Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Baptists head south to do mission work.

Our mission team from the First and Central Baptist churches has been in West Virginia working on the home of an elderly man with a group called Mustard Seeds and Mountains. If you would like to read about it, head over to


Monday, July 20, 2009

Don't get too close or you may get bit

I couldn't believe my eyes. Outside the door was a momma skunk and three little babies. Lori said she thought they had taken up residence in the shrubs outside our side door. My first thought was that this was cool. Here we are in the city and we have wildlife visiting our yard.

Once the cobwebs cleared I began to realize this could be a big problem. Skunks, raccoons, squirrels, deer and even an occasional bear has been sighted in Norwich. We tend to think of them as cute and dream about having them as pets. The truth is that having them around could be dangerous. Never mind the bites and rabies. These animals were never meant to be domesticated.

It made me think about certain vices that seem more appealing before you get hooked on them. I began smoking when I was seventeen years old. My high school girlfriend smoked and claimed it helped her lose weight. I believed her. Within a year I was hooked and it took me fourteen years before I could quit.

When I had my angioplasty in 2003, the doctor at Yale New Haven said my blockage was most likely caused by the fact that I was a heavy smoker for all those years. Even though I had quit in 1989, the effects had touched my life and compromised my health.

That is exactly what sin does. It looks appealing and seems reasonable until it bites you. Then its too late. It doesn't matter if it is alcohol, drugs, greed, promiscuity or something else. There is always a price to pay and it never lives up to to the first appeal.

Wild animals belong in the wild or, at the very least, in a ZOO. When it comes to sin and temptation, it is best to never give in. That way you don't have to deal with the consequences.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

The one thing that never changes.

Its been a long time since I rang a cash register. Things used to be pretty simple. You rang up whatever the price tag read and it was added in to the running total. There was no question as to the price. Today things are a bit more complicated. Scanners are used and bar codes are read to get the price. Everything is done with software. It doesn't matter what the price on the shelf tag says. The pre-programmed price rings up. If it is different than the shelf price, you have to point it out to them. I don't like that.

Fast food restaurants are even worse. Their special value meals are coded into the computer. When you look at your bill you can never quite figure out how they arrive at the price they charge you. The menu has one price and the receipt has some formula that gives you a total. I go to Subway Restaurant all the time and I swear I get charged a different price depending on who is ringing me out. I think it is because it depends on which buttons they hit.

This afternoon I paid a little more for my value meal. I considered saying something but then held my tongue. It wasn't her fault. She just hit the buttons. If I wanted to blame somebody it would be the people who programmed the computer with so many different options.

It got me thinking about the human predicament. God gave us this little thing called free will. That means that every single one of us can make a different choice in every situation. There are no preset formulas. It makes life interesting, to say the least. We never know what we are going to get in any given interaction with the people we meet. Even if someone is very consistent, honest and fair, there may be a time or two when they respond differently. That's the nature of human relations.

The one constant in life is God. He never changes. He is the today as he was yesterday and as he will be tomorrow. He is dependable. Praise God for that! You never have to guess with him. The good news is that he loves you and me and always will. You can't get a better deal than that.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Finish the story before looking ahead.

I don't know what I was expecting but I was a little disappointed by the newest Harry Potter movie. I heard it was very good, maybe the best yet. As the movie started I was caught up in the action. I was moved by the characters. The story was compelling. It had the making of a classic. Then it fell flat as it came to the finish line.

As the movie whimpered to its conclusion I couldn't quite believe it was going to end. I was waiting for more. Then it just ended. You could tell that this franchise was now becoming more interested in making money than making good movies. It ended setting the stage for its sequel rather than standing on its own as a classic movie.

It made me think about our Christian faith. A lot of us think about faith only in terms of what it means for our afterlife. We live as if it only kicks in after we die. The truth is that Jesus calls us to live life as if each day matters in itself. Heaven is simply the icing on the cake after a life that is complete and well lived. We are called to live in the here and now and not worry about what comes next. That's the formula for a good life.

It's the formula for a good movie too. I wish the Harry Potter people knew that. I think they forgot. In the past I couldn't wait to see it again. I will be able to pass on this one.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Looking for a daily devotional?

Are you looking for something to help you in your daily devotions and Bible reading? I think you will find this website very helpful. It gives you a lot to think about as you spend time in God's Word.

It gives you four readings for the day and a link to a cyber Bible. A devotional thought follows for each of the passages. It gives you a jumping off point for your own conversations with God. Many of the daily blogs also include a song or video to close things off. Here is an example by Jeremy Camp.

