Monday, June 30, 2008

Get smart

Get Smart is one of those movies that I would pay to see again. On Saturday afternoon I went up to Lisbon Landing to see the show. It was every bit as good as I hoped it would be. It was zany and filled with action and included just enough of the classic lines to make me smile.

It is funny but a lot of critics panned the movie because they said it was too much of an action/adventure comedy and not true enough to the original television series. Well guess what? Get Smart was great when it originally aired but the times were different then.

Slap stick comedy went over big with audiences thirty years ago. Tim,res have changed. People want more. Imagine trying to do Abbott & Costello movie today or the romantic comedies of Lewis and Martin. I don't think they would fly. Times change and we need to change too. We can be true to the core of what was, but still make a fresh and exciting presentation. They did that with Get Smart.

If its true for Get Smart, it is even more true for the church today. The gospel is the same today as it was yesterday. But our presentation is often very different. If we want to reach a new generation we have to speak the language of the young people today. We need to introduce them to Jesus, who was ahead of his times in Jerusalem, and show them why he still speaks to them today.

The churches that reach out to this emerging generation are the smart ones. They will be the future of the church. I hope that you and I can be a part of that as we share God's love with the people we know. It may not happen the way it did for our parents, but it will happen if we let it.


Does God read the comics?

I was running a little ahead of schedule for a meeting I had in New London this morning so I went for a walk down Captain's Walk. It was there that I noticed a store called Sarge's Comic Shop. I decided to go in and was immediately transported back in time nearly thirty years. Let me explain my comment.

In the winter of 1977 I went through a very difficult period of my life. I was working 30 hours a week, trying to take 15 credits at the University of Connecticut, and going through a deep depression. I also let myself go and began drinking too much. As a result I burned out and ended up being discharged from school.

In the Spring of 1978 I applied and was accepted at Eastern College and began to put my life back together after this rude wake call. I took one course and began looking for ways to get my focus back. One thing I did that really helped was my decision to start buying and reading comic books again. You see I had gotten out of the habit of reading. I needed something to spark my lifelong love of reading. Batman, Superman, The flash and a whole host of superheroes helped get me back on track. Laugh if you must, but I began reading again and by the fall of 1978 I was ready to take a full course load at Manchester Community College.

As I walked into Sarge's, it all came back to me again. I remember someone telling me it was a waste of time. The truth is that the short, exciting, action oriented comics got me going again and helped me remember why I loved school.

It's funny but some people think the only way to get to know God is by coming to worship on Sunday. The truth is that there are many different pathways to communion with God. It may be through a Max Lucado devotional or a musical concert at Central Baptist Church here in Norwich. A relationship to God may begin in a conversation with a friend at a coffee shop or at a bedside in a hospital room. Sometimes it is prompted by a response to a movie like C. S. Lewis' "Prince Caspian" or a documentary like Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth."

This is the good news. God is not limited in the number of ways that He can work in the world. He often uses the simple and ordinary things in our lives to restore us to a loving relationship with Him.

If God can use a comic book to bring me back, I am pretty sure he can use just about anything to to do the same for you. So listen for his voice and then go to Him. He wants to be with you today.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

The blessing of service

I was the gofor. If the Judges needed something, I ran out and got it. If they needed to be driven somewhere, I pulled up in my van. I held the door for them, I ran out and got pitchers of water, I escorted them and tried to make their time in Connecticut a good experience.

It was no big deal for me for I have always considered myself a servant. That is the essence of ministry. Like Christ, we are called to love and to serve rather than sit back and be served. It is a foreign concept in this world we live in though. Even in the church we sometimes get it confused. Pastors, priests, bishops and elders like to take seats of honor and be served. That's not really Christ's way.

Don't let this be an excuse to abuse your clergy or church leaders. Those who serve us should be honored. Jesus was very clear about this. He said the greatest among us are those who are willing to serve others. He had a great respect for us when we put our egos aside and do something kind and noble for someone else.

Jesus also promised that those who are the least shall be the first. This past weekend I experienced that. After spending two days working with the Judges of the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Pageant, the night of the show came. As I escorted the Judges to their seats and got them settled in, I turned and was then ready to take my seat. I almost fell over when the Producer of the show told me where to sit. I was sitting front and center with the best seat in the house.

I couldn't help but think of Jesus. Those who serve will be first in the kingdom. It applies to pageants too I guess. The truth is that it applies to everything if you have that mind within you. You will be blessed, if not with great seats, then with the knowledge that you have been a blessing to someone else.

