New Year’s Mayhem in My Life?

He did it.

“Mayhem” is a character created by an insurance company. In their commercials, “Mayhem” created havoc for people, highlighting their need for insurance. On January 1st, “Mayhem” made a resolution to no longer instigate havoc, but to be helpful to people, protecting them, keeping them from harm. Two weeks into the New Year, “Mayhem” decided he just could not do it, and is back enjoying the crisis that he brings to life.

This is the story for many with New Year’s resolutions.

We make resolutions with the best intentions and desires. People want to improve their lives, their well-being and give themselves a chance at a fresh start- only to find that the power, desire, and ability to sustain those resolutions fade quickly and we convert back to old patterns and behaviors.

God is not interested in bringing about a new resolution in our life, but a revolution. His revolutions are life altering, life changing and sustaining. Nowhere in Scripture do I see God desiring to “fine tune” us, but always wants to remold, remake us into something brand new.

Nicodemus was a teacher. He knew his theology. He had studied scripture and taught it well. One day he meets Jesus and tells him that he knows God is with Jesus because of the miracles he sees Jesus doing. He affirms that he sees the supernatural at work. Jesus turns the tables on him and says (my paraphrase), “Great that you see it, but it means nothing unless you have allowed God to bring about a spiritual revolution in your life, unless He has totally changed you from the ground up.”

For most of us, we ask God for “fine tuning.” That is what most of our resolutions are- “tweaks” to our lives. We find after a short time, we have reverted to old patterns, behaviors and nothing has changed.

This year, I do not want another resolution I make to come and go. I want God to bring about a revolution in me- one that is fueled and filled by a fresh encounter with Him. A revolution that will be sustained and bring about lasting change in me, and in others around me.

“Mayhem’s” character may continue to sell insurance for those whose lives need repair. I want my life this year to create wholeness in myself, and others around me. I need God’s revolution.

What about you?

“Repeat the Sounding Joy?” (Retaking the Village Green 12/6/17)

During this season, the emphasis is on joy, happiness and celebration. As followers of Christ, we have reasons for great joy as we remember the birth of Jesus the Savior.

For many, the season is less about celebrating than surviving. Alongside the smiles and greetings of “good cheer” are those who simply wishing to “get through” these days. Next to the wrapped presents, hiding delights are the unwrapped boxes of lives filled with hurts.

This morning, I opened an email to discover that a pastor friend of mine elsewhere in the country weighed the hidden hurts in his life against the joy of the season- and he allowed the hurts to win over the joy. He leaves behind a grieving and bewildered church and family.

At Christmastime, God gives the entire world a reminder of his overwhelming love, patience and presence. The birth of Jesus causes us to annually stop and remember God who has not left the “phone off the hook” in the midst of our trials, and the struggles of the world. That in the birth of Christ, we have the opportunity to reflect that there is hope despite what we are seeing or experiencing.

It takes special courage in a person to come alongside someone who is struggling. Most people want to avoid those who seem down, lonely or depressed. We tend to shy away from those who we feel will “steal our joy.” This season is filled with people, who because of events in their own lives, or the actions of others feel lost, alone and abandoned. This Christmas, can we especially be on watch for those who are sidelined from the joy of the season. May we, by God’s leading, step out of our carefully orchestrated holiday plans, and with courage take a step into another’s world.

In the wonderful prophesy of Isaiah 11, Isaiah describes the realm and impact of the coming Messiah. That His rule and reign will be one filled with peace, “The wolf will live with the lamb…”

Christmas reminds us that the Messiah, Jesus has come. His reign of peace has begun, and one day it will find its culmination. In the meantime, may each of us be prepared to be His ambassadors of peace to all we meet- especially those we tend to pass by.

The sound, the message, of the joy of Christ’s birth needs to be repeated as often as we can, because we never know whom we pass that may need to know that the joy of Jesus can overcome their hurts.

“Will the Last Peacemaker Leaving the Room, Please Turn Off the Lights?” (Retaking the Village Green 11/6/17)

Headlines no longer surprise me.

