Pastor Cal's
Weekly Epistle

Every week Pastor Cal
writes a weekly column
for the Spirit Page of
the Norwich Bulletin.

He also sends it out to
members and friends of
the church via e-mail.

E-mail him at
calstigers@gmail.com if
you want to be added to
the weekly list.
Central Baptist Church of Westerly
16 Elm Street, Westerly, RI   02891
Phone: (401) 596-4929   

Check out our blog at Central Baptist Life
Redeemed By God's Grace                                July 9, 2014

Dear friends,

His name was Joe and I will never forget him.  I was working at the drop in center
of a senior resource agency in Boston when I met him for the first time.  He was
quite disheveled.  He lived in a run down tenement and was literally living day to
day.

One day as we were sipping coffee he said to me, "Don't judge me."  That took
me by surprise.  It shouldn't have.  I was a middle class seminarian dressed in a
jacket and tie working among the poor.  He saw the look of contempt on people's
faces every day.

"There is a reason for everything," he continued, "It may not be a good reason,
but there is always a reason."  Then he chuckled.  He wasn't asking for my
approval of his lifestyle or choices.  He was simply telling me that there was more
to his story than what I knew.

I thought of that the other night as I sat there at the Spirit of Broadway Theater.  
It was opening night of the musical production of Benedict Arnold, a play that told
the story of the most notorious traitor in the history of our country.

As I thought about the influences that led to Arnold's betrayal, I couldn't help but
think of my own life.  I don't like to admit it but the truth is that there have been
many times when I have betrayed God.  Like Joe said, "there's always a reason."
I had plenty of excuses.  

Although most of us will never be branded with the traitor tag, our failures break
God's heart.  When we turn from him and selfishly seek to meet our own needs,
without regard to his moral standards, it has a ripple effect that touches everyone
around us.

Arnold's story reminded me that "there but for the grace of God, go I."  It is
God's grace which offers forgiveness and a fresh start.  The good news is that
what we did yesterday does not have to define us.  For with God at our side, we
can turn the page and begin a new chapter.

God bless! See you in church. Cal