So go out and serve the Lord and see what happens.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

The one truly free gift

Life isn't always fair. I went out to lunch with a group of people yesterday at an upscale restaurant. I don't have to tell you that I am always thrifty in my approach to buying anything, even when it comes to having lunch with my friends.

I scanned the menu and although most of the items were quite pricey, I found a chicken sandwich for $11 and was delighted. I passed on an appetizer, salad and beverage and figured I could get away with $15 including tax and tip.

I was delighted when our host announced she was picking up the tab. She asked only that we take care of the tip. One of my friends looked at the bill, over $300, and then proceeded to declare that we each needed to throw in $10 for the gratuity. I almost fell over. Then I laughed to myself. This was some free lunch!

The truth is that there is no free lunch in this life. We always pay for what we get one way or another. The onlytime this isn't true is with God. God's grace is free gift, with no strings attached, to all who ask for it. It is the one thing we can never pay for. It comes through the love of Christ and is priceless. So give thanks to God and be glad.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Doing it for God

Once a year I put on my chauffeur's hat and become a volunteer for the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Pageant. For a few days at the end of June I become the Assistant Judge's chair and help make sure the Judges are taken care of. In other words, I become a gofor.

This afternoon I had to make sure that tickets were secured for family and friends. Then I ran out to get a menu from the restaurant where they will be having lunch tomorrow. These are simple jobs but they are so important to the overall success of the Pageant. Over the years I have come to realize that there are dozens of volunteers that put their egos aside to make this program possible. They cook lunches, serve as chaperons for the girls, choreograph dances, pick up guests from the airport, serve as MC's, stage hands, dress pressers and more.

Without these people stepping up to do some very simple, but menial jobs, the whole thing would fall down and the girls would love out on thousands of dollars of college scholarships. The same is true of God's plan to share the good news of God's love with the world. He needs us to step up and take on the simple jobs that will make everything come together. God needs us to practice acts of kindness and compassion, to work in soup kitchens, to volunteer in schools, to mentor kids, to visit the sick, and to take on small tasks in our churches.

When we put our ego aside and let Christ work through us, great things happen and he is crowned Lord of Lords for all to see. So don't be shy. Step up and volunteer to serve him in whatever way you can.


This is the day

When the fire alarm went off I was sound asleep. I bolted upright, disoriented and not aware of where I was and what was happening. My wife said, "We have to get out, There is a fire alarm." I threw on a my sneakers, a t shirt and began making my way to the stairwell and proceeded down five flights of stairs to get out of the hotel.

This is the second time in my life that I was in a hotel when the fire alarm went off. It is a scary feeling when it happens. As you make your way through the corridors, unsure what is happening, all kinds of things go through your mind. You wonder if it is real or just a false alarm. You wonder if it is safe to make your way down.

Last night I had images of September 11th on my mind and I thought of those unsuspecting victims that made their way down dozens of flights of steps in New York City. As I stood outside the hotel I thought of how much people's lives can change in an instant. I thought about the victims of the Peach Tree apartment fires and the helplessness they felt as they watched their home burn through the night.

Our fire alarm proved to be nothing. But I was struck by the precious nature of each day we have. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. So we should enjoy each day and make it special. We should tell our loved ones we love them. We should make time to be with those special people. We should honor God and value the most precious gift we have, time.

It's hard to do in the busy world we live in. But Jesus warned us that the end is going to come like a thief in the night. Thankfully, for me and a hotel filled with guests, it wasn't last night. We all have another day. So be blessed. Enjoy this day that the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

To be a special guest

When I was growing up I never dreamed I would be surrounded by princesses and be living a dream. Yet, with three daughters, I have entered a world of beauty and magic. Last night I attended the 80th Anniversary Gala of the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Program at the Aqua Turf Country Club and was wowed by the charm and beauty of 36 contestants competing for the crown of Miss Connecticut and Miss Connecticut's Outstanding Teen.

How did I get there, you ask? My youngest daughter, Rachel, just happens to be Miss Norwich's Outstanding Teen. So when I travel in these circles I have an automatic invitation to meet and greet some of our state's most talented and poised young women.

I have a confession to make. Many of you know that last night was not my first such event. Rachel's older sister, Sarah, was Connecticut's very first Outstanding Teen representative and she competed for the Title of Miss America's Outstanding Teen in Orlando Florida in 2005. So I have been doing this for a while now.

Last night I got to hobnob and catch up with Miss Connecticut 2007 Dana Daunis, Miss Connecticut 2005 Diana Baitinger, and say hi to Miss Connecticut 2004 Nikki Palmieri and Miss Connecticut 2003 Marla Prete among others. Every where Rachel went, I was not too far behind. Why we even got to sit with Karen Link, Miss Connecticut's Outstanding Teen for 2007 and her parents. Talk about feeling special!