This past week we watched in horror as a person used a rented truck as an instrument of devastation on the streets in New York. Just as that story began to fall out of the news cycle, our focus was again transfixed on a story of a lone gunman opening fire and wounding or killing an entire congregation in Texas. We wonder if sanity and peace have left our corporate consciousness.

It seems today that all the adults have left the room when talking about peace. There is no model of peace coming from public figures. Peace is elusive from legislators, pundits and commentator’s posts, blogs, tweets and comments. Creating chaos makes better headlines than forging peace.

Peace is that fleeting commodity that people long for, but its presence is far too fleeting. Peace is treated as a feeling or emotion. “I feel at peace today,” some will say, until something rattles that peace.

Peace is sometimes treated as an equation: “My weapons – your weapons + luck = peace”

Peace is sometimes seen simply as a lack of conflict- a truce that has been called by parties in disagreement.

Because our understanding of peace varies, we do not really know it when it occurs, or where to look.

So where do we look for peace?

Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”

Peacemakers are called God’s children. That means that God’s children should be the peacemakers that people need and to whom they should look.

It means that to see lasting peace- peace that bridges race, gender, socio-economics, family structures, we should pursue to understand what it means to be God’s children, grow as His children, and then step into our culture to be enactors of God’s peace. It should be the people of God, followers of Christ, whose voices we hear in the media, whose hands we see at work in the community, and whose are lives are lived in such a way that people see and experience peace at work. Peace that will last. Peace will never come from a politician’s tirade, or banalities made, but only through God’s presence practiced and enacted by His people.

As we watch events unfold, it can appear that all the adults have left the room. It is time for the true peacemakers to step up, and step into the fray and lead.

The motto of Motel Six is, “We’ll leave the light on.”

Will I be a light of peace, a person of peace, a child of God?

Our culture is waiting for our answer.



“Hurricane? What Hurricane?” (Retaking the Village Green 9/19/17)

I should not be surprised.

After watching the morning news headlines I was informed, “The Emmy’s were political, North Korea was aggressive, new tropical storms were forming in the Caribbean, and whales were seen off our coast.”

Didn’t we just suffer through two devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean and in the south?

The hurricanes past, people not suffering have moved on.

The media programs us to have our attention drawn to crisis, but then after a few news cycles, we are diverted on to other stories. The problem is most of life’s pains cannot be solved within the context of normal broadcast cycle.

Jesus told his followers, “The poor you will have with you always.” He knew, and wanted to make his followers know that there will always be people in pain, people suffering around us. There will be people overlooked, forgotten or quickly passed by. The challenge for Jesus followers is not to have our compassion or our vision diverted. I was thrilled to hear that we were able to send over $13,000 to “Samaritan’s Purse” to help with relief efforts. That is a great gift to those in need. Let us make sure that unlike the images we see on TV that can quickly fade, we do not allow our compassion to fade. We are reminded in Scripture, “not to become weary in doing good.” God enables us to act and respond to the needs around us, well beyond what our natural ability allows.

Next month we will engage in our second “Day of Service”- helping people in need in our own communities. Last year we had a great response for those helping, and those that received help. Let us be able to extend the compassion of Jesus, even when images fade and the story lines change.

Remember, after a crisis, people still have to pick up the pieces of their lives- Houston, Florida, or right next door to us. They will still need help delivered.

Let us make sure we are ready to respond.

“Does Your Church Have a Purple Door?” (Retaking the Village Green 6/28/17)

You could not miss it.

My wife and I were out for a casual drive years ago. We were meandering around roads in New England, when suddenly on the left- there it was. A typical small New England style church, with an atypical glaring purple front door. Being a pastor in New England for 30 years, it caught my eye. I slowed down to try and catch a glimpse of what flavor church it was and who was listed on the sign as pastor. I had a few questions. To my disappointment the marquee outside did not list the expected “First_____ Church” (fill in your favorite denomination), but had a name of a village art gallery. After driving away, disappointed there was no bold church decorating team to interview, I determined to do some research later. I learned that the former church had existed for over 75 years in that location, and when it could no longer attract new members, it finally had to sell the property and encourage its dwindling membership to seek solace elsewhere. As the years went on, I began to notice more buildings throughout our region, that at one time were set aside for worship, now commissioned for other purposes. For many, their story was the same as the “Church of the Purple Door.”

