I haven’t been able to write much over the last few weeks. Oh, I have had the time. I haven’t had the energy.

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When I came on as lead Pastor of Cornerstone Church there was a lot to do. My task from God has been to renovate. The people of Cornerstone have been walking through a renovation of the spirit, a renovation of relationship and a renovation of our physical appearance.

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WHAT HAS BEEN CONSUMING SO MUCH OF MY ENERGY LATELY HAS BEEN THE PHYSICAL RENOVATION OF THE BUILDING. I told the congregation that I had three initial goals for our physical building. I wanted to deal with the PINK (the dilapidated rug in the sanctuary), the STINK (the plumbing issue in our men’s bathroom that has long escaped diagnosis and makes the church smell bad when there are heavy rains) and the SINK (the parking lot we affectionately call the Cornerstone Himalayas).

We handled the PINK last summer. Our sanctuary went FROM THIS


This year we are dealing with the next two projects, starting withe largest. The SINK.

Our board has been planning for the last couple of months for the special business meeting of the congregation where we would have the vote to move forward with this project.

Sunday was the day.

We presented.

The church voted.

We are getting a new parking lot!!!

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Now the real work begins: the signing of documents, the planning for ministry during construction, the work of communicating all that is going on to the Cornerstone community.

There is a temptation to just keep plowing ahead.

But I think it is important for all of us who are about to embark on this next great congregational adventure to take a moment and celebrate what we have already accomplished!

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A Big Random Weekend

I intended o write sometime during the weekend, but it was a big random weekend and the moments for writing did not coalesce as I wished them to.

On Friday I had a load of washed stone brought for the patio and the end of my drive. Yay! No more two foot drop off the end of the gravel!

Also on Friday I decided to go up to see the progress on The Ingleside property, now the Winchendon Community Park. I was a part of the committee that spearheaded the purchase of this land by the town. It is amazing to see what it is becoming.

Saturday morning I started with another tour around the yard to get my bearings of what needs to be done…. a lot of work lies ahead.

Then I met my friends Ray and Deb and Paul and Dawn to help set up for the “Taste of Winchendon Fair”. This is a multicultural fair that is in its third year in Winchendon.

Once set up was done I headed home to do a few chores.

I went back later in the day to help with breakdown. I caught the end of one of the bands that was playing. Big Random is a band that does a lot of charity work for the town. The drummer is a local lawyer who actually helped me a lot with the decisions concerning Grace’s estate work.

I met my daughter an son-in-law and grandchildren at the fair and we hung out for a while talking with other congregational members who were helping out at the various booths. Then Ray and I helped break the fair down. The dessert table had a left over cake so I brought that home as a Mother’s Day treat for mom.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. The flowers are from my sister Brenda. I got Mom chocolates. We got Wendy’s for lunch and then had naps. Naps are a Sunday necessity after church.

As I said a big random weekend at The Vicarage. Now I wonder if we will have a big random week.

Between Bunnies and Ordination

It has been a very busy couple of weeks. This new series we are doing as a church has been taking a lot of prep time and prayer time

I am also finding myself emotionally spent from the preaching and teaching of it. It is really good stuff, but it is also very emotional stuff.

We are also coming up on a very important meeting with the congregation about our parking lot.

And we are in the midst of a relaunch in our town of the council of churches.

Sooo… yeah it’s a lot.

In the midst of it here are two really high points from the last couple of weeks

My daughter Amanda got ordained. Here she is with her mother, Tina, and younger sister, Melanie. She loves the photo ops, can’t you tell?

Here is Amanda at her ordination banquet with friend and missionary Rev. Kim Ferguson.

And then of course the bunnies in the back yard are always a welcome distraction.

Between the ordination and the bunnies my heart is full.

OK folks, it is time for me to go pray. Big meeting tonight to plan for a bigger meeting next week.


Commander Andy, our outpost commander, for Royal Rangers boy’s ministry went out for knee surgery last week, and so I am filling in for the rest of the year. My son-in-law James is now the outpost commander. I am his second and a spare set of hands in ministry.