It struck me last night that I was one of the luckiest men in the world. I was only there because my daughter invited me. I had done nothing to get there on my own. I was her guest. The thought hit me that it is the same way with our faith and the invitation we receive to walk with God. The gate to heaven is opened to us because we know the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Jesus. When we invite Jesus to come into our hearts and we step foot in his world then everything he owns, everything he has to give, everyone he knows, becomes a part of our world and we are free to enjoy the blessings.

So be blessed and enjoy the company that Jesus brings and you will be walking on air before long. Peace.


Here are some photos from last night. (Sorry but I am playing the role of proud father right now.)

Rachel poses with some of the other Outstanding Teens.

Rachel with Miss Connecticut 2007, Dana Daunis

Rachel with Karen Link, Connecticut's Outstanding Teen 2007.

Rachel with Miss Connecticut 2005, Diana Baitinger.

Rachel with Luis Pabon, Executive Director of the
Miss Connecticut Scholarship Pageant Program.

If you would like to enjoy the fun, the Miss Connecticut Pageant will be held at the Garde Arts Theater next Friday and Saturday night (June 28,29) and there are still tickets available. One price allows you to enjoy preliminary competitions for Miss Connecticut's Outstanding Teen and Miss Connecticut Contestants on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and the Finals on Saturday evening. The Pageant raises thousands of dollars in college scholarships for these young women every year and your support helps fund them.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Buff Christians

This morning I had a young man working at the church doing some community service. Since it was a nice day I sent him outside to do a little yard work. It didn't seem too hard. He was going to clip some brush and pack it into garbage bags. After about a half hour he told me his arms were killing him from the clipping. I thought about it and it struck me that he was probably using muscles he hadn't used before. No wonder he was hurting. So I gave him something else to do so he could take a break from the clipping.

Afterwards I was struck by the reality that the same thing is true with the devotional life. It is hard to set a pattern of prayer and Bible reading if you have never done it before. We get worn out easily. Sometimes we even get discouraged and don't go back to it. Yet, I know that if we keep trying, little by little we will begin to develop a great habit that will nurture our souls.

So I told my young friend that we would come back to the clipping later and by the end of the summer this exercise might even have him looking pretty buff. He smiled at that and agreed that he'd like to do more on Tuesday.

So what about you? Can you be a buff Christian? Why not? Let's pick up that Bible and start exercising.

I was planning to walk to church this morning. It is exactly a mile and since last fall I have been doing this quite regularly. It is not only a way to stay green and save on gas, it also keeps my heart healthy. How can I lose?

I grabbed my i-pod and got ready to go when I noticed that my battery was dead. I panicked. How could I walk without my i-pod. I need the music to keep me in step. It helps pass the time and makes the walk go quicker.

My first thought was to forget the walk and hop in the car. The truth is that recently I've been pretty busy and almost any excuse will allow me to bypass the exercise and do something else. Yesterday I was on my way to the gym when my daughter called and asked for a ride. She could have waited but I turned right around in the driveway to World Gym and went to pick her up.

It is so easy to put off what we know we should be doing if we can find an excuse to do so. The same is true in our faith lives. We can plan on going to church services all week long, but all it takes is some minor inconvenience to derail our best intentions. I was talking to a friend of mine recently and she said "Maybe we just don't think enough of God or ourselves to make a commitment to do what is right."

Her words were like a wake up call. We think that these little decisions don't matter or don't affect anyone. The truth is they do make a difference. When we skip church or fail to act on something we know will be a blessing to ourselves or others we miss out on something special.

So with this in mind, I decided to walk to church anyway. I put the i-pod on the charger for next time. Guess what? I talked to God as I walked to church today. I lifted up a few friends who are in need. And thanked him for a great week. I'm glad I didn't make an excuse today. I was blessed as a result.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Give me Jesus

After a long and busy day I looked for something to calm my spirit and help me get ready for bed. I came across this song from Fernando Ortega and some beautiful images. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.


The role of a lifetime

Carroll Spiney is a 74 year old who feels like a big bird in a sea of little people. That's because he plays Big Bird on Sesame Street, a role he has had for nearly forty years. Spiney says that he lucked into the role back in the early seventies and he has enjoyed every minute of it.

Can you imagine being Big Bird? It isn't easy work. He gets up in the morning and dons this heavy costume and virtually walks around blind all day. He wears glasses that are attached to a monitor that let him see how he appears on camera and he gauges his movement by that.

