Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dance for life

I went to the annual dance recital for Luis Pabon's Dance Arts Center. I've been going to his dance recitals for the last fifteen years. All three of my girls have gone through the school and loved dance classes. Back in 1999 we took a step deeper into the world of dance. Both of my older girls tried out for the competitive dance troupe called Style Extraordinaire. They both made it and that changed our lives forever. Becky didn't stay with it long. She decided to put her energy into NFA's marching band. Sarah, on the other hand, went all out. A few years later, Rachel got involved too. By the time she was in third grade, she was in the troupe too.

For the last ten years our vacations, as well as our weekly schedules have been determined by what was happening at dance. I have to tell you that the other girls and their families became part of our family. We did so many things together. We traveled to Boston, New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, Germany and to New York again, twice! So many special memories have come of this relationship.

As I watched the dancers on stage I couldn't help but think of the girls who weren't there today. They have grown up and gone on to college or found other interests in high school. They and their families were gone from our lives. I missed them and started to get a little melancholy. Then I changed my focus and started thinking about the blessings I had received over the years.

Time does change all things. I've often thought that life is like a journey. We meet many people along the way. They bless us or they hurt us and then they move on. Part of our satisfaction in life comes from the way we deal with the changes. We can embrace them and learn from them. We can look at them as blessings from God. Or we can let them eat away at us and bring us down. We can sit around and count up the losses and and live with a sense of regret.

I watched the movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" tonight and there was a line in there that really hit home. He says this one particular woman taught him the value of friendship when she died and was no longer there. That is what life is all about. We live and learn. I think that is where our faith comes in and is so valuable. It reminds us that God is also walking with us on the journey. He's there and will be with us until the end of our days.

So don't just sit there. Get up and dance.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Avoiding the pitfalls

Steve saw a pair of cowboy boots sitting on one of the tables downstairs at church and decided he would try them on to see if they fit. So he pulled up a chair and sat down. As he leaned back the chair collapsed under him and he went flying. If he hadn't banged his head, it might have been funny.

As we came running to see what happened, we noticed right away that two of the legs had popped out from under the chair and that was the cause of the calamity. Steve didn't even consider the state of the chair when he decided to try on the boots. All he was thinking about was whether or not the boot would fit.

It made think about the number of times I had rushed into something without thinking about the consequences. We all do it. We focus on something we want without thinking everything through. Most of the time we get away with it because there isn't much at stake. But sometimes there can be disastrous results.

I think that is where the Scriptures come in handy. In his wisdom, God has laid down his statutes in order to save us from making bad mistakes, mistakes that will end up hurting us. When God says don't do something, it comes from a wealth of experience and understand that we don't have. After all, he is the creator. He understands how life works and how fragile we really are.

So we need to think twice before we act. We need to look to the Scriptures to find guidance and direction. That will keep us on the right path and help us avoid unnecessary pain.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Trust and Obey

I am watching the extras on the Lost Season 4 DVD and I am amazed at all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes to make things look so realistic. For example I would he never guessed that they use so many stunt doubles on the show. Did you know that all of the scenes that are shot in different cities around the world are really shot on the Island? And that Island is Hawaii!

When you watch these extras and see the actors who play the various roles, it gives you a very different view of the show. I don't know if I like it. It is so much easier just to go with the flow and be surprised by the action. How come that isn't true for life?

We want to understand everything that happens to us in real life. We want to know why and how this or that happens. We want to peek behind the curtain and see what the Wizard (God) is doing. We feel if we could just understand the sorrows we face and why they happen, then we could accept them.

I don't think it would make a bit of difference. The truth is that the best way to live life and find happiness is to live with a deep and abiding trust in God. I like that old song Trust and Obey. It says trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey." here is great wisdom in those words.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Seize the day, at least one of them and see what happens

I was born 18,064 days ago today. I can hardly believe it. It seems forever ago when we measure our lives in terms of days.

After the first few years of life we no longer really think of our lives in terms of days. Days seem too small, too insignificant. We begin to say "next year I want to do this or that." We look back and say "a couple of years ago I used to do ..." As a result we trivialize what can happen in a single day.

Yet the truth is that each day we have the opportunity to change the course of our lives and that of the world around us. The decisions we make today will determine the future. I could give you two decisions in my life that did just that.

