Thursday, January 28, 2010

God answers prayers

The Tigers are coming to Norwich and guess who is excited. When the reporters saw me with my Tiger hat on at the press conference, they wanted to talk to me. I could barely contain my enthusiasm. I told one of them that the Tigers coming to town was an answer to prayer. I meant it too.

But we all know that some prayers matter more than others. My wife and I had this discussion many years ago. I was in college and had a test coming up. I told her I was praying for a good grade. Lori laughed and said, "If you want a good grade you better start studying. You don't pray for that."

Ever since then I have changed my prayer pattern. I started praying that God would allow me to do my best on the test. I prayed against mental blocks and just asked God to allow me to remember everything I had studied. And I did alright after that. Of course the studying helped.

I guess the same thing happened this week with the Connecticut Tigers. I just kept praying that the city would diligently seek a new team and that God would bless their efforts. Guess what? Prayers were answered all around.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What a mess

I saw the meatballs in the refrigerator and I couldn't help myself. I grabbed a fork and took one. I know they were for the dinner tomorrow night but who would know? As I brought it up to my mouth a big glob of spaghetti sauce went flying to the floor. Then another glob of sauce dropped. As I reached for a napkin a third splash hit the counter.

I laughed as I thought about the mess my harmless little indiscretion had caused. That's the way it is with sin too. We may think it is just a little thing but there is always a mess to clean up afterwards. Sin scars our lives and leaves its imprint in its wake.

Praise God that Jesus comes to offer us a second chance. He cleans up the mess and leaves us looking like new. But his sacrifice came with a cost. It cost him his life on the cross.

Next time I'll think before I reach for the meatballs. I'll think twice the next time I think about sinning too. The price for that was way too much. I'd much rather do something that glorifies God.


Monday, January 25, 2010

We need to trust God

I had just made the turn up Harland Road when a white car came racing around the corner right at me. Without a moments hesitation I pulled over to the right side of the road and blasted my horn. Suddenly the car veered away from me.

The whole thing only took a split second and it was over. No harm. No foul. Yet I had a sense that I had just dodged a bullet. As I continued up the hill the thought struck me that no matter how much you think you are in control of your life, you are not. Everything can change in a minute. One false move, one drunk driver, one bad decision and the nice little world you live in can take a dramatic turn.

I'll never forget the day one of our young women came to see me prior to a Wednesday night service. She was in her second year of college. She came into my office. She sat down and proceeded to tell me that she was pregnant. Her life was changed forever.

We can control some things with the choices we make. For the rest we have to trust in God. We can't live in fear. We need to grab hold of each day and live to the glory of God.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Devil, be gone.

You never know how God will speak to you. I came across this video as I was struggling with a couple of issues lately. This young lady addresses the devil and tells him that she will not be deceived any more. Enjoy.


Where's your marker?

He said to me, "If I can't believe this is true, then my faith won't have any traction. It will all be for nought." He was talking about a particular passage in the Scriptures. It sounded legalistic to me. I challenged it and now he had painted himself in a corner.

I'm not sure if he's right or wrong in what he believes but this exchange made me think. "What is the one thing that has to be true to make our faith count?"

Another member told me his several years ago. He said that for him it was the truth of the resurrection. If Christ hadn't risen from the dead then everything else we believe is all for suspect. I've thought about that over the years and I agree.

I remember my first week in seminary. I came back to my room from my Intro to New Testament class. I was in tears. My professor suggested the Matthew, Mark, Luke and john may not have written the four Gospels attributed to them. That shattered my world. I didn't know it back then, but I was a fundamentalist. I was a literalist. If the book says it was written by Matthew then it had to be written by him. I remember asking my self what I had gotten myself into. Why had I come to this place?

In the ensuing weeks I learned a lot about literary criticism. I came to understand that in an oral society, it was common for stories to be handed down from one person to another until finally, someone decided it was so important that it needed to be written down and preserved. I had to re-evaluate what I needed to believe in order to maintain my faith.

When it comes to scripture I no longer need to believe that every word was God breathed to a particular person whose name is on the book. I believe the Holy Spirit works through people to give us the truth that God wants us to know.

Faith is a process. We grow. We come to new understandings. That's why today I hang my hopes, not on a particular passage of scripture, but on the cross and the resurrection. Jesus died for my sins and set me free and in the resurrection he showed us that his promises were true.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

He calms the storms

Psalm 27 declares, "The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?" These words come as a reminder that we are not alone. Sometimes we get scared because the circumstances of our life threaten to overwhelm us. We lose sight of the fact that God is with us.

I know many good Christians who feel that life is out of control. Problems at home and at work leave them feeling discouraged. The Psalmist reminds us that we have someone who has got our back. God cares about us and He will not leave us to hang on our own.

Jesus once said that "if God is for us, who can be against us?" We have the king of kings on our side. He is the one who can calm the storms. He is the one who can still the sea. He can certainly handle anything that we are facing.