Carroll has the role of a lifetime. It has defined who he is and he is happy about that. The truth is that we have that same calling. We aren't called to be Big Bird. But we are called to the role of a lifetime. We are to be imitators of Christ. You and I are called and sent out into the world to be the hands, the feet, the eyes and heart of our Lord. We are to bring his love and grace into the world.

I can't think of a better calling. Big Bird is pretty cool, but Jesus is even better. so go on out and enjoy it.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Inspiring real victory

Bob Cousy. I only knew the name because of my dad. When I was a kid, my dad used to dribble around me and lay up the ball and say, "There's another basket for Cousy." I wasn't a basketball fan so it was years later that I actually found out Cousy was a hall of fame player for the Boston Celtics.

When I heard the Celtics won the NBA Championship last night I thought of my dad. It is funny how the things we do and say have a lasting impact on others. Many times we do them without even thinking. I am sure my dad doesn't even remember those times but I do.

It is things like this that help me understand that the little things we do today can make a lasting impact on someone's life. When we share ourselves, our love, our time, it can affect someone's self image and worth. It tells them that they are important. When we share something as big as the Gospel it can have a ripple effect that transforms a person and his world.

Today I celebrate my fiftieth birthday. For me it is a time to take stock in my life. One of the things I am doing this week is reflecting on the people who have made an impression on me. These are the people who have touched me and changed my life for the better. We all have them in our lives.

The goal is not to live in the past and have good memories. I am sure the Celtics are happy to have Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Larry Bird around but winning a championship today is what they really live for. So it is with us. We are called to share the love and inspiration we have received from these special people with others. We are called to make our own impact today by giving and sharing of ourselves. That is where the sweet taste of victory comes back and blesses us and those who went before.

So Go Celtics! Let them inspire you to your own greatness as you bring glory to God.


Transformed by God's love

It's funny how God comes to you. He sometimes sends subtle messages that touch us like nudges. At other times he knocks us over so we have no choice but to look up and take notice. This morning I had a visitor at church who came with a simple request for help. I helped her and then we began to talk.

She told me how she used to go to church. Then she fell away and started doing some things that she was ashamed of. She promised me that she would be back when she got it all sorted out. That's when I reminded her that none of us in church has it all sorted out yet. Yet it is there where we get the help, the encouragement and the strength to fight our ways back to joyful living.

I told her that the people sitting in the pews of the church every Sunday are not saints, but rather people like her, who have recognized that they need God's help to overcome the difficulties of daily living. Then I invited her to come join us on Sunday.

Funny how things work out. A little later I had someone else stop by and we talked about the way our church and many others are changing. We are becoming more real and honest with our faith and the struggles to walk the Christian life in this world we live in.

A few minutes ago another friend sent me this video and it spoke to the heart of what I had experienced in my conversations this morning. I hope you enjoy it. May god bless you as you invite him into your life to help you find your cardboard testimony.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Only God gives job security

The New York Mets performed one of the most classless acts in recent sports history. Under the cover of night, at 3:15 a.m. they fired their manager. Willie Randolph learned of their decision following a game on the west coast. Now he will fly back to New York and clean out his locker before the team returns home.

As far as results go, the team did win the game last night. It appears that the decision to let Willie go was made a long time ago and that it would be done in the middle of the night, while the team was away, so that it would cause ownership the least amount of pain. The ownership couldn't even stand up and make the decision in the light of day.

I feel for Willie this morning. Then again, that is life. It isn't always fair. We live in a fallen world where others' motives are always suspect. There are very few things in life that are secure. The only thing we can depend on is the sovereignty and love of God. It is what prompted the Prophet Isaiah to say, "The grass withers and the flowers fade but the Word of the Lord stands forever."

Hey, Mets fans will tell you that Willie's performance left his job in jeopardy. The Mets haven't performed well. That's the bottom line in baseball. Thank God we have a bit of grace in living life. Because of his love, God gives us a second chance and a third chance and a fourth chance. When Jesus went to the cross, he opened the door for us to keep going back to the Father and asking for another opportunity to start over.

We live for that grace today. I can assure that God will never announce that we have been lost at 3:15 a.m. We are his forever.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A new name for the blog

Today I am changing the official name of my blog to Dancing With God. That's what you and I do every day as we seek to serve him. So to kick off this new name I want to share this video with you. It captures the essence of what this blog is about and where we are going on our continuing journey.

Just for history sake, the former name, "The View From The Hill" comes from my perspective of looking out the window of my office at the city below. It symbolized a view that God might have of us as his children as we come looking for him.

I like this new name better because it reflects the journey from our vantage point. The blog will keep the same type of stuff. Only the name will change. So enjoy and let's keep dancing with God.


Who decides what you need?

