Monday, November 30, 2009

He is still with us

This morning I visited the former site of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. I've been wanting to do that for some time but things never worked out. Either I was with family or my trips to New York were always sandwiched between other commitments. So when I brought my daughter back to her apartment in Brooklyn, I decided to spend the night and head off in the morning to visit the site of the most viscous attack on the United States in our history.

As I arrived at the site I noticed that even after eight years the area was pretty much barren. You could see that construction was taking place, but the devastation remained evident. Later on I looked at pictures of the area before the attack and I got a sense of the total loss. The towers of the World Trade Center were easily the largest buildings in the area, rising almost twice as high as any other building there. They stood like mountains in a field of gray. Now there is a hole in the ground where they once stood.

As I walked around the construction I began to think about that day in September in 2001. I remembered what I was doing. I heard the first reports on WFAN as I was driving down to the church. The reporter talked about a stray plane flying into the tower. As he was talking he gasped as a second plane flew into the second tower. Pandemonium broke out.

It wasn't until several hours later that the full effect hit me. I was visiting one of our members and she was transfixed by the images on television and I watched the scene being replayed over and over again. Even days later I was still haunted by the images I saw.

As I walked around the site I began to empathize with those who were on the streets of New york City that day. I tried to capture the fear they were feeling. I thought about the horror they went through. It was as close as I could come to living that experience but I admit it was nothing like being there.

Afterwards I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. I remembered seeing hundreds of people walking across the bridge on that day. They were fleeing the scene. They were sobbing and crying. They were hurrying to get home to family and loved ones.

As I walked across the bridge and looked back at Manhattan, I tried to picture what they were seeing. I can only imagine their horror.

Looking up and down from the bridge you can see the famous landmarks that tell you this is America's greatest city. The Empire State building, the Stature of Liberty, Ellis Island. On that day the people must have felt all alone even though they were surrounded by thousands.

I'll never forget hearing one survivor of that day tell his story. We had him as our guest at a Prayer breakfast in Norwich. He lived to tell of his harrowing escape from one of the towers and he told us that he never felt like he was alone. He told story after story of how people came together to help one another. As afraid as they all were, there was a spirit there that day that was all around them. Selfless fire fighters and policemen gave their lives leading people to safety. Women and men became guardians over the children.

He told us that several times there were angels, people who appeared out of nowhere to help them down the stairs or who told them where to go. Then he told us that he never felt closer to God in his life.

It was a reminder that god is with us even in the darkest hours of our lives. Too often we don't look for him or realize that He is standing beside us. But when the lights go out, when our fear is the greatest, God stands up and turns the light on. He reveals himself in the kindness of others in the helping hand we receive. He reveals himself in the smile of a stranger of the direction of a friend.

I left New York yesterday feeling a little closer to God and was reminded that God is always with us. The message of Christmas "Emmanuel" wasn't a one time thing a long, long time ago. God is with us today and He still loves us every bit as much.


In the presence of someone special

On Friday night Lori and I went to dinner at La Stella's restaurant. When we walked in we noticed the Dolliver family was there with some friends. We chatted for a few minutes and then went to our table. After we had settled in a commotion began as a party of people came into the restaurant. It was Senator Chris Dodd and his family. They were in town for the tree lighting at City Hall and made plans to have dinner with Abby and the family.

Hanging by the cash register were two photos of the Senator with the owner of the Restaurant so it was no surprise to see him. Even though I don't agree with many of his voting practices, I was none-the-less star struck to be sitting within five feet from him. He even spoke to us and apologized for all the fuss.

When you think about it, awe is a good way to describe how you feel when you stand that close to one of the most powerful men in our republic. He is a lawmaker and influential thinker. He is one of the few people who has the ability to shape the future of our world.

As we left the restaurant I began thinking about what I was going to say on Sunday morning. As I thought about church, it struck me that every week, we do one better than I had just done. Forget Senators and even Presidents: We get to spend time with the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the Creator of the Universe.

