The T-Shirt Sale

I thought it would be good to give a little explanation about this new fundraising project.  One of the biggest roadblocks to adoption is the cost.  It’s hard to imagine coming up with tens of thousands of dollars.  Lots of people have huge questions about the price tag.  But if you’re using a reputable agency (which we are) you can see clearly where every dollar is going.

A reasonable question to ask at this point would be, “How did you plan to raise this much money?”  Our plan has always been to pray and trust God.  But I don’t think we were presuming upon God. I definitely had in mind the way I thought God was going to provide.  When we adopted Gus in 2011 we were able to claim a dollar for dollar tax credit up to $13,000.  Since so many people helped us adopt Gus our plan was always to put that money into another adoption.  We actually filed our amended tax return for 2011 about the same time we started the process of adopting Archie.  That was almost a year ago.


The moral of this story is:  depend on God not on the US government.  You may have heard that the IRS isn’t excited about paying money to conservative causes right now.  Our amended return has been audited and as of the current government shutdown I don’t see us getting our return on this side of 2014.

It’s God’s money and He can direct it where He pleases.  We see this as an opportunity to trust Him through prayer and faith.  His ways are not our ways.  He may choose to move the IRS to process our return.  Or He may not.  In the meantime, we need to raise about $15,000.  It seems crazy but our God distinguishes Himself as a God who demonstrates His glory by providing in the midst of crazy circumstances.

So this t-shirt thing is a way to let our friends know the need.  We need to sell 50 for the project to go forward.  But we’d love to sell 2,000.  Will you help us by praying and sharing the website?  As Facebook continues to decline in use we’re looking for other ways to get the word out.  As always, if you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation (and not receive a t-shirt) you can do so at our Adopttogether site.  Or you can buy a t-shirt here:  Archie Cleland Adoption Fund.


Adoption Update: L.O.A.

It seems like we always receive good adoption news on evenings with good friends.  Monday night after dinner and sweet fellowship we were notified that we had received our Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from China.  Sun Zhang Yu will soon live with us and have all the rights and privileges of membership in the Cleland family.  Conservative estimates have us traveling to China in 10-12 weeks.  If things go well, he could spend Christmas with us.

We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on this long journey.  For months we have prayed for a boy we don’t know.  Not only does he not know us but he doesn’t even speak our language.  Lord willing, in just a few months he will live in a home with two brothers and a sister AND be receiving the medical care he needs.

I thought I knew how God was going to provide for this adoption.  In His providence He has chosen not to work in that way. But to this point God has always provided.  I’ve written checks for thousands of dollars and each time the money has been there.  I have no reason to believe that he will not continue to provide.

We need to raise about $15,000 more for our trip.  We hope to be rolling out a t-shirt fundraiser soon.  Or you can give to our AdoptTogether account and have your contribution be tax-deductible.  As always we covet your prayers.

September 15, 2007

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What were your parents doing the day you were born?  This is what we were doing the day Harry was born.  I was out in the backyard teaching Lucy to play golf (she really hasn’t improved a bit since then.)  It was some time later that we looked at the date on the picture and discovered that is was taken on September 15, 2007.  We had no idea our little Harry was coming into the world just a few miles away.  6 years ago today I had no idea that a huge blessing was about to come into my life.

What is Expository Preaching?

It’s not enough these days to say that we are committed to biblical preaching.  Few self-respecting evangelical pastors would say, “At our church we don’t preach the Word.” And yet, in many worship services, the Word of God is sprinkled onto the sermon like sprinkles on an Ice Cream Sundae.  You may choose to add them in but the ice cream is the star of the show. We need to be clear about how and what we preach.  At Cornerstone Church we are committed to expository preaching.

What is expository preaching?  Mark Dever, in his little book, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church says, “Expository preaching has as its goal to expound what is said in a particular passage of scripture, carefully explaining its meaning and applying it to the congregation.”  We believe that the faithful ministry of the Word of God changes lives.  Week by week we work verse by verse through books of the Bible. The scripture drives our services and not the felt-needs of the congregation.  The Holy Spirit uses the Word to convict, encourage and admonish.  He moves the affections and emotions of the hearers, not some well placed punch-line or visual aid.

