Category Archives: Practical Christianity

What Can One Person Do? Book Excerpt #2

Here is part of the first chapter of Your Life Matters. Let me know what you think.

What Can One Person Really Do?

My granny raised my sister and me after our parents divorced. Looking back, I am truly amazed at what she did for us.

Granny took us everywhere, never complaining or griping about it. She simply told us to get in the car with all of our stuff and “let’s go.” I played little league Red Devil football. We practiced three times a week and then played a game once a week in Houston, an hour away.

One time, my game started early in the evening. Granny dropped me off and she and my sister went to get something to eat. On their way back, she turned into the parking lot but missed the entrance and drove into a ditch. A deep ditch. Too deep to drive out of. They had to call a wrecker to pull it out.

They didn’t discuss the mishap in front of me. If my sister hadn’t told me about it, I would have never heard about it.

Granny told me, “Well, Bubba, these things happen. We weren’t hurt. The car wasn’t damaged. No big deal.” She let these things roll off her back like water off the back of a duck.

~

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.

One elderly nurse, headed toward the end of her career, made a difference by sharing a few words, a little music, and some dessert. The hopelessly insane little girl who experienced love from that nurse, went on to impact a blind and deaf girl who changed the world.

When my Granny told me about the nurse and girl, I didn’t fully understand it. I thought it was a great story, but when she told me the rest of the story, I never forgot it.

Granny said, “This one nurse’s care and compassion had effectively changed the world. Think about it, Bubba. How many people did Ann Sullivan and Helen Keller impact during their lifetimes, and even today?”

_____________________________________________________

So how would you answer Granny? Can you see yourself in this one? Where have you reached out and helped – just because you could?

Let me know what you think and if you would like to see more.

Dr. Cliff

Got Off Track and Stayed – The Prodigal Son That Didn’t Return!!

What Do We Do When We Get Off-Track?

My Bible study this morning in 2nd Chronicles 21 led me to the tragic story of King Jehoram, the son King Jehoshaphat. Things started out so well for him. He saw the amazing miracles that occurred due to God Almighty and the faith of His father. According to scripture he was given the kingdom because he was the oldest of many brothers. He was given much gold and silver – there was nothing he wanted that he wasn’t given.two-paths

Yet when he became King and had established himself, he killed all his brothers, married King Ahab’s daughter (the daughter of Jezebel) and led the nation of Judah in the ways of idolatry and sin. His life got off track.

But even then he was warned. The prophet Elijah sent him a message telling him of bad things to come if he didn’t turn back to God. The young man didn’t listen. So the enemies came and began to destroy Jerusalem. Where the faith and godly life of his father had brought peace, the lack of faith and godless life of the son broke the country into pieces.

The King was then plagued with a stomach illness that was incurable and things ended so badly for the king that no one mourned his death.

My question for all of us today is: What are we doing? Have our lives gotten off-track? Are the warning bells ringing? Do we have people coming up to us asking: Is everything alright – you just don’t seem right? Have we gotten in over our heads in debt? Has an old addiction crept back in? Is some demon of the past raising its ugly head again and you have begun to lean that way? How about depression – has it come to sit on your chest like a 800lb guerilla, that has no plans of leaving any time soon, leaving you alone, feeling hopeless, defeated and lost? How about anxiety – worry – nervousness….etc.

None of that is from God, so it means that we may have gotten off-track. You may be thinking that since you haven’t as far off as our King Jehoram that this doesn’t count for you – but it does.

Getting off God’s well lit narrow path can be as simple as walking in a way that is not God focused. In Amos 3:3 we are told that two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. So that means either we are in agreement with God and therefore walking with Him or we are walking away from Him. When we are walking away from Him, we are walking into our very own demise.

