“Choosy Christians Choose Jif” (Retaking the Village Green 4/15/21)

If you are old enough you remember the ad for Jif peanut butter (when was the last time you saw an ad for peanut butter?) “Choosy mothers, choose Jif.” This was to lull you into the idea if you had the audacity to choose any other peanut product you were a bad parent, person, human being.

As Americans we like choice. We like to choose our cars, mates, houses, 401Ks, menus, doctors, grass seed, and almost anything we can. Limit choices, and you start a revolution.

As I was walking up to our main church building last weekend, preparing to speak about Peter answering Jesus’ call to follow him after the resurrection, I began to ponder the idea of “choice” for us as Christians, and the difference between our choice, and our call.

In church circles we talk about “call” in certain contexts. We “call” a pastor. We feel a “call” to a specific gift. Someone has a “call” to serve God as a missionary somewhere “over there.” Then I thought, “How does God’s call affect my everyday life? Does God call me to a church, or do I choose a church to attend?”

For most Christians, answering the question “What church do I attend, belong to?” will usually default to the answer, “We/I choose to go (or not) go to…” Usually the decision is arrived at by a review of a church’s; ministries, service opportunities, worship quality and times, criteria we determine. A “choice” is then made, just like we would choose shoes, houses, restaurants, peanut butter, etc. We take a personal needs assessment. “I need sneakers, not dress shoes, I need Chinese food not Mexican, I need three bedrooms.” We then choose to fit my perceived needs.

The word “called” is used over 400 times scripture to describe; God’s call to us, our call to him, and our call to each other. Paul writes in Colossians, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” (Col 3:15) The early church was called to each other because they needed each other to growth, serve, survive and proclaim.

If you were to ask a Christian in the New Testament what church they would choose to attend, you probably would get a quizzical look. Then you would gather with others who were also called by Christ just as you were. You were called by Jesus to follow him, and you were called to gather with other Jesus followers in your community, and as you gathered you brought the gifts God called you to have, and together you became the church. God calls, we then choose to answer the call just as Peter did with Jesus on that beach after the resurrection.

The concept of “choosing a church” is relatively new in church history, and is predominately a Western/American concept, and is hard to support from scripture. In many other places in the world, believers do not have the luxury of choice. You attend the local church because it is your lifeline, community as a believer.

Now, when God calls together different types of imperfect people, as we all are, problems do arise- just read through any of the New Testament letters and you will see imperfect people trying to live, serve and worship together. The New Testament writers look to correct, encourage, sometimes rebuke- but always with the purpose, as Paul says, “Maintaining the unity (local gathering) through the bond of peace.”

Answering God’s call is fulfilling, but sometimes not easy. God’s call comes with great reward, but also sacrifice. Following God’s call may mean personal lessons of humility and sacrifice. When I am called to a local gathering of believers, rather than choosing a local gathering I am challenged to live in unity and service with someone even when I may disagree on a secondary issue of life and faith. The early church leaders Peter and Paul disagreed on whether Jews and Gentiles could be both called to worship in the same church, and yet God in His sovereignty brought them together and called them to be one church. It required each to serve in humility with each other and live sacrificially for the common good. As Paul puts it in Philippians, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” We do it for each other as Christ did it for us.

In any given church you will find good-hearted committed followers of Jesus who will disagree on secondary issues; political allegiances, how to raise kids, use of spiritual gifts, leadership structures, worship styles, roles of men and women in the church and society, Mac or PC, and other non-fundamental salvation doctrines. When you are called to, not choosing a gathering of Christians, you are more likely, in humility, to find common ground which allows the mission of the church to move forward. When you are called, you bring your gifts to serve to make the Christian community a stronger force for the gospel. When you choose, the church is strengthened or weakened by each member’s next choice.

Seventy-one years ago this month, a small group of Jesus followers in Raymond, sensed the call of God to come together, commit themselves to each other and create a beachhead for the gospel here in the area. Most of that original group has passed, but their calling and commitment gave us the foundation we have today to continue to be a force for Jesus here. We are their legacy, and we can be the legacy for others. We welcome all who come to join us.