I've met a lot of people who tell me that they don't go to church because they find the services boring and out of touch with real life. I could say they that's because they don't come to First Baptist... but truthfully we aren't very different from most of the other churches in town. The real reason we don't feel anything is because we don't put worship in the proper perspective.

Worship is the opportunity to spend time with God. It is an act of devotion. I go to church each week, not because I have to, but because I know God will be there. He'll be there in the people, in the songs, in the scriptures and even in the sermon. When I leave, I will come away knowing that God loves me and he will always be with me.

So it was cool being with Senator Dodd for a few minutes but its even better spending each week with God.


Friday, November 27, 2009

The First Noel

Here's my last post for the night as we move into advent. It's from my favorite group of ladies, the Celtic women.


It's that time of the year.

It's that time of the year again and I thought I would post one of my favorite clips. It should help us put the Christmas season into a proper perspective.


A few thoughts about the "Merry Christmas vs Happy Holidays" debate

There is no doubt that as the culture around us becomes more and more secular that our claim on national holidays will lose its grip. The whole "happy holidays" argument is a case in point. I always walk the tight rope between being sensitive to my Jewish friends and declaring my love for Jesus as I celebrate his birth.

This email showed up in my inbox today and it made me look at the whole argument a little differently. Read it and let me know what you think. He makes a number of pretty good points.


Letter from Jesus about Christmas --

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :

Monday, November 23, 2009

Saying Thank you to God


This is one of the nicest e-mails I have seen and is so true:

I dreamed that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels.. My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, 'This is the Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received. '

I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.

Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section. The angel then said to me, ' This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them. ' I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.

Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. 'This is the Acknowledgment Section,' my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed. 'How is it that there is no work going on here?' I asked.

'So sad,' the angel sighed. 'After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments.'

'How does one acknowledge God's blessings? ' I asked.

'Simple,' the angel answered. Just say, ' Thank you, Lord. '

'What blessings should they acknowledge? ' I asked.

'If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world 's wealthy.'

'And if you get this on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity. '

'If you woke up this morning with more health than illness .. You are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day.'

'If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation .. You are ahead of 700 million people in the world. '

'If you can attend a place of worship without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world.. '

'If your parents are still alive and still married are very rare. '

'If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you're unique to all those in doubt and despair. '

Ok, what now? How can I start?

Start this week by setting aside a few minutes to pause and say "Thank You" to God.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Twas the month before Christmas

You have probably seen this one before. It speaks to the whole political correctness of saying "Happy holidays" as opposed to merry Christmas. It is strange how no one is worried about offending people when they say happy hannukah or happy kwanza. Well enjoy!

Twas the month before Christmas*

*When all through our land,*

*Not a Christian was praying*

*Nor taking a stand.*

*See the PC Police had taken away,*

*The reason for Christmas - no one could say.*

*The children were told by their schools not to sing,*

*About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.*

*It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say*

* December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.*

*Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit*

*Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!*

*CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod*

*Something was changing, something quite odd! *

*Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa*

*In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.*

*As Targets were hanging their trees upside down*

* At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.*

*At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears*

*You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.*

*Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty*

*Are words that were used to intimidate me.*

*Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen*

*On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!*

*At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter*

*To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.*

*And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith*

* Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace*

*The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded*

*The reason for the season, stopped before it started.*

*So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'*

*Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.*

*Choose your words carefully, choose what you say*


not Happy Holiday!*

Please, all Christians join together and

wish everyone you meet


Christ is ¡The Reason¢ for the Christ-mas Season!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wish we had streets of gold down here

I thought this was especially appropriate after hearing that the Senate passed the motion to debate the health care bill.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

How do I love thee...

I watched an episode of House tonight and it was a powerful reminder of how precious life is. The long and short of the episode was that a woman's heart and major organs had failed and she was being kept alive by machines. They brought her out of her medically induced coma so she and her husband could say good bye.

