there was only hurting. Colossians 3:13 tells us, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
  • Fourth, I believe that with the opening of telehealth, some people who were unable to get mental health services were able to access them for the first time. In our busy lives, we are always on the run. Mental health often gets placed on the back burner when there are other issues. During the pandemic, there was time, but there wasn’t opportunity. Telehealth came in and filled that need. This reminds me of the words of Christ – Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. Matt. 7:7

People were asking and it was given. Some in the faith community say,

“If you have enough faith, you won’t need counseling… you won’t have mental health problems like depression… you won’t need medication… etc.”

The truth is the Bible speaks a lot about mental health. It never says that a person won’t need help. I love what Christian Comedian Chonda Pierce says,

                “I get through my days with Jesus, counseling, and my prescriptions.”

A lady responded to her,

                “If you had a little more faith and trusted Jesus more, you wouldn’t need those prescriptions.”

Chonda’s response was perfect,

“I will put down my prescriptions, that a Christian doctor prescribed for me when you drive home tonight without your glasses or stop taking your blood pressure medication and insulin.”

I believe that God works in us and through us in a variety of ways. We live in a broken world and people are hurting more than ever. God uses all means necessary to bring healing and restoration to our lives… including doctors.

Mental health challenges are real and God calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. I believe we can do this with His Word, the Holy Spirit, faith, and the people that God has equipped to come alongside us to walk through these valleys – family, friends, counselors, pastors, and doctors.

Can a person who has messed up in life really change and matter?

Many of you do not know who this man is – George Mueller. But please read the following excerpt from my book – Your Life Matters. I hope it inspires you, as it did me.

George Mueller

In college, I studied about George Mueller. He became one of my heroes. If you haven’t heard of him, Mueller built great orphanages on simple faith. Eventually, these orphanages covered thirteen acres of land on Ashley Downs, Bristol, England. But, when God put it into the heart of George Muller to build these orphanages, George had only two shillings (fifty cents) in his pocket.

By the time of Mr. Muller’s death, there were five immense buildings of solid granite, capable of accommodating two thousand orphans. Without making his desires known to anyone but God, over one million, four hundred thousand pounds ended up being donated – over seven million U.S. dollars today. It arrived as it was needed, to build and maintain the orphanages.

Although George Mueller became famous as one of the greatest men of prayer known to history, he was not always a saint. He wandered into a deep mess before he came to Christ.

Mueller was born in Prussia, in 1805. His father was a tax collector. Not the best example for a young man, his father spent much of his time in the bars and brothels.

George routinely lied to his father about the money he spent, both how much he spent and where he threw it away. He also stole from his father when his father was drunk or out spending time with the women in the brothels.

Since his father was wrapped up in the bad stuff of the world, he didn’t provide much fatherly instruction. He gave them money, that they quickly burned through. At ten years of age, George was sent to a Christian school. His father wanted to make a Lutheran clergyman of him, not that he might serve God, but that he might have an easy and comfortable living wage from the State Church. (Lawson, 1911).

“My time,” said George, “was now spent in studying, reading novels, and indulging … in sinful practices. Thus, it continued until I was fourteen years old when my mother suddenly died. The night she was dying, I, not knowing of her illness, was playing cards until two in the morning, and on the next day, being the Lord’s Day, I went with some of my companions to a tavern, and then, being filled with strong beer, we went about the streets drunk.”

“I grew worse and worse,” said Mueller. “Three or four days before I was confirmed (and thus admitted to partake of the Lord’s supper), I was guilty of gross immorality; and the very day before my confirmation, when I was in the vestry with the clergyman to confess my sins (according to the usual practice), after a formal manner, I defrauded him; for I handed over to him only a twelfth part of the fee which my father had given me for him.”

Lying, stealing, gambling, skirt-chasing, wasteful spending, was just the tip of the iceberg. No one would have imagined that this wayward young soul would become known for his faith in God and his power in prayer.

When his father sent out young George to collect rent, George would lie about the amount he collected and pocket the difference. His reckless behavior brought him to the point of having no money to buy food, and he even stole bread from a soldier.

In 1821, George went to Magdeburg and spent six days there drinking and chasing women. From there, he went to Brunswick and rented an expensive hotel until his money ran out. Next he rented a room at a fine hotel in a neighboring village, intending to defraud the hotel. Caught before he could leave, he traded his finest clothes for rent money. He then walked six miles to another inn, where he was arrested for trying to defraud the landlord. (Lawson, 1911). This time he was jailed for his crime, at sixteen years old.