You may choose your peanut butter (although with all the allergies today many choose sunflower butter). A peanut butter choice will not change the life of a community. Answering God’s call to a church can. Let us see what God will do as we live out our call together today.

Pastor Kevin

“Requiem for Truth” (Retaking the Village Green 1/29/21)

Each week at our local Rotary club meeting, we start off by reciting the Rotary Club International’s “Four Way Test,” describing how we should interact with each other. The first statement declares, “Is it the truth?” A few years ago, I led a session encouraging people to examine their basis of truth for their lives, because unless we all agreed on what is truth, that statement cannot have any impact. I was then able to share on why my foundation for truth, Scripture, can be trusted, relied on, and has stood the test of time.

For many today “truth” is the news headline they read, the post they skim, the rhetoric that they hear. Truth for some becomes the “political party line,” the neighborhood gossip, the email chain, the text sent, the favorite news channel watched. Truth, its seeking, and discerning has become a casualty in our culture, sequestered to outer limits of our attention, rather than drawn into the center of our deliberations, decisions, and actions. It is much easier to repeat a claim that declares itself to be “truthful” than do the hard work of careful, honest exploration of a claim- and then standing up when that claim has been found wanting, or standing up when that truth has been found to be validated. No human institution has the corner or the monopoly on truth, because all represent imperfect human creations created by imperfect humans. All those who are not careful investigators, and upholders of truth can fuel destructive conversations, events, emotions, and relationships.

We need to remember that only God Himself holds all truth perfectly. As followers of Jesus Christ we are to be people of truth. Jesus Himself says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” and again, “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The ability to seek, discern and practice truth is becoming a lost ability not only within our culture, but for some followers of Jesus as well. We are called to allow God’s truth to be the first source of the foundations of our lives. God’s truth should be our first foundation which informs and shapes our understanding of culture, and by which all other claims are examined.

Truth is a characteristic of God’s character. As we seek and apply His truth, it should lead us to a better understanding and application of all his other characteristics, which include, but are not limited to grace, mercy and love. Living those attributes, empowered by His Spirit, lived in His community of faith should bring us closer together. Jesus Himself said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.” Love and truth are equal partners, not competitors with God. God calls us to be the place where we model relationships that those outside the church look to and say, “That’s what I’m looking for in my life and my world.”

All our Leadership Team want to ask each of us that as we come into this new year may we re-commit ourselves as followers of Jesus to be people who seek and follow truth, starting with God’s truth in our lives. To be diligent in our study, faithful in its obedience, and grace-filled in its application.

It is my hope and prayer that as we move into this year, we see God’s hand at work to bring healing for many that is desperately needed. Jeremiah 29 says, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7).

God’s truth brings healing. Healing in our relationship with Him, and with others. May we commit to be His servants, empowered by Jesus in all the opportunities He places before us.

Pastor Kevin


“Help Is On The Way” (Retaking the Village Green 12/15/20)

“Help is on the way.”

We have all watched the news this week. After a long year, the first doses of the new vaccines are being administered to health care workers. One news reporter commented, as the nurse he was watching was poked, “Help is on the way.” I for one am glad. Having two of our kids as first responders, one a police officer, another an emergency room nurse in a pediatric hospital, I am glad that they and others who have been serving in difficult places in difficult times can begin to breathe easier.

I recently had the opportunity to be a part of a national conference call with Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the Corona Virus Task Force- graduate of Houghton College, devout Christ follower, and an expert in virus and infectious diseases. She was speaking to several dozen denominational and church leaders. As part of her presentation, she shared some sobering national statistics. In the 65 and over age category, 20% who contract the virus will be hospitalized. For those who are hospitalized, 10% will not survive. In the 35 and under crowd, 80% who contract the virus will never show symptoms and because of that they are of the greatest concern spreading the disease to others, especially older family members. On the positive side, masks are 90% effective in preventing the transmission of the disease when social distancing occurs. She also affirmed the safety of the upcoming vaccines. She included one important reason being that they have been able to use 6 years of previous research in the study of the SARS virus in crafting this new vaccine. While quickly developed, it was only possible because they have been able to build upon a solid foundation of known truths. So “help is on the way” medically, but so much more help is needed.

