Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

While I was on the airplane crossing the Atlantic Ocean I watched Julia Roberts in the movie "Eat, Pray, Love." It was a very good movie. I was especially touched by the scene where Roberts is feeling lost and decides to go in the other room to pray to God for direction. She says;

"Hello God, nice to finally meet you. I am a big fan of your work. Sorry I've never spoken directly to you but I hope I've expressed my ample gratitude for all the blessings I've had.

Lord, I'm in serious trouble. I don't know what to do. Tell me what to do and I'll do it. "

It was a very poignant scene that probably speaks to many people's experience in the world. They don't know how to talk to God. All they've ever learned were a few formal prayers and never felt like they could actually talk to a personal God who really cared about them and could make a difference in their lives. I think most people want to believe but the idea of a relevant, personal God just seems to good to be true.

At the end of the movie you get the sense that Roberts has had a spiritual experience. She has found God's plan for her life. The truth is that all of us are on a journey of self discovery as well as spiritual awareness. God seems ethereal and out at the beginning but somewhere along the way we encounter the living, breathing God who is just waiting for us to invite him to walk alongside of us through life. When that happens everything changes and life comes together in a meaningful way.

Eat, Pray, Love is probably considered a "chick flick" but I saw it more as a movie that touches the thin place where life and spirit touch. If you haven't seen it, rent the movie and let me know what you think. Peace.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Give a gift from the heart

What are you carrying? Imagine if you only had one suitcase and you had to put your most prized possessions in it. What would you pack? A lot of us collect as lot of things in life. I am not just talking about material objects. Some of us carry relationships around with us. Some of us carry past experiences on our backs. I know people who are weighted down with failures. Others lift high all their achievements so everyone else can see them.

The truth is that most of these things won't really matter when our life draws to a close. The most important things are not things at all. They are the people who we shared our lives with. This Christmas season, I want to encourage you to take time and tell the people who mean a lot to you just how much you value their friendship, their love, their place in your lives. It will be the besat gift you can give them.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

God's love letter

I found this and liked it so I am passing it on to you.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Staying awake in church

This would never happen in my church, I don't think...

Very funny.


The people you need

A powerful message by T D Jakes. He speaks about the people we need in our lives to be successful in ministry.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A sermon in a song! or two or more...

I wish I could preach like this!


Monday, November 1, 2010

A perfectly prepared product

On Saturday I helped out on a Habitat for Humanity Build in a neighboring town. We had a group from church participate and I tried to do my part. I'm not very handy so most of the time I stay in the background and let others do the work. This time they had a lot to do and I couldn't hide.

I began the day by doing some sanding upstairs and then got roped into doing some painting. The truth is that I don't mind helping out. The problem is that I'm not that good at doing things.

Charlie was our supervisor and he is a retired professional painter. He is good. He has a lot of patience. After telling us how to do the painting, he left us to do it. We were in charge of painting the doors for the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom. They were all set up on saw horses and all we needed to do was follow his directions. Easier said then done.

The truth is that Heidi and I did a pretty good job. Then Charlie came back and he pointed out a few flaws in our work. I felt horrible. Then he said that fortunately no one would see the flaws because this was only the second coat. Someone else was going to come in and sand the door again and put on the final coat.

I couldn't help but think about the fact that Jesus does the same thing with our lives. We try real hard to live the good life but there are flaws, sins, that keep us from being perfect. They are woven into the fabric of our lives. But praise God we have a finisher, in Christ, who comes in to wipe away the smears and the imperfections so that we can be made acceptable as we are presented to God.

My door will look pretty good when it is done and thanks be to God, so will I.

Peace! Cal.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trust the future to the Lord

I don't like change. I am discovering that I am one of those old people who wants things to remain the same forever. Unfortunately life doesn't work that way. If you think that nothing has changed in the last few years then you probably aren't paying attention.

Case in point is the fact that when I went down to Yale-New Haven Hospital yesterday they were doing a major reconstruction to the main entrance and atrium area. It was very disconcerting. I didn't like it. I don't know how many times I have been there and always felt welcome because of the familiar surroundings. But on Monday I felt disoriented.

The truth is that I know that sometimes change is for the better. It allows us to grow and respond to what is happening in the world around us. So why is it that we can't accept it? Maybe it is because we like to be in control. We like to think that we have the ability to direct every aspect of life around us. When changes happen it forces us to realize that we don't have as much control as we think we do.

I like the story I read today about the apostle Paul. His life turned upside down when he met Jesus on the Damascus Road. From that point forward he knew that God was in control of his future. That's why he was able to write later on that he had learned the secret to contentment. It was to be found in Christ and specifically in letting Christ control his life.

I don't know what the future holds. There will be changes but tonight I am going to trust Jesus to lead the way. Suddenly change doesn't seem so scary.

Peace! Cal

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

He's watching you

This morning at the gym I checked in with my personal trainer, Marc Nee. I wanted to make an appointment to take my routine up to the next level. The first thing he said to me was this: "We need to work on those dead lifts don't we?"

I stuttered, "What?"

He said, "Yes, I saw you and you were arching your back quite a bit."

I laughed out loud. Every time I saw him he was always busy. He never seemed to notice me... but he was watching.

I thought about God. Sometimes we cheat and cut corners. We do things we know we shouldn't do but we think God is too busy to notice or that he won't care. Well if Marc cares about what I am doing and he is working as a personal trainer, then how much more do you think God will care. After all, he is the one who gave his only begotten son so we could get a fresh start on eternity.

So if you are having a problem with something in life, go to God and ask him to help you straighten it out. He'll be happy to do it.