So trust in the Lord. If you are struggling with something right now, ask God to help you. He will give you what you need to overcome whatever is trying to knock you down.

Peace. Cal

Monday, January 18, 2010

God's heroes.

I'm watching Heroes on television tonight and one of the characters is on trial for abusing his power. He tried to go back in time and save the life of someone he cared for a great deal. As I was watching I couldn't help but think how many times I wished I could do something like that. I wished I could go back in time and right some wrong. It doesn't work that way though.

At one point the Hero says to his accusers that if it is wrong to want to save the life of someone who makes this world a better place, then he is guilty. Just then an image came to mind. I saw Jesus on the cross. He was asking if it was wrong to save the life of someone who made this world a better place.

You see that is what Jesus did. He saw the good in us and he gave his life so that we could be forgiven and fulfill our purpose. You and I have been saved to share the love of God and make this world a better place. The transformation begins in us and continues until the end of time.

We are God's heroes. He sends us out to do his work. Praise God.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

It is a team thing

The posting on my daily "Church chuckles" desk calendar read like this:

The sign on the bulletin board at church read: We need one more player on the church soccer team. Ask yourself: "Am I my brother's goal keeper?"

It is funny. It was a play on words. It does speak to a deeper truth though. I've always looked at the church as a team. God calls us together. He picks us and then teaches us how to play the game of life. We all have a role to play.

Some of us are like the forwards. We carry the ball and try to advance the good news. Sometimes we score. Sometimes we miss. But we are at the front lines ready to go where the ball is. Others are like the mid fielders. They are good at many things. They advance the gospel and also defend the gospel. They go where they are needed to assist and help. They don't get the limelight but they are every bit as important as the other team members. They often the hardest workers and need to be in the best prepared and in the best shape.

Next are the defenders. They keep the tradition alive and serve as gate keepers. They stand up to attack and willingly risk themselves to stop the enemy from advancing. They are like the pillars because they hold everything up while their teammates try to score.

Finally there is the goal keeper. He or she is the one who has a crucial role to play. It's funny but I think of them as the true defenders of the faith. They are the inspirational leaders. We look to them when we are weak and our defenses are down. We trust them to give it all they have. We rely on them to give us the boost we need when we stumble and fall down.

The truth is that soccer is a team game but so is the church. In I Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul breaks it down. Many gifts, one body. So never think that what you have to offer is too small. It may be just what is needed at the time.

Peace. Cal

To stay young

This came across my computer screen and I pass it on to you today. Be blessed.



1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them'

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love , whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

11. Spend a little time in prayer every day. Talking to our maker will help us understand the meaning and purpose of our lives.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Monday, January 11, 2010

We are called to share our spoon

We had a meeting of our Missional Church Committee tonight and formalized our plans for our Winter Giveaway at the Martin Luther King Center next month. We'll be giving out a number of personal hygiene items. We wanted to concentrate on the things you need but can't buy with food stamps. So we are collecting shampoo, conditioner, tooth paste and tooth brushes, bar soap and laundry detergent. Our people have been so good at bringing in the supplies but we always welcome more from any source. We really want to bless the people in need who live around the Church. This is our tangible way to let our neighbors know that God cares about them. After all Jesus said the greatest commandment was "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself." We are doing that.

We have found that when you give in love, the blessing always comes back to you in unexpected ways.

I like the story that is told about a Holy man that was having a conversation with the Lord one day. The man said, ''Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.''

The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in.

In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it impossible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.

The Lord said, ''You have seen Hell." They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoon but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, ''I don't understand."

''It is simple,'' said the Lord. ''It requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other. When we learn to love one another, we receive a taste of heaven.

What we are doing is sharing our spoons with our neighbors.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Spend a little time with the ones you love

I went to the "Send Off Party" for Miss Connecticut Sharalynn Kuziak this afternoon. It was a wonderful event. Sharalynn modeled the outfits she will be wearing for the Miss America Pageant, answered questions and greeted guests. It was a class affair. Afterwards I began thinking about what a nice tradition this was for someone who was going off to a life changing experience.

I wish we all could experience a send off experience with our friends and family whenever we were starting something new or making a change in our lives. So often we feel completely alone when making these kind of transitions. Yes, when our children get married or go off to serve their country we do something. But what about when they start a new job or buy a new house. How many people still have housewarming parties? How many people even have going away parties when someone leaves a job? Too often today people are given pink slips and they just walk away without us getting a chance to celebrate what they have done.

Maybe the best thing to do would be to regularly celebrate those people in our lives. We need to tell them how much we appreciate them. We need to make it a point to thank the people who mean a lot to us. We need to make time to have coffee or lunch date with our friends. We need to set aside time to share some special moments with the people who have blessed us. You never know when the world around us will change.

It is still a pretty new year. Why not make it a point to reach out to your friends on a regular basis. While you are at it, why not give a shout out to God as well and make it a point ot spend a little time with Him too.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Life's adventures are its best teachers

Thank goodness for friends who remind you that you are loved. A friend of mine sent me this little ditty and I'm passing it on to you.