I went to what I presume will be my last physical therapy appointment today. Lynn has done a wonderful job of getting me back in shape after a severe case of tennis elbow that lodged in both arms. I was literally crippled up with pain before she began working on me.

Although the doctor prescribed 12 visits and the physical therapist requested at least eight visits, the insurance company allowed six visits. Sounds crazy doesn't it? The people who know what you need make the recommendation but it is the accountants who decide what you get. The system is upside down.

As I drove home I began thinking about this question in terms of what we really need in life. The truth is that we think we know what we need. We base our decision upon whatever suits us at the moment. We need a new car. We need more time off from work. We need better neighbors. We need more money. We take these concerns and pray about them and then wait on God to answer our prayers. When we don't get what we want we come away disappointed.

Yet, the truth is that not all of the things we pray for are really needed. The Good News is that God knows what we need and God provides for us. He is not only the source of all that is good, he also knows exactly what we do need.

One of my favorite country songs is one by Garth Brooks. It's is entitled, "Thank God for Unanswered Prayers." It speaks to the wisdom of God and the way He gives us what we need and withholds what we don't need.

Here's hoping you get the answer to a prayer today and you get what you really need to bless you.

Earning our degree

We have all heard the expression, "No pain, no gain!" It reminds us that to get anything in life we have to pay a price. Nothing is free. All good things come with effort. Well this morning I received an e-mail that flies in the face of this adage. It suggested that I could earn an advanced degree without having to take any exams or do any studying. The best part of this offer is that I could get a diploma in any field and walk away with all the benefits of having that degree. I know it sounds too good to be true but people can't send these things if they weren't real, can they? See for yourself. I've included it here:

Bacheelor, MasteerMBA, and Doctoraate diplomas available in the field of your choice that's right, you can even become a Doctor and receive all the benefits that comes with it! Our Diplomas/Certificates are recognised in most countries No required examination, tests, classes, books, or interviews. ** No one is turned down ** Confidentiality assured CALL US 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK For US: 1-734-687-6432 Outside US: +1-734-687-6432 "Just leave your NAME & PHONE NO. (with CountryCode)" in the voicemail our staff will get back to you in next few days.

The truth is that I am not that gullible. I know it is a scam. And yet when it comes to living out our faith some people think it is that easy. The truth is that once we have embarked on the journey of faith, once we have acknowledge God, we need to open the scriptures, spend time in prayer, attend worship services, meet with others in fellowship if we are going to develop an authentic and rich faith. It doesn't happen magically. Our faith grows and develops over time.

The Good News is that when you make an investment in your relationship with God, you will come away with a blessing. You will also reap many benefits and privileges as you continue your journey. So don't let anyone con you. Put in the time and energy and come away with a real relationship with the One who wants to be Lord of your life and lover of your soul.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Who have you been with?

I got to church this morning and the first thing she said to me after she introduced herself was, "What kind of cat do you have?" I was dumbfounded. How did she know I had a cat? I told her about Misty and then asked her how she knew. She told me she could tell from the cat hair on my pant leg. I looked down and was horrified. What a way to make an impression on a first time visitor!

This morning Misty rubbed against my leg to show her affection and she left a calling card in a massive coat of cat hair. I couldn't believe it. Then I just laughed. That is when the thought hit me that if we could leave some kind of impression on people we meet we would be far more effective in our ministry. If people could just look at us and know we'd been with Jesus, our job as the church would be so much easier.

Then I stopped laughing. The truth is that our actions, our love, our temperament should all reflect the fact that we've been with Jesus. We shouldn't have to do anything. His love ought to shine through us. So what is stopping it?

The truth is maybe we brush him and any after effects off too quickly. We hide it. We tuck away any traces that we've been with him because we don't want to offend anyone. We put the joy in our pocket and put on a straight face because we don't want people to think we are "too" religious. As a result we come out looking like anyone else.

Maybe its time to let it go and let Jesus shine through us. Who cares what people think? As a matter of fact maybe we will run into people who are discouraged and broken hearted, people who are looking for Good News. When we let Jesus shine through us we might be just what they were looking for.

By the way, that woman concluded our chat by telling me she loved cats and was glad to know the pastor was a cat lover too. Who would have guessed it?


Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Inquiry

As I was surfing the next I came across this video clip of a DVD that I hadn't heard of before. It is entitled, The Inquiry." It looks pretty good and I am going to see if I can find it. Maybe you'll want to rent it as well. Check out the movie preview and see for yourself.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Congratulations class of 2008

Tonight several hundred kids will graduation from Norwich Free Academy. I remember my own graduation. I thought that after I received my diploma I knew it all. Boy did I receive a wake up call. My lessons were just beginning.