Be blessed.


Monday, October 11, 2010

What will you do today?

Imagine you had one day to live. What would you do?

Why is it that we often pt off the things that we deem the most important. We live as if we will live forever. We don't say those things we know should be said because we figure we can do it later. We let things go that we want to do because we figure there will always be a tomorrow.

I know that there are some things that take time. Things need to develop. But that doesn't give us an excuse to put it off. If it is important then you should do it today.

Just thinking that's all Don't the scriptures remind us to redeem the day? So what are you going to do today? I'm going to call my parents and thank them and tell them I love them.

Be blessed.


Saturday, October 2, 2010
A mother asked this President... 'Why did my son have to die in Iraq ?'
A mother asked this President.. 'Why did my son have to die in Saudi Arabia ?'
A mother asked this President... 'Why did my son have to die in Kuwait ?'

Another mother asked this President...
'Why did my son have to die in Vietnam ?'

Another mother asked this President...
'Why did my son have to die in Korea ?'

Another mother asked this President... 'Why did my son have to die on Iwo Jima ?'

Another mother asked President... 'Why did my son have to die on a battlefield in France ?'

Yet another mother asked President... 'Why did my son have to die at Gettysburg ?'

And yet another mother asked President... 'Why did my son have to die on a frozen field near Valley Forge ?'

Then long, long ago, a mother asked..
'Heavenly Father ..
Why did my Son have to die on a cross outside of Jerusalem ?'

The answer is always the same... 'So that others may live and dwell in peace, happiness, and freedom.'

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lord, give me a new heart

I have a funeral this morning for a woman who had a heart transplant nine years ago. I've never met anyone who had that procedure done. It is a miracle of modern medicine. The funny thing is that from everything I heard about her, this woman had a heart of gold. She was a loving compassionate person. Her husband, like the husband in Proverbs 31, called her blessed. He said they never argued. They got along so well and their love flowed naturally to and from one another.

This woman didn't need a heart transplant. At least not the one associated with the center of feelings and emotions. Some of the rest of us can't say the same thing. One of the things that makes me sad about the church today is the fact that so many in the church have become critical, judgmental and hard hearted. When the average person on the street thinks about the church today they tend to think of the fundamentalists who claim God is ready to judge everyone and everything for their sins.

Now I can't debate the fact that we are all sinners. I don't know too many people who are perfect and the ones I do know are probably humble enough to admit they have their faults too. God has every right to judge us for our moral failures and our tendency to ignore him and do what we think is best.

Yet God has decided to give us a second chance. The apostle John says, "For God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him, shall not perish but have everlasting life." To me, that means that anyone who believes in Jesus, who puts their faith in him and love him, will receive the gift of forgiveness and new life.

It is like getting a second chance. It is like getting a new heart. That was King David's prayer when he confessed his sin to God. He said "Create in me a clean heart, O God." Give me a heart transplant so that my love for you will take priority.

That's my prayer every day and I hope it will be yours too. Once you decide to walk with Christ your whole world changes. Your life becomes a continuous blessing. It is like have a new lease on life.

Be blessed. Cal

Changing your focus

Since my accident last week I have become a little gun shy behind the wheel. I've noticed how many times I day dream a little bit or get distracted behind the wheel. I used to joke about the fact that we drive on "auto pilot" a lot of the time but now I am becoming more and more aware of it. I'd say a good 30% of the time we are behind the wheel we are not concentrating on driving.

You think I'm crazy. Think about this next time you are behind the wheel. What happens when one of your favorite songs come on the radio? Don't you immediately either think of images from the music video, remember back to a time or place when you heard the song before, or conjure up images of somebody or something that you associate with the song? That's what I am talking about. You don't consciously take your attention away from what you are doing. It just happens.

What happens when you engage in a conversation with someone in the car or on the telephone even when using a hands free device? Most of the time your brain is working over time to think of what you are going to say next or to listen to what they are saying. How many times have you missed your exit or missed your turn because you were engaged in a conversation? Worse yet, have you ever had the other person say to you, "Aren't you supposed to turn here?"

Our brains are amazing. It is almost too much to comprehend when you begin thinking about the number of thought processes that can happen simultaneously. No wonder I had an accident. I am a deep thinker with a computer like brain! Don't I wish.

The truth is that so much of our behavior is automatic. We develop patterns in our lives and we often just follow the same routines day in and day out. Some are good and some are bad. The habit of going to worship every week is good. Smoking is bad. Going to bed at a reasonable hour is good. Eating at fast food restaurants is bad. Yet we follow these patterns unless something happens that forces us to stop and think about what we are doing. The accident did that for me. A health crisis does it for others. A break down of a relationship also works in this way.

The apostle Paul tells us in the book of Romans that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord. I think this is what he was talking about. Even bad things can be turned around and become blessings. When an unfortunate event occurs in life it forces us to stop and reconsider every aspect of our lives. It gives us a chance to turn off the auto pilot and begin charting a new course.

No one is happy about losing their job yet it may lead to a new opportunity in our life that is more fulfilling and can rejuvenate our spirit. no one ever wants a relationship to end but sometimes it can force us to look at our priorities and help us reorient ourselves to the most important people and thins in our lives. A health crisis may help us get rid of bad habits and push us to adopt a more healthy life style.

Our brains are incredible but sometimes we need to reprogram them and start over so that we can insure that we are receiving the blessings God intends for us. So next time there is a bump in the road on your journey, take the time to talk with God and see if there is something you need to change in order to get what god wants for you.