The first had to do with my choice of college. I had every intention of going to the University of Southern California. When I got my acceptance letter I was set to go. Of course I had a girlfriend who had other thoughts and a $4,000 tuition bill that I had to account for. In the end I decided to stay home and go to UCONN.

On the day I decided where I was going to college, I changed my future. I have no regrets over my decision today but as I look back on my life, I know that it would have been very different if I had chosen to go west.

A second decision came back in 1985 when I decided to accept the call to the First Baptist Church of Norwich. I had interviewed in four different congregations that Spring. Norwich was third on the list as Lori and I began deliberating where we wanted to go. But it became quite clear soon afterward that this was the place God was calling us. So in March we told the church we were serious and informed the other three that we were no longer interested. The day we made that decision, our future changed.

I have given you two days in my life. Now name your two. We all have those days that define our lives. The truth is that we make decisions every day. We do things that shape who we are every day. We build a life one day at a time. That's why we can start over if we mess up. That's why we can turn around and change direction if we feel a little lost.

I have lived over 18,000 days and I expect I will have at least another 2,000 - 5,000 if I'm lucky. So I'm going to try to do at least one good thing each day and see where that leads me. I bet if I can do it, I will be even happier the next time I check to see how many days I have lived.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

She brightens your day.

I love Amy Grant. I thought I would pass this video on to brighten your evening.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

A strange encounter

I was standing in line waiting to go into the hall for graduation when a second line opened up and my girls heeded the man's instructions and stepped to the line to the left. As I stepped out I heard a voice behind me say something. Then a short little woman sneered at me and said to her friend, "Some people think they are special."

I turned and said, "Excuse me." I wasn't quite sure what had happened. "She ignored me and continued to talk to her friend as if I wasn't there. I apologized and continued to walk but she kept going on and on. I couldn't believe it. So I turned to her and said, "I guess we are all a little excited. You have someone graduating today?" She looked at me and said. "I have no interest in sharing small talk with you. Now get out of my way."

I can tell you that I have never met anyone so rude in my life. I still couldn't believe the encounter fifteen minutes later. I guess that's because even in my wildest dreams, I could never be that rude to anyone I met.

It made me wonder what had happened in her life. She must have been hurt awfully bad. Something must have gone terribly wrong to color her life with such a dark cloud. I guess that is why you and I are needed in this world. My last words to her were simply, "God bless you. I hope you enjoy the graduation." Late last night I thought about that woman again and this time I said I real prayer for her. May she find the peace of God.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Step back and listen

Everyone has an opinion. Have you noticed that? Ask someone about health care reform, or the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or the local budget referendum and you will get responses from people that will surprise you. Ask a Democrat about water boarding and you will hear a litany of complaints and charges against the former administration. Ask a Republican about the President's plan to revive the economy and you will hear rants about irresponsibility that will go on forever.

These opinions that we give go way beyond politics. Ask someone in the Northeast if they think the Yankees have a chance to win the World Series and you just might end up hearing a monologue about a team that tries to buy a pennant every year. Red Sox verses Yankee discussions often turn into a full fledged argument that dates back to a feud almost as old as the Hatfields and McCoys.

The truth is that today almost every issue causes people to choose up sides and vilify the other. Abortion, health care, prayer in school, war, taxes, sports, gay marriage, gun licensing, immigration, global warming and everything else under the sun has come up for debate. It is no longer acceptable for one side to reason with the other and come out ahead by a few points. It has become all out war.

If someone doesn't agree with you, they are the enemy. If someone even poses the possibility that there is another way to think about an issue, their loyalty is questioned. I think there is something dreadfully wrong with this.

When I was in college I took an ethics course. I remember the professor saying that any issue could be looked at in at least three different ways ethically. Abortion was the big topic back then. Roe Vs. Wade had just set the standard for legal decision making. As a conservative I didn't want to hear someone tell me how abortion could ever be an ethical choice for a person to make. Yet, he lifted up the cases of incest, rape and the health of the mother. He talked about situational ethics. He noted that sometimes the context for a decision makes all the difference in the world.

It has been nearly thirty years since I took that course. I still believe in absolutes. But that is where my faith comes in and allows me to give some grace when dealing with people in real life, every day situations. Life is tough. Decisions have to be made every day. I don't know too many people who don't struggle with the really tough ones.