There could be many reasons for a church to fade away. Economic realities and population shifts can hurt. The saddest reason of all is when a local church loses its focus and ceases to be a lighthouse, and begins to exist only as a clubhouse for those who attend. A clubhouse exists for the comfort of its members. A lighthouse always has an eye on the community around and asks, “How can we welcome others in? How can we serve others in order that they can meet Jesus?”

I have been fortunate in the churches I have served in New England that each one has had as its mission a desire to welcome and serve others in the name of Christ. To be a lighthouse. To do that is hard work. Ask a lighthouse keeper. It sometimes means, like in a marriage, to set aside personal preferences, for the well-being and advancement of another. It means living, as Jesus did, sacrificially and lovingly.

Purple is a great color for some clothing, select sports cars, and maybe even hair- on the right person. I am glad the people in the churches I have served have had Jesus’ vision and the building will never be set aside for any other purpose than to fulfill the mission of being a lighthouse and an outpost for God’s kingdom in their community.

I pray God would raise up more outposts in our region in the years ahead.
Pastor Kevin

“Jellyfish on My Mind” (Retaking the Village Green 5/22/17)

“Now I need jellyfish in my diet?”

A recent series of commercials is trying to convince me that in order to improve my memory, I need to add a “jellyfish” supplement to my diet. The promise is, “Essentials elements in this quivery mass of a spineless creature can help me remember important things in my life.” I found myself thinking, “I don’t need a memory aid- I married one.” Most men know (if they choose to admit it) our wives are much better at remembering those important items that we tend to put in the “round circular file” in our minds.

The truth is, most people could use a little help with our memories. Unless you have an eidetic memory, chances are you tend to forget things on occasion.

Take Memorial Day weekend. For most, it conjures up the hope of warm summer weekends to come, food blackened on a fire, outdoor activities, and good times ahead. We forget the lives that were lost in service. Families grieve over loved ones who served our country to protect our freedom so we can bake in the sun. We forget until a flag, a commercial, or a soldier jogs our memory.

This year in church life, it commemorates the Ascension of Jesus; that day when 40 days after the resurrection, Jesus ascends to heaven and awaits His second coming at which time He will set up His kingdom on earth permanently. It is a time when He commissions His followers to, “hold and occupy until I return.” We forget this vital part of His life until we perchance read Acts 1 and remember that Jesus’ story did not end with the resurrection.

As a pastor, I look to Memorial Day with mixed feelings. I, along with others look forward to warm summer days, sharing winter survival stories with people (amazing how in New England, we think not every winter was bad when we reflect back during the summer.) I also know that Memorial Day marks the grand exodus of people to summer camps, vacations, and weekend fun. A time when “that thing we do on Sunday mornings” fades until a memory awakens after Columbus Day in the fall. When the leaves turn from green to the palate of vibrant colors of our fall, something nudges us to return to the company of worship. This summer I want to encourage people, wherever their summer plans take them, to make sure they still carve out time to read, reflect, and worship Christ.  Scripture reminds us that we are always on God’s heart and mind, and we should try our best to return the courtesy.

Summers are great. Enjoy and celebrate them. The good news is we do not need help from a jellyfish, but God has planted within us the greatest memory aid we could have- His Holy Spirit.

I for one am glad He did. Hope to see you as much as possible this summer.

You can leave your jellyfish at the door.


Pastor Kevin

“Why I Can’t Play for the New England Patriots” (Retaking the Village Green 4/17/17)

Inside the boundaries of New England, Bill Belichick is viewed by many as the greatest coach of all times. Winning five Super Bowls and leading an impressive team, he has shown his ability to lead a team to victory. One of his famous sayings in post-game interviews is, “on to next week.” This phrase is used multiple times, whether the team has won or lost, whether a player has done well, or made a mistake.

As I sit at my desk, blankly staring at my screen on the Monday after Easter wallowing in the events of a frenetic week of Easter services, I am stuck in the reality of that phrase, “on to next week.”