Be blessed.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Worth the wait

My daughter, Rachel, got her driver's license today. Well she didn't actually get it. She went to the Department of Motor Vehicle. She took the test and passed. She came out of the test with her papers but she couldn't get her actual driver's license because the main computer was down. The tester told her that she could come back tomorrow and complete the process and get the license.

Waiting isn't easy, especially if you really want something badly. Rachel was hoping to be able to drive out of the DMV with the ability to go it on her own. She wanted to drive herself to dance class but she was going to have to wait one more day.

It struck me that the same thing is true for us when it comes to our salvation. Once we accept Christ we receive the gift of eternal life. Yet, we have to wait for it to become a reality. We have to live with the promise.

Just like my daughter has been assured that she will receive her license at the appointed time, all of us who believe in Christ will realize our salvation in due time. That's God's promise and you can depend on it.


The truth that transcends time.

Where do popular sayings come from? You've heard expressions such as "it's raining cats and dogs" and they were "Dirt poor." These common phrases arises out of our every day experiences. The problem is that life has changed so we don't always recognize them for what they are. Here is a little history lesson that will explain where some of the common phrases you and I know come from.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain
because the water temperature isn't just how you like it,
think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about
the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their
yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by
June. However, since they were starting to smell . ..... .
Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man
of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then
all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the
children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so
dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the
saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no
wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get
warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs)
lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and
sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof...
Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the
house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs
and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence,
a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top
afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other
than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The wealthy had
slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet,
so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their
footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until,
when you opened the door, it would all start slipping
outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.
Hence: a thresh hold.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big
kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit
the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly
vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the
stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold
overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew
had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence
the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas
porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could
obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When
visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show
off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home
the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests
and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high
acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food,
causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with
tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were
considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt
bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests
got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination
would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days.
Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and
prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen
table for a couple of days and the family would gather
around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake
up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running
out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins
and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the
grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins
were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they
realized they had been burying people alive. So they would
tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the
coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.
Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night
(the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone
could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

The Bible may seem antiquated and hard to understand. That's because it was written in another time. Long before automobiles and computers, the talk of horses and mention of a day's walk may not connect to a younger generation.

That's why it is always good to share a little context when teaching the Bible to people. Help them understand what was going on at the time of the passage you are reading about. Put it in context and then use examples of what is happening today to help your friends relate to the what God is trying to say.

You see the Bible is filled with eternal truths that is captured and clothed in language and terminology of a given time. Our job is to share the truth and help others understand what it means for them in the year 2010 so they can know God.

So go ahead and chew the fat. They may think you are upper crusted and a dead ringer for the Lord when you are done. That's okay because you got your point across.

Be blessed.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Setting your GPS for God

On Sunday I talked about the fact that you have to adjust the settings on your GPS if you want to get where you are going in a timely fashion. I noted that all of us have GPS (God positioning systems) built into our being. We want to follow God but we often get side tracked and wander far from our destination.

So the best way to stay close to God is to make sure that you have the following settings straight.

First you need to give God the first part of your day. Spend it in prayer and devotions. Take the time to talk to God, and to listen for his response. Too often we neglect this and think it will come naturally during the course of the day. It doesn't. WE need to program it in.

Second we need to give God the first part of the week. We need to devote ourselves to giving God a time of worship every week. We need to make it a part of our life, not only for our benefit, but as a practical witness to the world around us. When we set aside Sunday morning to worship God we are telling our friends and neighbors that God is important enough to do it for. We are also telling God too. Doesn't he deserve it? The truth is that the fellowship is an encouragement and the worship helps us draw near to God. We need this to stand tall the rest of the week.

Third we need to make God the beneficiary of our money. Jesus talked about money and possessions a lot. He knew that we would spend our money and resources on the things we thought were most important. God asks us to invest the first fruits back into his ministry. He calls on us to give him the very best. As a matter of fact he even calls on us to test him. He says try me. Give me your best and watch me give it right back to you. t is the only time in the Bible where God says "Test me!"

Finally we need to set God first in all of our relationships. We need to let him use us to do his ministry within the church and out in the world. I shared a couple of stories about what happens when you listen to that still small voice and do what it says. You bless others and that blessing comes back to you again too.

So is your GPS set on God or are you still wandering around trying to find your joy? Follow these tips and you will soon be home again.


Heaven help us!

I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.

'And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber - give me a clue.'
'Hush, child,' He said, 'they're all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you.'


Remember...Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.

Every saint has a PAST...
Every sinner has a FUTURE!

Praise God for this reminder that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We need to encourage each other and spend time in His word and in fellowship and worship. Leave the judging to God and let's let his love and grace clean us up and prepare us for his service.



Monday, September 13, 2010

God so loved the world

Very moving music video.


Monday, September 6, 2010

The devil made me do it.

Sometimes we forget that the fighting that takes place in churches isn't only because we are human. It is because we have an enemy that goads us on and confuses us. He takes scripture and uses it against us and makes us choose up sides. He makes us think that our brothers and sisters in Christ are against us.

This video helps point out this truth.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Looking for the signs

Everyone was talking about Hurricane Earl today. It was on the news and alerts were flashing every fifteen minutes. The schools sent the kids home early. You would think it was the end of the world.

Everyone tunes into the weather. It is easy to talk about. Everyone is a closet weatherman spouting off their theories. I knew a man who enjoyed this time of the year because he studied hurricanes. He tracked them and predicted where they would go just for the fun of it.

I think it must have been true during Jesus' day too. On a couple of occasions he calls the people out for being so good at predicting the weather but clueless when recognizing the hand of God in their midst.

