I am in the middle of a preaching series entitled, “Jesus Doing Life.” The emphasis of this study is on how Jesus worked through his various roles to build His community, the church. I am focusing on Jesus in His roles as:















It’s the final stretch. Today I am writing the sermon on Jesus as Apostle. Next week we will cover Jesus as Pastor and Evangelist and finally on Easter we will talk about Jesus as Messiah.


Amanda and I had an opportunity to travel to Wilbraham MA this morning for a gathering of pastors from the Western Region of the state.

We are preparing for our All Network Conference. So each region is meeting in the next two weeks to go over some of the ideas that are going to be at the forefront of our conference.

One of the things we were greatly encouraged in was the importance of our mission, not just our individual missions to our specific towns, but also our corporate mission to reach the world with the message off the Gospel.

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This call to the larger call is the apostles heart…It is not just my church or our church but THE CHURCH.

“How do we work together to get it all done?” is the question that burns in the heart of the apostle.

It is about unifying around the big picture, the finishing of the whole mission, not just the little part of it in our own corners of the world.

The apostle can never lose sight of the words of Jesus from Matthew 24.

this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Ma 24:14




The swell of life’s ocean. A beautiful storm: Love… adventure…community… the wonder of the now… the blessing of eternity.

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I am finding labor and rest in the fullness of this ocean: Church…prayer… The Vicarage… The larger community… personal life… health… elder care…ministry… Sabbath…

All these waves to be surfed in the continual up an down rhythm of life’s tide.

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I need to take advantage of the spaces between the waves, the little sabbaths of each day. And I need to simply ignore the waves at least once a week for a day…give these aging muscles some time to not meet the requirements of the ocean.


I was going to drive up to Claremont again today to visit Grace. My body said no to that. So I am going to drive up on Friday instead. I will call her this morning. Then I will let my mind wander through some of the study material I have on my desk. I will write and pray and take it easy. Maybe I will nap.

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The week has been eventful as far as it concerns elder care. The snow storm was a huge challenge for mother. She hasn’t quite recovered her sleep schedule yet or her best grace. This morning she told my son that when he comes to live here she is going to make him live in tent on the side of the house and she will make sure he had an outhouse to use.

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Yesterday I got a call from Sullivan County Health Care, where my ward Grace lives. Her appetite has been very poor for some time, but since the storm she has eaten almost nothing and she is drinking very little as well.

It is now to the point where hospice has been suggested. This next turn of the wheel has finally come.

I got the call from the visiting nurses out of White River Junction last night, and set up the appointment to sign paperwork for 9:30 this morning.

I am so thankful for the support network I have to help with mother. Amanda is away at a family life conference in Shrewsbury MA today, so my daughter Melanie came to sit with mom for the four hours I would be gone this morning.

I was driving the road along the Ashuelot River by 8 A.M. By 9:30 I was pulling into the driveway at Sullivan County Health Care.

The nursing home is under major reconstruction. The new stucture is going to be absolutely beautiful.

As I walked through the hallways, filled with temporary storage containers for the current construction work my heart felt such sadness. Grace will probably not be here to see the finished work on her current home.

During this visit, though, there were lots of wins to celebrate. I got to introduce the hospice nurse, Jen, to Grace personally and we both had a nice visit with Grace before Jen and I had to step aside to sign paperwork. Grace was having a good morning. She has lost quite a bit of weight now, but she was in good spirits, and pain free.

One of the things I am most glad about is that Grace will now have a weekly visit with a chaplain. She has really missed the in person spiritual direction and Scripture reading. I will also have a weekly check in from the chaplain to let me know how things are going on the spiritual- emotional front.



On Tuesday the power went out. It was out for thirteen hours. We had to use candles for light. It got cold in the house. Mom got nervous and very talkative. Amanda and I got zero sleep. When the lights came back on at 3:30 A.M. mom thought it was early evening not early morning.

By the time she went to sleep. The sun was well up and I was well into my day. Wednesday night after prayer meeting I went to bed and found myself awake until probably 1 or 2 and then I was up for a full day on Thursday.