At Christmas time, the entire world is reminded (whether they are paying attention or not) that help, lasting help, life changing help is not just “on the way,” but has already arrived in the birth of Jesus. Jesus’ birth is a solid foundation of a known truth that provides help in profound ways.

People are struggling in so many ways this season. The emotion struggle of separation and isolation, financial struggle of loss of wages, the physical struggle in supplying for their households. The greatest struggle often overlooked is the spiritual. That all of us are separated, isolated in our relationship with God. God, out of his infinite love and commitment to us, provided a remedy for our spiritual isolation, our sin that separates us from him in the birth of his only son Jesus. Through Jesus eternal hope, lasting help becomes available for all who would acknowledge and receive Christ the Messiah into their lives. Jesus living in us and through us then enables us to be avenues of all the help that is needed to so many. I have been thrilled to see those who have stepped into opportunities to provide tangible help through the hope of Jesus living in them this season. The tangible gifts of help we provide point people to the eternal hope that is available, that goes beyond our present “lock downs” into never ending freedom with God.

I am glad for those who are gifted and skilled in professions that are beyond me. Medical science is one that I marvel at as people explore the intricacies of our bodies. God says, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God our Creator created such amazing vessels we inhabit. I am also glad I am not the one who administers medical care to others. They are to be thanked and applauded.

I am reminded and challenged this season that each of us has been given a message of help and hope to be freely administered and distributed- the message of God’s hope through Jesus’ birth. Highlighted this season, but not confined by the calendar.

As we wait for the medical treatment promised, let us make sure we are sharing the eternal help that we have been given, and serve others around us with the same help.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given. And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9)

Merry Christmas

Pastor Kevin


“Discover Your Why” (Retaking the Village Green 11/17/20)


Ever have a song that gets stuck in your head?

This past Sunday during worship I shared that last week I did not have a song, but a question. It started by watching a business speaker talking about what kind of businesses thrive while others struggle. I was confronted with the question again while running on my treadmill by the running coach on my app. It was the simple question,


In the case of my treadmill session it was, “Why are you running today?”

            “Because I like being uncomfortable and sweating? – NOT”

The more I thought, the more I realized it is an important question for each of us to answer for our lives, especially considering our current conditions.

“Why do I do what I do in my life?” “Why do I get up every morning?” “Why do I even try to…?”

The business speaker used the example of Apple as a computer company. “Why do people buy products from Apple? Why do they succeed where others fail?” His point (my summary) was that most companies start with answering the “What?” question. “What do you do? – We build computers.” “How do you do it? – By gathering vendors, equipment and customers.” Finally, “Why do you do it?” “To make a profit and a good product.” Not a very inspirational model to attract fan loyalty. Apple starts with answering the “Why?” question- “Why do you do it? – “To be on the cutting edge of innovation in design, technology and life- want to buy one?”

As I thought more about this pounding on the treadmill, I realized the answer to the “Why?” question truly drives and either motivates, or un-motivates my life. “Why are you on this device of torture running in your basement?” If my answer wasn’t, “To ensure the best possible health of my life to spend with the people around me that matter,” then any temporary goal of a “better running time” or “feeling better about myself” is very short sighted, and in the end unsustainable. Age will catch up and times will slow. “Feeling better” will be gauged by my mood of the day, events of the day and weather of the day, or other factors. Knowing my, “Why?” for what I do is far more important than knowing the “What? Or How?” of my life.

This then translates into ministry. Most churches, and many followers of Jesus lead with the, “What?” answer. “What do you do?”- “I do Bible studies, I do worship, I prepare meals, I lead youth group, I… all “what?” answers. We then move to the “How?” question. “I/We do these things by recruiting (begging) people to attend events, lead studies, lead youth groups, classes, play on worship teams, etc.” and eventually we get around to a “Why?” answer like, “To glorify God” (not a bad reason). As I thought more, my conclusion was that I was shooting far too low in my expectations, and my answers. I needed to clarify my “Why? – Why is ministry, why is following Jesus worthwhile?” Here is what I discovered about myself.