But then something that can only be described as a “come to Jesus” moment occurred in his life. While at school, one of his friends brought him to the house of a Christian family on a Saturday afternoon.

They ate dinner together and afterward began a Bible study that was far deeper than any he had been involved in before. His heart was moved in a way he had never experienced. Before George could ask a question of the man leading the study, the man quietly slipped to his knees to pray, and his family joined him in prayer.

George had never experienced this, even in all the Christian Studies and seminary/clergyman schooling he had attended. George, unsure what to do, joined them on his knees, too.

In that moment of solemn prayer, George surrendered his life to Christ. He began to cry for the errors of his ways and wanted to do nothing but make amends and share the love of Christ with everyone he came in contact with. It was a moment of real transformation.

He went on to preach around the countryside, and then moved to London and preached there. In 1834, Mr. Mueller started the Scripture Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad to aid Christian day-schools, assist missionaries, and circulate the Scriptures.

Shortly after this, he began the orphanages that impacted so many children. “These institutions of both learning and housing, without government support, without asking anyone for help, without contracting debts; without committees, subscribers, or memberships; but through faith in the Lord alone and intense prayer, had raised and disbursed no less a sum than £1,500,000 ($7,500,000) at the time of Mr. Muller’s death.” (Lawson, 1911). The bulk of this was spent on the orphanage.

“By the time Mueller died, 122,000 persons had been taught in the schools supported by these funds; and about 282,000 Bibles and 1,500,000 Testaments had been distributed through the same fund. Also, 112,000,000 religious books, pamphlets, and tracts had been circulated; missionaries had been aided in all parts of the world, and no less than ten thousand orphans had been cared for using this same fund.” (Lawson, 1911).

At the age of seventy, Mr. Mueller made great evangelistic tours, traveling 200,000 miles around the world. He preached in many lands and several different languages, frequently speaking to as many as 4,500 or 5,000 persons.

He preached three to four times throughout the United States. He continued his evangelistic tours until he was ninety years of age. During these seventeen years of evangelistic work, he estimated he had addressed three million people. All his expenses had been paid by those who sent in funds, in answer to his prayers of faith.

It would be an understatement to say that George Mueller’s life mattered, but I am struck by the times when there was neither food nor money to buy food. As mealtimes in the orphanages drew near, they gathered around the tables in the dining hall and George prayed. All the staff and children would file in and they would join him silently praying.

They were always interrupted by a knock on the door. Someone would deliver food saying, “I felt moved by the Lord to bring this to your institution. I hope it helps.”

No one had said a word publicly, other than their prayers to God. No one had cried in the streets for help or set up a fundraising drive. They prayed.

This wasn’t an isolated occurrence. If that were the case, many would think it to be a coincidence. But their prayers were answered every time there was a need or a shortage.

Every time.

No one ever went without a meal in these orphanages, ever.

I wonder about the impact that this type of devoted prayer must have had on the people at the orphanages who witnessed it, from the staff to the residents. How did this shape their lives of faith?

I imagine it had a tremendous impact on them. Simply learning about the story has had a profound impact on me.

So, you see, your past does not define your future. You can begin again today and live in such a way that the change inspires others and leads them out of their darkness. “If I did it, so can you,” will be your byline. Then you reach down and lift them up and walk with them a while.

I want you to know that YOUR LIFE MATTERS!

God Bless You!

Dr Cliff

God’s Moves

I love the passage in Daniel where the Angel is telling him,

“Don’t be afraid Daniel, Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come to answer your prayer.” Daniel 10:12 (NLT)

Think about those words, “Since the first day you began to pray…” God was listening and moving on his behalf. That is so stirring to me.

It’s like God holds up His hand in heaven, and says – “Quiet everyone, my son/daughter is speaking to me, and I need to hear, so that we can take action on this request.” We mean so much to God that all of heaven stands still at your prayer.

I write these words and the impact of them hit me right between the eyes and bring tears. How many times have I not prayed or prayed in a dutiful way over a meal? How many times have I questioned God in my prayers or even had selfish prayers?

God wants to hear from us… talk with us … move on our behalf. And yet, how many time are we silent… or impatient? I have to be honest – I have been all of that. How about you?