Enjoy. Cal

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

He's reaching out to you

I watched the home run hitting contest at the All Star game last night. It was fun. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that Brandon Inge of my Detroit Tigers didn't hit any home runs. That was a bummer. None-the-less it was a fascinating display of power as one slugger after another ripped the balls and sent them into the bleachers.

One of the sluggers was Prince Fielder. He plays for the Milwaukee Brewers and in 2007 he hit 50 home runs. this year he has already ripped 22 homers and is a real offensive force for his team. He has become a more patient hitter and is batting over .300.

The reason that Prince Fielder interests me is that he is the son of former Tiger slugger Cecil Fielder. In 1990 Cecil signed with the Tigers and proceeded to blast 51 homers. He was the first player to reach the 50 homer mark since George Foster did it in 1977 and the first tiger play to hit 50 since Hank Greenberg did it in 1938. I loved fielder and when he followed that season with 44 more homers in 1991 he became one of my heroes.

Prince was just a little kid back then and every time you looked at pictures of Cecil Fielder, he seemed to have his son with him. Prince roamed the locker room as if he owned the place. In 1995, as an eleven year old, people were already saying that Prince would be a big league slugger like his dad some day.

Fast forward ten years and Prince made those prophets look like geniuses. Yet this storybook story is really more like a Greek tragedy. That's because the younger Fielder won't have anything to do with his father. He refuses to speak to him or even acknowledge him. When they became the first father/son team to hit 50 homers in a season Prince wouldn't even acknowledge it. When Prince came to Detroit for the first time as a big leaguer, he wouldn't answer any questions about the time he spent in the dugout with his dad. He didn't even want to acknowledge that it ever happened.

Nobody is quite sure what happened but the two had a rift in 2002. Despite several attempts by the father to reach out and be reconciled, the younger Fielder has turned his back on him.

As I think about this story I can't help but think of God and his attempts to reach out to us. Now Prince ma have every reason to turn his back on his father, but you and I have no reason to turn our backs on God. He wants to bless us. He wants to share his joy with us. He wants to live in peace and harmony with us. Yet so many of us keep our backs up and refuse to let him into our lives. It's sad really. Instead of enjoying all the blessings that the prodigal son enjoyed we keep up our front and pretend that we are the offended party. The truth is that the only one losing out is us.

If this sounds like you, then I hope you will reconsider and give God another chance. He is just waiting to spend the rest of eternity with you.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Are you unqualified too?

When I was feeling the call to pastoral ministry, I struggled with the fact that I wasn't perfect. I didn't feel good enough, holy enough to serve God. That's why this message speaks to me. I hope it speaks to you too.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

One day at a time.

Twenty years. That's how long ago I quit smoking cigarettes. On July 12, 1989 I went to a psychologist in Boston who used hypnotism to help me quit. I don't know how he did it. I never lost consciousness but he implanted the words I needed in my brain so I could give up the cigarettes. I haven't had one since.

I remember one of the phrases that was so helpful to me at the time. He told me that I wasn't quitting forever. I was simply choosing not to smoke that day. So far I have made that decision 7,300 times and I'm still counting.

The truth is that every day we have a choice. It works for doing good as well. Every day we can choose to serve God. I like to begin my days by asking God to guide my steps to the place where I can do the most good. Then I just follow his lead. I've been doing that for the last twenty years as well and He hasn't let me down yet.

God bless. Cal

Stepping out

This afternoon I participated in the wreath laying ceremony at the grave of Samuel Huntington. He was one of the forgotten founders of the nation. Denny Gibbs was the Master of Ceremonies and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was the guest speaker.

The service began with the Governor's Footguard bringing in the colors. I was honored to give the invocation and I gave thanks for the vision and courage of our founder fathers. Then I asked God to bless the day.

As the foot guard came in I used my camera to take a video. It came out pretty good so I decided I would try uploading it to You Tube. I've never done anything with YouTube before so I was a little nervous and unsure of what to do. Within a few minutes I had signed up and uploaded the short video to YouTube and then posted it on Facebook.

I don't look at myself as being very old, but some of the newest technology does intimidate me. As a result I haven't done very much with it. This afternoon that changed. With this upload I took a step that will allow me to do even more creative things in my ministry

It made me think about the number of thing that we let get in the way of doing what God calls us to do. We hesitate because of fear, uncertainty, a lack of knowledge and so many other things. As a result we limit ourselves and limit what God wants to do through us.

Maybe its time we stop letting fear get in the way and begin taking action. All we need to do is step out in faith and do that thing we have been avoiding. For me it was sharing a message through YouTube. Today I've done that and now I'm ready for the next step. It's your turn now. Go ahead. Do it.