My “Why?” goes something like this. Almost everyone I know looks around at the world and thinks, “This is not what I want. Life’s hard. Things are broken, and I don’t see it getting better.” As I read Scripture, I think God would say the same.

The world we live in now was not God’s plan for us. A world where life would be a struggle, and each day would bring a new maelstrom of problems. Scripture says that God’s original creation was, “very good” and it was/is our rebellion, our rejection, our sin against God that created the brokenness we now live in. The promise from God is that one day this world would be recreated again into a place free from the pain and brokenness we now see.

“Why do you do what you do?”- “Because I choose to see the world as God intended, not as it is; and as a follower of Jesus want to do all I can to help as many as I can become a part of God’s intended world by following Christ.” To me that is a much greater way to honor God and stay motivated when so many would follow simply out of comfort or convenience. It lifts my sights higher, to see life – mine and others – higher as God sees it, than my perceptions. It helps keep me from discouragement.

In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it in abundance.” I hope and pray that I can help lead others, inspire others, motivate others to join in and discover the abundance of life that only Jesus can provide. It is a far higher and more inspiring message than simply, “Join our church.”

God wants to help each of us find our “why?” It starts by discovering the “Who?”, Jesus, in each of our lives and joining Him in His mission.

Back to the treadmill- there’s work to be done.


Pastor Kevin



“Love Your Neighbor” (Retaking the Village Green 3/17/20)

“Look out for your neighbors. What a novel concept?”

With everyone so consumed by this pandemic called Covid-19, while serious, it has been good to see some trying to keep their sense of humor. These have been the comedic conspiracy theories that have been proposed which have to make you chuckle when life seems overwhelming.

  • “Plot by daycares for all the newborns that will occur in 9 months after several weeks of mandated home quarantine.”
  • “Plot by teachers so that in 6 years when all the newborns (see daycares) reach the age of 6, we have to raise taxes to build bigger school and hire more teachers.”
  • “Plot by homeschoolers to show everyone what they go through every day.”
  • My favorite- “Plot by our pets so we stay home with them more.”

These are not to make light of the serious times we are in now, but many need a way to work through the anxiety they are facing.

Many times, as I have been following news stories, stories of people helping people have been highlighted as “points of light” in hard times. “Thinking of the common good.” “Watching out for the vulnerable.” “Caring for those in need,” have been themes that have been highlighted and heralded. People have been called upon to marshal the best of themselves for the best of others. For followers of Jesus, these are best summed up in Jesus own statement 2,000 years ago, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Followers of Jesus share something that most do not, a common moral imperative given to us by Jesus and empowered by God himself. The idea of caring for another more than ourselves, watching out for another’s best interest is written into our spiritual DNA. The Apostle Paul wrote, “In humility value others above yourself, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others.” I thought of this verse as I watched the lines in our stores. These moral imperatives fueled by devotion to Jesus and empowered by God changed the shape of the world.

Aristides, a philosopher of the 2nd century, wrote describing the early church, “they care not only for themselves but for the needs of others. If they see someone with a need, they will fast two or three days to provide for that need and provide with what they have.” Julian the Apostate who ruled the Roman Empire in the 3rd century tried to counter the growing Christian threat by starting his own pagan religion to duplicate the Christians actions, except do so void of their God. It failed. When he questioned his advisers he was told, “our people do not share the same moral imperative they seem share because of their allegiance to their God.”

The early church grew, not because it sequestered itself in its buildings, taking care of only itself, hoarding whatever they used for TP, but by being actively engaged in their communities helping those in need with what they had. I am not advocating for a cavalier attitude towards this time we are in. We need to be wise, careful and taking precautions that protect us and others around us. But we also remember that during this time there are people we can help and should help if we truly believe Jesus’ words, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Also remembering that love is fueled by loving God first and remembering God, out of love, reached into brokenness to bring hope and healing through Jesus.
This is a where the Church of Jesus can shine. To do so prayerfully, carefully, and modeling to our neighbors and friends in practical ways what we profess we believe.