It made me think about what I would do if I awoke one day with the knowledge that I had hours to live. We take so much for granted. The truth is that most of us abuse our relationships with the people who are closest to us in life. We jump on our kids and criticize them for what they do. We nag our spouses for the things they don't do. We blame our parents for the things that we imagine they did to us. Instead of thanking God for the special people in our lives, we waste so much time.

My mom died when I was thirteen years old. That taught me how precious life was and that it doesn't last forever. Yet I am still guilty of forgetting to tell the important people in my life how much I love them. I'd like to encourage you to make it a point to tell those special people how much love them every single day. While you are at it, don't forget to tell God you love him too.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Go ahead and pray

You have probably received this by e-mail but I thought it was worth printing because it is a great story and it illustrates what any of us can do to live out our faith in a world that is becoming increasingly less tolerant of Christians.

This is a statement that was read over the PA system at the football game at Roane County High School , Kingston , Tennessee, by school Principal, Jody McLeod (Snopes affirmed this was true.)

"It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games, to say a prayer and play the National Anthem, to honor God and Country." Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a Prayer is a violation of Federal Case Law. As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it "an alternate lifestyle," and if someone is offended, that's OK.

I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity, by dispensing condoms and calling it, "safe sex." If someone is offended, that's OK.

I can even use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a "viable! means of birth control." If someone is offended, no problem....

I can designate a school day as "Earth Day" and involve students in activities to worship religiously and praise the goddess "Mother Earth" and call it "ecology.."

I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depicts 20 people with strong, traditional Christian convictions as "simple minded" and "ignorant" and call it "enlightenment...."

However, if anyone uses this facility to honor GOD and to ask HIM to Bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, then Federal Case Law is violated.

This appears to be inconsistent at best, and at worst, diabolical. Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and anyone, except GOD and HIS Commandments.

Nevertheless , as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and students to abide by rules with which they do not necessarily agree. For me to do otherwise would be inconsistent at best, and at worst, hypocritical... I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression.

For this reason, I shall "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's," and refrain from praying at this time.

" However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank GOD and ask HIM, in the name of JESUS, to Bless this event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that's not against the law----yet."

One by one, the people in the stands bowed their heads, held hands with one another and began to pray.

They prayed in the stands. They prayed in the team huddles. They prayed at the concession stand and they prayed in the Announcer's Box!

The only place they didn't pray was in the Supreme Court of the United States of America- the Seat of "Justice" in the "one nation, under GOD. "

Somehow, Kingston , Tennessee Remembered what so many have forgotten. We are given the Freedom OF Religion, not the Freedom FROM Religion. Praise GOD that HIS remnant remains!

Teddy Roosevelt tells us why we should attend church.

I found this article on Ethics Daily, a Christian internet newsletter. I thought it was very interesting because it speaks about a former U S President's views on church attendance and it is as timely today as it was in 1917. Read and enjoy!


Some people go to church regularly, some go occasionally, and others seldom go at all. How important is church participation? Are there good reasons that I should go to church?

Actually, the Bible calls on believers to be the church, and not just go to church. But to effectively be the church, believers need to faithfully gather with the other members of the body of Christ for equipping and encouragement.

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, believed in attending and participating in church. In 1917, in an interview with Ladies Home Journal, President Roosevelt offered at least 10 reasons for going to church:

  1. In the actual world a churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at or ignored their religious needs, is a community on the rapid downgrade.

  1. Church work and church attendance mean the cultivation of the habit of feeling some responsibility for others and the sense of braced moral strength, which prevents a relaxation of one's own moral fiber.

  1. There are enough holidays for most of us that can quite properly be devoted to pure holiday making. Sundays differ from other holidays, among other ways, in the fact that there are 52 of them every year. On Sunday, go to church.

  1. Yes, I know all the excuses. I know that one can worship the Creator and dedicate oneself to good living in a grove of trees, or by a running brook, or in one's own house, just as well as in church. But I also know as a matter of cold fact the average man does not thus worship or thus dedicate himself. If he strays away from church, he does not spend his time in good works or lofty meditation. He looks over the colored supplement of the newspaper.
  1. He may not hear a good sermon at church. But unless he is very unfortunate, he will hear a sermon by a good man who, with his good wife, is engaged all the week long in a series of wearing, humdrum and important tasks for making hard lives a little easier.