I think that holds true for us today too. Time after time God has revealed himself to us and we keep looking right past the obvious and calling it coincidence, good luck or our own ingenuity. We ignore the fact that God provides for us and intercedes for us. We ignore the gracious moments that bring us joy. We are worse than a blind man or woman in that we have no excuse.

The sad part of this reality is the fact that we miss out on embracing and celebrating God when is he near. When you invite Him into your life, everything becomes sweeter and hope blossoms to make every day a holiday.

If you have been walking around like a zombie lately, stop and look around you. Look for the grace moments and note them. When you start looking for God, you will see him everywhere and life becomes one continuous zippity-do-dah-day!


Slow down - Enjoy the dance


Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask How are you? Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores running through your head?

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child, "We'll do it tomorrow?"
And in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time to call and say,'Hi'

You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last..

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift.... thrown away.

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

I received this in an email that reports it was written by a young lady with cancer. It was submitted by her doctor for others to read and pass on. I'm not sure if it is true or not. I like it though because it points out the simple truth that we need to slow down and enjoy the gift of life that God has given us.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What if Jesus came to live with you?

What if Jesus came to live with you? would your life change at all? Here is a funny look at how one family's life changed.


God is there for you and me

God is a rock, a source of strength in our time of trouble. He lifts us up and carries when we are about to fall. I found this video tonight and it spoke to my heart. The video quality isn't great but the message is wonderful.


Closed for repairs

I drove by it and couldn't believe that the lot was empty. I had just gotten gas there a few weeks earlier. Now there was a fence around the property and bulldozers sitting over a dirt lot where a gas station and pumps had been.

The funniest part of the whole scene was the sign that stood over the property. It said, "Closed for temporarily for repairs." That's one major repair.

It got me thinking though. Some of us need to do the same thing. We need to shut down for a while so we can tear everything down and start over. We've gotten into some bad habits. We've fallen prey to some bad decisions. We need to do something radical.

Jesus invites us to follow him. He wants us to learn from him and to rise to a new level of love and faithfulness. For most of us it won't be as radical as that gas station. But we might have to stop doing some of the usual things while we get our life in order. When we do, we will be blessed and those blessings will be passed on to all we know.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A changed life

One of the most exciting moments in the life of a Baptist church is when someone comes forward to be baptized. This past weekend we had three baptisms at our church. All three of the candidates had a story to tell about how God was working in their lives.

The good news is that God cares about all of us and He is always looking for ways to catch our attention. We may be so busy that we don't even realize that God is there and ready to bless our lives. Then one day a series of events begin to happen that leads us to an awareness of his presence. When that happens our lives are never the same.

There is the story in the Bible about a man named Zachaeus. He was not a likable guy. He cheated everyone and became very rich. He did it legally and there was nothing anyone could do about it. People were actually afraid of him. He had the authority to put them in jail if they didn't pay. Yet there must have been something lacking in his life because one day he heard Jesus was coming to town.

Zachaeus was curious. He had heard stories about Jesus and his followers. So he went out to see if he could at least catch a glimpse of him. That day Jesus, almost as if he was planning to see Zachaeus all along, went right up to him and told him that he was going to his house that day.

After he heard Jesus speak, his heart was turned and he became a new man. In Scrooge like fashion ,he became a generous man and promised to give back more than he had stolen.

The truth is that once you meet Jesus, grace, love and a sense of peace comes into your life. You are changed. We saw that in the three people who were baptized at our church this week. Now we are all praising God. I pray that if you don't know Jesus that you will meet him and let him change your life too. It will be the biggest day of your life. Don't believe me? Just ask Jamie.

Peace. Cal

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mission comes to you

Over the last few years I have learned so much by going on short term mission trips. By being with people in their cultural setting you come away with a greater appreciation for what they have to live with. If you can't go to Mexico or Haiti then the next best thing is to hear from someone who has gone. So for my friends in Norwich I want to pass on this upcoming event. I think you will like it. Brittany is engaging and she has a great program to share.


"One World: Haiti" An Afternoon with Miss Connecticut
Please join us at Chacers in historic downtown Norwich on Saturday, Sept 4th when Brittany will show her new mini-documentary with footage from her visit to Haiti and talk about the challenges facing the children there today.

Last spring, Brittany Decker visited the Christian Haitian Outreach Orphanage in Haiti and was shocked to learn about the great need that continues to exist in Haiti for even the most basic needs, food, shelter and clean water. Even clothing can be an afterthought. And the opportunity for an education is essentially non-existant. Brittany recently completed her mini-documentary, "One World: Haiti" which includes footage from her trip, and provides us with little-known facts about the children of the orphanage and the conditions in Haiti, which continue to be dire. She recently debuted the film at a fundraiser in Bristol, and she hopes to continue to share it with small groups around the state as she prepares for her upcoming return trip.
Brittany is planning to return to Haiti next month to bring badly needed supplies to the orphanage, and purchase an irrigation system for the garden she helped build while there last time. If she is able to raise enough money, she may even buy a goat so they can have a good meal, and fix their truck, the only source of transportation they have to retrieve supplies.

There is a $10 suggested donation at the door.

Raffles. Refreshments.

You may RSVP by responding to this email or call/text Gail McCool at 860-861-8261.
If you are interested in having Brittany be your guest, show her documentary, "One World: Haiti" and/or speak about her experiences please contact her Business Manager, Gail McCool, at 860-861-8261 or

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blessed be your name

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


Friday, August 27, 2010

The dash

“I gave you this work: to go and produce fruit, fruit that will last.” John 15:16

I have a funeral tomorrow. Funerals are wake up calls to many of us. They remind us that we are not here forever. I'll say some prayers, read some scriptures, offer up the hope of salvation and then share some nice words about the woman whom we are remembering. That's what happens at funerals.