Last night I slept from about midnight to about 3 A.M.and was awake off and on from that point forward. I have noticed that not sleeping is affecting how I eat and how I process information emotionally. The lenten fast has been thrown pretty much out the window since the snowstorm, interestingly I am finding that the prayer structures I was trying to achieve are coming a bit more easily. Being awake at 3 A.M makes Matins and Lauds a lot easier, but my eating schedule is all over the map.

I am going to give myself another day or so to normalize and then I will make some other considerations. I definitely need to have one good night’s sleep before Sunday morning.



I am sitting here this morning drinking my coffee,

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and I am thinking about the storm we just came through in light of a prophetic word that came to our church back in August.

That word was “prepare for tragedy and prepare for witness”. It came in varied ways to ten different congregants during the time of our pastoral sabbatical.

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I am wondering what does it mean to “prepare for tragedy and to prepare for witness.”

On Monday night the snow began. When all was said and done we had 30 inches of very heavy wet snow that plunged the entire town of Winchendon into darkness for 13 to 24 hours.

My cell phone battery was dead by 6 P.M….hour four of the cold darkness. My daughter was wiser and immediately put her phone into airplane mode and on low power mode. It hardly mattered though the cell towers went down at the same time the power did and internet was completely useless

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No cell service meant no way to communicate for anyone who didn’t have a landline. No electricity meant no heat for anyone who didn’t have a generator or alternative heat source.

I was pretty proud that our house with new insulation held the heat pretty well. We were just below sixty degrees in the Vicarage when the power went on. Thinking about it though what if we had had a repeat of the ice storm of 2011? Three days without power? What would we do? Mom is not really mobile any longer. I have to be prepared for the next time an event like this comes. I am absolutely sure that a next time isn’t too far off.

But it is not just about preparing for my household. We must prepare for our community.


Zooming In the Snow

I got home from Winchendon’s Special Town Meeting just as the snow was beginning on Monday night. Amanda had already walked Mercedes and Snug so I settled in for a long winter’s nap.

Last weekend was the beginning of daylight savings time, so I overslept Tuesday Morning. I overslept by about six inches, which is what we had on the ground when I opened my eyes. It was six inches of cement, though, as the first bit of snow had been mixed with rain.

The branches started falling just before we had our Zoom staff meeting. No one was getting out of their house yesterday and everyone had trees or branches down in or around their houses.We had a shortened meeting as we were down by two staffers and another was already having connectivity issues from his house in Templeton. I should have known the trouble John was having connecting was a sign of bigger issues to come.

By eleven in the morning we had wrapped up our staff discussion on the upcoming church business meeting, so I went out for another pass at shoveling the snowment. By this point we had a solid foot in the front yard and drifts up to two feet on the left side of the house.

By the end of lunch we were at about 15 inches and the lights had flickered a few times.

The drifts outside had completely overwhelmed the bushes which normally stand taller than I do. The drifts on that side of the house were at least three feet deep. Branches started coming down as our trees began to lean precariously over the power lines.

By 2 P.M. the power had gone out in the entire town for what would be a thirteen hour stint. Mom was super nervous throughout the night. Her mind could not process the loss of power and she was really struggling with the candles, especially one she thought looked like “a dog scratching itself as it burned”. We actually had to move that one out of her line of sight. None of us got much sleep.

The power came back on about 3:30 A.M. It was still snowing. I think all totaled we have well over two feet of the sticky wet stuff.



It has been a pretty mild winter up until the last few weeks. Here in Winchendon MA, we have gotten the majority of our snow for the season in the last three weeks. At first it was just dribs and drabs, and then last week we got a foot in one night.

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Today will be a day of preparation for the net snowfall which according to my phone is going to start around supper time and the time of our town’s special town meeting to vote on the community preservation act financing.

When all is said and done we will have somewhere between 16 and 20 inches of the white stuff and the promise of rain beforehand means we will be shoveling slush throughout the night and into tomorrow.

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Of course that also means that it will be good snowman snow. I haven’t built a snowman in…. forever. Lately I have hand hankering for it. So maybe tomorrow will be the day.