It isn't always easy, but I try to listen to people more today. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. I try real hard not to make them the enemy. The truth is that I have learned more by engaging people in conversations than I ever did trying to convince them I was right. Maybe we need to listen a bit more instead of always talking. Maybe we need to try and understand the other person, where they are coming from, why they think the way they do before we jump up and judge them.

I think Jesus set the bar for this kind of thinking. First off he took on the form of a human being so that he could walk in our shoes for a while. He wanted to really understand us. Then, even though he did not have any sin, he hung around with sinners and engaged them in conversation. He listened, without judgment. He loved them without conditions. When it was his turn to speak, he told them stories and made suggestions as to a better way to live and think. He reasoned with them. The funny thing is that the only people he ever got mad at were the very ones that he often agreed with theologically. Yet these people just didn't understand the nature of God's grace.

Grace. We need to exercise a little more grace in all our interactions with others. If the world did that, it would be a better place. Maybe people would agree to disagree but still work together for the good of God's creation.

I want to give you an example of one area where I did this. I do not believe the rhetoric around man's contribution to the problem of global warming. (I know there are several of you who want to slap me now for being so silly. I just don't believe the experts who are sounding the alarm. That is a discussion for another day.) Yet in listening to what they say, they have struck a chord with me. I have been convinced that we have a responsibility to be good stewards of this creation and that means we have to come together to do a better job with environmental concerns. So I am on board even if I don't buy into the argument. I am willing to work to make this a more green world. That's just me. Imagine if we all did a little less talking and little more listening. Some great things might be accomplished. Greater understanding could be achieve. We might even find a way to world peace.

So next time you hear someone say something you don't agree with, don't rise up to strike back. Listen and try to understand their point of view. Step into their shoes for a while and then see if you don't have some new insights into finding common ground for the common good.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

It speaks for itself

This afternoon my daughter's friend, Zack, came over to the house. He's a college student. This summer he took a job selling Kirby Vacuum Cleaners. He called to ask if he could practice on us. He was pretty funny. He went through his spiel and touted the virtues of the vacuum. He even shared some of the things the trainer told him to say that would soften people up to make a sale.

The truth is that everyone knows that Kirby is the top of the line in vacuum cleaners. It also has a premium price. The cost is the biggest stumbling block when it comes to making the purchase. So Zack said they told him to focus on the health benefits. Clean carpets, upholstery, and mattresses, dust free homes, and cleaner living are fabulous benefits. The price almost seems worth it when you factor in these things.

As he was going through his speech, it made me think about our commitment to Christ. For those of us who are sold on him it seems like a no brainer. God loves us. He sent his son. We accept him as our savior. We live a life of faith, loving and serving him. We don't even count the cost anymore.

For the person who doesn't know Christ it isn't as clear cut. Living the life of faith seems to have a pretty big price attached to it. You and I can point out all the benefits to our friends but the price can still seem daunting. Even if the person recognizes how much they need Jesus, they may still stumble when it comes to making that commitment.

So what do we do? I think my friend Zack may have the answer. Be as honest and upfront as you can be. Explain the cost and the benefits and then let the person make their decision. The truth is that we don't need to sell people of Christ. Jesus will do that. All we are asked to do is to make the introduction and testify to what he has done for us.

I like the Phillip Yancy quote that Dan Merchant lifts up in his documentary. "No one ever converted to Christianity because they lost an argument." The truth is that it is coming face to face with Jesus and his grace that changes life. I thank God for that. We don't have to be salesmen. We can simply be ourselves and let our relationship to Jesus speak for itself.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

He can calm the sea

We welcomed the Eastern University Touring Choir to town tonight and were blessed with a great musical program. About fifty people were on hand for the concert. It was a blessing to all who were there. So why didn't more people come out to hear them?

Some didn't hear about it until it was too late. Others had other commitments. Some of us were just exhausted from our routine. I am sure there were plenty of reasons including the fact that American Idol was on television.

The truth is that we miss out on a lot of great opportunities because we are just too busy. I don't know how to solve the problem. I'm in the same boat.

I can't help but think of the story of Jesus sleeping in the back of the boat. The storm was raging. The disciples were afraid. They thought the boat might capsize. Then he woke up and he calmed the sea. All he said was "Peace be still" and the whole world changed in a flash.

Maybe we need to call on Jesus to speak peace to our world. Maybe we need to get his help to calm the seas that push us so fast and furious and never allow us to rest. We hear him say "Come unto me and I will give you rest." So what is stopping us? Let's ask him to speak peace into our world.