Happiness keeps You Sweet,
Trials keep You Strong,
Sorrows keep You Human,
Failures keeps You Humble,
Success keeps You Glowing,
But Only God keeps You Going.


A source of strength in times of need

Max Lucado writes "It's not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It's whom we discover in the storm." Christians will often find Jesus there and hear him say to the the wind and waves, "Peace be still. I wish I could tell you that as a follower of Jesus you would never have any trials or troubles. If I told you that I would be lying. Even Jesus told us that in this world we would have trouble. But the good news is that he promised that he would walk along side of us. He would give us strength. He would help carry the burden. He would take the brunt of the wind and hide you under the shelter of his arms.

That's good news. Take it with you as you walk through all the days of this new year.


Thought for the Day - January 8 2010

This should probably be taped to your bathroom mirror where one could read it every day. You may not realize it,
but it's 100% true..

1. There are at least two people in this world that you would die for.

2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.

3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.

4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.

5. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.

6. You mean the world to someone.

7. You are special and unique.

8. Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.

9. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.

10. When you think the world has turned its back on you take another look.

11. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

He loves you

We had a great service at church tonight. The point of my message is that we should look for our worth in the fact that God loves not in how much money we have or don't have. Then I came home and found this video. It punctuates the point. Enjoy.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Look up

Psalm 33: 18 reminds us that God watches over those who rely on his unfailing love. That's good news. It means that we are not alone when we face our biggest trials. The year has just begun and none of us knows what it will hold. None-the-less we know God will be with us. We know that there will be tests. Don't fear. God will give you strength. We know there will be disappointments. Don't worry. God will help you overcome. We know there will be worries. Don't let them consume you. God will give you peace. That's what He does.

Jesus reminds us time after time that God has not forgotten us. He reminds us that God loves us. He tells us to open our eyes and see what marvelous things He has done. So the next time life has gotten you looking down, look up and see the source of your hope.


Monday, January 4, 2010

God loves you so much

Do you know how much God loves you? In Matthew 10 Jesus tells his audience that if they look around and see how God cares for the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, they will see the wonder of God. Then he says that we are far more precious to God than any sparrow or any flower. As you walk into this new year, walk with the knowledge that you are not alone and that God loves you very much. He will never leave you or forsake you.

Think you failures might get in the way? The apostle Paul tells us that while we were still sinners, while we were still turned away from God, while we were still messing up, He reached out by giving us the gift of life through his son, Jesus. Nothing can separate us from God's love.

The truth is that when we turn to him, things often get better. I was amazed to hear it reported that reporter Bret Hume suggested on air that if Tiger Woods wanted to get his life and career back on track the first thing he should do is turn to the Christian faith. He says that in that faith, our faith, real forgiveness can be found and new life begun.

What a great thought as we begin the new year! God loves you and me so much!


Saturday, January 2, 2010

What faith does

In Max Lucado's "Fearless" day by day calendar he writes for January 2 -

"Fear never wrote a symphony, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that."

It is so true. Fear often motivates us to some type of action. It is usually fleeing from the problems. we run away and hide. I know. I do that sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed. I liken myself to Elijah when he fled from Ahab and Jezebel. God lets us do that. It is exhausting but God let's us do that. He doesn't force us to stand up to our problems. He doesn't put us out there as sacrificial lambs.

Along the path God ministered to him. When Elijah finally stopped running God met him. Do you remember that story. God told Elijah to look outside the cave he was hiding in. There was wind, fire and an earthquake and God wasn't in any of those events. God was in the still small voice. It was a reminder to Elijah that even if he couldn't see God, God was with him.

It is the same for us. When we are afraid, we need to stop and remember that we are not alone. God is with us. He will strengthen us and we can overcome anything that tries to intimidate us. We may not be able to do it by ourselves, but with God all things are possible.

So be blessed and go boldy in the new year. Do not be afraid. God is with you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Quote for January 1, 2010

Quote of the day:

Weekly Church is God's Gift:
Assembly required!

Why not make it a resolution to attend worship services each week in 2010. You will find inspiration and hope as you walk through the year. I promise that you will be blessed as well.


Time for a fresh start

Happy New Year! I love the first day of the new year because it gives us an excuse, a reason to start over. It is like the chapter headings in a good book. It marks an occasion where we can be purposeful in making the changes and redirect our lives.

My friends make fun of me because I joke about going back to weight watchers after New Year's Day every year. Most years I actually do it and it makes a difference. I've never lost the 60 pounds I did back in 1994, but I always move the scale downward and that is good for my health.

Some people make fun of resolutions but I think they are great. They are goals that we can strive for and the New Year gives us the impetus we need to take the first few steps. We have a starting line for our race. We have a symbolic door that we can walk through. That can't be bad.

I hope this is the year you lose that weight, quit smoking, try for that new job, meet that special someone or get out of debt. working on making that dream a reality begins today. May God be with you.