Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A fruitful life

This is a great explanation of why our life matters. We are called to bear fruit so God will get the glory. We are created to glorify him with our good works.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The church as God sees it

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. She told me that I owed another twenty dollars as a late fee for missing the deadline on the emissions testing. I pointed out that I had taken the test and passed. She said that was good but the computer was telling her that I was late and owed the fee.

I asked her when the test was supposed to be taken and she couldn't tell me. She didn't have that information. She said it was on the old vehicle registration. I was stunned. Who looks at the vehicle registration to see when the emissions test is due?

It struck me that this was an underhanded scheme by the State to grab another twenty dollar bill out of the pockets of the unsuspecting public. Every time you turn around there is a new tax or fee for something. I left the Department of Motor Vehicle sputtering under my breath. "All they want is my money!"

As I drove out of the parking area I passed the officer doing a vehicle safety check. "I wonder how much that cost?" I thought to myself. As I got to the main road I stopped behind a student taking a driver's test. I shook my head as I remembered the associated fees that we paid for my daughter to get her license.

The DMV is an easy target. It is natural to look at the regulations, fees and paperwork they generate and feel that they are out to get you. Yet as I thought about it, I began to realize that they really are there to keep us organized and moving forward. They provide services that are vital to the well being of all. Maybe I was too harsh in my criticism?

The truth is that many people have come to see the church in the same light as places like the DMV. How many times have you heard someone say, "All they want is your money?"

We hear about the negatives from every person who has had a bad experience with a minister or priest. Like any other human institution, the church it has its flaws. Yet in the church there is also a divine purpose which transcends the human element.

We are called to be a community where love and healing can take place. Our mission is to draw people back to God by reaching out to them with a helping hand and a thankful heart. When the church is at its best it will still have critics, but it will leave behind a testimony to the God whose love has changed lives and opened the door for a brighter future.

I think Dr. King said something like that in one of the speeches I heard this week. He talked about visions and dreams of a better tomorrow. He saw the people of God playing an essential role in transforming the whole society in which we live. That's the church I want to belong to even if it costs me something... especially if it costs me something.

I pray that the vision God put in the hearts of men like Dr. King will continue to rise up in people like you and me so that the world will see the church as God sees it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Regular maintainance is key to long term success

This afternoon I took my daughter's car to get the emissions tested. It is a pain in the neck but it is one of those things that you need to do. I hate it but I realize that in the long run it will be good for me and the environment. You see it will ensure that the car runs more efficiently and that will save gas and prevent added aggravation down the road. It will also help lessen the pollutants in the air which is good for all of us air breathers.

The same thing is true of the things we do to keep our mind, body and spirit in shape. A little exercise and some attention to a proper diet will allow our body to do well as we age. If we keep the fat in check and continue to maintain our flexibility we will be able to lead productive lives well into our advancing years. This is also true of the spiritual exercises that engage in. As we study the scriptures, pray and spend time in worship, it will prepare us for whatever challenges and blessings come our way. It will not always be easy to devote the time to these spiritual disciplines but it will be well worth it over time.

So now that the car is all set, it is time to take care of this old body. Talk to you soon.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Acknowleding the signs

I was out shoveling the driveway after the latest storm when I noticed a brand new, crisp copy of a Benny's circular in the walk. I stared at it in disbelief. Where had it come from? It was clean and looked like it was hot off the press.

I couldn't believe it because anything that had been out in the snow would have looked worse for the wear. This was brand new like it had floated down from heaven. It was almost as if someone had walked by while I was shoveling and set it there for me to see.

The thought hit me that it was a sign from God to tell me that Benny's had everything I needed to clear my walk and driveway from the snow. Get your shovel's snow blowers, extension cords, gas cans, lock de-icer at Benny's now. I laughed and was reminded how God often gave wonders and signs to the prophets in the Bible. Moses had the burning bush. Gideon had the wet fleece. Elijah had the fire from heaven. John the baptist had the dove descending from heaven. I had the Benny's circular.

The truth is that God often will give us a dream, a vision, an unlikely coincidence to tell us that he is with us and wants us to do something. Most of the time we ignore it. Every once in a while it is so clear that we have to pick it up and see what happens next.

That happened to me last fall. I received a letter from a pulpit committee in Westerly, Rhode Island and it struck within me that I had to check out. In the following weeks it became clear to me that God was calling me and I needed to respond. The events that unfolded brought me to the place I stand today. This past week I gave my notice to the members and friends of the First baptist Church that I was leaving. My last Sunday will be March 6, 2011. I will answering God's call to become the next pastor of the Central Baptist Church of Westerly, Rhode Island on March 9th and begin my walk with them as they enter the season of Lent.

It has been my good fortune to serve the people of First Baptist and of greater Norwich for the past quarter century. I consider myself the most fortunate man on the face of the earth. I thank God for that and I thank all of you.

As I did on that day when I was shoveling snow, I saw the circular, made note of it, and went back to the work I was doing. So now I do that with ministry. For the next two months I will celebrate and enjoy the work God has given us to do here and then move on as we both begin a new chapter in our worship and service of God.

In his service,


Monday, January 10, 2011

Jesus throughout the Bible

Thought you might enjoy this. I'm going to memorize it and present it in worship one of these days. I don't think I'll be as cute though.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

It always comes back around

Some of you may have heard about my snow blower dilemma last week. I didn't have an extension cord that would fit so I had to shovel the walk and driveway the "old fashioned" way. When I wrote about it in my weekly epistle, I had several people write back and offer me a cord that would work. I felt blessed to know that so many people were willing to do something so nice. None-the-less I went out and bought a 100 foot cord and put it with the snow blower for the next snow storm.