When I look at the Bible, I see how God repeatedly responded to prayer. His people would cry out. David or Solomon would pray. And God would take action on their behalf.

I have seen God take action on my behalf. Seeing all that God has done for me and through me is humbling. I know that many of you have similar stories.

And yet, we still struggle. Sometimes it looks like depression or anxiety over a situation or circumstance. Other times it is a feeling of being overwhelmed or uncertain of what to do next. Then there are times when we simply do not understand why God has not intervened to stop the hurting.

I have to be direct here – I have struggled with all of this myself and will not pretend to have all the answers. But one thing I know is this – God is good and works all things together for the good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). In other words, God is working behind the scenes to do what we cannot. He does not say that all things are good. But He says He will take the very worst and bring something good from it.

So, God wants to hear from you today. Just like He wants to hear from me. He wants to move on that request and talk with us.

In expectation of God moving mountains, will you pray today?

Dr Cliff

P.S. I am praying for you today.

Annie & Helen… Your Life Matters

Simple acts of kindness can change someone’s entire world. Too often today, we think we do not matter. We believe the lie that, we are too broken, poor or “beyond redemption” to matter. Your life matters more that you can even begin to imagine.

I wanted to share the following excerpt from the book – Your Life Matters. It shows power of one person and a simple act of kindness and how it changed the world.

I learned a lot from Granny’s tales. She told me a story she heard while she was in nurse training. It was about a nurse and a little girl.

The little girl, Annie, had been diagnosed as hopelessly insane. They locked her up in the dungeon of a mental institution on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts. People said that this young girl was so far gone that there were times when she acted like a wild animal. She would attack anyone who dared to come close to her. They labeled her Crazy Annie.

Other times, Annie would be completely catatonic and wouldn’t recognize anything. She sat, staring at the walls for days on end. No one knew of a treatment plan or had any hope that Crazy Annie would ever get better. They had locked her up and thrown away the key.

But an elderly nurse, a woman of faith, believed God could do what modern medicine could not. She believed and had hope for all of God’s children and Little Annie was one of them.

So, she started with taking the long trek down to the dungeon every day to eat her lunch outside of Little Annie’s cage. The nurse had a deep desire to communicate her love for Annie as well as God’s love for the girl, but she didn’t know how to reach her. She only knew she had to go.

Each day, she ate her lunch beside Annie’s cage and talked to Annie with no response. Some days she sang for her, but Annie didn’t respond to that either. One day, the nurse left her dessert, a chocolate brownie, beside Annie’s cage.

Annie didn’t acknowledge the brownie beside her while the nurse remained, but when the nurse came back the next day, the brownie was gone. Every Thursday, the nurse would bring her dessert and leave it for Annie. When she returned the next day, it would be gone.

Something began to change through these simple acts of love and kindness that no one could explain. After several weeks passed, doctors noticed small improvements in Annie. Then, after a few months, the improvements were so profound, they transferred her out of the cage and moved her upstairs into a lower level of security. Eventually, the staff allowed her to be among the general population.

Finally, one day the doctors told the formerly hopelessly insane Little Annie she was well and could go home. However, she didn’t want to go. She wanted to stay and help others who were diagnosed as she had been.

You may recognize her name. Annie Sullivan. The same woman who later helped Helen Keller walk out of her darkness and into the light of a future. Helen and Annie inspired generations of people.

#YourLifeMatters

Dr Cliff

Dream Heroic Dreams

A young boy dreams of becoming a superhero.

I believe that we are not here on this planet, in this moment, by accident. I believe that there is a purpose – a masterpiece level purpose to our existence. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Ephesians 2:10

“For you are God’s Masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus for the good work, He ordained for you from the beginning.”

I am not sure what you believe in but I want you to know, is that you are a masterpiece with a mission. I love the story of the artist that looks at a blank canvas and sees this amazing work of art before the first stroke of a paint brush touches it. Or the sculptor that sees a David in the marble and then sets out to remove everything from the marble that hinders the rest of the world from seeing what he or she sees.

The same is true in our lives. I believe that if we want something more, we need to begin to see it in our lives. As a child we would dream of being an astronaut and going to the moon or to Mars. Maybe your dream was being a policeman or fireman or soldier. All of these dreams have one thing in common – they have no limits to them and they are heroic. They will require all that we have to make them happen and as they are happening, they change the world – make a difference to so many and our world is better place because of it.