I remember seeing a poem called "The Dash" several years ago. The point of the poem was that all of us are born and then we die. We are remembered as two dates separated by a dash. The dash represents the most important part of our lives. I think Jesus would agree. That's why he sent his disciples out and told them to go out and make a difference in the world. He wanted them to be world changers. He wanted them to make an impact, to touch lives and change the world one person at a time. That's our job today. We are to plant seeds that will bear fruit.

So what are you doing? Are you wasting your days or are you living for the Lord? I pray the dash in your life will be a powerful testimony to the glory of God.

Peace. Cal

Thursday, August 26, 2010

God lights up the sky.

Found this today and it was a great reminder that God is always with us.


Reaching toda's generation

I found this post on a blog by Keith H. Mcilwain. He gives us some food for thought after reading and article in USA Today newspaper. Where are the kids? The truth is that we have a second generation of that is not coming to church because their parents never came ot church. So what are we going to do about it? How do we appeal to those who have never been in church and think about the church the way these people quoted below do? That's our challenge.


5 Reasons Teens Are Avoiding Church

The daily newspaper USA Today recently published an article detailing why teens generally don't "go to church". While the article makes some good points, Shane Raynor disagrees with the article's take and offers five additional reasons why many teens have failed to make "church" a priority. In my opinion, Shane hits the nail on the head.

Shane's suggestions:

* Teens don’t show up because they don’t think God is showing up.
Our desperation to be "hip", "current", and "relevant" has often resulted in a shallowness that must be offensive to Jesus...shallow preaching, shallow music, shallow language, etc. The truth is that depth matters; relationships matter. Ministry is more than simply pizza and volleyball...
"Sooner or later, everyone wants substance, and if it isn’t there, they’re going to bail. There’s always going to be a church (or someplace else) with better pizza, a more talented band, a better gym and bigger crowds with hotter people. It’s okay to use draws, but you’d better have a good foundation for your ministry and back up the draw with something real."
* Teens don’t make church a priority because their parents don’t make it a priority.
As in every aspect of life, we lead by example. It is crucial for parents to be involved in worship and ministry if they desire to see their children involved in worship and ministry....weekly...daily.
Additionally, parents must begin to say, "Sorry; worship of Almighty God is more important than soccer or basketball or sleeping in. You can't participate in that league if they require Sunday morning participation." Shane adds, "I’ve realized that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making teenagers go to church."
That's Christian parenting. It's a shame if the kids have to miss out on sports or other activities, but what if...what if their souls are at stake? Is that a possibility? Parents ignore this piece of parenthood at their own peril, and at the possible expense of their children's spiritual walk. Priorities matter, and your children are watching...and learning.

* Teens are very connected to each other now and don’t need church to hook up anymore.
More could be said about this. We have largely forgotten in the church what real, authentic "community" is all about and why relationships founded on Jesus are far deeper than others. Shane makes the point that, "...there’s probably somewhere or something else that does community better than church." Penitence is needed on the part of the church. We need to be in prayer about this one.

* Unchurched teens see no significant difference between church kids and everyone else.
This was certainly true when I was a teen. The cruelest kids in my high school were often myself and other members of my church youth group. That isn't to say we didn't take Jesus seriously, but living that out is extraordinarily difficult.
As a parent and as a pastor, I see that teen members of the church I am serving are often just as drama-driven and hormone-driven as those who are "outside the church". It's heartbreaking but it's true. I certainly need to be more intentional about mentoring these fine young people, whom I truly love. We all need to do better and be more more faithful.

* Many teens get impatient with churches that major on the minors and try too hard to seem relevant.
Welcome to life in The United Methodist Church, where we have made this into an art form. We often teach our young people - either directly or indirectly - that aspects of the faith such as Jesus, his Lordship, Biblical study and reflection, and/or doctrine are secondary to ridding the world of malaria or to having an open heart, an open mind, and an open door.
Please don't misunderstand me. Fighting malaria is a noble cause, and if a pastor or congregation is passionate about it, then I am all for it. Likewise, it is appropriate to be available to discuss "out of the mainstream" ideas and approaches to life.
But these ministries should not be emphasized at the expense of other pieces of our journey in faith. Teens are not stupid. They can see when we are "majoring on the minors" and, if necessary, they'll find a community where all the means of grace are taken seriously, rather than just a few which have been carefully selected to be as least offensive as possible.

I commend to you Shane's original post, and urge prayerful reflection on this important subject.

Just offer yourself and watch what God does

From last to first... I was just going to sit in the back. I was there to witness and support the Stroud family as Shane retired. He had spent over twenty years in the Navy and this was his big day. His wife and daughter were present. They had friends there. There were several officers and co-workers present.

After I took my seat Nikki came to me and told me to sit up front with them. Shane joined her and said I belonged in the family section. No sooner had I moved to the front row but the MC asked me to sit up front on the platform with the guests of honor. I tried to beg off but how can you turn down a Commander?

I wasn't even planning to take part in the service. I didn't want to be in the way. I was just there doing my thing, offering myself to the family and I was pressed into service and given a place of honor.

The truth is that my story comes straight from the Bible. Jesus said that the last shall be first. Those who are disappointed in this life will be blessed in the next. The people who are given the place of honor who don't respect it, will lose it.