Also, remember to thank the people who are serving us during these days. The store stockers, health care workers, first responders, teachers and others who are doing their best so our lives can go on.

This will pass. We will learn the best and worst about ourselves and others during these days. Let’s make sure people learn the best about us as we serve together in Christ’s name.

I have to run. My dog is looking at me funny, and I don’t want to upset him again.

Pastor Kevin

“Your Shoe is Untied” (Retaking the Village Green 2/20/20)

I never thought I would envy my father’s shoes.

Years ago, when I would visit my Dad in Florida, he would take great pleasure in showing me all the newest things he discovered to make his retirement years easier. On one particular visit, he was excited to show me his new sneakers. Besides being the plain white uniform sneaker that seemed required of all the retirees in his development, I saw nothing noteworthy until, with great glee he demonstrated, “Look, no tying!” as he quickly put them on and off with the aid of a Velcro strap across the top. “We can stop and get you a pair as well when we head out after golf.” I offered my mumbled, “Thanks, I have new sneakers,” and quickly changed the topic.

Velcro on sneakers just seemed to be one of those “Change of life things” that happened to him and his friends when they retired. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate how convenient they are when maybe your mobility starts to decrease, the floor gets too far away, or you are late for the free samples of cheese at the local store. I felt superior not needing this technological innovation given to us by the Vulcans (if you get that reference let me know), I kept my footwear on with shoelaces like nature intended. I scoffed at the concept, until recently when I broke a shoelace on a favorite pair of shoes.

In my lacing naiveté I thought, “Not a problem, I’ll just pick up a new pair.” What a foolish thought. What I thought would be a simple search for a piece of colored twine turned into a fishing expedition (considered using fishing line briefly) to multiple stores to only find this simple fashion accessory almost impossible to find in either the right color, shape? (who knew), length and consistency. Choices were limited. No, did not want lime green for my black shoes. When I asked one hapless sales associate at my last stop why this was so hard, the answer was, “Not many requests, most people buy new shoes.” This simple, required clothing piece is branded, “unnecessary and replaceable.”

“Why this long diatribe on footwear?” As I pondered my next move on solving my problem, it occurred to me that many view the church today in much the same way. Once seen as essential, now seen as an optional accessory that is replaced by the next best thing that makes my life easier. I am not talking about the institution, but the relationship that comes from being united together in faith with God and others through Christ that keeps my life together and moving forward. The belief, “This is necessary” is replaced with, “What else you got.”

The search for a community of believers which “fits” may take time and energy, but in the long run, is well worth it. Once I find one, invest myself in one regularly, I may find that when my life becomes untied, I have a place that will help me get back on my feet again.

I eventually solved my problem after many failed attempts. I am not ready for Velcro yet (sorry Dad). I can now walk comfortably again secure in the knowledge this should not happen again for a long time. If it does, I know the search was worth it and I would do it again.

Now, anyone want to buy my extra laces?

“The Hypocrisy of ‘Bleepmas'” (Retaking the Village Green 12/4/19)

It was an all too familiar story. A local town board is petitioned by a group. Offended by the Christmas themes of the season, they wanted the local lighting of the now “Holiday Tree” stopped because it was offensive. The town board wanting to be politically correct and culturally sensitive, voted to do away with the celebration and decorations- until someone raised the issue that it would cost $10,000 to replace the wreaths and decorations with something less offensive. The board tabled the decision.

Many today want to enjoy the benefits of the Christmas season. Fun, celebrations, gifts, decorations- these things all bring a little light, and a great deal of profits during this time of year when it seems the sun sets soon after it rises. Shorter dark days are perception for most, reality if you live in Alaska, or the Arctic Circle, or your parent’s basement. What could be wrong with those benefits?

What is wrong is that today people want the fun, celebrations, and the profits of the season and cast aside the religious foundation of the season. They want the “bling” without the responsibility. Retailers look forward to the profits, municipalities plan fairs and events. Schools plan pageants, concerts, and fundraisers. It is commercialism at its best, hypocrisy at the worst.

