Monthly Archives: October 2009

Cleland Adoption Blog

I’ve mentioned here a time or two that Erika and I are in the process of adoption again from Ethiopia.  We’ve started a blog to chronicle the ups and downs of this journey.  If the Lord wills we will have adopted a little boy from Ethiopia by this time next year.  I’ve added the link to my links on the sidebar.  Or you can add us to your reader at:

We covet your prayers as we travel this road.  Please check back often and see what’s going on.


It Takes Effort to go to Hell

According to Psalm 19 the heavens are declaring the glory of God.  Creation is screaming out that He exists.  We find in the Bible clear revelation that we are sinful and under the judgment of God.  We find revelation about our need for atonement.  We are told about the provision of that atonement in Jesus Christ.  We are called to repent and believe and to confess Jesus Christ as Lord.  All the while the Holy Spirit is at work convicting men of sin and revealing Christ.

This is a very simplified summary of revelation both general and specific.  But that’s not my point.  My point is that it’s actually hard to go to Hell.  Human beings, especially those with regular access to the Bible, have to work hard at it.  God has set up massive concert speakers next to both of our ears with the volume turned all the way up blasting out everything men need to know to be saved.  The only way to miss it is to willfully and rebelliously cover our spiritual ears and eyes.  I am persuaded that over the course of a lifetime these things require great effort on the part of the lost.

This has become clearer to me as I have followed the progression of the Scribes and Pharisees in the first 3 chapters of Mark.  They’ve heard the teaching of Jesus that by all accounts was unlike anything heard before or since.  They had a front row seat as He healed all manner of sickness and cast out demons.  And yet, in the midst of all of this light,  not only did they fail to recognize Him as Messiah but they willfully and deliberately decided to call His light darkness.  Their example should cause anyone who has ever said, “If I could just see a miracle I would believe,” to rethink that statement.

May we all be warned about the ability of our proud sinful hearts to willfully distort the truth and deceive us.  May this drive home the necessity of the new birth in which God removes our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh.  And may we be all the more thankful for the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ by whose power we are able to cease laboring to remain on the road to Hell.

What I’m Listening To

This morning as I was mowing the grass and pondering life’s imponderables I decided that the blog had been a little on the serious side of late with all this talk of diets, adoption and fried butter (Mmmmm…fried butter.)  Plus even my sister says she’s been bored with my blog. So what better way to change that than to make a list?  Here is a list of the five songs spinning on the i-pod these days.  Brace yourself as I provide you with some blatantly narcissistic banality:

1.         The Climb by Miley Cyrus.  I’m ashamed beyond words to admit this but I’ve been hooked since summer camp.  Every time I hear it I want to try harder at something.

2.         Sheep May Safely Graze by Johann Sebastian Bach.  I realize this is a major shift in genres here but as I was riding back to church the other day and improving myself by    listening to NPR they played this song and I was captured.  I think it’s a common wedding song.  By hey, it’s Bach!

3.         Mambo Italiano by Rosemary Clooney.  I like her in spite of her nephew and I like this song because it makes me think of Italian food.  This was also a carryover from summer camp.

4.         Dark Road by Annie Lennox.  I have an inexplicable love for Annie Lennox’s voice.  It melts in my mind.  If you listen to her music and eat dark chocolate at the same time you can actually taste the sweetness.

5.         I Just Love You by Five for Fighting.  I almost always get misty-eyed while listening to this song. I recommend it to anyone with a little girl at home.

I Love This Picture


The Dreaded Diet

Today marks two weeks that I’ve been engaged in that most dreaded of all physical disciplines: the diet.  I think that two weeks begins to feel like a real diet as opposed to some lame effort that begins Monday morning and ends that same day at lunch.  I’m sorry to say that most of my attempts at dieting over the last half decade have lasted hours rather than days.  Also contributing to the reality of this current diet is the fact that my weight is now accurately reflected by my driver’s license.  Here are some things about dieting that have occurred to me over these last few weeks.

First, I began to feel better within about two days.  Not that I felt bad before I started, at least as far as I knew.  I just feel way better now.  I have more energy and I don’t have the lull in the middle of the day during which all sofas, even those on the side of the road, have an unbearable magnetic attraction.

Second, healthy food tastes  better.  Fruit tastes sweeter, vegetables seem desirable and water seems refreshing.  These are all things that I haven’t tended to want.  Now I’m not being unrealistic here.  If someone declared Little Debbies healthy I’d be the road to Kroger within moments.  But for what it’s worth, I’m actually enjoying healthy food right now.

Third, there’s clearly an issue with self-control here and yes self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.  Over the last week or so I have found that there are other areas of self-control that don’t seem as…well…out of control.  What I mean is that this isn’t a purely physical endeavor.  This is all very much a spiritual issue that touches many areas of my life, not just my appetite for food.  Therefore, prayer and God’s Word have also been important.

Living in Savannah where everything tastes better fried and dipped in a mayonnaise based sauce doesn’t help.  I figure that I’m probably avoiding 1000 calories a day just by skipping the sweet tea.

Together for Adoption 2009

This past weekend Erika and I attended the Together for Adoption conference in Nashville, TN.  This was our second year and it was great to see how much the conference has grown.  Zach Nielsen was live-blogging the event and soon there will be audio from the sessions available on the website I linked to above.  I’d like to mention a few things that Erika and I really appreciated about the event:

First, it was great to be surrounded by people who love adoption.  They had child care available at this conference so we got to see many families with their adopted children.  Many of these children have been adopted trans-racially.  Trans-racial adoption is truly a beautiful picture of the gospel.

Second, I was very thankful for Dan Cruver’s opening message on James 1:26-27.  This passage which is centered on “true religion” is, for obvious reasons, a jugular text when it comes to caring for orphans.  It can sometimes be overlooked however that James says that “true religion” consists of more than just visiting widows and orphans in their distress.  We can’t neglect James’ call to bridle the tongue and to keep oneself unstained by the world just because we feel good about ourselves for being involved in social justice ministries. 

Third, it was good to connect with some old friends like Steve and Kate Hall from the church formerly known as AHEFC.  They have adopted two boys from China:  Sheehan and Josiah.  We had dinner with the whole family Saturday night and it was awesome to see these two happy, healthy boys.

Fourth, Erika and I were both challenged by a break-out session with Kirk and Heidi Weimer.  They went to Ethiopia planning to adopt a baby and ended up adopting a sibling group of 3.  Then they went back and adopted 3 more.  It was very helpful for me to hear from Kirk as he recounted how his thinking changed through the process.  It all came down to the thought, “Well, we have room,” which is what they have called their new ministry.  Check out their website to hear more about their story.

Finally, I really appreciated Michael Easley’s contribution to the conference.  Dr. Easley is so intensely biblical in his preaching.  Apart from his shout-out to premillennialism I liked his description of his involvement with adoption.  Much like us he and his wife got involved in adoption because they were infertile and wanted to have more children.  Sometimes I feel a little embarrassed at a conference like this because I didn’t start adopting because of my commitment to orphan care.  We just wanted kids.  But God used that desire to open our eyes.  I don’t remember who said it but I’ll close with this quote from the conference: “Adoption isn’t a job to be done; it’s a privilege to be entered into.”