Here's my first YouTube video. Enjoy it.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rest easy for the victory will be ours.

I love baseball. My favorite team is the Detroit Tigers. Every once in a while I get to watch the game thanks to Tonight was one of those nights. My schedule was clear and I sat down and turned on the game to watch my favorite pitcher, Justin Verlander, go up against the Kansas City Royals.On paper it should have been an easy game but lately the tigers have not been scoring many runs. Every night is an adventure. Will they score enough runs o win and will their pitchers keep the opponents at bay?

I probably should never have sat down to watch the game. My chest is still pounding. You see, I hate not knowing who will win the game. The Tigers had an early lead and then they lost it. They came back to tie the game. I got excited. Then they push four more runs across the plate to take a commanding lead. The Royals came right back and cut the lead to two.

For the last three innings I wanted to turn the game off. I couldn't stand not knowing what was going to happen. Then again,it as a lot like life. The truth is that we never know what the future will hold for us. We simply do the best job we can and hold out for the best.

That's where faith comes in. It reminds us that God is the one who holds the future. He has a hope and a future in store for us and it will be a good one. That doesn't mean we won't face challenges and hardship. It simply means that at the end of the game we will come out the victor. How do we know? Because Jesus was the first one to claim the victory and he promised that we will all follow suit if we trust in him.

There are no guarantees for my Tigers (although Jim Leyland is a pretty good manager.) It is a different story when it comes to our faith. For Christ is as good as his word and the victory is ours.


The big good bye

When it comes to God, the biggest funerals are for those who have lived faithfully. No disrespect intended to Michael Jackson but enough is enough. Turn on the television and every talk show is obsessed with the funeral and the theatrics surrounding his death and the aftermath. I have been changing the channel every time his name is mentioned. I liked Michael Jackson's music, especially the early stuff. I also liked his Thriller and Bad singles. He was quite a performer. HE was NOT another Elvis or Frank Sinatra or Elton John. I don't care how many records he sold.

The thing that really turns my stomach is the fact that all the critics have disappeared. All those vultures that were ready to destroy him when the allegations of child abuse were circulating are singing another tune now. Katie Couric and all the media darlings want to tell us how wonderful he was and what a nice man he was.

I have always felt that Michael got a raw deal. I think he was innocent and that people were taking advantage of him. I also think that he was like a little kid inside and very immature socially. Of course I didn't know him. Very few people did.

Here is the point I want to make today. A big deal has been made over Michael Jackson's death as if he was the most important person in the world. The truth is that to God you and I and Michael Jackson are all equal. He loves each of us as if we were his only child. When one of us dies, the angels in heaven weep over the loss. But then the tide turns for those who have lived faithfully and sung God's praises. For them there is great rejoicing as we are greeted in heaven by the of Lord of Lords.

I hope nice things are said at my funeral but that's not the most important thing. I want to live in such a way that my life will glorify God and when I get to heaven I will hear the words "Well done, good and faithful servant."


Monday, July 6, 2009

Two Hands

I came across this video and it immediately got me thinking about our upcoming mission trip to Appalachia. We leave on July 26 and we will be working on the homes and families in West Virginia. We will using our hands to share the love which is in our hearts.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and he was telling me that his church has now adopted a policy where they take a mission trip every other year. In the non trip year they do a Habitat type project back home here. I thought that was great.

The truth is that all of us are called to reach out and do something to share Christ's love. Too often we just talk about it. If we used both hands to embrace God and to do his world, the world would be transformed.

Enjoy the music video.


Friday, July 3, 2009

This is the day

Walking through Times Square in New York City at 6:30 a.m. is a surreal experience. The streets are virtually empty. Yet the billboards are awash with images and the lights are flashing non stop. Just eight hours earlier you could hardly walk through the same area. People were eight thick on the sidewalks and cars were bumper to bumper. Everything was a blur of activity. That's what you think of when you think of the "city that never sleeps."

This morning I saw the other side. It is a world with so much potential. It is just waiting for the world to wake up and take hold of it. It reminded me that we have this opportunity with each day that God gives us. It is filled with possibilities. That's why David wakes up and declares, "This is the day God has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!" He sees that the choice to enjoy the day or waste the day is ours.

In the Broadway musical Rent, the cast sings, "525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear. 525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?" The first time I heard that song I thought about how quickly time flies and how much time we waste.

Each day is a precious gift. It provides an opportunity to live and love, to make a difference in the lives of family and friends. It gives us an open door to build up our community. The potential is there ready and waiting for us to take it. So what are we waiting for?