Monthly Archives: June 2009

30 Minutes After Swimming

It is becoming apparent that I wasted countless summer hours in my youth waiting for my food to adequately digest so that I could go back in swimming.  An easy google search produces ample evidence that this is a conspiracy that has been perpetrated by parents throughout the centuries.   Plus, on Friday night after consuming a hot dog, a hamburger and an ice cream sandwich, I went in swimming after probably 15 minutes and have felt great ever since.

Pride and the Christian

Studying to teach James 4:7-10 on Sunday morning (10 am in the youth house – you’re invited) and I came across this:

“The devil, unlike the Christian, takes pride seriously, knowing that as long as he can control human pride he can frustrate God’s purposes, if but temporarily.  There may be many kinds of pride but for the devil’s purpose a proud Christian is of much more use than an atheist or a pagan.”

James Adamson, The Epsitle of Jamesin the NICNT

The Preacher Came Late to Church

I like to think of myself as a punctual person.  I normally leave for my appointments with plenty of extra time to spare.  I thought that I gave myself plenty of time when I left home yesterday afternoon to preach the evening service at Rocky Ford Baptist Church in Rocky Ford, GA.  The first evidence of miscalculation should have been when I realized I needed to get gas.  Then I had to stop and tap on my air-conditioner with a screw driver to get it working again (I don’t know why this works but it does.)  So far so good.  I’m leaving for an hour drive with an hour and a half to go.

It was about 5:45 that I started to get nervous.  I knew I was close but I wasn’t feeling good about my surroundings.  There was nothing but trees and fields for miles and to make matters worse I had no cell-phone reception and my GPS wasn’t finding any baptist church at all much less Rocky Ford Baptist Church.  At 6 PM when the service was to begin panic set in.  At 6:05, having entered the town of Rocky Ford a few minutes before, I realized that I was in a different town.  I turned around, made it back to Rocky Ford and in God’s providence passed the church on my left after turning down the only street I could find that seemed to have structures on it.

At 6:15 I entered through the back of the church putting on my coat and noticing that my tie was about 2 inches too short.  The crowd laughed politely as I made my way up the center aisle. Thankfully, the pastor looked as relieved to see me as I was relieved to be there.  Some much for being proud about my punctuality.

Are you a Friend of God?

What is the source of all the conflict and quarreling among you?  That’s the question James asks as he begins chapter 4.  At first glance this may seem to be a more complicated question than it really is.  That we have conflict in our lives is beyond dispute.  But is it possible that all of our conflicts come from the same source?  Surely James is being overly simplistic here.  How could he possibly understand the struggles of living in our post-modern age?  There are just so many things to blame.  Some blame their parents.  Some blame their circumstances.  Some blame their physique.  And if all else fails one can always claim, “The Devil made me do it.” 

James is on a roll here when it comes to making things simple.  At the end of chapter 3 we learned that the wisdom from above leads to peace and the wisdom from below leads to disorder and every evil thing.  So what is the source of the conflict and quarreling?  “Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”  James is making the radical assertion that the reason we have conflict with other people (and with God) is because of our own tendency to lust after things we don’t have.  In verses 1-4 of chapter 4 James slices to the heart of every conflict we have in this life.  It turns out that in spite of all my elaborate efforts to the contrary the real problem is me.

When we give ourselves over to bitter jealousy and selfish ambition we have at that moment committed to following the wisdom of the world which says, “Do what you want, when you want and don’t put up with anyone (even God) who tries to stop you.”  This, as we saw in chapter 3, leads to disorder and every evil thing.  The only answer, according to James 4:4 is to stop loving the world and start loving God.  To choose to be a friend of the world is to put oneself at enmity with God not because God hates us but because a friend of the world must hate God.  Love for God and love for the world cannot coexist (see Matthew 6:24).

Is your life mired in all manner of quarrels and conflicts today?  Playing the blame game can only lead you further into chaos and disorder.  Recognize that your own sinful desires are the source of your struggles, repent of loving the world rather than God, and believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again, enduring the wrath you deserve so that you can be forgiven for having lived according to the wisdom that is earthly, natural and demonic.

Jalapeno Harvest



I’m real excited about our recent jalapeno harvest.  I think they’re the most beautiful jalapenos I’ve ever seen in my whole life.  My experience with these little peppers has provided me with a treasure trove of sermon illustrations.

Swimming Lessons

Yesterday Lucy started swimming lessons at the Habersham YMCA.  Needless to say she LOVED it.  She kicked, splashed and put her face under the water (a first).  She had a super cool lifeguard/instructor named Dan whose orange hair indicated that he may have overused the “Sun-in.” I think it’s a special person who takes a summer job herding 3 year olds in and out of a pool every day.  Also of note, none of the girls in the class of 3-5 year olds cried…only boys.  I’m not sure what that means.

The Next Food Network Star

Food Network

You need to know that the best show on TV that you’re not watching is The Next Food Network Star. For the fourth time (that I’ve watched) a new set of contestants have descended upon New York City in hopes of taking a spot among the pantheon of Food Network stars.  I’m not kidding.  I love this show. 

Each week, guided by a Food Network luminary, the contestants must complete a strenuous culinary task that tests their skills both as a cook and as an entertainer.  At the end of the night both the food and the performance are judged and one contestant is cast aside.  In the judging room there’s almost always crying.

I’m thinking about holding my own competition tentatively titled, “Dave Cleland’s Next Personal Chef” in which ten hopefuls will perform various culinary tests in hopes of becoming my personal chef.  Erika, Bobby Flay and I will judge. Serving fish or anything raw will lead to immediate disqualification. One contestant will be cast off each week until only one remains.   That chef will then live with the knowledge that if I had enough money I would have hired him to be my personal chef.

Just FYI, Guy Fieri won the first time we watched.  Now he’s got two shows on Food Network and he’s doing commercials for TGIFriday’s.