So, when was the last time you dreamed? I don’t mean while you slept – I mean dreamed about a future you can get excited about. Many of us, if we are honest, have to say that we have stopped dreaming.

What happened to our dreams? Did someone or something come in the night and steal them? I believe the answer to that question is – YES. The world can be a giant dream stealer/killer. The world teaches us fear and to settle for less. The world wants to put limits on our thoughts and capacities. Or it can set such unattainable standards that it becomes depressing to consider. So we just stop… and endure the misery of a dreamless life.

You may be saying , “Yeah, that may be fine for some but you don’t know me or my circumstances. I can’t do that because…____” I know everyone is going through something. I know that everyone has struggles. Some of those struggles are beyond my capacity to imagine. And yet, everyday we hear about someone who overcomes the impossible to do the incredible.

Look at Joni Erickson Tada. She was involved in a diving accident that left her a quadriplegic. She struggled with life at every level but then something happened – she decided to live and not give up. She wrote her story with a stick in her mouth to touch the keys on a keyboard. She began to paint – the same way. She began reaching out and speaking to those who were going through the valley of deep and dark depression, where she had been. She began speaking at conferences and offered hope and encouragement to more people than can be counted. She has recorded music, made a movie and has written more books. She married to a wonderful man. She overcame the impossible to live a heroic life – experiencing success and a life that most would envy, all while being unable to walk, hold someone’s hand or much of what most of us consider normal and take for granted.

Then we have a guy born with no legs and no arms, Nick Vujicic, and he changes the world. We have blind woman, Helen Keller, who inspired a whole generation. There have been those with severe mental illnesses recover (Ann Sullivan plus many others) and make such an impact, that the world was not the same. The names are too many to mention in this short story.

What I want you to gather from this is that we can make a difference in this world but we have to begin with a dream – a heroic dream. Maybe, this dream is even a bit scary. It is likely beyond our current financial or physical abilities. We might have to learn some new skills to get this done or we might have to go back to school. That’s ok… just do it. I was listening to an interview with Kobe Bryant about coming back from injuries, of which he had many over his 20+ year career in the NBA. Each time, he would look at the path before him and break it all down into the smallest component and daily, even hourly steps to get to where he could perform at the highest level – again. He had been to the mountaintop. He knew what it was like and he wanted to get back and was willing to do whatever it took to get there. So each time – he set the dream in front of him – performing at the highest level and leading his team to another NBA title, a heroic dream indeed. Then he would map it out – the physical work he would need to do in order to recover and rise again.

Why can’t we do the very same in our own world? Why can’t we decide to breathe that rare air of a dream, then map it out in a day by day process and plan and then set out to make it happen? Why not?

Is it going to be hard – yes. Is it going to take sacrifice – yes. Is it going to take a personal investment of time – absolutely yes. It may take money you do not have – find it, save it, sacrifice in other areas to make it available. Maybe you get financial assistance because it requires education – those resources are available. If it’s a business, maybe you have to borrow money or get an investor – you do what it takes. Maybe it requires talent beyond your gifts and skill set- partner with others.

You can do this! You might have to give up some things to do this. It will mean setting down your devices or turning off the tv. It will mean reading some books on the topic. But the key is to create a road map – a plan that focuses on the daily tasks that move you toward your dream – your heroic dream – your world changing dream.

So let’s walk through this a little…

Step One – get quiet somewhere. One of my favorite places is my front porch. I put earphones on and play something relaxing from the CALM application on my phone. When it is early and there is no traffic, sometimes I just let the birds be my music. I get out my journal, which is a daily planner/meditation journal that I have created. I begin my writing with either something I am grateful for, a prayer to God or whatever is on my mind – I just write it down. When I just begin, it is amazing how the words and ideas begin to flow.

But what I want you to do, in this planning and dreaming phase is to be very intentional –

Step Two – Dream! Write that word down – Dream. Then add Heroic in front of it. What is your heroic dream for your future? I would just write whatever words or phrases come to mind – keeping it focused but not limiting it to what you think might be possible. Dream big… then dream bigger… Find that one big dream that is so big it scares you. Circle that dream on your page and then begin to write what it would mean to the world if that dream became a reality. What would it mean to you if it were to happen? Use emotion in this writing. Write about how this would impact someone you know personally – maybe it’s you. Then I want you to begin to think about the various steps to get there. There is a term called – reverse engineering. It is where you take a project or a product and you work backwards from the finished product to figure out how to make it, breaking it down to its most basic level. Do the same with this dream.

