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?


God loves irony.

I never thought I would be a lead pastor. I was very content as an assistant. I always felt called to the pastoral lifestyle…the prayer ministry…the study….the preparation of sermons…the visitation and actual pastoring of the flock…navigating the supernatural move of The Holy Spirit… spiritual warfare. All of that felt like a natural fit for me. As an assistant those were the focuses of my work.

As a lead pastor I knew I would also have to assume leadership in the business end of the church’s work….The managing of staff… the balancing of budgets…the care of the building and property of the church. These felt like less of a fit. In spite of that I knew that when our last lead pastor left, I was being called to let my name stand for the position.

I let it stand.

I became the lead pastor.

It came with increased spiritual work.

It also came with three building projects which had been waiting in the wings for some time. The time has nowcome to address these projects as I reach my second and third year….the time when, according to my mentor, ministry really begins for a lead pastor.

The projects, we at Cornerstone, have affectionately named:


A tip of the hat to our Pepto Bismol-colored and very worn sanctuary rug.


A longstanding and undiagnosed smell that comes seasonally to our church building.


The term we use for our pothole ridden parking lot.

THE PINK, we dealt with last summer with the help of a congregant who is a contractor.

Well, the chairs are still pink but the carpet is no longer a tripping hazard.

THE STINK, has a diagnosis in a rotted and pitted pipe in the floor beneath one of our bathrooms and soon will be dealt with.

THE SINK is a bigger need which we are beginning to deal with as we gather the quotes and prepare to contract with a paving company.

God is funny. He has chosen me to lead the church through this work. I have no inherent ability in running a business and certainly no ability in the building trades (in fact my inability is legendary among my parishoners). Nevertheless, here I stand!

Here is what I am learning about this end of pastoring:

  1. Prayer is as helpful in directing the more earthy matters of the church as it is in directing the spiritual matters of the church.
  2. I do not make any of these decision alone. God has made us a church and He has raised up a very talented leadership team in this church. He has placed voices schooled with the wisdom we need for each of these works.
  3. Absolute agreement is not needed to move forward in the work of God. What is needed is unity and those two things are very different.
  4. Mistakes can and will happen along the way. They are as important as the successes and have much to teach us as a church body.

God loves irony. He also loves putting His people in positions where they learn that what seems like irony is really just spiritual growth potential.


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



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.



“My first breakaway after I became the lead pastor of Cornerstone Church was to a place called “The Grain Bin”. It was an air B&B in the middle of nowhere upstate New York. The nearest mall or grocery store was 45 minutes away. A cup of coffee and a loaf of bread could be found in the nearby village store but little else. There was a river at the back of the property and lots and lots of quiet.

In those five days I was placed in a shell of protective silence away from the din of the world that would not be replicated in the rest of my experience to this date. I sealed myself away during that time and established an inner sense of quiet that would have to carry me for the next two years. Of course I didn’t know that at the time. I am so thankful for it now.

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The quiet of the grain bin brought to the surface something inside of me that I would not have seen had it not been for the extended period of solitude and silence. That something was a core of serenity, a sense of personal destiny, an affirmation that what lay ahead was not my work but God’s and a certain knowledge that I was His vessel.

Quiet these days looks nothing like the grain bin these days. Even during my sabbatical I did not achieve that same level of solitude or silence.

Quiet these days is an early morning time of meditation before the dogs get up or mom stirs. It is a door closed to the world for 10 or 15 minutes each day for Matins & Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. It is listening to the Bible while I wash the dishes or watching a movie while Mom snoozes on the couch.

Church work does not lend itself to contemplation or prayer as easily as some would think it does. Quiet must be sought. Quiet must be prioritized. Quiet must be adapted to the life we live. It can look like anything that brings forth the core of serenity, destiny and affirmation to which we are called.

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It is two o:clock in the afternoon on Monday. I just finished my daily devotional video for the church. I am standing at the kitchen island as I type trying to stretch the soreness out of my legs. 

The soreness comes from two things: weak legs and Sunday church service. 

As I have started my weight loss regimen, using NOOM, one of the things I have noticed is that I do not walk enough. My goal is 10,000 steps a day. So far I haven’t it made it up to 4,000 steps a day. Generally Sundays is my biggest day for walking especially if I pace a lot during the sermon. 

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I keep thinking I might solve this problem as the Spring sets in, and I can once again take the dogs out around the park for walks. Mercedes doesn’t tolerate the cold well at all anymore. Of course the old girl is only six pounds so it is not like she has a lot to protect her against the ravages of the winter wind. Snug, the younger of the two, would probably walk until he was an ice block if I let him. Anyway the lack of walking the dogs except around the yard is the excuse I am making for not walking as much as I should and the lack of walking enough is what makes my legs weak.

That takes us back to Sunday church service. If standing up for long periods of time was a NOOM goal I would rock that one on Sundays. I am generally in on Sundays by 9 A.M. and from 9 to 10 I stand around greeting people as they enter the church. Service starts at 10 and from the moment the service officiant says “Could we all stand for the reading of God’s Word?” until I say “Be Blessed and Be At Peace. You Missions field is waiting. Bring them your blessing and your peace. Catch you later.” at the end of my preach I am on my feet.

Yesterday we had an all church fellowship after church. We call these gatherings “DLT mixers”. My job is to try and stop at every table before they head out the door after lunch. I didn’t quite make it to every table yesterday and I was still on my feet at 1:25 in the afternoon.

When I got home, I probably should have done some stretches.

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Instead I fell asleep on the recliner while binge-watching “Call the Midwife”.

I am not sure if this is completely normal for all pastors, but sore legs in the kitchen on Mondays is a part of my life. I wonder…when I have reached my 80 pounds weight loss goal, will this reality change?



Listening On the Inside

I began the weekend thinking it would be a leisurely float down a lazy river.

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Saturday I woke up very tired and feeling like I should not move myself too much. It was a day given to waiting for our new washing machine anyway so hanging out and lying low seemed to be a rare possibility presenting itself.

The washer was delivered and installed by 9:30 A.M. and the first run through was finished by 10:30 A.M. Then the maiden voyage of the washer was set in by noon.

I was tempted to do a hundred other things. I even had written some of those on my list to do, but something inside me kept telling me to take my leisure while I could….so I did.

Then I got a call at 3:30 P.M. that I was needed at a bedside in Leominster. A dear relative had just been told she had terminal cancer. On my drive in to the hospital, the Lord affirmed to me how much I need to listen to that little voice inside my spirit if I am to be effective in the role He is placing upon me. If I had given myself to the busyness on my agenda I would not have been able to bear the weight of the evening ministry God called me to.

I am learning not to second guess what is in my heart. I am learning to trust myself, through prayer, to do what I hear the Lord telling me to do on the inside even when there seem to be more logical, even more responsible ways of doing things.

On Sunday I heard the Lord telling me I should spend some time in quiet in my office before service.

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I sensed that I was going to need to be extra focused at the altar call.

We had an amazing service and a powerful time of prayer around the altars afterwards, but it was “heavy lifting” in prayer. There are many difficult and complex needs in our congregation at the moment and I sensed that many of our people needed prayer to move forward into new territory and that they would need great grace because the way forward was going to be difficult.

Learning to listen to what the Lord is doing around me by listening to what is going on inside me is a skill I sense sharpening in my heart. I think in the days ahead this is a skill I will need.