Monthly Archives: August 2009

Harry and the Laser

We’re pretty excited because tomorrow morning (at 5:30 – this I’m not excited about) Harry finally gets another face treatment.  Harry was born with a Port Wine Stain over half of his face.  If the mark was only about discoloration it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  But if left untreated the red area will actually cause his face to become disfigured as he gets older.  With new treatments done at an early age Harry will experience much less disfigurement and bleeding as he gets older.

Harry was getting these treatments regularly before we moved to Savannah.  He had a fabulous Pediatric Dermatologist up in Chicago. Our new dermatologist told us that it was obvious that some very good work had already been done.  But since we moved we’ve had a hard time finding another dermatologist who treats Port Wine Stains.  Plus, right after we arrived here we started having to deal with Harry’s seizures and his breathing issues.  We’ve been too busy making trips to the pediatrician, neurologist, hematologist, ophthalmologist, Ear-Nose-Throat Doctor and infectious disease specialist to find a dermatologist.

Anyway, we’re back  at it tomorrow.  He’ll be put to sleep for the procedure.  The laser treatment isn’t particularly painful (they did it to my arm the first time he had one) but it is annoying, particularly for a little boy whose worst thing in the world is to be held down.  He’ll have some bruising for a couple of days but he’ll look much worse than he feels for a couple of days.


Why I Love “Why We Love the Church”

Why we love the church

C.S.Lewis coined the phrase “chronological snobbery” which means that Christians tend to discount the old and embrace the new.  When it comes to the church, it’s certainly in vogue these days to write about the need to scrap the whole enterprise and rebuild from the ground up.  If I let myself focus on all the trouble that arises between the stained glass windows I can feel that way myself sometimes.

This is why I love Why we Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. This book is refreshing in the midst of a seemingly endless barrage of books aimed at tearing down the local church.  Author after author these days attacks the church as inauthentic, overly-authoritarian and off mission.  Do we really need any more would-be prophets selling books criticizing the church for embracing commercialism?  The other day I came across the blog of a major Christian publication asking for the best story illustrating the problem of commercialism in evangelicalism today.  As a promotion for the book, the publisher would then reward the author of the best story with a free copy of the book (the book denouncing commercialism that is).

I think the overall point is: yes, Christians are hypocrites.  And DeYoung and Kluck do an excellent job making the case that the church seems like it’s a mess to the outside world because it is comprised of a bunch of sinners.  But in spite of being a mess, the local church is still plugging along after 2,000 years.  All the prophets of doom who in the 1980’s announced that if the church didn’t give itself over to seeker-sensitive thinking have been replaced by the new prophets of doom proclaiming that if the church doesn’t embrace a missional model it will die in five years, or a decade, or next month.

On the heals of my post about this having been the summer of the local church for me, this book just reinforces a growing sense that there is more to the ministry of the local church than I have often thought.  Yes, Bono is out there fighting world hunger and dissing President Bush but brothers and sisters in Christ are meeting every week to care for children and widows, study the bible and then go out and live as salt and light in their community.  The man who is working hard to provide for his kids while also serving as a deacon and teaching a Sunday School class may not being giving a concert in New York or Tokyo next weekend but he will be listening to my daughter say her verses in AWANA next Wednesday night and for that I’m grateful.

Whether you love the church or not I’d encourage you to pick up this book and be reminded of all the good things going on within the body of Christ.

What’s going on with the Clelands now?

1.         Last Wednesday night Lucy became a Cubbie and Harry became a Puggle.  I’ll try to post a picture sometime soon.  I was so proud of him walking around church in his puggles T-shirt, showing people his puggles bag.  And as for the Cubbie, I can’t believe I’m old enough to have one of those children at church on Wednesday Night in one of those blue vests.

2.         I just finished reading Atlas Shrugged and have been studying/teaching James 5:1-11.  This, combined with our nation’s ongoing discussion about healthcare and the current obsession with all things “social justice” within evangelicalism has led me to decide to put a little time into seeing what the bible has to say about these things.  My suspicion that the bible might not always say what I expect it to say on this issue has already been confirmed.

Has anyone read anything helpful/biblical on this?  Also, in case you haven’t noticed Kevin DeYoung (The Why We’re not Emergent guy) has begun a series on his blog related to this issue.

3.         Erika and I have begun the process that we hope will lead to us adopting from Ethiopia.  I’m becoming fascinated with all things Ethiopia, thanks in large part to a book Erika found called, There is No Me Without You.  It’s the story of a widow in Ethiopia who begins to open her home to children who have been orphaned by the AIDS crisis.  Right now I can’t put it down.  It’s not a “Christian” book but contains lots of fascinating history as background to the orphan problem in that country.  It has made us want to go there ASAP.

4.         Back to Harry, for those of you who love him and pray for him, he is doing really well these days.  He gets speech therapy now every Tuesday and his therapist thinks he’s making amazing progress.  We also found a doctor here in Savannah who is going to be able to start his face treatments again.  We’re really thankful and excited about that.

The Stuff of the Local Church

This summer has been very busy as indicated by my lack of blogging.  In June I enjoyed a weekend with my in-laws that culminated in my being ordained by Ferguson Avenue Baptist Church.  On Sunday night Erika’s Dad preached the charge to the congregation.  It may be the only ordination charge ever preached that began in the book of Leviticus.  As we were leaving he said to me with great contentment, “Now this is the stuff of the local church.”

That statement has really hung with me this summer.  In many ways I feel like this has been the summer of the local church for me.  VBS, Children’s Camp and Youth Camp took up three of my weeks in July.  Just this past week I’ve attended a Deacon’s Meeting, an after church social event and a scavenger hunt.  On Sunday mornings our pastor has been preaching through Isaiah and on Sunday nights through Romans.  This is all the stuff of the local church.

I’ve come into ministry in the era of the celebrity Christian.  Anybody who is anybody has a successful blog, published books and a jam packed speaking schedule.  I graduated from seminary looking forward to having “a significant ministry,” whatever that is. Some might be surprised to know that books teaching pastors-to-be how to “dress for success” are sometimes recommended these days right alongside Grudem’s Systematic Theology.

All it takes is one week of VBS or children’s camp to redefine the phrase “significant ministry.”  For the last year, my wife and I have volunteered one Sunday every 2 months in the 3-year olds class during the 11 am service.  Suddenly, preparing a sermon to deliver to hundreds of adults seems a bit less impressive when you’re trying to figure out how to set a kid free from his one piece “Sunday go-to-meeting” clothes so he can go to the bathroom.  Wrangling a bunch of preschool children every week: now that’s a “significant ministry.”

I’m not trying to put down anyone else’s ministry as much as I’m trying to keep in mind the importance of local church ministry.  There is a tremendous temptation among men my age to brag about how busy they are.  The idea of a regional ministry or a national ministry is certainly appealing as are the frequent flier miles that come with it.  But the people who need to remain most significant are the ones in our own church.  They are the ones about whom we will be called to give an account.