  1. He will listen to and take part in reading some beautiful passages from the Bible. And if he is not familiar with the Bible, he has suffered a loss.

  1. He will probably take part in singing some good hymns.

  1. He will meet and nod to, or speak to, good quiet neighbors. He will come away feeling a little more charitably toward all the world, even toward those excessively foolish young men who regard churchgoing as rather a soft performance.

  1. I advocate a man's joining in church works for the sake of showing his faith by his works.

  1. The man who does not in some way, active or not, connect himself with some active, working church misses many opportunities for helping his neighbors, and therefore, incidentally, for helping himself.

Ninety-two years have passed since that historic interview with President Roosevelt. And church attendance and participation is still vitally important to faith development and Christian service.

The Scriptures advise us "not to give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, even more as you see the day of the Lord approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)

Why not go to church next Sunday and learn to be the church in your community every day?

Written by Barry Howard the senior minister of the First Baptist Church of Pensacola, Fla.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanking God for the simple things

Her mom was busy buckling her baby sister into the car seat when I first noticed her. She was standing beside the car next to her mother oblivious to what was happening next to her. She was looking up and reaching out with her tongue to catch the rain drops that were coming down. The fact that her face was getting wet didn't matter to her. It was the joy of catching a single drop on her tongue that brought delight to her soul.

How do I know? Because I was transported back in time as I watched this little girl play in the rain. I could see myself standing there in a similar situation enjoying the raindrops on my tongue. It's been years since I felt that simple pleasure. What happens to us as we grow up? We lose sight of the simple pleasures in life.

I was listening to the radio this afternoon and "Escape," (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes came on. I probably shouldn't use it as a reference in this church column but it speaks to a truth we all know. We get so sidetracked by lesser things in life that we lose sight of the blessings God has given us. That's what the song is all about. The man is bored with his life and feeling unappreciated by his wife when he sees a personal ad in the paper. He responds only to find the other person is his wife. They laugh and realize that they had taken each other for granted.

There is a hymn I grew up with that calls for us to "count your many blessings , name them one by one and you will see all the things the Lord has done." We need to live life like this. We need to enjoy the simple blessings that God has given us. We need to slow down, stick out our tongues and catch the mercy drops that are falling all around us.

That little girl was blessed and I pray you will be too.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Living with community

This morning a woman came to the church looking for gas money. I've helped her before and she now keeps coming back for more. She always has a good story and my heart aches for her. The last two times I have told her I wasn't able to do it anymore because our funds for that have been affected by the economy and we save it for members of the church in need.

She told me that she and her husband were all alone. Their family was back in Peurto Rico. I asked her again about church and she said she didn't belong to one. Again she reiterated that she was all alone and there was no one to help.

Now the truth is that she was a little too smooth. Before I could suggest someone else who could help, she beat me to it and named all the other social agencies in town as well as many of the other churches who usually have some funds to help. I also know that at my suggestion she did talk to Pastor Jorge from the Buenas Nuevas congregation here at First Baptist. I suggested she visit his church and get to know him an the good folks there. Pastor Jorge told me she showed up after church one day looking for money. She had no interest in attending services.

When I talked to her today I explained that one of the benefits of belonging to a church was that it became an extended family. The church becomes the support we need when life gets tough. I told her that is what our Deacon's fund is for and that is why many churches limit access to outsiders. These funds are to help our members when they need a little lift.

When she left today she still didn't get it. It made me think about the fact that so many of us think we need to go through life alone, without the support of community. We only reach out when we get in trouble. Of course we do the same thing to God. We live as if He didn't exist and then call on him when something happens. But life is so much better if we live it with God and the faith community. We find strength there. We find hope and encouragement. It also opens the door for us to be a comfort and strength to others as well.