So what do we do about it when we discover this? Well let me tell you what I did and maybe it will help you. This afternoon I didn’t want to get out of bed. I am struggling with looking for work and I just didn’t want to get back to it today? I hated the idea of putting in another resume or filling out even one application and answering all the questions that the new online job profile screening programs give us. I tried to sleep it all away but it didn’t go away. So I prayed,

“LORD, What do you want me to do?”

I heard in a very clear and concise way in my spirit,

“Write!”

This is not the answer that I wanted, so I asked again and guess what answer I got back –

“Write! Write!”

So I came and got on my computer and thought, Lord, what do you want me to write about – That was when I was reminded about the bad choices of Jehoram that I studied this morning and how he ignored the path of his father and the word of The Lord spoken directly to him by the prophets and how this led to his total destruction.still waters

This story resonated very deeply with me and where I was at today. I was reminded that rarely does a person wake up one morning and decide that he or she is going to go into full on rebellion against God – it’s usually a progressive thing. It is that step by step movement away from the LORD that leads a person down that path into darkness.

What I have learned is that when I begin to feel a separation from God that it is me that has moved away and not God. I know that depression is not of God. I know that anxiousness is not of God. Addictions are not from God. I know that when my mind and heart is stayed on Him that I am at perfect peace. When I look away, I am looking into the abyss of my own demise.

My advice today is to check yourself in the mirror. Where are you going, what is the recurring message between your ears and if it’s not from God, what are you doing about it? God wants the best for His children and therefore we need to look to Him for His gifts and fruits of the Spirit – like peace, joy, love and … When we do, we find that He is right there to lift our burdens, dispel the darkness and restore our joy. One of the simple things I started doing when I feel down is to turn on Christian radio or Spotify through the internet and listen to the Contemporary Christian Mix or Worship Mix. Just hearing the Lords name being praised brings a peace that is hard to explain. But I know that this is a very Biblical response because we find that when David played music for Saul that the tormenting spirit had to leave. It still works today but it doesn’t work with other types of music. Why, you ask? It’s simple – one comes from God and the other does not. One leads you to God and the other must by its very nature lead you away from God.

We must constantly remain on the path that God has for us – for if we are left to our own devices, we will get it wrong. This may also mean that we have to separate ourselves from the other negative influences – the people, places and things – that surround us and try to drag us back into the pit and then do the very best they can to bury us there.

This can be very hard because it requires that we make difficult choices. We will save that discussion for another day. Suffice it to say that today, if you find yourself in a pit of despair or way off-track, do the first right thing and that is to pray and ask for God’s help. Seek His direction and then just do it. Then I want you to put His word in your ears and it will slowly lift that big ugly burden and before you know it your singing along and laughing.

I want you to know that the Creator of the Universe is just one prayer away – call on Him and return – you can never stray too far – His reach spans the entire universe and He can and will restore you, if you will just call on Him – turn to Him. He is waiting today – will you call on Him. I did and it made all the difference.

Praise Him!

Cliff

2 Timothy 4:2,5

Practical Christianity – Finding God’s Will In Our Work

Have you ever been in a job you wish you had never taken? Have you felt that your faith was being compromised at every turn and that you were falling away from God just by remaining in that place? If so, you might need to go searching.

I know that I certainly have. I was once told by my boss to,

“Go tell Clay to get his @#$$%, *&^%, #^&*) in my office right ?*&^%$ now!”christianityquotes 1

So I stuck my head out of the office and said,

“Hey Clay, the boss needs to see you.”

He commenced to tell me that I had not followed his instructions and that I needed to call for Clay the same way he had just told me. I very politely told him,

“Sir, I don’t talk like that anymore.”

He began to stutter and stumble over his words and said something to the effect that he didn’t either and that ……. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so sad. From that moment on, I was persona non-grata. I needed to find another job and it was tough but I was persistent and found one.

Have you ever been in that kind of situation? What did you do? Let me hear from you.

Tomorrow we will talk about looking for work. I recently had an experience that blew me away and forced me to walk from an opportunity that otherwise I would have taken.

Cliff