Here are two videos I found that I wish I had seen back then so I am offering them up her for this year's grads. The first is by a kid who is graduation from High School in Syracuse, New York.

This second one is from Toby Mac, a world reknown Christian artist.


Winning comes from a team effort

I stayed up to watch the NBA Finals last night. I have become a Celtic bandwagon jumper. Actually I follow all the UCONN Alumnae more than I follow the teams. I love Ray Allen and he had a great game to help the Celtics rebound from a poor start to overcome the largest deficit in over thirty years.

As I was watching the Celtics win to take a 3-1 advantage in the series I thought about a couple of things. First a lot of people had picked the Lakers to win the series. They thought the big three didn't have enough left to win. Second, the Celtics actually have surged to the lead because their bench players have been outstanding.

It made think about our own walk through life. Most of us will never be superstars and some people will write off our efforts. But what we do is important. The apostle Paul says that in Christ we will be more than conquerors. When we reach out and perform random acts of kindness, when we help in community projects, we are transformers. We are making the world a better place. Like the bench players on the Celtics, we are the ones who can do the most good.

So keep it up and be a blessing.


Introducing the King of Kings

Imagine if you got to introduce Jesus. What would you say? I think that we have become so familiar with Jesus that we have forgotten how awesome he is and what could be said about him to our friends and neighbors. Here is what Steve Harvey would say. This funny man has found Christ and now shares his testimony.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Precious moments with loved ones are are priceless

I almost fell over when she came to the front door. My little girl had turned into a woman sometime over the last few months. Tonight was the eight grade semi formal dance and she was dressed in a gown that made her look every bit as lovely as some of those ladies who walk down the red carpet in Hollywood.

It is funny how time flies and how quickly our children grow up. It seems like just yesterday she was a little girl playing with Barbie dolls and singing kids songs. Now she is about to enter high school.

I've heard it said a hundred times that we need to measure our days and to enjoy each one as a gift. It hit home tonight. I already have two daughters who are making their way in the world. One is a teacher in New York City. The second one is getting ready to spend her third year of college in Australia. They are spreading their wings and I am so proud of them.

I imagine God feels the same way about us. Yet he has no regrets about us growing up so fast because he is with us every step of the way. He doesn't get side tracked with other things. We are the focus of his love and his high hopes. Maybe we can learn from him and keep our focus on the important things.

Take time to love and cherish the special people in your lives. For this is where our blessing lies. Everything else has a cost, but our loved ones are priceless!


Does God have a My Space page?

I don't know why so many of us picture God as being out of touch with us today. We treat Him as though he didn't understand the complexities of life today. I came across this video on You-tube and it made me laugh. I haven't really figured out how Myspace works but I am sure God knows. So enjoy this video and imagine what God's MySpace page would really look like.


Get your spiritual check up today. It's Free

I got a call from Mike yesterday. He works with Norwich Public Utilities. He wanted to make an appointment to check out our gas meter for leaks. It is a free service they offer. It provides a safety check and allows us to be good stewards as well.

It got me wondering if we need some kind of regular safety check in our spiritual life and who does that for us. Regular attendance at worship will certainly help. As we listen to the sermon and enter into prayer, we do a lot of self checking don't we? When we get engaged in a Bible study and go back and forth in a discussion, it keeps us in check.

I guess that the real check comes when we sit down and spend a little time with God in daily prayer and devotions. It allows us to look back on our day and check out where we have been and what we have done. It allows us to make corrections if we find we have slipped a little bit.

When I was younger I didn't think we needed this. Now I see how helpful and how important it is for our soul care. So if you don't do a regular check up and make time with God, why not start today? Summer is coming. You will be relaxing a bit here and there. Build in a time of reflection and renewal as well. You will be glad you did.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What's your heaven look like?

I thought I died and went to heaven today. Well, it wasn't exactly heaven. It was my friend's rec room. And actually for me, heaven would probably have a lot more Detroit Tiger memorabilia that his room did. Yet, the concept was pretty cool.

He was excited to show us the two fully padded leather recliners that were outfitted in Red Sox colors and logos. They were perfectly situated to watch the flat screen TV in a room decked out with Boston Red Sox and New England Patriot balls, figurines, bats and photos. For football season there was a blue Patriot Couch. It was the perfect adult playroom.

Of course mine would be outfitted with Tiger and Pittsburgh Steeler colors. But the idea is great. I remember a friend of mine asking me what I thought heaven would be like. Before I could answer, he told me that he didn't think he could stand the idea of heaven being a place where a bunch of angels floated around playing harps. That sounded boring to him. I shot back that he would probably be escorted to the year round golf courses that are complete except for the sand traps and water hazards.