That's the great thing about community. What goes around, comes around. What you give often comes back to you. Are you part of a church family? If not, I'd like to suggest you find one. Check out various churches until you find a place with people you can identify with and a clergy person who speaks to your heart. You will be blessed and your family will grow.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Atlanta Fest

I came across some videos from Atlanta Fest as I was surfing the web. It looks like a great time of preaching, comedy and outstanding music set in the Atlanta area. Several years ago we took a group of teens to New Hampshire for a Christian music festival called Soul Fest. It was at Loon Mountain back then. They had it set up so that six or seven musical acts were going on at the same time in different locations. They had every flavor of music you could imagine. We had one kid who loved heavy metal. I found a tent where they were playing it with Christian words. We had a trio of kids who liked rap. They had that. Michael W. Smith was there and so were the Blind Boys of Alabama.

I'm thinking of taking a group up there next summer. But the more I see of this Atlanta Fest, the more I think that might be more fun. Here is a sample of what they had down there. See if you agree.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The new face of Christian stewardship

(Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc -

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Word plays for today

If you enjoy a good play on words, you will have fun with these. They were sent to my by June Pendleton, a member of our congregation.

1) Give God what's right, not what's left.

2) Man's way leads to hopeless end but God's way leads to endless hope.

3) A lot of kneeling will keep you in good standing.

4) He who kneels before God will be in good standing.

5) In the sentence of life, the devil may be a comma, but never let him be the period.

6) Don't put a question mark where God puts a period.

7) Are you wrinkled with burden? Come to church for a face-lift.

8) When praying don't give God instructions. Just report for duty.

9) Don't wait for six strong men to carry you into the church.

10) We don't change God's message. It changes us.

11) The church is prayer conditioned.

12) When God ordains, he sustains.

13) Exposure to the Son may prevent burning.

14) Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah started building the ark.

15) Most people want to serve God but only in an advisory position.

16) Suffering from truth decay. Brush up on your Bible.

17) Exercise daily. Walk with the Lord.

18) Never give the devil a ride. He will always want to drive.

19) Nothing else ruins the truth like stretching it.

20) Compassion is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back.

21) He who angers you, controls you.

22) Worry is the darkroom in which negatives can develop.

23) Give Satan an inch and he'll be a ruler.

24) Be ye fishers of men. You catch them & he'll clean them.

25) God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

Think about these and then say a prayer for someone you know. God may be using you to make someone's day.


Just look up

A friend of mine sent me this and I am passing it on today. Think about it and enjoy.

The Buzzard: If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

The Bat: The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

The Bumblebee: A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

People: In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up! That's the answer, the escape route and the solution to any problem! Just look up.

Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, but Faith looks up!

Peace. Cal

Monday, November 9, 2009

Seeing things through the eyes of faith

I couldn't figure out how come I hadn't received my video from blockbuster in the mail this month. I signed up for the plan that would give me two a month. I sent the last one back a few weeks ago. Then today I looked in the basket by the television and found the video and couldn't believe I hadn't sent it back.

I took it to the Blockbuster store to exchange it for a new video. When the cashier looked at it he said, "This video hasn't even been opened." I said, "What?" He told me that the video hadn't been opened and was still in the wrapper. I laughed and couldn't believe it. It just goes to show that your brain can play tricks on you and what you think may not always be the truth.

That's why we are called to walk by faith and not by sight. We are called to trust God and see things through his eyes and not our own.


To see like a child

I got my Star Trek Jersey in the mail today. I felt like a little kid when I saw the package from Battle Creek, Michigan. I sent away for it with my two box tops and $9.99 back in August. It took me back forty years to the last time I sent away for something off of a cereal box. It was Honeycomb cereal back then and I wanted a record by the Archies. I can tell you that I was just as excited today.

It is a silly thing. It reminded me that no matter how old you get, there is still a child inside of us. It gets buried beneath the gray hair, the pot belly, the wrinkles and the diplomas. We have expectations on how we should act and what we should think. But every once in a while that child sneaks out and reminds us that it is still alive and well in there.