The important lesson I've learned time after time is that we need to simply offer ourselves to God. When we do, He will use us and our position will glorify him and bless us. I had a great time yesterday and was happy to be a part of Shane and Nikki's special day.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

God loves you.

I found this beautiful letter by Krystle Koay on the web and thought I would pass it on. She suggests that after reading it you spend a few minutes just talking to God and thanking him for his love while you share your hopes and fears.

A lot of her letter comes right out of the Psalms, in the Bible, God's entire love letter to you and me. Thank you Krystle.


My beloved,
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I’ve chose you when I planned creation. Have you not remember that you were a miracle child? I’ve brought you to this world according to my plan. I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live.

You were not a mistake, the country you were put in was not a mistake, and the life you are living is not a mistake – for all your days are written in my book.

I am familiar with all your ways even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
It is my desire to lavish my love on you.
I love you. Simply because you are my child and I am your Father.
I am your provider and I meet all your needs.

My plans for you have always been filled with hope because I love you. My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore.

Do not worry about tomorrow, I will have that taken care of.

Delight in me and I will grant you the desire of your heart. I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine.

I am your greatest encourager, your Father who comforts you in all your troubles.
I see your tears, I see your frustrations.
When you go through the deepest and hardest moments, I am there. When you failed the exams, I was there. When your friends leave you, I was there. When you felt alone, I was there.

When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. I have carried you close to my heart. I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. I am your Father, and I love you!

All that I ask for is that you spend time with me and hear me. Despite your running in and out, your busy schedule, remember I am waiting for you to respond: Daddy, I love you!

Daddy in heaven

God can help with our problems

I was just coming in from my workout this morning when I looked out in the backyard and saw him. He was slowly making his way around our tool shed and over to the stone wall. He stopped for a minute and then he wiggled in behind the shed and out of sight.

I will never again go out to the shed to get the lawn mower or some lawn chairs without thinking of that skunk. I am not sure if he has a nest there or if he was just passing through but now I know that he has a nice hiding place that puts him smack dab in the middle of my world.

The problem with it though is not that I won't be careful for the next few weeks. I will. The problem is that my caution will not last all that long. In a few weeks I will begin to go about my business as if the skunk was never there. I may think about him but I will ignore him. I will begin to act is if he can't hurt me and that he can't possibly be there.

Someone once said "ignorance is bliss." That's a lie. It may feel like you are in control but that's when the unexpected happens to derail you. That's when you say I should have known better but it's too late.

Sin in our life is like that skunk. It walks in and hides just out of sight. It doesn't appear to be a problem but when you least expect it, it jumps out and sprays you and makes a mess of your life. The truth is that we need to tackle it head on. We need to root it out and get rid of it so it can't come back to hurt us. We need to honestly recognize we have a problem and face it. We can't ignore it.

Whether we are talking about substance abuse, sexual immorality, financial irresponsibility or something else, we need to address it before it attacks us. If we can't do it alone, then we need to get help. At church I keep the name of a animal trapper handy. I called on Nuisance Wildlife Evictions once when we had a squirrel running loose in the church and they captured him in less than a half hour and solved our problems. They knew exactly what to do.

God is like that. When we call on him he can help get rid of our problems. He can help us find the solutions we need to get our lives back on track. We don't have to face it alone. god's got our back.


Monday, August 23, 2010

After church yesterday I set my camera down and it disappeared. I am not sure if I simply misplaced it or if someone picked it up, with or without thinking. The end result is that this morning I went crazy trying to find it. I turned the church upside down looking for it. I cleaned my office, Sandy's office, my car and still couldn't find it. I prayed, I cried and right now I am just willing it to return.

I couldn't help but think of Jesus' parables in Luke 15 as I was searching for it. You remember them. Jesus talks about the shepherd who leaves the ninety nine to search out the one lost sheep. Then he mentions a woman who lost a coin and turns the house upside down trying to find it. Finally he talks about the lost son who returns and blesses the father's heart.

I know my camera is a small thing in the big scheme of things but I went all out looking for it as if it was the most valuable thing in the world. Because of these stories that Jesus shared, I was reminded just how much God loves us. That's why he did the crazy thing he did, sending Jesus to take our punishment on the cross, so that we could be with him forever.

What an amazing God we have. What amazing love he shows. Thank you God.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blessings from nowere

I took Lori's car to Firestone because she had a flat tire. I changed the tire and put on the spare. Then I dropped it off to have it fixed. My friend Ray told me that they would fix it for free. Silly me. I actually believed him.

An hour later I got the call. The tire was not good enough to fix and two of the other tires were pretty badly worn. They suggested four new tires and a front end alignment for a cost of $589. I couldn't believe a simple flat tire could end up costing me so much.

The truth is that you never know what tomorrow will bring. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to be frugal and make the right decisions only to have one problem lead to another with a big bill follow.

That's the way life works. It is unpredictable. The best thing you can do is make a plan and try to stick to it. This has been true on our mission trips. The first thing we tell all of our short term missionaries is that they need to be flexible.

Robert Burns captured this sentiment in his poem, "To A Mouse" when he wrote, "The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!" In other words you can plan all you want but there will always be something that comes along to mess things up.

Flexibility is a virtue that we all need to have. The truth is that if we trust in God the little things that go askew will not bother us as much. Why? Because we know that God is in control and he has the big picture in mind. $600 is a lot of money but it could have been worse. We needed to get new tires anyway and this just forced us to speed up the timetable.

The truth is that it may have saved somebody's life down the road. God may have used the flat tire to push me into getting the tires a little ahead of schedule so that the car would be safe for Lori to take to New York or to run Rachel around town.