It's funny how we depict heaven as a place where our fondest dreams come true. Yet we rarely talk about the most important part of eternity, the relationships that are met there. I don't really know what kind of mansion or room I'm going to get, but I do know that I will be surrounded by love. I will feel it more keenly than I ever have in my life. I will know the source of joy and live forever with God and with some of the most wonderful people I have known in life. I don't know what we will be doing, but I know who I'll be doing it with and that is enough for me.


Enjoy this clip below as you ponder what heaven is like.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A prayer for you today

A friend of mine sent this to me today. It came in the form of one of those things you pass along. I don't usually do that, especially in e-mail form, but this was so precious that I decided to pass it along on my blog.

I know we Baptists don't honor the Saints the way our Catholic brother and sisters do, but I have always been fascinated by them. Saint Theresa is known as the Saint of "the Little Ways," meaning she believed in doing the little things in life well and with great love. She is represented by roses. May everyone who reads this prayer be blessed.

Saint Theresa's Prayer

May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be confident knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

God bless. Cal

Monday, June 9, 2008

Flat tires and unexpected tragedy

I had my day all planned out and then life happened. I brought my daughter to school and on the way home I hit a pot hole and blew out both tires on the passenger side of the van. That meant I had to immediately figure out how everyone was going to get where they were going today while I changed a few tires. I walked home to get my car and the race was on.

It was already starting to get hot and changing the tire on the van wasn't as easy as I thought. As I was finishing up with the first tire, my wife suggested calling AAA and having the car towed to Firestone. That made sense because it was right next to the church and I could get some work done while I was waiting. I also had a friend who had connections there so I knew they would treat me fairly.

So my day started off badly but I still managed to get most of my agenda items done. As I was driving back from a hospital visit in Providence it hit me that as much as we think we are in control of our lives, life often reminds us that it isn't so. No matter how hard we try, life at best, is unpredictable.

That's all the more reason for us to put our trust in God. He can see what's around the corner. He won't steer us wrong. He will be with us when the unexpected happens. I have a friend online who has had a horrible month and it was capped off with the tragic death of her brother this week. I am praying for her and I will tell you one thing about her. She has a very strong faith. Although the coming days will be painful, she will come through them because she will be leaning on Jesus.

When our days don't go as planned, that's the best any of us can do. So say a prayer for Denise and I'll pray for you.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

More than sandwich dressing

I went to Subway for lunch and as I was having my sandwich made, I noticed something was missing. There were no red vegetables. I blinked and had to look twice. I always have tomatoes on my grinder. I asked the young woman about it and she explained that the tomatoes had been recalled due to a bacterial scare.

So I had my sub without tomatoes. It was still good but you could tell something was missing. It made me think of how it feels when one person isn't at church on Sunday morning. We may think we aren't missed, but people do notice. It changes the whole experience for others when we aren't present. They miss our smile, our handshake or hug, or words of encouragement.

We don't need to go to church to find God, but many people experience his presence in the human touch and caring of the faith community. As members of the body of Christ, that means you and I are a part of that. So next time you think you will not be missed, think about my tomatoes. Then get up and go and be part of the salad that makes life better.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Fun in following Jesus

Today Norwich hosted River Fest and there were a number of activities planned down by the waterfront. Dragon Boats raced all morning and food from various vendors was available. It was a nice day and it brought lots of people from our town together. Whenever I attend one of these events, I marvel at the fact that they bring so many of us together. It is pride, a sense of excitement and adventure, a bit of curiosity and a call to be part of something bigger that brings us out. I think the same is true of our call to follow Christ.

When Jesus looks us in the eye and says, "Come follow me!" we know that we are about to go on an adventure. Our life is going to change. We will experience some great moments. We know there will also be some challenges. There is a blessing in being a part of the community of faith though. We feel it every Sunday morning when we gather. We see friends, we hear the Word and are inspired and lifted from the ordinary into the Holy.

So enjoy the adventure and join yo fellow sojourners at worship. You will have a blast!


Thursday, June 5, 2008

What is acceptable for you?

I couldn't believe I actually said it out loud. I went by the gas station and saw the price and said to my friend, "I better get gas now because it is a good price." That price was $4.15. It was ridiculous and I had to laugh at myself. Since when did any price over $4.00 become "good?"

That's when it dawned on me. It is the slow and steady onslaught of things that has the best chance of becoming accepted as the norm. This is what has happened in society with bad language, sexual content, anti God talk, and every other type of immorality. The standards of what is normal, decent and acceptable has slowly changed over time.