I think that's a good thing. For Jesus said that the kingdom of God belongs to the children. It belongs to those who can see beyond their own biases and prejudices. It belongs to those who can believe in that which they can't see. I want that child in me to lead me to God's kingdom and as long as I know it is still there, I can continue to hope. So can you.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Cafe that is run with Christian love

I love this idea. I wish more people would engage in ministries like this. I wish we could do it in Norwich. I'd love to support someone who had the time and energy to make a go of a Good Samaritan Cafe in our town to help the folks who need a hand up. This Cafe was for the folks who are a step above those needing a hand out at the soup kitchen. It is for the working poor.

I'm posting this today because God may be speaking to you and calling you to check this out. Let me know if you take the challenge. I'd love to be your first customer.


Friday, November 6, 2009

God is not shallow

I just watched the movie, Shallow Hal, with Jack Black. For all of its goofiness, it really sends a great message. It is the inner beauty that defines a person, not the external appearance. That's the point of the movie.

Tony Robbins makes a guest appearance in the movie and he tries to convince Black's buddy that most people are hypnotized into believing that beauty is skin deep by intensive advertising campaigns that promote it at every opportunity. As a result we have all become very shallow and miss out on what is most important.

I got to thinking that we do the same thing in the church as well. We have an image of what a Christian is supposed to look like. We look for the signs or external cues and don't ever look beyond that to the heart of the people we meet. I like what the Bible says about David. It says he had a heart for God. We all know that David was a murderer, an adulterer, and an imperfect man. Yet God looked beyond that and saw a person worth redeeming, a person with the heart that was pure.

I think God sees the same thing in many of us. We aren't perfect. We've messed up. Yet God looks beyond that and sees our heart and he calls us to come to him. That's good news. He doesn't look at the ugliness. He sees what is underneath it all. Praise God.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Let God help you decide

I had an hour and a half to get from Norwich to New Haven. I even thought about stopping at the Clinton Outlets for a few minutes to stretch my legs. I was sailing along down route 395 and had just come over the hill when I saw the line of traffic in the distance ahead. I knew it was going to be a problem. I was never going to meet Rebecca's train on time if this hold up was what it appeared to be: an accident on route 95.

I caught up with the cars in front of me and for the next half hour we inched ahead. Then we stopped for a solid ten minutes. I was a mile from the exit when the slow down started. As I came to the exit I had a choice to make. Should I continue on the highway and hope that the disturbance would clear up quickly or try to take an alternate route I had never been on before?

I laughed as I thought about how we are forced to make this kind of choice every day. We come up against roadblocks and difficulties in our lives and have a choice to make. Wait and hope things get better or strike out and take an alternate route. The decision is always hard. We are often stopped in our tracks because we are afraid to make the wrong choice. too often we end up making a choice by not choosing. That's no way to live.

Last night as I sat in traffic and moved beyond aggravation into resignation, I quietly prayed and asked God to help me decide. My rationale mind kicked into gear and I chose the alternate route. Even though I was unfamiliar with it, I had a feeling it would lead me where I wanted to go. I got off the highway and began to move again and i thanked God.

The truth is that I don't know which way proved quicker but I made the choice with God's help and I got to where I wanted to go. The same is true in life. When you have a tough decision to make, talk to God. Ask Him for direction, wisdom and to help you make that choice. Then go with your gut and move forward. God will be with you and He will direct your steps and lead you on.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lisa Kelly sings The Voice

I am still reeling from my night with the Celtic Woman. Their music was so inspiring. I thought I would pass on this clip from one of their concerts so you could be blessed tonight. Lisa Kelly sings "The Voice."