Expository preaching does not have to be boring.  It should not be a running commentary on a book of the Bible or an opportunity for a well-read pastor to show off his knowledge of biblical languages. Expository preaching does not have to consist of just a few words of scripture per week.  A good expository preacher should be able to preach larger sections of scripture so that his hearers can understand the context and flow of a book.  He will add helpful illustrations and may even be funny.  But the primary goal of expository preaching should not be to entertain.

It is not uncommon for pastors to think of the people in the pews as consumers.  From this perspective, they must be kept happy so that they’ll keep coming back.  We see the church as the household of God.   The church is both a body and a family.  We are saints and the goal of preaching is that the saints be encouraged, edified, and equipped for ministry.



Are you a “Gifted” Speaker?

“We have all heard preachers like this, preachers who are clearly gifted speakers but who have failed to work hard at the study of their text, or neglected the necessary time for reflection on how to present their material in a manner that will communicate the truth well.  Such preachers will one day have to give an account to the Lord for their failure to acknowledge their gift as a call to be good stewards of what has been bestowed on them.” Jerram Barrs, Echoes of Eden, p. 56

Some Thoughts on Tiger Woods

For those of you who have been arguing with coworkers who believe there is no overarching meta-narrative to this blog: I’m sorry to say that this post is going to give them plenty of new ammunition.  BUT…I’m not going to make any definitive statement because, who knows, some future post might explode onto the scene that will tie this whole thing together.

I’m an avid fan of the PGA Tour.  I love to watch the final round of a golf tournament on Sunday afternoon (and the third round, and the second round…).  I watch all the big events, all the mid-size events and I even keep up with the little ones.  I remember when Luke Donald won the Southern Farm Bureau Classic over Deane Pappas.  Sometimes I even watch the events on the other major tours.  I play fantasy golf every week.  If there was a way to make money playing fantasy golf I’d like to think I’d be a rich man.

This has been a great year for golf.  The three major tournaments thus far have all been won by top-tier golfers.  Phil Mickelson’s win at the British Open was spectacular (even if my DVR plan was spoiled by an overly excited caller – you know who you are).  And as of yesterday Tiger Woods has won five times.

Here’s my thinking on Tiger:  I don’t like him.  I don’t really find it at all interesting when he wins a tournament by 30 strokes.  I’m happy to admit he’s very good.  I’m even glad when he plays, I think because I truly enjoy hoping he’ll lose big.  My take on him is that he’s back though probably not better than ever.  I think run-of-the-mill tournaments just don’t mean that much to him.  Even the much ballyhooed World Golf Championships have no history.  Jack Nicklaus won exactly zero WGC events and is still considered to be the greatest golfer of all time.  Tiger has now won 18 and I doubt Tiger (or Jack) cares very much.

The truth is Tiger has reached a point where he’s playing to win one (or more) of the four major tournaments each year.  And I think this is where Tiger isn’t back.  I think it’s in his head.  He’s no longer unflappable (does this make him flappable?) on Sunday, or Saturday for that matter.  He can get it done for four rounds at the Greater Players World Golf Fed-Extravaganza but he’s obviously rattled when he gets close to winning the Masters.  He’s lost the edge.  He cares too much.

Here’s my prediction: I don’t think he’ll win this week at the PGA Championship.  I think he’ll probably win a Masters or two sometime in his 40’s and we’ll all cry and reminisce about his illustrious (though tainted) career.  I don’t think he’ll break Jack’s record of 18 professional majors.  I expect he’ll win 16 before twilight.  I don’t have any insightful psychological reasons to give you.  It’s just hard to win major championships and he’s not as good at it as he once was.

Therefore, I’m not picking him on my fantasy team this week.  I’m going on record to predict a non-win.  I have no spiritual conclusion to add at the end of this.  I just wanted to give my vast army of blog readers something to discuss other than meta-narratives AND offer some thoughts that have been rattling around in my mind.  Having done so I can now go back to anxiously awaiting the news regarding A-Rod’s suspension.

Adoption Update: We’re DTC

As of yesterday we are officially DTC, or as those who are not familiar with the ever growing list of adoption related acronyms would call it, Dossier to China.  This is especially exciting because pretty soon we’ll start to have a clearer sense of when we’ll be able to travel.  As you can see we received an update on our boy which included a picture and some specifics about his height and weight.  This is all pretty exciting stuff.  I can’t wait to meet this smiley little guy.  As always, if you’d like to contribute to bringing him home to Savannah you can make a tax deductible donation here.
Sun Zhang Yu 5