Easter Sunday is by some measures the “Super Bowl” of the church year. We want to pull out the best for our regular attenders, and for visitors. As pastors we want to make sure every detail is cared for, every service carefully planned to ensure maximum impact upon people who attend. All church ministries are put on “high alert.” We try to create special promotions to attract people; and we spend much on advertising, decorating, promotional events, breakfasts and anything else that can be thought of to make our services stand out. We try to construct messages that we hope will engage, without offending, challenge, without having people tune out- and are tempted to see ourselves as marketers rather than messengers of the truth of the resurrection.

On Monday, reality sets in… the reality that many who showed up over the weekend have smiled, waved and we will not see again until the snow comes. Family schedules, team schedules, and school schedules settle in for many, and as pastors, we recognize that Easter has happened, our church resources are recovering, and we still need to be “on to next week.”

This year I would hope to be different. This year I would hope that somehow the reality of the resurrection would so impact people that they would be drawn back to learn more, discover more, follow Christ more. That it would not take clever marketing, gimmicks, message titles or slick programs to draw people back. That the power of the resurrection has captivated people and it draws them to live in its power daily.

I know that can happen. It takes a true movement of God’s Spirit to enable people to change and reorient life priorities from our personal ones, to His. Can we say that the true measure of the “success” of our Easter services is not who we attracted on Easter, but who God draws back the next week? Have I (we) done enough in prayer to ask God to intervene? I guess that answer will come over the weeks to come.

Meanwhile, Easter is over, Sunday is coming; it is “on to next week.” Another opportunity for God to show up. I guess a part of me still wants to dwell on this week- sorry Bill.

Time to get ready. Think I’ll cancel the trapeze artist.
Pastor Kevin

“Jesus’ Boston Accent” (Retaking the Village Green 4/10/17)

It is one of the most recognized and mocked accents in our country- those true Bostonians.

I was watching a program on hiking and as soon as the host opened his mouth, I knew where he was from. The litany of botched Boston accents is cringe worth and the Waterloo of many actors. More than just a few dropped “r’s” here and there, actors will tell you it’s how people from the area walk, enter a room and carry themselves that sets them apart from the rest of the country.

While the title of this is slightly tongue and cheek, (no Jesus did not come from the North End of Boston), it was how He spoke, what He said and did that set Him and His followers apart.

In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ final days, we have Peter sitting in the courtyard alone after all the disciples have fled. Just one of several faceless people, warming himself by the fire, until a servant girl corners him, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” Her identity of Jesus goes to where many people thought he came from- the rough and everyday blue collar fishing region. The identification of Peter came not by his appearance, but by something else- “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.” Peter’s manner of speaking associated him with Jesus. Someone who sounded like Jesus must be close to him.

During this Easter season, I have to confess that several times I have found myself tempted to run a program rather than reflect on the person. After many years in ministry, you have a checklist of “things to do, items to cover” to ensure a successful Easter schedule. On the surface, that list could appear no different from if we were planning a birthday party, or scheduling a successful business meeting.

If someone were looking at our programs, ministries, our lives from the outside, could they know us “by our accent?” Would they know who we are, what we are doing- and more importantly that we come from the same place Jesus comes from? Is what we are planning different from other plans because Jesus- His person, plans and purpose- are evident?

During this Easter, may we make sure that what we are doing in our lives and ministry is clearly marked by the presence of Jesus. Let each of us guard ourselves of simply going through motions, of executing a ministry plan; and make sure that Christ is known in what we are doing.

Jesus did not have a Boston accent. Let’s make sure that our “accent,” our plans, clearly associate ourselves with Him.

“If Not Now, When?” (Pastor’s Corner 3/28/17)


Drugs are decimating a generation of 20 year olds. For years we have been told, “Help is On the Way.” National slogans and strategies have been with us for more than 50 years and we are still waiting for a solution.

As a culture, as communities, as families, we need to finally take a stand together and fight back. We must get beyond rhetoric and posturing and humbly and intentionally link arms and say, “Not here, not now.” What will it take to get all the stakeholders in our communities together? Sacred and secular, can we take back our communities together?

