Monthly Archives: January 2009

Stuff Going on Around the Clelands

Things have been a little heavy around here for a couple of days so I though I’d lighten the mood with a few words about the family and other stuff:

1. We got a fish.  Her (?) name is Ruby Cleland.  Lucy named her.  I was thinking about titling this post “Another Cleland” but decided that might imply something other than a fish.

2. Today while I was out walking, Harry climbed up on my desk and spilled a cup of coffee all over my stuff.  I have suspected for a while but now have confirmed that boys and girls are different.  More climbing…less cuddling.

3. Erika and I tried to get into “Lost” and failed.  We got into “24” and watched every season.  I thought it would be the same for “Lost.” After one DVD from season one we’ve set it aside.  I just don’t find the characters to be very interesting.

4. The month after we moved here someone stole my golf clubs out of my truck.  They were 20 years old and I liked them so losing them still stings a little.  But as of last weekend with the help of my family through Christmas and Birthday gifts I was able to buy some new ones.  Ping G-5’s.

5. I need to read a fiction book.  I think it’s been since Harry Potter 7.  Any suggestions?

6. We rented Eagle Eye last weekend. Don’t waste your time.  I was shocked to see Steven Spielberg’s name come up as executive producer.  What’s he thinking these days?  Nevermind…I just remembered Indiana Jones IV as I wrote that question.  He’s probably thinking, “We should do another Jurassic Park.”

7. Target brand Gummi Bears (Archer Farms???) have great flavor and really retain their freshness.


Since moving to Savannah 6 months ago I’ve been asked whether or not I’m “reformed” more than in the last four years combined.  For some reason that definition seems to be a pretty big deal around here.  Ordinarily I do my best to avoid labels especially in my preaching and teaching.  I’d rather simply affirm what the bible teaches and if that falls into some category then so be it.

Then I read this piece and it turns out it may not matter anyway.  Though my beliefs regarding salvation would fall within the boundaries of reformed theology, since I have not embraced “reformed thinking” when it comes to other doctrines I may not actually be reformed.  I’m really OK with that.

However, one example this blogger uses to illustrate my “non-reformedness” is my understanding of the covenants. He says,

“Our Baptist friends…insist that the adjective “old covenant” refers to everything that occurred before the incarnation (despite Paul’s definition of “old covenant” in 2 Cor 3 and despite the way it is used in Hebrews) and therefore the new covenant is so utterly different from Abraham that, despite God’s command to initiate covenant children into the visible church/kingdom, we can no longer initiate covenant children thus.”

I’m sure I’m oversimplifying here and I’m sure that for this to be a really effective post I should spend a lot of time defining terms and providing reasons why I don’t hold to a “reformed” understanding of the covenants.  But it seems to me that at some basic level the reformation itself was about departing from long held extra-biblical beliefs and practises within the Catholic Church.  The “reformed” understanding of the covenants is an area that the reformers left unreformed.  So doesn’t this mean that I’m actually more reformed in my “non-reformedness” than those who are reformed?

What is it about dog movies?

Marley and Me is absolutely the saddest movie I’ve seen since My Dog Skip.

Teens and Evangelism

Why is it that so many who lead churches believe that the youth group should be a hot bed of evangelistic activity and service even when the rest of the body reflects very little enthusiasm for reaching the lost?  I’ve dealt with those who thought that youth ministry needed to spread a “wide net” (their term, not mine).  The program needed to provide a place where teenagers could feel comfortable bringing their friends.  And if the teenagers weren’t bringing their friends it must be a problem with the program right?  Isn’t it at least a strong possibility that if teenagers aren’t bringing their friends to church they are just reflecting their parents’ enthusiasm for outreach?


Has anyone ever been at a meeting where people were standing up and yelling because the young married class wasn’t spreading a wide net?  Has anyone ever been to a special meeting to discuss whether or not the senior adult ministry has too many cliques and isn’t welcoming to newcomers?  Why have teenagers been singled out as the only age group that should be aggressively inviting their friends to church?


And just so you know, I’m not suggesting that youth ministry shouldn’t be evangelistic.  I’m suggesting that in a church where the members in general are enthusiastic about evangelism the teenagers will also be enthusiastic about evangelism.

Caller ID

I’ve become so dependent on the caller ID feature of my cell phone that when the voice I hear turns out to be different from the one I expected I become stunned and unable to speak coherently.

Let’s be Honest

I’m back in youth ministry and so I’m teaching through James.  It’s been good to get back to James as it was one of the first books I preached all the way through back in the JH Pastor days. (Can anyone forget Bob the Bass?)  James 1:2-4 contains a command that can only be obeyed by one who has met the Lord Jesus Christ, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.”  Not if you encounter various trials…when.

James is being frank with his readers.  A believer in Jesus is going to experience a myriad of different trials in this life.  They know this.  He’s writing to Jews who have lost everything because they repented of their sins and followed Christ. And what you need to understand is that those trials are given to you by a sovereign God whose purpose it is to make you more and more like His son Jesus Christ.  If you’re a Christian that’s a good thing right?  So consider it all joy!

Some would prefer that we hide these kinds of exhortations from those who are new to the faith or may be considering Christ for the first time.  Teenagers especially are often shielded from the fact that while the way of the cross and glorious it is also fraught with suffering.  Jesus Himself said that the disciple is not above the master.  If they persecuted Christ then they’ll persecute His disciples. But by hiding the fact that the bible promises trials to those who follow Christ we also fail to point out that trials are actually a good thing.  In suffering we are disciplined by our heavenly Father who loves us.  In trials we find our faith being strengthened.  Paul prayed that he might know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (Phil. 3:10).  In Acts 5:40-41 the apostles who have just been flogged for preaching Jesus Christ left “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

So let’s be honest.  As a Christian you will experience trials in this life and that’s a good thing.  How are you going to respond and why?

Live Blogging the Inauguration

I just stopped and had lunch as I watched the inauguration.  I wanted to catch Rick Warren’s prayer after all of the hoopla but I must have been too late.  I’ve said before that I find the office of the President to be fascinating in all it’s parts and there’s no doubt that today’s events carry an extra measure of historical significance.  I know I am not alone in believing that we really don’t know what to expect from President Barack Obama. Whether or not he is truly Lincolnesque in his leadership I think it too early to tell.  But he is now our President and so he deserves our respect and our prayers.  I certainly hope that he will be treated better by his opponents than George Bush was treated by his.  We as Christians should be excellent examples as we speak respectfully and carefully even when we must be critical.

Update:  What an unbelievably warm parting between the Obamas and the Bushes as George and Laura got on that helicopter.  That is a great demonstration of the peaceful transfer of power that we enjoy in our country.  I made the mistake of watching MSNBC for a few minutes as the parting took place.  Olberman and Matthews were still taking shots at the Bushes even in those final moments.  So far it seems like Obama is far classier than those guys.