I like to think that God knows what is best for us and he takes advantage of the unpredictable nature of life to step in sometimes and prompt us to do what we know we need to do. I know it doesn't work that way every time but it happens enough that I have started looking for it. You know what? It has blessed me. Now I see these events as gifts from God even if they end up being a little pricey now and then.

So what is God doing in your life? Not sure? Then think about the last time something unpredictable happened to you.

Be blessed. Cal

Monday, June 21, 2010

God cares for you

On Sunday my three daughters sang a very special song. It is one that their mother used to sing when she was their age. It was beautifully done.

For 25 years they have come to know this church as a place where family and friends came to discover the love of God. That's a special thing. That's what the song acknowledges. God is always watching over us. That's been the message of our ministry at First Baptist for the last quarter of a century. Times have certainly changed. The world around us has become less personal and more secular. The truth is that my girls have lived their lives going against the tide of society. Over the last twenty five years a generation has grown up without the benefit of a church relationship and the knowledge of God's love.

Yet we still preach Christ and are finding ways to introduce him to the people we know. It is no longer the job of the church to do this. Not the church as in the place where we go on Sundays. The call goes out for every one of us as the body of Christ, as individuals, to be ambassadors for Jesus. Yes, that call has been going out for centuries but today it is more important than ever. Each of us has a sphere of influence that God has given us. We can share love of Christ by following his example and living to his glory.

The truth is that we may be the only contact some people have with God. The way we live our lives, the grace, love, hospitality and truth that is exhibited by our lives will be the message that they hear.

On Sunday the reporter from the Norwich Bulletin asked me what my message was today and how it had changed in 25 years. I told her it was simple and it hadn't changed. God loves you and me. That's the message that the world needs to hear. God still cares and he wants to do something about it.

That's why I love this song. (Never mind the fact that this version was sung by three of the most special people in my life.) So take what it says to heart and then share the good news with someone you know.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Only by grace

bIt was one of the worst calls in baseball history. Last night umpire Jim Joyce robbed Detroit Tiger's pitcher Armando Galarraga of a place in baseball history when he blew a call with two out in the top of the ninth inning. The batter hit a ball to the right of first baseman Miguel Cabrera and he went over and picked it up and threw it to Galarraga. With a step and a half to spare he made the play. As the runner crossed the base the umpire signaled that he was safe to the utter amazement of the players, the crowd and even the hitter. Despite an argument from the manager and several players, the umpire refused to change his call.

After the game umpire Jim Joyce checked the video replay and saw that the runner was clearly out. In a gracious gesture, he went to Armando and apologized and said he blew the call and cost him the perfect game.

In the hours since the blown call, both Galarraga and Joyce have showed themselves to be classy gentlemen. As a matter of fact, so did the whole Tiger organization. Manager Jim Leyland and several players openly forgave Joyce and said they felt for him. Today Leyland sent Galarrag out with the lin-eup card to meet the umpires and Joyce hugged him. Then the Tiger's owner Mike Illitch presented Armando with a brand new Corvette convertible to congratulate him on his tremendous pitching feat.

The whole thing could be dissected and used for for numerous sermon illustrations. The truth is that many of us have had similar experiences. We have done everything right but someone's mistake has cost us an opportunity. It is so unfair but it is life. We live in a fallen world. We are subject to the sins and errors of others. By the same token, by grace we sometimes experience blessings we don't deserve.

The best thing we can do is give life our best. Armando Galarraga picked up the ball and went right back to the mound. He threw ball and got the next man out. He won the game and that is what really mattered. The apostle Paul says that running the race... doing our best to the finish line is what matters most. I hope when I find myself in a similar position, I will remember stories like this and look to God and ask him for the grace to continue on to my own reward.

God bless.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A time to serve

Mahatma Gandhi said, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." Gandhi studied religion and was well aware of Jesus. I have no doubt that this is a learning that jumps off the pages of scripture. Twice in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus mentions that a person who wants to find his life, has to be willing to lose it for his sake. In recent years Rick Warren has been talking about the purpose driven life and telling us that if we want to find our life, we need to look to God. God is giving and loving.

I am moved by stories that tell how others have come together and sacrificed for the well being of those in need. Modern day heroes include Mother Theresa, Bono, Franklin Graham and a host of people who have made it a point to advocate and live for others. You can have a ton of money and be unhappy. You can have beautiful people in your life and still not find satisfaction. You can have glamor and fame and come away empty. Just look at Tiger Woods, Jesse James, Lindsey Lohan and Brittany Spears and you will see brokenness and a search fo something more.

That's why I love the idea of serving others. I belong to the Norwich Rotary Club and our motto is "Service above self." The idea is that if we serve others, the whole community will benefit. God was pretty smart when he put this idea in our hearts. Later on the Apostle Paul picked up on it when he called the Christian community the body of Christ. He noted that we all have a role to play in making something great happen. It is so true. When we each come together to share our gifts, great things can be accomplished and God will be glorified.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start serving.


Monday, May 31, 2010

How do you handle the pain?

Hurt. Anguish. Betrayal. Disappointment. Can you imagine having people who you shared your life with and had so many special moments with suddenly turn their backs on you? The sorrow would be enough to break your heart and make you want to give up. Many of us have been there at some point in our lives. Whether it was a girlfriend who stole your boyfriend in high school or a colleague who got your promotion at work, most of us have experienced something akin to that if we have lived for any length of time.