To ignore any religious significance to the season is a blatant political correctness gone amok and the hubris of hypocrisy. Even the ancient Romans celebrated the festival of Saturnalia to honor the god, Saturn. One historian, Sir James Frazier, describes that celebration as a time, “when the darker passions find a vent which would not be allowed in ordinary life.”

This season is a time that the Christian Church, in all of its different branches, and over 1 billion followers worldwide (not exactly an insignificant number), stop and celebrate the God of all creation who, in an act of love, delivered His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world as a gift for us, to bring deliverance to us. The gift of Christ was priceless for God to give, and free for any to take.  Generations before, Isaiah the prophet would describe this person, this gift, as the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. He would be empowered to bring peace, and the world should welcome with open arms. Not a bad gift in our increasingly hostile and divided world.

The greeting, “Merry Christmas”- (“Be glad. Go, it is the sending of the Messiah.” literally) should be one that all followers of Jesus should embrace and proclaim boldly, gladly, and with great grace to others. The odorless, colorless, tasteless greeting, “Happy Holidays,” has no power to change a world or a heart. The God of all creation, through His Son Jesus, can. That is worth a true celebration.

So, while we may be tempted to condemn others for whitewashing the “reason for the season,” may those who follow Jesus (remember we are 1 billion strong) not be silent in sharing the message of God’s hope for us, His love shown to us, in Jesus Christ to bring healing for any of us.

The gift of Jesus you will never find on sale, and is always available 24/7. Celebrate well.

Merry Christmas,

Pastor Kevin

“Father Into Your Hands, I Commit My Spirit” Luke 23:46 (Retaking the Village Green 2/13/19)

And so it ended.

It is hard to compress all the events, all the emotion, all the questions of these last 24 hours into a few minutes.

How do you move from intimacy of the table to the agony of the cross? Less than 24 hours previously, Jesus, sharing a meal with his friends again, tried to teach and explain:

“This is my body, broken for you”

“This is my blood spilled for you for the forgiveness of sins”

As they went out into the night to pray and watch with him, questions still remained. As the soldiers took Him away, as they ran from Him, as they watched Him beaten, as they heard the sentence- “Crucify Him” and the crowds reject Him, as they followed from a distance, as they watched the nails driven in and heard His cries of pain- they waited and questioned.

For Jesus, His waiting was almost over. Peering through pain-clouded eyes at the faces arrayed before Him, He waited for the final word to be said.

The stage was now set for the conclusion of His ministry by this day’s long events. After scanning the crowd one last time through eyes misted by blood and sweat, He raised his eyes to heavens and cried out in a loud voice.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”

“It is finished.’

Finally- “Into your hands I commit my spirit”

The attending Roman centurion amazed by this praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” Having seen the death of many before, he knew this man was different. This man was innocent.

Prior to Jesus’ call to God we are told “There was darkness over all the earth from noon to three in the afternoon.” (v44).

Centuries before, the prophet Joel said, “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Joel 2:31). Years after the crucifixion when the first disciples went to India and told of the good news of Jesus’ death for our sins, the people there told of a day when the land went dark and remained that way.

Revelation tells of the coming “wrath of the Lamb” when the sun turned black and those on earth would hide in caves for fear. Luke 23:45 says, “the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of temple was torn in two.” In his atoning death, as even in His life, the power of nature and people was challenged- and Jesus won.

Hear again Christ’s last recorded words from the cross, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Jesus loved his Father, and at the moment of death, rested in the arms of God. Carried safely into death and into heaven by the angels, Jesus could rest from His labor. Redemption was complete, the day of salvation for all people had come. As John wrote earlier in his gospel, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” However, at this moment, the light to come could not be seen.

After Jesus breathed His last breath, His friends, family walked away into the darkness with the greatest question still unanswered- “Why?”- “Why did he have to die?” They would have to wait three days in darkness to get the answer… we do not have to wait.

Centuries before the prophet Isaiah wrote- “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. Those living in the valley of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”

In our rejection, in our denial, in our sin, we continue to walk and live in the darkness- even though we have the light.

