Saturday, February 28, 2009

Checking in from Mexico

It has been a busy week on the mission field in Mexicali for all of us from Norwich. I have had a hard time finding internet connections. To check out the latest news on the Missionteam from Norwich, go to www.firstbaptistlife@ I'll be back here with more interesting thoughts I picked up from the mission field on Wednesday, March 4.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Our journey to Mexicali

Hello all,

I just wanted to share some pictures from our adventure down in Mexico. Twenty of us left on Tuesday and arrived in Mexicali at about 7:00 p.m. last night. We had a few snags along the way (The rental car company didn't have any vans for us!) Rick and Mercy told us to be flexible and we have been. Today everyone is working. One group is working at the seminary and the other group is at First Baptist Mexicali. Spirits are high and we are having fun!


Thursday, February 19, 2009


I found out tonight that a friend of mine and her husband were separated. It just came out in passing and it was one of those awkward moments. A third friend asked how her husband was doing because he hadn't seen him around. The tears began to flow.

The truth is the older I get, the less I like change. The fact that so many marriages break up in today's world, means that we all have to deal with changing relationships. Every time a couple breaks up and a home falls apart, it affects the rest of us. It reminds us that nothing is permanent.

The good news is that there is actually one thing that never changes. There is one that is permanent. The Prophet Isaiah says, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."Everyone else may fall away, but God will never leave us. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.

The scriptures speak against the constant change that we see everyday and hold out the vision of an eternity with God. I guess that's what gets me through these tough times. If I would have thought of it, I would have shared that with my friend tonight when I hugged her and told her that God would walk with her through this. For now I will continue to pray for her and all of us as we face the challenges of this changing world.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The way of responsiblilty and grace

I couldn't believe what I was witnessing yesterday. I was stopped at a traffic light when I noticed a woman in a gray Toyota Forerunner rolling backward. I kept waiting for her to put on her brakes but it never happened. She rolled right into the front end of a little pick up truck. Then she got out of her car and began hollering at the driver of the pick up truck. She was on her phone and shouting that she was hit by this pick up truck.

Fortunately a State Dump Truck was right in front of me and the two highway workers in it saw the whole thing. They got out and began directing traffic until the police arrived. The guy said to me, "Can you believe that woman is claiming the girl hit her from behind?" I was stunned.

Yet, I guess I should not have been so surprised. Isn't that exactly what so many of us do today? Something happens and we try to pin the blame on everybody and everything we can. We are a society that doe not like to take responsibility for our actions. When I spill hot coffee on myself, I blame the fast food company. When I get lung cancer, I blame the cigarette company. When I drink too much and have an accident, I blame the bar tender. When I get caught using steroids, I blame my cousin. When I can't deal with my spouse, I blame my parents. When I am talking on my phone and I roll into someone, it has to be someone else's fault.

The truth is that the apostle Paul had the best approach to this whole thing. He confesses that we are all guilty. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Then he begs mercy and asks for God's grace. The truth is that if everyone took responsibility for their actions and 'fessed up, the world would be a better place. We could learn from our mistakes and turn things around. But if it is always someone else's fault, then we never have to learn.

So let's fess up. Then we can let God do his work and accept the love and forgiveness that he offers and begin again. That's a much better way to live.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Celebrate on the streets of heaven

A friend sent me this picture after the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl on February 1st. It is cool. As I was looking at it a thought occurred to me about the effect we have as Christians on the cities where we live. Wouldn't it be cool if the image of Christ was etched on the buildings and the landscape of our communities? Wouldn't it be neat if our influence for Christ could be seen by all who were passing by? Wouldn't it be cool if after we did something for our neighbors; like reaching out to feed the hungry at the soup kitchen; or putting together a drive to provide shelter for the homeless; and it made such an impact that the whole city had a parade to honor the love we have "for the least of these."

I think Jesus wants us to go ahead and do it even if we are never recognized. The truth is that even if we don't see the fruit of our labor on earth, the Scriptures tell us that they will be celebrating in heaven. So just do it!


You reap what you sow

I couldn't believe my ears when she said it. "Someone just broke into my car and stole my GPS." I thought "How could that be? We were in church." The thought was incredulous. Who would have the audacity to break into a car outside a church on a Sunday morning?

Once reality set in, it made perfect sense. Everybody was tied up in the building and only a few eyes would be on the parking lot outside. It stunk. The fact that God would allow someone to steal from a person who was worshiping him was not cool.

Of course that's only true if you don't believe in a fallen world and if you believe that God is responsible for everything that happens. The reality is that people are selfish. People don't always think about what they are doing. If a demon like drugs or alcohol takes over your being, then it is even more likely that you will do something despicable.

The good news is that things are replaceable. Even though it is upsetting, what is stolen can be replaced even though there is a cost. On the other hand God says "justice is mine." The truth is that God does even the playing field and what you sow will be what you reap. The person who broke into Michelle's car will end up getting punished in some way we will never know. Maybe they are already feeling the wrath.

As for me, right now I am praying that Michelle will be blessed in some way for her faithfulness and that God will turn her sorrow into joy.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

What's your ministry look like?