Guess what? Last night it snowed and we had seven inches fall on our walk. I got up early this morning and blew away the snow. It was a snap and the new cord worked perfectly. This afternoon I cam back and cleaned it up a little better. While I was out there I noticed my neighbor's walk hadn't been done so I went to work on it. I thought I would pay forward the kindness that was offered me during the last snow storm. The new 100 foot cord worked perfectly and gave me enough cord to do her walk as well as the rest of mine.

I don't mention this to toot my own horn but just to note that every time we do something nice for someone else, it always seems to come back to us. Maybe that is why Jesus encouraged us to treat others as we would want them to treat us. I think he knew something.

So next time you have been blessed, pay it forward and watch it come back to you in time.


Friday, January 7, 2011

God knows what is best for us

I sign up for a daily devotional and this came online this morning. It was a blessing to me and I thought I would share it with you. I wish I could claim it as my original work, but alas, even the inspiration giver needs to be a receiver... Enjoy.


1 Pet 1:6 In which time you exult, though for a little while
at present, if it must be, you have been made sorrowful by
various trials, (7) So that the proving of your faith, much
more precious than of gold which perishes though it is
proved by fire , may be found unto praise and glory and
honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

We should not only believe in God's love but also in His
wisdom. He loves us, and He knows everything. His love never
changes, and His wisdom never errs. Nothing will come upon us
that is not profitable for us. God's power will bring us
through everything we need to go through, and this power will
enable us to bear the burdens that come upon us. Therefore,
we can say before the Lord, “Thank the Lord. Praise Him
because His will is never wrong.” Praising God for His grace
is initial praise; praising Him for His will is mature
praise. Initial praise is praising Him for what we have;
mature praise is praising Him for what we lose. Brothers and
sisters, we can rest, and we can rejoice because in
everything we see God's love, His wisdom, and His power.

In the book The Streams in the Desert (Oct. 24), there is
this passage: “A piece of iron that is worth five dollars
will be worth $10 when it is cast into a horseshoe. If it is
made into needles, it will be worth $350. If it is made into
fine blades, it will be worth $32,000, and if it is made into
springs inside watches, it will be worth $250,000.” What is
the difference between a piece of iron worth $10, $350,
$32,000, and $250,000? It is the same material, but after
many trials and much beating, it becomes stronger, more
pliable, and more valuable. In order to make us more
valuable, God brings us through many trials and beatings. In
order to become a useful and valuable vessel before the Lord,
we must not bemoan the things that God has allowed to come
upon us. Instead, we should rejoice and rest. We should say
to the Lord, “Father, I thank You, because everything You
have allowed to come upon me is good.” If we submit to the
will of God, our heart will find rest, and we will be filled
with joy. Our mouth will be full of praise, and our burden
will no longer be a burden.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The God of second chances

I read where my Detroit Tigers were thinking about giving Brad Penny an opportunity to catch on with the team this year. He is a free agent who was hurt for much of last season. Our general manager says that he believes Penny can still pitch and make a valuable contribution to a team.

I thought about this and was reminded of the way God takes us, broken with an uncertain future, and gives us a second chance. He offers us forgiveness and the opportunity to turn our lives around so that we can reflect his glory.

I went through a severe depression in my second year of college and began drinking to relieve some of the pain. It didn't help. It actually made things worse. I ended up flunking out of school. All my dreams seemed to go right down the drain. Yet, thanks to the love of a few special people in my life, I was able to turn things around. I got a second chance and made the most of it. I finished school, went on to get my Masters and Doctorate.

Today I am blessed to be the pastor of a great church and am able to share the love of God through the church to the whole community. It all happened because of the grace of God. God is so good. It happened for me and it can happen to you to. All you need to do is ask him.

If your life is a mess right now, invite God to come into your life and he will give you a second chance and help you start over. So what are you waiting for?

By the way: I hope Brad Penny is a tiger next year and that he recaptures the magic he had a few years ago.

Peace. Cal

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A God who abides

I think my cat does not realize how much I love her. Misty comes to me every morning. She seems excited to see me. She follows me everywhere and then I hear her. She meows at me and heads to her little room. The room where her food and drink is.

It is then that I realize that all she sees me as is a source of food and drink. She couldn't care less if I lived or died as long as I am there to feed her. It is so sad. She will never be able to appreciate all the things I can do for her.

The truth is that many of us do the same thing to God. We look at him as a supplier of our needs. We call on him when we need something and then forget about him when the need is met. Yet God wants to do so much more for us. We simply won't allow him to be God.

The people who really get it are the most blessed people in the world. They enjoy a deep and abiding relationship with their creator and know his peace. They live lives filled with joy and go about their daily routines with a knowledge that God is always with them.

I pray that you might find this type of relationship with the lover of our souls. If you haven't done so yet, stop thinking about what God can do for you and begin living life with him at your side. You will be glad you did.



Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The gift of faith

I was up at Bradley airport this evening and just as I was driving down route 75 I saw a plane coming in from the distance. It started off as a small light in the sky but it grew larger and larger as time went on and then suddenly it was larger than life as it flew over me.

It is amazing how our perception changes over time and as things get closer and move away. Nothing looks the same as the relationship of distance and time change. We kn ow that is true of the physical world. It is also true of the spiritual world.

We often think of God as distant and uncaring especially when life becomes difficult. That is only because we haven't invited him in to our struggles and asked him to walk with us. Once God begins to draw near, problems never look as big and troubles soon disappear.

God doesn't do it magically. He sends people like you and me to help and to encourage us. That is the gift of faith. Thanks be to God!