Jesus finished His mission and went home. In committing His life into the Father’s hands He insured that we would have to walk in darkness no more. Pain has an end. Grieving will cease. Death is defeated. Joy will come. Darkness will not win.

We are not done yet, but when we are, may we go home with the same words on our lips…

          “Father into Your hand I commit my Spirit…”

                   -and do with the confidence that we will be received into the light of Christ.


“Happy National Insecurity Day!” (Retaking the Village Green 2/13/19)

We love our celebrations.

Every day of the year is marked by some reason to celebrate. January 21st is “National Squirrel Day.” February 9th is “National Pizza Day” (although many celebrate this holiday every day without noticing).  There are now over 1,500 days of celebration that are tracked. Whether you want to honor your mail carrier, flip-flops, or celebrate popcorn- there is a day for you.

I have self-designated a new day, “National Insecurity Day” on February 14th. Some might recognize this day under its more familiar name, Valentine’s Day.

For many, Valentine’s Day is not a day to stare dreamily into the eyes of someone and hope for a future with them. Valentine’s Day is a day when insecurities can run rampant.

The insecurity of not knowing if someone will designate you as his or her valentine (think back to Charlie Brown waiting helplessly at his mailbox for a store bought card.) The insecurity of not knowing if the person you are sharing a chocolate with “likes you” or “like likes” you. The insecurity of wondering if anyone will ever profess undying affection for you. The insecurity of not knowing if there is enough rocky road ice cream in your freezer. Love, relationships should not lend themselves to create insecurity in our lives, but trust, hope and faith in the other person and in your relationship with them.

In God’s love story to us, God not only talks a good game of love, he demonstrates it. The famous verse proudly displayed at some sporting events, “For God so loved the world he gave his one and only son” tangibly demonstrates a love that breeds security and not doubt. A love of words, backed up by a love of action. A love not of cheap gifts, but a love of giving what is valued the most. A love that is not measured by a price tag or dinner menu, but by an intentional action and presence into our lives. A love, which the Apostle Paul describes as never failing and greater than even faith and hope. A love of our life that caused Jesus to give his life for us. That kind of love gives a security that can never be taken away from us.

So, this Valentine’s Day, let God help you move beyond your relational insecurities, into a secure, permanent relationship with Him that can build within you and others a love that will sustain and last.

So, chocolate hearts, overpriced roses (they are half price the day after)- move over.

“A Prayer of Revival” (Retaking the Village Green 9/7/18)

In looking through some old notes, I came across this prayer we used in Maine almost 20 years ago. I think this still may ring true today. As we come into the fall season of life, may we each find the revival we need.

Pastor Kevin

A Prayer of Revival

In Solemn Assembly, we stand before God to own our sin and our sinfulness.

We confess that our very view of God has been shallow and simplistic.  We have slighted Him by barely knowing Him.  We have been content with learning the most obvious of His ways.  We have had too little thirst for a fuller understanding of His mind, His heart, His will, and His ways.

We confess that we have been guilty of theological pride when we ought to be ashamed of our ignorance. We have assumed we know more then we do.  We have been arrogant toward others.  We have been slothful in study, too quick to assume superficial answers to profound questions.  We have opted for activity to the neglect of prayerful study and humble investigation.

We confess that we have substituted an easy certainty for humble inquiry.  We have been satisfied to sip at truth when we might have drunk deeply at the wells of God’s revelation.

From lack of faith, we have failed to study and investigate.  We have allowed dogmatic certainty to interfere with the search for truth.  We have assumed that old answers are adequate for new equations.  We have allowed ourselves to be engulfed by busyness, leaving too little for being still in order to listen, to inquire, and to search.

We have not prayed as we ought.  We have allowed prayer to become an opening salute and a closing formality to both our worship and our deliberations.  We have forgotten that through prayer miracles can take place.  We have made prayer an effort to gain divine approval for what we have done, rather than the avenue through which we experience what God Himself would do.

We have become ensnared in worldly measures of success.  We have been too quick to give adulation to those who achieve numerical affirmation but too little appreciation of the virtues of faithfulness, humility and simplicity.