You maybe saying, “I don’t know where to begin beyond the dream.” My recommendation is to find someone who has done or at least something close to what you are dreaming about doing and read their book or articles about them. Study the process of doing this. Maybe it is creating a product and getting it to market – there are hundreds, if not thousands of books and stories about that. Maybe it is relieving a world problem, like hunger or clean water – read about it and see what others have done. Maybe it is becoming a writer and getting a book published or even becoming a best-selling author. People have written about this. Get their book – whoever it is and see how they did. I am not saying you have to repeat their exact process but success leaves clues and trailblazers leave a trail. Then break it down even further – what do I need to be doing everyday in order to make this happen? Make a daily plan that is manageable – most likely you are going to have to work to make a living so, make sure it is not hurting you. But just keep adding to it – each day. Robin Sharma calls it “micro-wins” and “day stacking”. Making small but incremental progress each day is what will make this dream a reality. After all – how do you eat the elephant? One bite at a time.

I will write more about planning out your dream and your day in future writing but today… just for today, I want you to DREAM HEROIC DREAMS. I had a moment this morning in my own writing where I caught this fire in my soul – a heroic dream. I want to write to 2 million people – in other words, I want the words of this book I have written, and this blog posts will be part of that writing, to be read by 2 million or more people. But I don’t want them to just be read, I want them to be deeply impactful – life changing words that they read – I want the words that they read to make a profound difference in their lives. So I am committing at least 90 minutes a day to writing, I have already begun my next book and this blog will be part of it. But then I am not done. I have close to 100 other titles that I have plans to write about as well. I have a dream that is bigger than me. Will you join me in my heroic dream by creating your own heroic dream and sharing it with the world?

Dream… what is your heroic dream? Going to the moon or beyond? Changing the world? Making the world a better place? You can do it, but you have to begin and then believe that the impossible is no longer impossible for you. I realize that this is a huge leap of faith. But can you believe – just for today, that the impossible is possible, if you work at it each day? I think you will be amazed at what happens each day as you begin to make steps toward your dream – the impossible becomes your new reality. And what an amazing world that could look like, be like… I believe that the world needs your dream. I believe that the world will be a better place because you not only dreamed the impossible but set out to make it happen. But my question is –

Do you believe?

Will you dare to believe that the impossible could happen with enough hard work and determination?

I want you to take a moment and dream… will you at least do that today?

Always remember – Your Life Matters – Today!

God Bless You! Make it a great day!

Dr Cliff

God is Good!

We often hear the phrase – God is good. It is usually followed up – All the time. Then, we hear it said a different way – All the time, God is good. But what does that mean?

Too often, we have these cliches, that may be spoken with the best of intentions, but are they – spoken with any intention at all? I say this because it is so easy to say simple phrases like – I’m good or I love you or something else and they become statements that are said without meaning or real intention. In fact, in those moments, they can actually be a lie.

But when we use God’s name this way, what are we really saying? Are we trying to tell our friends, spouse or even the world that we believe that God is indeed good. Heck, in todays economy of language and word usage – what does the word good even mean? I mean when someone asks you how you are doing, what is your typical response?

“I’m good!” or “All good!”

But is that the truth? I would venture a guess that most of the time we use that phrase, it is really saying – I don’t really want to talk about. So, when a word like “good” is caught up in that kind of usage and it has become so common that it has become meaningless, how does this reflect on our statement – “God is good”?

Here is something to consider – if, in the course of our normal conversations, we have ascribed no value to a word, like good, its usage can be described as “vain” or useless, pointless – producing no result. Wouldn’t that lead us to conclude that we may be taking the Lord’s name in vain?

Or let’s go one step further. If we say that we are Christian and yet, we do not act in accordance with Christ, are we not taking His name in vain there too?

My goal here is not to condemn but to get us thinking and maybe have us to change the way we use certain phrases. Maybe we stop and think and then intentionally say – God is good, oh so good. He has done for me, what I cannot do for myself. I realize that it may be difficult to get that out in every situation. But if we are thinking that, it therefore becomes the intention of the statement. I believe that people can tell the difference but more importantly – God knows our hearts and our intention.