Monday, May 11, 2009

The roles we play

This morning I came across this interview on Myspace. It features the two stars of the new Star Trek movie, Chris Pine and Zach Quinto. They talk about their experiences in making the movie and give us a little taste of the action behind the scenes.

I have to confess that as they began talking I didn't really like it. It took away some of the mystique behind the characters that I enjoyed watching the other day. These were just two young guys playing roles. Yet as the interview continued, I began to admire them both as individuals. I realized that they were both pretty cool and i like them.

Instead of diminishing the characters, it actually added depth to what I saw. It made me think about the fact that as preachers, as Christians, as believers, we are often seen by others in a different light when we are in public. Even if we don't pretend to be someone different, others who know us in those roles, see us a certain way.

The truth is that when we meet someone out of context, it can really throw us for a loop. For example, when I talk about being a trekkie or a raving Detroit Tiger fan, some people don't know what to make of it. They have only seen me as a pastor. Yet once they get to know me and see that I am just like them in so many ways, it actually enhances our relationship. The fact that I am like them and not afraid to share my love of Jesus becomes a point where we can bond and grow together.

So never be afraid to be yourself. Let God shine through you. You will be amazed at the people you meet who will one day become your friends as you seek to serve God.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

What a friend

I watched the movie Marley and Me tonight. I have to confess I was nearly in tears at the end. The relationship between John, the family and the dog was so real to life. It brought back memories of a year and a half ago when I had to face the same reality that my dog, Praise, had come to the end of the line.

It is amazing how strong of a bond we forge with our dogs. They can't talk to us. They can't debate sports or politics or theology. Yet they give us that unconditional love. I know Praise was there for me on some of my most difficult days. He would simply lay at my feet and listen as I got things off my chest. Then sometimes, as if he understood, he'd get up and nudge me.

I don't know what it is about dogs, but they must be a gift from God. I think God knew that there would be moments when we would need to know that someone cared. People are too fickle. So he created dogs to remind us that he was always just a whisper away. I think he even chose the name, a kind of secret joke between them and him. Have you ever noticed that dog spelled backwards is G-O-D. Funny isn't it?


Friday, May 8, 2009

A fresh start for an old franchise

I went to see the New Star Trek movie today and I enjoyed it. The script was engaging and the writer's captured the essence of the characters many of us fell in love with long ago. The actors were also believable.

I remember back to the day when the franchise turned everything over to the Next Generation Crew. I was sad. I had never followed the television series and thought my love for Star Trek would come to an end. It didn't. I actually got to know the new cast members and gained an appreciation for them as different but sort of the same.

I approached this new movie with some of the same fears. It's obvious that the series will never be the same. DeForest Kelly and James Doohan have passed away and the rest of the gang are beyond their swashbuckling days. (I can't imagine William Shatner fighting a Klingon today. He could hardly handle the short young lady he played opposite of in Boston Legal!) So does this mean the Star Trek we know is gone forever?

The answer is no. The transition has begun. This new cast can carry the torch forward. They are good. (It was nice to have the "old Spock" show up though as a bit of nostalgia.)

This whole thing got me thinking about church life and how it is also a franchise that goes generational. I've been in Norwich for twenty four years. I've seen our congregation change a lot in that time. Families have come and gone. Children have grow up and become adults and started their own families. New people have come in and taken over ministries that were once handled by others. So much has changed and yet, so much has remained the same.

I remember having an argument with one of our older members about some new thing we were doing almost fifteen years ago. He suggested that we were going to destroy the church with the changes. I asked him if the church had changed from when he was a young adult. He chuckled. Then he shared his own experience working with a pastor who was making changes in the 1930's. "All of us loved it" he told me. The minister got grief from the older members though and it almost never happened. That's when I told him that change isn't bad if it keeps the spirit alive.

Both in the 1930's and in the 1990's we experienced great changes but we remained faithful to those who came before us. The changes were only in form, not in function. It's funny but my very first sermon in Norwich was titled, "Where No Man Has Gone Before." The truth is that we are all on a journey. Life around us will change but if we stay on course, we are going to be okay. That's good news.

And so is this new chapter in the Star Trek Saga. It will revive and energize the series for a new generation of the faithful. So for now I say, "Live long and prosper."


Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Day for Prayer

We will be marking the National Day of Prayer with a service in front of City Hall today in the city of Norwich. I am proud to be a part of such a tradition. I got involved back in 2002. This observance goes back to the earliest days of our country.

On January 1, 1795 President George Washington wrote:

It is in an especial manner our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him to continue to confirm the blessings we experienced. Deeply penetrated with this sentiment, I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever within the United States, to set apart and observe Thursday, the 19th day of February next, as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, and on that day to meet together and render sincere and hearty thanks to the great Ruler of nations for the manifold and signal mercies which distinguish our lot as a nation…

On April 17, 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill proclaiming a National Day of Prayer to be declared by each succeeding president at an appropriate date chosen by that president. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed an amendment to that law that provides that the National Day of Prayer shall be held on the first Thursday of May. Hence, today is the date designated for the 2009 National Day of Prayer.

I love the fact that our leaders recognize the importance of prayer. It speaks to the heart and soul of a nation. What bothers me is that some people, and even church leaders, are ignoring this call to prayer because they have let others define what it is to pray. Even our President has decided not to have a Prayer service at the White House. I understand his reasoning. Prayer is a political hot potato. The President has simply urged all Americans to pray privately.

Public prayer is important though. I also believe that it demands a degree of tolerance and acceptance to make it happen. Rev .Wendall Griffin, pastor
and law professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law, recently decried the National Day of Prayer because he believes has been taken over by the religious right, the conservative evangelical church. He paints it as being exclusive and demeaning to those who aren't of like mind. He suggests that it is a tool to recruit more evangelicals. It is obvious that Rev. Griffin hasn't been to the services I have been to over the years.

The truth is that people like Rev. Griffin and even the President of the United States have a great opportunity to influence the leadership of those setting up these observances. They can set the tone and agenda for their own services and give people a look at what it means to be prayerful and inclusive. They can open the door to many who have been left out of that invitation to prayer. Instead they look like the child who took his ball and went home because
he or she didn't like who showed up to play the game.

The truth is that prayer is both personal and public. It is true that we should not push our view on other in polite society, but why can't we set the stage for a more inclusive community that can pray together? I believe if we are ever going to solve the major problems we have in this country, our efforts need to being with prayer. Believe me, once you have prayed with someone, you will never look at them the same way again. When prayer is framed in the proper context, prayer unites and bids. It gives a common purpose. It connects up vertically and horizontally.

So if you haven't been part of an observance of the National Day of Prayer, get involved. Even if it makes you uncomfortable this year, make it a point to be one of the volunteers to shape next year's celebration. You may be the light that will lead others to a more powerful and inclusive Day of prayer as we begin the next decade of this century.


President Barack Obama signs the proclamation marking the National Day of Prayer in the Oval Office of the White House May 7, 2009. Looking on is Joshua DuBois, Director of the White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Seize the day for it is a gift

I just finished another book today. This one was written by Elmore Leonard. The funny thing about a good book is that it pulls you along in the beginning. It draws you into the story. Somewhere along the way though, you begin pushing your way to the end so you can find out what happens. For example, I wanted to know what happened to Raylon and Harry and Joyce as I reached the three quarter point of the book. I could hardly put it down. Then suddenly it all came to its conclusion. And I was wishing there was more.

Life is like that isn't it? We can;t wait to grow up when we are kids. We want to get our license. We want to get a job. We want to go out and be on our own. We want to get married and start a family. We want to have a career. We want to retire. We want to enjoy our grandkids. We always looking ahead to what comes next.

The problem with this is that too often we miss the good stuff because we are wishing our lives away. Only when we look back do we begin to realize just how much we have given up. god understood our tendency to do this. So he gave us a word to remind us. When David said, "This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it," God was calling us to accept the day as a gift.

We only have so many of them in a lifetime. They are precious. In another place God says, "So teach us to number our days, so that we might have a heart of wisdom." How profound. I pray that you will number your days and enjoy every one. Why rush? In Christ we know how it all ends. So sit back and enjoy the ride. Enjoy the presents ( Each present day) God has laid before you.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Rain, rain go away

Wouldn't you know it? The painters are coming to start work on our house tomorrow and a monsoon is bearing down on us. It seems like that is the story of our lives isn't it. Just when we finally make a decision, there is always something that comes up to stand in our way like a road block.