We have fallen prey to the attraction of the world.  We have allowed ourselves to be ensnared by sexuality for self-satisfaction and eroticism as a substitute for love.  The materialism of our society with its worship of things has stained us.  We have yielded to the fascination of the power of the computer, becoming more and more adept at compiling data, but less and less practitioners of the care of the soul.

Too often we have substituted money for distant missions and missionary enterprises for time to build redemptive bridges to the neighbor next door and the associate at the adjoining desk.

We have neglected the Holy Spirit and His gifts.  Our fear of extremes has resulted in churches where the Holy Spirit is known on paper but unknown in intimate communion.

We have been quicker to find reasons to separate from other believers than to discover and capitalize upon our common ground.  Lord, you know that we often tend to stay to ourselves.  As local churches we have little if any contact with sister churches in our area or other like-minded churches.  We are not showing forth the love and unity that is ours in Christ and we confess the sin of our independent spirit.

We confess that we have allowed the inevitable depression of our spiritual malaise to dull us to the glorious hope, joy, and freedom of our life in Christ.  We have neither appropriated nor expressed the joy of the Lord.  Our life in Christ has been all too joyless and too often void of the exuberance of life in Christ.

Lord, when we walk through your letters to your churches we are forced to agree that we have forsaken our first love.  We have compromised our lifestyles with materialism, license and the self-centeredness of this world’s gods.  We have become complacent, accepting mediocrity and rationalizing failure.  We have ascribed the sterility of our body life to the hostility of the world rather than to the barrenness of our own souls.  We have chosen the lukewarm safety of mediocrity and unchallenged tradition over the higher but dangerous road of innovative, sacrificial, and experimental love.  We have not reached for the unknown and undiscovered heights of spiritual intimacy and fruitful life which You long for us to know.  In our practices and programs, we have allowed old patterns to continue beyond their usefulness out of fear of change and the cost of the new.

Lord, we have sinned in our relationships within our churches.  We have gossiped, criticized and complained.  We have injured each other by refusing to accept hardship as true soldiers of Christ.  We have limited our commitment by dividing our love between the church and the world.  All too often we have given to the temporal the priority that belongs to the eternal.  We have valued the success of programs more highly than the relationships of family and friends, relationships which have been sacrificed to make those programs successful.

Lord, in spite of your faithfulness we have refused to trust You with our substance and for Your provision.  We have written our budgets in the light of the seen and not the unseen.  We have viewed faith as presumption and faithfulness as unacceptable sacrifice.

Lord, in all these things we have failed to recognize Your grace and Your love.  We have not seen Your tears; we have not recognized Your generous love.  We have accepted Your patience as though it were Your approval.  We have not understood nor recognized the grief of Your heart when we live on the peripheral of Your blessing and might have enjoyed Your lavish hand.

Lord, we have accepted Your grace without appreciating its cost.  We have taken comfort in that grace for ourselves while reluctantly extending it to those who have injured us.  We have squandered the spiritual wealth given to us while extending only the most limited gospel handouts to the broken people who surround us and the world, which is our parish.  For lack of faith we have lived as paupers when we might have lived as princes.  We are a people who could have turned our world upside down but instead have allowed that world to quarantine, confine and sterilize what should have been contagious communities of faith.

We are weak where we could have been strong.

We are divided where we could have been one.

We are despised where we could have been respected.

We are depressed where we could have been triumphant.

We are the people of a risen Lord who have existed like the remnant of a crucified martyr.

We are not the worst that we might have been, not the least that we could have become, not the lowest to that we could fall; but we confess, with shame, that we are not what we might be.  We have not become what we ought to become, and in no way are we the people that a risen Lord, an omnipotent Father and an all-powerful Spirit would have made us had we been willing to yield to Your desires.

All of this and much, much more we stand to confess before our Master in solemn assembly and in deep shame.  We have sinned; we have failed.  We plead Your grace, Your mercy, and Your blood.  We ask for pardon which we in no way deserve and for forgiveness that only our Savior’s death can offer.  Nonetheless, we pray with confidence, believing with certainty that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin, and in this we find hope and peace and comfort.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior, and Master.  Amen