One last thing – God truly is good and He makes our lives matter by His goodness, love and empowering Spirit. He calls us His Masterpiece, even when we feel like we are nothing but a mess. He has a mission for us, even when we feel lost, with no purpose. Your life matters – no matter what, no matter where you are and no matter how many mistakes you have made. God is just that good!

If you get a chance, check out my books – Your Life Matters, The Toolkit To Change Your World and Transformed – A Memoir of a Life Changed By God. Both are available on Amazon or at http://www.yourlifematterstoday.com

Also, check out the new radio show/podcast on VoiceAmerica beginning 5/17/22 at 9am called – Your Life Matters Today by Dr. Cliff Robertson, Jr. My first guest is my long-time friend – Cesar Cantu, the current Executive Director of The Warriors Refuge.

God Bless You!

Dr Cliff

Love Yourself!

Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, as ourselves. Great! But how do we do that, when we do not first love ourselves? And for that matter… how do we love ourselves? Is it about a pampered day at a spa?

No – unless of course you plan to love those around you that way, and you believe that is what Jesus had in mind.

I believe we love ourselves by taking care of our minds, bodies and souls. Beginning with the soul – we give our hearts, our faith, to Jesus. We feed that soul with His word. We feed our soul with good music that moves us to a closer relationship with Him. We are involved in church – His body. We talk with Him – daily. We cherish the gifts from God – our spouse, children… all of it.

Loving our bodies is easy to define, but hard to do. We eat better and exercise – this is love. We go to the doctor for check ups – this is love. There is more here but that’s the basics.

Loving our minds can be a bit tricky. The main ways we love our minds is through positive mental health and controlling the things we allow into our heads. Mental health includes the depression and anxiety we deal with. The grief that we often ignore due to busyness. The need to speak to a professional because it is overwhelming. Unpacking the past – the tragedies and neglect, the hurts and the hang ups. All of it. The truth is that unless we deal with it, one day it will deal with us. And how can we love someone else, who is going through the valley of the shadow of death, when we refuse to deal with our own?

Finally, we love our minds by controlling the inputs. The world has a message for you that may not be healthy for your mind to hear. They could be selling you things that are a lie. Social media can be good and can be bad. Too much of it has been shown to be bad for our mental health. They portray images of perfect families, on perfect vacations and leave out the pain and challenges – they leave out “the rest of the story.” I recommend taking a social media fast. Make it a week, minimum. See how you feel about it at the end of the week.

When we do these things- and for the record, this is not a comprehensive list – we will be loving ourselves. Now- go love your neighbor as you have loved yourself.

#yourlifematters

God bless you!

Dr Cliff

Good Friday? What exactly is so good about it?

When I hear the word “good”, I think of things that bring a smile, or something that is positive in my life or the world. I think of a light rain that waters the grass. I think of a beautiful sunrise or sunset. I think of the embrace of my wife and her kisses. I think of how God describes His creation…

It is difficult for my human brain to understand how a day filled with severe, disfiguring pain can be good. Two beams of wood, three large spikes, and a long walk to Golgotha… can’t be good, right? To think of these spikes, driven into the hands and feet of Jesus Christ as he is nailed to the cross…

To imagine him placed on this cross, where He struggled to breathe, until He breathed His last… All of this while He is forgiving His executors, and inviting the one next to Him to join Him in paradise… how can we describe this as anything but horrific and tragic?

And yet… it was good.

This is Friday and all appears to be lost… but Sunday’s coming… to use all the pain and suffering for the good.

Jesus was placed in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. Along with Nicodemus, they wrapped Jesus’s body in burial cloth. They rolled a big stone over the front of the tomb, and walked away… Their thoughts are not recorded but can you imagine what they were thinking? Burying someone who had taught and performed miracles before them…

Guards were placed outside the tomb for fear that someone might come and take the body.

His disciples hid for fear that His fate would be their own. Women wept and planned to come back to the tomb and give His body the traditional burial treatments.

In their grief, everyone thought it was over… But God…

In God’s economy, the word “good” is not used often. The first time it is used was when God described His creation. So if we take that meaning and apply it to this day of events, we can see He is calling it Creation Level Good! What He is saying is that what has happened on Friday is about to change the world! And change the world in a way that is beyond anyone’s capacity to comprehend.

You see, what appears to be over and impossible… does not necessarily make it so. With God… all things are possible.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story…

Dr. Cliff

#YourLifeMatters

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