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Giving thanks for the blessings

It was one of those days when everything seemed to go wrong. I received a couple of frantic calls at church this morning. Then I got wrapped up in one project that demanded my attention and couldn't finish the project that has to be set to go tomorrow morning. I left church and stopped at the redi-cash machine and found out I didn't have enough money in the account to make a withdrawal. So I headed to West Hartford with only two dollars. I got caught in traffic on the way to my meeting. Then when I tried to set up my computer to Skype with our missionaries Rick and Mercy Barnes, I couldn't get the camera to work and I kept losing the Internet connection. Aaaargggh. I began to feel like Charlie Brown on a good day. The final straw fell when I stopped at McDonalds to get a chicken sandwich on my way home. I rolled down my window and it came out of the socket. Just then it started raining.

It was a day to remember. Murphy's Law was in full effect. When I got home a few minutes ago I sat down and thanked God that the day had come to an end. Nothing terrible had happened. Nothing irreversible had occurred and I was sitting in my favorite chair in a warm house surrounded by family.

Sometimes it is all we can do but give thanks for the little things. Life can be tough on any given day. The pain may even last for weeks on end. But God is good and he will be with us on the bad days as well as on the good days. On the bad days it is especially important for us to count our blessings. They remind us of the greater truths. They remind us that nothing lasts forever and that God always works for good for those who love the Lord.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Holding the light

I went to see the Celtic Women perform the other night and they were great. I fell in love with them about a year when I saw them on You tube. Their sound is so pure and the music they sing is so wholesome and clean. I came away from the concert the other night wondering why this kind of entertainment doesn't sell out in every venue.

As a society we seem to crave R rated entertainment. Everything has to have either sexual innuendo or blood and gore. We crave action films where people are murdered and villains go up against heroes in profanity laced tirades. We go after television sitcoms where everything is about sex and drugs. We like rap music that speak about rubbing our bodies against each other and giving it up for love and Country songs that talk about booze and infidelities. Our mystery and romance novels tell stories that don't leave much for the imagination.

It made me question how a Christian nation can tolerate the degree of filth that floods our airwaves and grabs the attention of our young people. I am not suggesting censorship. I don't think that works. What I am wondering is why more of us don't just reject it all together. If we stopped watching objectionable television programs and stopped buying music and movies that contain language and corrupt ideas then things would have to change.

Unfortunately we have been brainwashed into thinking that tolerance means acceptance. We have come to believe that if we reject something, we are being intolerant. The truth is it simply means we don't approve of it for ourselves. If Christians stopped watching shows like Two and a Half Men and going to movies like Saw VI then the ratings would drop and a message would be sent.

We used to say the same thing about sports that began encroaching on Sunday mornings. We said if the Christians would all stand up and say our kids aren't going to practice and play on Sundays, the system would respond and change back. But too many of us backed down. A Roman Catholic friend of mine said he solved the problem by going to church on Saturday. Now practices and games and tournaments are the norm.

We've hurt ourselves with our inability to take a stand. What's worse is the fact that we have let Christ down. We have been called to be a light in the darkness and it has swallowed us up. But there is still a flicker and you and I hold it in our hands. What are we going to do with it?


Sunday, November 1, 2009

When fantasy becomes real

The advertisement read "Join Mickey Lolich, Guillermo Hernandez, Todd Jones and others representing the 1968, 1984 and 2006 clubs, during the 2010 Tigers Camp of Champs." I can't believe I actually got excited. There was a day when I thought the idea of a baseball fantasy camp was silly. Who would want to go out and play baseball with a bunch of old timers?

When I hit my fiftieth birthday last year something strange happened. All the old timers were my age or older. Guys that I watched play as I was growing up were all going to be there. All my heroes were taking part in those fantasy camps. Suddenly it didn't seem so silly anymore.

It is funny how time has the ability to change our perspective on things. As we age and have more experiences we come to see everything in a new light. That certainly happens in our faith lives. Those things we used to see as coincidences are now seen as the guiding hand of God. That person who comes along just when we needed someone to brighten our day is now seen as an undercover angel.

The truth is that God is always there. It's us. We just don't notice him and appreciate him when we are younger. But Praise God time helps us see things for what they really are.