Last Wednesday afternoon I listened to one of my esteemed colleagues talk about his experience over in Guam as an Air Force chaplain. Pastor Dave Larsen decided to join the reserves a few years back. Since then he has done some extensive training and was hoping to go active duty at some point. He had trained for a desert detail but when the call came, he was called up to go to Guam for the holidays.

Dave talked about his experience over there and about the work of the military chaplain in general. He spoke from the heart and you could tell that it was a God given call. Then he shifted gears and began talking about ministry in a small town. Dave is the chaplain to his whole community. He is always present when things happen in Voluntown and he tries to live life in a way that he can be available to those in need.

I grew up in a small town and went to a small church in another small town. When I used to think about the ministry and what God was calling me to, I always envisioned the kind of ministry Dave has. He is a member of the fire department. He volunteers in the school. He is there at the parades and on Eastern Sunrise.

I came to Norwich 24 years ago and figured I'd be here for four or five years and move on. Norwich was "The big city" when I was growing up in nearby Colchester. With its 40,000 people I felt a little lost. My plan was to eventually move to a church on a green in a small town and settle there. Who would have guessed that I would still be here?

I remember having lunch with Dave a few years ago and we talked about our ministries. I told him how much I admired him and that one day I would like to have a ministry like his. He laughed. He told me that he admired the way I plugged into the larger community and got involved. As I listened him describe how he saw my ministry, it suddenly dawned on me that I was doing what I always wanted to do. I just didn't realize it because my vision was too small.

The truth is that many of us are doing important ministry right now. We may not recognize it because it doesn't like we had it in our imaginations. We though ministry was singing in the choir. We thought ministry was leading a Bible Study. We thought ministry was teaching Sunday School. Yet we negate the fact that people seek us out when they have problems because we give good advice. We skip right over the fact that we always support the fundraisers at the firehouse and in the PTO. We forget that raising our children with love and compassion is a pretty special ministry.

So celebrate the ministry God has given you, even if you don't quite understand it yet. For God has given each of us something unique and special to do. Praise God.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Where did the pillow come from?

I came home this afternoon and the first thing I noticed was a pillow under my daughter's car. I scratched my head and wondered how it got there. That car has not moved in four months. Then it dawned on me that all the snow had disappeared in our yard and in the driveway. For virtually the first time since Christmas the ground was clear. It could have been dropped by any of the girls moving home for the holidays and lay buried under the snow until today.

It made me think of all the things that are right there in front of us that we don't see. I am thinking of the grace of God, his love and his forgiveness tonight. They get buried by worries and troubles and fears. We don't see them anymore because the day's troubles pile up and cover them over. It is only after a long winter of discontent that we wake up one day and find them there again. And we laugh because they look so silly sitting there. they were there the whole time. We just didn't see them.

Praise God. That pillow reminded me that God cares and he will always be there whether we see him or not.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

A hope and a future

I have been watching the first season of the television drama, Lost, over the last few weeks. Tonight it dawned on me that so much of what happened in season one, was important to what is now happening in season five today.

Of course that happens every day in real life. The decisions we make today affect what happens tomorrow and in the weeks and years that follow. The thing that we often forget is that God is right in the middle of everything that happens. I love the story of Joseph. It is a reminder that no matter what is going on in your life right now, God is working out his purposes through the events that transpire.

Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." That is good news. That means that even if things are not promising today, we can trust God to walk with us and help us turn them into victories in the future.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Our advocate for life

This morning I had a parishioner drop by the office. She told me that the other day she was at the Mohegan Sun after work and was walking through there with a friend when she was stopped by security. They were very polite but after they ascertained who she was, she was escorted off the property because she was on the list of those permanently banned from the facility.

The truth is that this would not be a big problem for her normally. She doesn't spend much time at the actual casino. The problem is that she works at Krispy Kream Donuts at the Gas Station on the campus of the Casino. Being barred from the Casino includes stepping foot on any part of their property. This means she cannot go back to work as thing stand.

This young lady came in today to ask me to vouch for her. She asked me to call the security office and tell them that she was a changed person from the one who got in trouble there years ago. She was living a new life and was no longer the belligerent, trouble maker of the past.

I did as she asked and after she left I began to think about the truth of her situation and the reality for all of us as people of faith. You see, we are all in the same predicament as my friend. We have been banned from heaven because of our sins of the past. Like Adam and Eve, we were banished from Eden and sent out into the darkness. We cannot go back unless someone speaks for us.

The good news is that Jesus stepped forward and spoke on our behalf. He pleaded our case before the judge and shared how we were changed, born again, renewed from within by our relationship with him. He stood up and said we were a new creation and that the old had passed away. He pleaded with the authority that we should be reinstated. And because he was willing to give his all, the lifetime ban was lifted and we were invited back again.

Praise God for our advocate, the lover of our souls, Jesus Christ. He is the one who gave us a second chance and a new life. Now we can walk in his light forever. Amen.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Law of the Taxi Driver

I received this email this morning and I found it to be so insightful that I have to pass it on. It really makes you think. As Christians we are supposed to be different. This guy hit it right on the head. I'm going to try harder to be like the Taxi Driver.

From the mail: Law of the GarbageTruck

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us.

My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly. So I asked, 'Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital! 'This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, 'The Law of the Garbage Truck.'

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets. The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day.

Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so...Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don't. Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it! Have a blessed, garbage-free day!

God Bless. Cal