Last week James and I met to set up the next six weeks of classes for the boys. Last night I was assigned the task of the Bible study. I was to teach from Acts 1:8 and Acts 2:1-4

 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.


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Jesus said “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”

So we talked last night about asking God for the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts so that we could have power.

This afternoon sun my noon time prayers the Lord impressed upon me this thought…


Now that thought gave me pause. How different is this thought from the way most of the world views the acquisition of power?


One of the benefits of being connected with our fellowship is the opportunity for intentional spiritual direction.

Having a spiritual director or a spiritual presbyter, as they are called among us, is a new thing for our network. I have always had a presbyter, but the job descriptions of these pastors of pastors has been so broad and the regions they cover so vast it was always very hard to have deep connection with them.

My section is Western MA. I pastor the eastern most western church in a region that stretches from my town on the New Hampshire border all the way to the New York border and south to the Connecticut border. My presbyter pastors a church about an hour and a half from me in Wilbraham MA. He oversees 18 churches over a large territory with a variety of needs in very diverse communities.

My spiritual presbyter, Pastor Vinnie, is from Lynnfield MA. He oversees two pastors as a spiritual presbyter. His job has nothing to do with the running of our churches. His job is to help us personally and spiritually as pastors.

He calls me about once a month to check in. Our calls focus on how my spiritual life is going, what my personal struggles are and how I am doing with the work of God. I love talking with him and praying with him. We are building a relationship of trust and conversational confessional discipline. It is good for my heart and it is new to me as a pastor. I have not had this connection with a pastor before and it feels good. It feel healthy. It feels….hopeful.

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I just finished reading through my comments from my most recent blogs (it is a habit I used to have that I am trying to reestablish). Sister Brenda commented, “if I don’t keep my sabbath holy who will?

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I will take it one step further, “If I don’t keep my daily rhythm holy, who will?”

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Sabbath is a part of a holistic life rhythm that leads to a Spirit-led life.

Some time ago God told me that “I needed to start allowing life to flow out of the prayer place rather than letting prayer be informed out of the living place.”

A rhythm of prayer flowing into living and then living flowing back into prayer, prayer being the source of the living rather than allowing living to be the source of prayer is necessary.

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I am…have been learning to make my life a response to prayer rather than allowing my prayers to become a reaction to living.

This lenten season I am intentionally calling myself to seven times of prayer a day.

My “midnight prayers” are times of dreams and visions that are beginning to carry more and more weight in my daily living.

My “prayer of arising” is a time of meditating on the life of Jesus among the people.

My “midmorning prayer” is a time of hearing the heart of the Psalmist.

My “noon time prayer” is a time of hearing the heart of the Psalmist.

My “late afternoon prayer” isa time of joining my voice to the voice of the Worship Room either in person or most often remotely.

My “vespers” is another time of joining my voice to the Worship Room or to the Cornerstone Church prayer room.

“Compline” is that time just before bed to meditate through the Psalms as I prepare for the dream space of the midnight once again.

My position allows me to extend prayer deeper than most people can, but I know that in the days ahead we will all be expanding the prayer space.



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.

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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



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.



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.


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I have returned to fasting for the lenten season in preparation for a deeper work of ministry coming after Easter. I have to admit it is not going well. I find myself struggling with my appetite and failing to control it, especially at night after times of ministry.

I have learned over years of practicing the discipline of fasting that the struggle with appetite is perhaps the most important thing in the fast. Not giving up in the midst of momentary failure is almost as powerful in the work of fasting as fasting perfectly. There is so much to learn about oneself in the midst of failure. The failures and the reasons for those failures reveal to me what God is working on inside of my heart. Fasting shines a light on the shadowy places of our hearts, and the centering prayer that must always accompany fasting shows us where the shadows are extending from into our lives.

In this season, I am practicing seven times of daily prayer with varying degrees of success. The night time prayer sessions of Compline, Matins and Lauds are the most difficult for me to practice. Again the night time is revealed as my time of spiritual difficulty and weakness and I am seeking God to help me discover why that is so and how to send spiritual balance into that part of my life.