Over the last six months I have walked that dark valley. I was blindsided by some people I cared about very much. One day they just turned on me and began giving me the angry, silent treatment. They began talking to other people and before long I lost a few more friends who I considered very close. When I tried to reach out to them to find out what precipitated their actions, I was rebuffed. They wouldn't talk to me. They stopped coming to church.

As a Christian it is hard to know what to do. How do you handle the pain and feeling of betrayal? I have to be honest with you. At times I felt like retaliating and getting mean. I wanted to shout to the whole world and tell everyone what was happening. I wanted to do something that would make them hurt as much as I did. But that isn't me. The truth is that to this day, I still care for them a great deal.

So I looked to Jesus and asked him what to do. Believe me, I prayed an awful lot. When I felt overwhelmed, I gave it to Jesus. I asked him to take the hurt and the pain. You know what he told me. HE said "come to me and I will give you rest." The truth is that nobody knows the pain of betrayal better than Jesus. When you read through the Gospels you see how the very men he loved, turned their backs on him. Peter denied him three times. The inner circle of his friends, Peter, James and John, fell asleep when he asked them to sit with him on the night of his agony. Judas betrayed him to the authorities. The crowd who had hailed him as the king on Palm Sunday were shouting "Crucify him" on Friday. As he looked down from the cross, Jesus revealed how we should handle the hurt when people turn on us. He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

When I read those words I think about the number of times my actions have offended Jesus. I can't tell you how many times I have done things out of my own selfishness and neglected to consider Jesus' thoughts. I get on my high horse about certain things and act as if I'm the one who needs to be pacified. I live my life without thinking about God and his feelings. Yet, he continually reaches out to me and calls me back. HE forgives my arrogance and knows how weak and foolish I can be.

That's the man I want to be. I want to be more like Jesus, more forgiving, more filled with grace. The truth is that this is what it means to be a Christian. It isn't about being a judge or jury in God's courtroom. It isn't about making sure we keep every iota and tittle of the law. It isn't about us at all. It is about God and being His agents of reconciliation in this lost and broken world. We are called to follow Jesus' lead. He forgave the sinner on the cross. He forgave Peter for his denial. He forgave Thomas' doubt. He restored each and every one of those who let him down and he declared his love for them was stronger and deeper than life and death. That is how we should strive to live our lives: giving grace and reflecting God's love.

The truth is that even if we strive to be more forgiving like Jesus, we will still have our moments. For example on one particularly emotional day, I left church and heard a song on the radio. It was about a man who had been wronged by his girlfriend. He happened to go to church one day and heard the minister say, "Pray for those who hurt you." So he began to follow that advice and began praying all kinds of nasty things happen to his ex-girlfriend. I laughed when I heard the song. He had captured my sentiments at that particular moment.

None-the-less, I am praying for my friends in the proper way. I pray for their peace. I pray they find what they are looking for. I pray that someday we can be friends again. If not, I pray that God will fill the hole they left in my heart and help me find peace.

So enough for confessions. Now it is time to praise God for He is good.


Let God be the judge

This afternoon I went out driving with my 16 year old daughter. We have been out once before. Now she is finished with the classroom part of Driver's Ed and ready to head out with her instructor with the road part of the class. So I planned a drive out to the nearby town of Lebanon where she could get behind the wheel and drive on some country roads. I thought this might help her feel a bit better prepared for her time with the instructor.

I was wrong. She wanted no part of driving on the road. So we went up to the school instead. For 20 minutes she practiced going around the parking lot and driving down the two way roads of the long driveway. She felt good about that.

I thought she would enjoy the freedom and opportunity to get out on the road. I based that on a few mistaken assumptions that came out of my own experience. I grew up in the country and by the time I was fourteen I had already driven go-carts, lawn mowers, tractors, motorcycles and cars. We had 38 acres of woods and a big yard. On my first day with the Driver's Ed instructor I already had hours of experience behind the wheel of the car. I did fine and was not nervous at all. My story is not my daughter's story.

Later tonight it struck me that we often project our own experience and understanding onto others. If we get annoyed easily, we think everyone does. If we check out all the facts before we draw a conclusion, then most people probably do the same. If we have a lot of faith, we think others should too.

That's why when someone acts different then we expect, we are taken aback and wonder what they must have been thinking. We jump to conclusions based upon our own assumptions and make judgments about their character, their motivations and their actions. I think that's why God said that we are not to judge one another. We don't know their hearts. We don't know their struggles. We don't know what they are thinking. But here's the good news. God does. It's good news because God also knows our hearts and what we are thinking. He knows our motivations and He still reaches out to offer forgiveness.

My daughter did great today. She was driving with more confidence by the time we finished our circles. By the time she hits the road she will be ready. I'm not saying this from my own experience. I'm saying it because she will hit the road when she's ready, not me.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need
You have expressed.

They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with
Guidance and support,

To aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.

They may seem like a godsend and they are.

They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,

This person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an

Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.

Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.

What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire
Fulfilled, their work is done.

The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.


Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has
Come to share, grow or learn.

They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.

They may teach you something you have never done.

They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.

Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.


LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons,

Things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional

Your job is to accept the lesson,

Love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other
Relationships and areas of your life.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.


Thank you for being a part of my life,

Whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

You need to speak their language

How do you reach this generation with the good news of Jesus Christ? You have to speak their language. When shows like Survivor, American Idol and CSI are at the top of the charts, there is little room for Jesus. When Two and a Half Men, Sex and the City and shows that promoted twisted relationships are more popular than attneding worship each week, you have a problem. What are we missing? How do we translate the faith to such a generation? Well this young woman is trying. She is good. Enjoy.