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This morning, at breakfast, I was talking with Mom about Amanda’s upcoming ordination. She will be ordained the Rev. Amanda Lillie in May.

At that point she will hold the most advanced credential in our church. I held my first level of credential for nearly 25 years without advancing and now that I have entered the second level of credential I have to hold that for two years before I can be ordained myself.

My mother asked why it took me so long to move forward and my only real answer was a lack of ambition. Always I have been more about the call than the credential. I have ministered and gone where I felt the Lord wanted me to go and very seldom have I thought about my qualification. Honestly, the level of my credential has seldom factored into the call.

I now pursue ordination in order to walk in obedience before my presbytery. It is an act of submission. Amanda feels the same. The call is the thing. The credential feels like an affirmation of that call in the eyes of men, but the call is the thing I must walk out before God.

Just now that call is getting very exciting as we prepare the church to walk in a deeper manifestation of the love of Jesus than ever before.



One of my goals this year is to lose eighty pounds. I joined NOOM and so far I am down about 22 pounds depending on the day.

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I am also trying to get rid of joint pain in my knees and hips. I think a large part of the pain is due, not just to my weight, but to what I am eating.

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I am a big sweet eater and like most Americans I love my processed sugars.

As I said the other day I am on a lenten fast called the Daniel Fast, which is basically a vegetarian fast. I fasted like this in January and it went very well. This time I am having a hard time staying away from the processed sugar.

My latest NOOM lessons have been on the subject of mindful eating. It involves paying attention to what I am putting in my mouth. One of the suggestions is to increase mindfulness is to actually sit down to table to eat rather than eating on the go.

I have to admit this is a great challenge for me. I have years of ingrained on the go eating. I seldom sit at table to eat almost always choosing the grab and go method, the watch TV and eat method or the multitasking eating method.

But I do realize that the idea of slowing down to be intentional about eating is not only healthy but it is one of my three mandates of living from God, “SLOW, CONSTANT AND INTENTIONAL”.

I am going to try shifting this eating habit. I’ll let you know how it goes.



My professor for Sermon Preparation in bible college was a big proponent of planning ahead. He felt that as pastors part of our responsibility to our congregations was to take a month at the beginning of every year to plan out our sermons for the entire year. He went so far in his ministry as to instruct his secretary to clear his January schedule of all non emergency meetings. He sequestered himself in his study and spent that month actually writing out every sermon he was planning to preach through the following Christmas from outline to three point essay format.

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In my 32 years of ministry I have never gone that far. I modified his ideas to better fit the rhythm of my ministry. As a youth pastor I would sit with my team each year and plan out the year in group meetings, leadership trainings and youth events. Then I would use that calendar to plan out my teachings for the year by subject and how long I would give myself to teach the series I was planning. Then I would write the sermons weekly or a few weeks at a time. Sometimes I would get a whole series written just before I launched into it. This gave me a strong structure to work from while at the same time offering me flexibility required of youth ministry.

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I am finding that planning the course of the church as lead pastor uses pretty much the same principles I learned in youth ministry. For me, planning is one of the main uses of sabbatical. Last August(2022), I planned out my direction for the year (through Christmas 2023).

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I suppose some think the structure would lend itself to limiting the move of the Holy Spirit (it’s actually a criticism I have heard). I find it is actually the opposite. I spent a month praying about the plan. I trusted that God had the ability to tell me in advance what He was planning to do. I also held the plan lightly enough that I was prepared to shelve it if God chose to do something different.

We are currently in the middle of a series called, “Jesus Doing Life”. It was originally meant to take us through Easter and then we were going to launch directly into a walk through The Revelation.

God has changed up plans a little. The last three weeks have been divinely interrupted. Twice I have preached extemporaneously and the third service I gave the pulpit to a staff member to share thoughts that came as the result of her trip to a conference in North Carolina. These three services affirmed some things the leadership team has been looking at and we have decided to finish up with “Jesus Doing Life” and then to launch directly into a study on healing offenses entitled, The Bait of Satan.

This decision means the study in Revelation will carry us well into 2024. The plan stands but it is adapting. It is a part of ministry I like to call planning by the seat of my pants.