November 7, 2013

“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  1 John 3:2

Cliff Clavin Comes Calling

It’s a little known fact that “the tan”  became popular in what is known as the Bronze Age.

I wonder if you know that the harp is a predecessor of the modern day guitar. Early minstrels were much larger people. In fact, they had hands the size of small dogs.

If you were to go back in history and take every president, you’ll find that the numerical value of each letter in their name was equally divisible into the year in which they were elected. By my calculations, our next president has to be named Yellnick McWawa.

I hear there’s a tribe of men in the Middle East called the Eschonites, they’re entirely celibate, they live without women. Rumour has it, they are the happiest men in the world. Tomorrow, I’m going to send for their brochure.

When the British ruled the Punja, they drank steaming hot pots of tea on the hottest days of the year to balance out their inside and outside temperatures. Conversely, drinking an ice cold drink on a cold day actually results in a more comfortable body temperature.

Florida comes from the language of the Okefenokee Indians and literally means ‘Place where the old people come to sweat.

English: John Ratzenberger at the 2011 Time 10...

These are the words of Clifford C. Clavin Jr.  I sure do miss him.  Cliff Clavin was the annoying mail carrier played by John Ratzenberger in the TV show Cheers, which aired from 1982 to 1993.  Cliffy was the know-it-all in the bar where everyone knows your name.  He had a ready explanation for everything from the common to the obscure.  Unfortunately, his explanations demonstrated a desperate plea for acceptance more than real knowledge.

Cliff Clavin consistently spoke of what he did not know and showed himself to be a fool.

Most groups have some variant form of Clifford C. Clavin.  In general, I don’t think many people strive to be the know-it-all; it just sort of happens.  Most people actually try suppressing their inner Clavin.  Unfortunately, some folks suppress their inner Clavin to the point that they deny what they actually do know.  They dread being the know-it-all so they soften what they know to be true.

Our culture has cast knowledge of the divine as intolerance.

Christians can now expect to be chastised into accepting other faiths as being equally true for their adherents.  Knowledge of God has been classified as an unknowable mystery.  Therefore, a strongly stated, statement of exclusive belief seem ridiculous to many.  An ecumenical spirit across churches and faith has become the “tolerant” form for spiritual interaction.

Those who state a belief about God as fact are perceived as Cliff Clavins – know-it-all fools.

Therefore, many folks suppress their inner Clavin when asked direct questions:

Do you believe that the ONLY way to go to heaven is to believe in Jesus?

What if you’re Jewish or Muslim and you don’t accept Christ at all,
does that mean you’re out?

What about my Grandma, who was a sweet and precious, Buddhist woman?
You are telling me she is going to your hell?

Many of us, in the spirit of tolerance, cringe at what we know and respond with a less offences opening statement of  “I don’t know but…”.

There are many things in the Bible that I don’t understand.  There are many mysteries of God that I have difficulty comprehending.  However, there are some lessons of the scriptures that are perfectly clear.  John wrote the epistle of 1 John so that we would understand.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.  (1 John 5:13)

John was crystal clear regarding what comes after death.  Eternal life only comes through God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  Whoever does not have the Son of God does not have eternal life.  There is no mistaking in this teaching.  There is no confusion regarding what these words mean.  We can know what the Bible teaches regarding what is necessary to go to heaven.  No one will go to heaven without Jesus.

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.  (1 John 3:2)

I know that may not sound tolerant.  I did not write it; I just believe it to be true.  For me to say “I don’t know…”  to a question of the necessity of salvation is to deny what I know to be true.  I would be a fool to exchange truth for public acceptance.

I do know the answer to the question of what is required to receive eternal life.

However, the possession of knowledge does not relegate us to the role of Cliff Claven.  Wisdom should be our guide to releasing our inner Claven.  Wisdom will guide us in how and when to give the defense of our faith. Our knowledge of the truths of God should not be restrained due to the fear of man nor should it be displayed in a desperate plea for acceptance. The truths of God are to be shared in obedience, love and grace, which takes wisdom from the Spirit.

There will be some who have been drawn by Christ and upon hearing the knowledge of the truths of God, will respond with saving faith.
There will be others who will cast the adherents of the scripture as Cliff Clavens as they stumble over the gospel.

Regardless of the outcome, we are called to let our inner Claven shine in a dark world.

 “The wise speak only of what they know”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

PRAYER: Lord, you know the number of times that I kept silent regarding the divine knowledge of the Bible that your Spirit has shown me.  You know the number of times that I have cringed over the exclusivity of your Son.  Forgive me for playing the fool by choosing acceptance above truth.  Father, I need the wisdom that only comes from You.  Fill me with your wisdom to know when to speak your sweet truth.  Give me the words to says and the spirit to say them in.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.


  1. Hi JD, that was quite the intro to your post, you had me wondering there for a moment. You’re right about the mysteries and you’re right about the statements in which the meaning is clear and there are many. Like when Jesus asked Peter who he thought He was. Sometimes they seem to literally jump off of the printed page. I love those verses. I love the truth they contain. I’ve made my share of mistakes answering questions over the years but there comes a time when you just speak the norm of your faith from your heart, to whoever asks, as if someone was asking what time it is. It is what it is, truth and if the tone and manner in which the truth is stated is sincere, it will be accepted as such, as coming from me for me, to those who are willing to listen. For those who are not, not so much. Thank you for sharing, sincerely appreciated. Grace and blessing.

    • Yes, me too. I wasn’t certain I would continue, but you nailed the point home.

  2. Reblogged this on A DEVOTED LIFE.

  3. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    Adding Cliff Clavin was a nice touch, helped it make more sense.

  4. very well done

  5. I miss Cliffy too. Great post on all counts!

  6. This was a very timely, necessary message. Thank you so much for writing it!

  7. I love this comment, JD. ‘I would be a fool to exchange truth for public acceptance.’ The world would have us cower under the guise of tolerance, yet their eternal destiny demands our bold obedience. Nice post

    • Thanks Sue – BTW you are doing a great job with your photography and posts.

  8. At first I thought you were talking about JOHN Calvin

    • You are not the only one. My spell-checker really wanted to change it to Calvin.

  9. Thank you for the straight talk on sharing our faith, JD. You’re right: We need to speak up, with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide us. May we be bold spokespersons in a hurting world!

    • Amen!

  10. I was confused about your title at first. I had forgotten that was Cliff’s last name. Great post!

  11. I had an experience awhile ago with a loved one who told me he thought I was more “tolerant” then my parents so he was more confident in voicing his beliefs with me then with my mom especially. It really bothered me, because in that moment I realized it wasn’t that I was anymore “cool” or “well thought” then my mom, it was that my mom had a boldness in voicing her faith that I didn’t have. He thought I was being more tolerant and excepting, but really I was just afraid. What you are saying here is sooo true! It’s so easy to let the boldness of our faith slide because we don’t want to rock the proverbial boat. In so doing we neglect helping people see the truth! Though I like that you said that we do need wisdom in how we share… to often it’s either people are speaking out of vain arrogance and a desire to be “right,” or not speaking at all.

    • Hey Joy – thank you for your comment. I have gotten similar praise. I initally felt pretty good about the compliment until I had the same realization as you had. I was simply not being very bold.
      God Bless!

  12. Very well said JD!

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