To create a web of recovery in our communities, we need a long-term vision as well as immediate help for those struggling now. To launch that vision we must ask, “In ten years, how can our community become drug free?”

We need law enforcement agencies equipped with the adequate tools, resources and staff to detain, contain and channel addicts to the appropriate place for the help they need. To make that happen, we must embrace the idea that a one-size solution may NOT fit all.

We need public servants with the courage to rise above political expediency and associations of all types to lobby boldly for funding for resources not just for “Safe Stations” and detox, but also for long-term care facilities to rebuild lives. We need politicians and citizens who will worry less about current popular trends like legalizing “recreational” drugs to advance “personal liberty.” It is at best reckless, and worse, potentially lethal. Both need to just stop and listen and be moved by the grief of families.  

We need schools to acknowledge that the lure of experimenting with and using drugs will always be with our children, from elementary through high school and on into college.  To focus on successes and imagine we are making progress and then ease up is not realistic and not an option.

We need churches and faith communities to open honest dialogue within their communities of faith, and claim a seat wherever the community is seeking solutions. Addiction recovery is a physical, emotional and spiritual journey that can be successful if all sectors of society seek solutions together. Faith communities can help reestablish the moral compass in an individual and community that values and elevates life rather than degrading and diminishing it.

We need more business leaders who will promote a “zero tolerance” policy within the workplace, but also help employees get treatment and hold their jobs until they return.

We need adults and parents to be adults and parents to kids, and not their friends.  This is about the next generation. Adults need to own their past, and move beyond it. You survived. Your kids may not. Know their friends, where they are, what is on their phones and devices. Demand real time with family. Build them bridges to help them get to their future.

If each community decides as a community that being drug free is a priority, and acknowledges that the drug problem does exist as close as next door or perhaps even in one’s own home, then groups like Raymond Coalition for Youth, and other coalition groups will thrive and succeed beyond current expectations.

Individuals need to come to know that their lives have infinite value and meaning far beyond a cheap hit of heroin that gives a temporary high. They need to know that they are part of a community that loves them, and learn that an infinite, loving, knowable God created them.

If you think that any of this is too harsh, too unrealistic, or not necessary, then I ask you to stand with me as I did recently when in one short week, I stood before two different sets of families and friends and conducted memorial services as each mourned the loss of a 20-something they knew and loved.  Look into their eyes as they ask, “Why?” Their grief will last far beyond many people’s attention span to the problem. These lives and others like them could be different.  It is up to you. It is up to all of us.

If not now, when?

“The Gorilla in the Sanctuary”

Last week we had a young man honestly tell his story of struggling with drug addiction. It became real because it was not an anonymous face from an outside group, but one of our own. It was an honest story of struggle and it struck home when he shared some of the advice he received was simply, “Well just stop it.” “Really? Wish I thought of that.”

We have heard for months now the epidemic of opioid addictions in our area, and the statistics are frightening. But for some in the church, it is thought of as an “out there, not us problem” when the reality is that it is a crisis for many families in the church. Why don’t we hear more about it? For some, it is the lack of acknowledgement that the issue just could be present here within our walls. For others, it is not wanting to break the image of being an “all put together” person we want to portray to others. For still others, it’s the fear of how it will be received.

One recent survey taken of why millennials are turning off to church stated (my paraphrase) “Millennials don’t want to hear about vision statements and mission goals. Jesus said, ‘Love God, love others.’ Can we just do it?” In many ways they are right.

Loving others includes, but is not limited to, being in a safe place where people can share not just the high points, but the low points- the struggles, the realities, the untidiness of life, and know that they will be heard, loved and welcomed. Jesus was a master of never affirming sin, but also by being approachable by those with struggles.

As Jesus’ body today, we need to do the same. People should see us as a place where they can be honest with the untidiness of their lives. Whether it’s drug addiction, abuse, gender identity questions, or whatever the untidiness of the day is, the church – Jesus’ body (us) – will let them know that they are welcome to come… and they can, along with Christ, and our help, walk through life together.

What gorilla is sitting next to you each week?