No one ever said life would be easy. The truth is that since the fall, we have had to struggle to get ahead. I like what Scott Peck said in his book, "The Road Less Traveled." The opening sentence is this: "Life is difficult. Once you understand this it gets much easier." In other words there are no free passes. Each and every one us has to walk the walk every day. The good news is that God cares and he has promised to walk with us. That was the message at Christmas. God is with us. He has made a commitment to enter our world and encourage us onward and even carry us when we stumble.

So let the rain and wind come. There will be another day and the job will get done. Praise God.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Walking the walk

Is it enough to say that we love God? Does action have to be part of the equation? In the book of James we read, "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?" I think it is our faith that saves us. But I also think that real faith, real love calls us to reach out and respond in some way. If we see a need, then we are compelled to do something.

Isn't that what Jesus did? He looked around and saw the people with their great needs and he responded in compassionate ways. He healed them .He welcomed them. He embraced them. He invited them to become part of his mission. And in the end, he gave his life for them.

Jesus didn't just talk the talk. He walked the walk. We are called to do the same thing. Today a group from our church walked for world hunger by getting pledges for the Church World Service CROP Walk. They lived out their faith and made it real.

So what are you going to do? Your faith has saved you. How are you going to celebrate and show God how much you love him?


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Memories can make us stronger

What would happen if you could erase all your painful memories and start over? That thought hit me yesterday when I went to the movies. I saw the new X-Men movie (I'm not a fan of the series but it looked interesting.) In one scene the bad guy says that he is going to erase Logan's memories and the thought hit me that this might not be half bad.

Forget the hurts and pains of broken relationships. Erase all the trauma of childhood beefs. Disappointments would disappear forever. Failures would be wiped away. Wouldn't it be great?

I don't think so. The truth is that we learn and grow from these painful episodes in our lives. They teach us far more than we can ever learn in a classroom. No one likes these events but they do tend to make us stronger if we survive them.

So the painful memories can prove to be quite useful. What we need to do is find ways to rope them in and use them to build up character and virtue. That's the key. So forget about making life simple. Just keep moving forward and trusting God. That is where our blessing and our strength lie.

God bless. Cal

Friday, May 1, 2009

A word about heroes

These last few days have been extremely busy and I haven't been able to write very much. I know that is a lousy excuse so I will have to write a post about making excuses to make up for it sometime soon. But it won't be tonight. Just to prime the pump I am going to post my weekly epistle. Some of you will have already read it in an email or in the Norwich Bulletin. Every week I write a weekly column to tries to point out that living with Christ is an every day thing. So enjoy and I'll talk about excuses tomorrow. Then maybe the next day I will write about procrastination.


Where have all the heroes gone? Everywhere you look, you see stars that rise so quickly and fall just as rapidly. I remember when Brittany Spears took the world by storm a few years ago. Then suddenly she came falling back to earth like a meteor. Roger Clemens was being heralded as one of the all time greats. The same was true of Alex Rodriguez. Both of them were heading toward immortality when they crashed head first into a wall called steroids.

Politicians, religious icons, movie stars and captains of industry all seem to disappoint us and leave us searching for someone to look up to and respect. We yearn for the heroes to help us believe in all that is good in this life.

I can't wait until the new Star Trek movie comes out this week and James Tiberius Kirk makes his triumphant return to the screen. The only problem is that Captain Kirk isn't real. He is just a character in a movie. What we need are real life heroes. We need people who live in such a way that they inspire the rest of us to reach for lofty goals.

I was thinking these thoughts just before I heard Katie Beit speak at a meeting of the Norwich Rotary. She and a few friends had organized a medical mission to Kalambe, Nicaragua. I watched her slide presentation and was moved by what they were doing.

The photos brought to mind the work Dr. Jerry Lowney is doing in the villages of Haiti. Every year he sends several teams down to bring hope to the people. Then I thought of the Silvers and the work they are doing with the American Friends of Kenya. Transformation is taking place in the middle of Africa through their efforts.

Later that night I thought about one of the teachers I had in school. She was my hero growing up. It reminded me that today the men and women who work with our kids are still heroes. They are living out their faith and convictions in concrete ways. They aren't just talking about making a difference, they are doing it.

So stop looking for heroes to come flying in to save the day. Be a hero. Live your faith and reach out to meet a need in your neighborhood, or where you work, or even in another part of the world if the call comes. If we all step up, then no one will need to ask where have all the heroes gone, They will see you and praise God.