I'm not a prude but just look at what is shown on television today compared to twenty years ago. I remember refusing to watch NYPD Blue in the early 1990's because it was advertised as being the first R rated television show. Now it isn't unusual to see much worse on cable TV.

So is $4.00 a gallon a good price? I take it back. It stinks.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Its almost time to vote

Tonight the news reports are announcing that Barack Obama has become the nominee of the Democratic Party for the Presidency of the United States. I watched his acceptance speech and he is very eloquent. I appreciated the fact that he was very polite and very gracious toward both Hillary Clinton and John McCain, lifting them both up as noble Americans who care about the American people. Instead of putting them down, he went on to highlight what he wanted to do. Maybe there is something different about him?

I watched as Hillary Clinton gave her speech outlining what she has done for the last sixteen months as she campaigned for the nomination. She told her supporters that the fight was not over. She declared that no matter what happened next, she was going to fight for them in one way or another. Obama actually picked up on that and said that Hillary would be in the middle of anything that happens in vital issues such as health care.

It got me thinking about the upcoming election. I've said this before. I believe it is important for all of us to get to know the candidates and then to go out and vote for the person we believe reflects our faith and values. I don't care if you are Republican or Democrat, it is the voting and exercising our rights in this democracy that is important. That is how the process works and if we want to keep our freedoms, then we need to do this even if it seems inconvenient at times.

As to who wins, I believe God will use whoever wins to accomplish his will. Last winter I preached about how God used Cyrus, the Babylonian king, to rebuild Israel. He didn't believe in God, yet he allowed Ezra and Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. What god wants for America, God will get. After all he used a backwoods country lawyer to free the slaves and settle a war. He used a army general who was often discouraged and on the verge of despair to bring the nation together in its infancy. He used a crippled man who tried to hide his weakness to bring hope to a nation lost in depression. He used a Hollywood actor to restore a sense of luster to a Presidency that had been tarnished by scandal and weakness. This actor helped us believe in ourselves again.

So I'm not worried so much about who wins this fall. I will just continue o pray that god's will be done. I hope you will do the same.


Monday, June 2, 2008


Tonight I wore a new Detroit Tiger T-shirt as I went out for my walk. I love this shirt not only because it is new and bright. I love it because it was a gift from a friend of mine. Last month my friend went out to Detroit and while he was there he noticed the Red Sox were playing the Tigers. He went to the game and he thought of me. He then bought this shirt and brought it back.

It is funny how we connect and touch one another. Whether we realize it or not, we have an influence on other people and vice versa. All of us have those special people who have shaped us and blessed our lives through their care and interest in us.

I had a conversation with another friend of mine and he told me about two men who taught him everything he knows. Their interest in him literally changed his life. The same was true for me. My Pastor always had an open door policy and we spent hours talking about life and what God wanted us to do with it. He helped me discern God's will for my life.

So look at the people in your life. They are precious gifts that God put there. Enjoy them, Encourage them. Love them. Be generous with them. The measure you give will be the measure you receive.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Alphabet tag

It has been a long and busy day. It was great in every way from our church service in the morning to my walk this evening. But now I am tired and looking for a little fun. So I found this cute Alphabet quiz on my friend Denise's blog. It is just what I needed tonight to relax my brain and get ready for bed. Maybe you want to try it too! Tag. You're it.


B)Burger of choice-Cheeseburger with pickles, ketchup and relish.
C)What kind of car you drive-2005 Toyota Corolla
D)Dogs name-Praise, but I had to put him down last fall.
E)Essential item you use everyday-My laptop computer
F)Favorite TV show-Lost
G)Favorite game to play-Softball
Favorite game to watch-Baseball
H)Hometown-Colchester, CT
I)Instruments you play-Saxophone
J)Favorite Juice- Orange
K)Whose butt you would love to kick-Any politician who tells me he or she knows what I need.
L)Last restaurant you ate at-Panera
M)Favorite Muppet-Fozzy Bear
N)Number of piercings-0
O)Overnight hospital stays- February 2007 with chest pains. Praise God it was a false alarm.
P)People you were with today-George, my very good friend.
Q)What you do in your quiet time- Walk or read mystery novels
R)Biggest regret-Not writing the all American novel.
S)Status- Born again Christian
T)Time you woke up-5:45 A.M. It's Sunday - the only day I work! :-)
U)What you consider unique-Antique cars
V)Vegetables you love-Peas and Carrots.
W)Worst habit-Eating snacks
X)X-rays you have had- Chest, writs, leg
Y)Yummy food you ate today- Broccoli cheddar soup
Z)Zodiac sign-Gemini