Sunday, November 17, 2013


"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Galatians 6:14)

In certain situations, a pastor's wife standing at the pulpit and opening up the Sunday morning service in tears could be a very bad thing. It could mean that things in the church are very bad; that her husband is about to resign; that a major fight or (even worse) a major church split has just taken place. It could mean that she's reached the end of her rope, to use a common expression. Yes, it could be a very bad sign. Well, the pastor's wife did open up the service in tears today at Bread of Life Church in Westminster, Massachusetts this morning, but this was not a bad sign; rather, it could not have been better news!

In all fairness, Janis Collette is not only "the pastor's wife". In fact, she is Ordained- she's The Rev. Janis Collette, and she's Associate Pastor of the church. And, she was crying tears of joy and appreciation this morning! I am really pleased to write this piece today because I'm at a unique vantage point to do so. A pastor or member of a pastoral staff really can't write a "puff piece" about the church at which they minister. This is because is appears they're just trying to promote themselves, their ministry, and the church where they minister. A church Board member also really can't write such a piece without being accused of practicing very subjective promotion of their church. While I'm a church member at Bread of Life, I'm not on the pastoral staff, nor am I a Board member there. But I am an Ordained minister and I do have a number of years of pastoral experience. Let me tell you, Janis and the leadership at Bread of Life indeed have reasons for shedding tears of appreciation and joy! Janis opened up reading a portion of the New Testament about the various ministries of the Body of Christ and thanking the church family for all their hard work this week in preparing for the church's annual Thanksgiving outreach dinner. She was moved to tears in thinking of how much work and love the church members have poured into this event. Listen, this dinner is really an impressive event. It takes extraordinary work and commitment from scores and scores of people in the church to make it happen. This year's dinner is taking place tomorrow in two seatings in the late afternoon and early evening. One seating is for Veterans. The other seating is for Senior Citizens. People do have to sign up in advance- strictly because the church can only handle about one-hundred-twenty per seating. But that's all the guests have to do is sign up. The rest is a gift from the church to the community. It's a way of thanking and honoring both Vets and Seniors. This morning, many "turkey roaster ovens" were seen at the side of one of the church's corridors. I remember that my mom had one of those turkey roaster ovens years ago, as did my grandmother. I honestly did not know they made them anymore. I haven't seen one in a long time, but I guess they do! A lot of turkeys have to be cooked for these dinners! In addition, teams of church members have showed up in various shifts over the past few days to peel potatoes and get all sorts of other food ready. There's a whole serving crew and a whole clean-up crew for tomorrow's dinner. Of course, there will be all sorts of kitchen workers, etc. It's a monumental undertaking. Honestly, I've felt guilty that I have not really been involved in a "hands on" way with this dinner. My wife and I live just outside the Boston city limits in the heart of Boston's suburbia. It's sixty-five miles one-way to church at Bread of Life. That can be difficult at times. I would love to be more involved there; and in many respects I do wish I lived within ten miles, or so, of the church facility. It wasn't much but I was glad to help an energetic group of mostly (but not exclusively) men "take up" the chairs after the service and roll out and set up the tables for the dinner. So many were working at this that it only took about twenty minutes to do!

I know. You're probably wondering why we attend church so far away. It's a long story, but when the church we pastored in Framingham closed in 2010, my wife suggested we attend church at Bread of Life in Westminster. It was forty miles from Framingham, but we very much liked Pastors Gary and Janis Collette, and we liked the fact that it was a very healthy and vibrant church of well over two hundred people. From our first Sunday there I've really loved the church. There were some weeks that for various reasons we visited other churches, but most Sundays we're at Bread of Life. Let me tell you, Bread of Life is not typical of most of today's evangelical churches. Many of today's churches have gone to music that is so loud it's unpleasant and you leave church with an earache! In many cases, it's so loud that you can't understand the words of the songs being sung. If the words of the songs were not projected on the screen you'd never know what they were! At Bread of Life, most of the songs we sing are quite up-to-date and there are several singers and musicians, including a drummer; but the music is never too loud! The worship teams also do a great job leading the church family into praise and worship. There's a trend today of pastors "dressing down". I'm showing my age of fifty-nine right now because I don't like that! I really respect the fact that Pastor Gary usually dresses up in a nice suit and tie. I see that as respectful to God and to the church family. There is not a "dress code" for the church family, however, and I think that's great. You can come all dressed up in fancy clothes, or you can come pretty casually dressed. Everybody is welcome! When I first attended an Assemblies of God church as a young adult, the big thing was the "altar service". It was not unusual for half of the people at church to come up to the altar area after the pastor's sermon- not only for "salvation" but for all sorts of reasons. I was not used to altar calls like that at the Baptist church I'd previously attended, and I loved it. Today, in most Assemblies of God churches it's like pulling teeth to get people to come up to the altar and spend time seeking the Lord in prayer. Some pastors will announce "the altars are open" and everybody kind of says, "that's nice" and goes home! I was stunned to see what I'd call "1970s style" altar calls at Bread of Life when I started attending there- and if anything they've gotten even better!

Gary and Janis Collette came to the Westminster church in 1992. The church there had been closed up for awhile. Under their ministry, it was opened up with only a couple handfuls of people. All I can say is, God has really blessed their church and ministry. Many Sundays there are close to three hundred people present, and it's growing. Now, please don't misunderstand me. No church is perfect. Churches are made up of imperfect human beings. We all have our "issues". We all make mistakes. Bread of Life Church is not perfect. But, Bread of Life is a church in which the people are very hungry for God and very obedient to God. Associate Pastor Janis Collette had a good reason to shed tears this morning. I stand in agreement with her and I rejoice in what God is doing at Bread of Life Church, and I only wish it were possible for me to be present for the dinners tomorrow!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


"And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." (Ephesians 2:3-5)

My last blog posting from a couple of weeks ago indicated it is likely I will be posting on my blog much less often in the future and that if and when I post, it will be pieces I feel are of importance and which are not likely to cause me embarrassment later on. This is such a piece. There is no question that what's on this post will seem irrelevant and foolish to some readers. I suppose they have the right to their opinions, but I make no apology for what I post here. We live in a day and hour which many have described as "post Christian"; that is, a day in which subjects such as God, the Bible, eternity, and right and wrong are mocked, laughed at, and scorned, and in which filth in speech and living is seen as not only perfectly O.K. but impressive and desirable. I absolutely reject the "post Christian" attitude and values of our day! At Bread of Life Church in Westminster this morning, we heard a truly great sermon by the Rev. David Arnett, the new President of Northpoint Bible College (formerly Zion) in Haverhill, MA. I'm not one to take sermon notes, but I made it a point to write down the exact words of one of his sentences:

"I want to walk in and not just talk about God's presence; I want to experience God's presence."

Arnett was lamenting the professionalism, predictability, and mediocrity which is the norm at services in many (most?) evangelical and Pentecostal churches in America today. I am ashamed to admit that I led many a service that was characterized by professionalism, predictability, and mediocrity. Granted, not all of them were; but too many services I led were this way. And, too many services I've attended are similar. (Thank God, services at Bread of Life are not typically of this fashion.) I want to be so careful how I write this because the last thing I want to do is to try to exalt myself. I will say I smiled as Dr. Arnett spoke those words, because as hard as it may be for some to believe, the kind of service where God is experienced DID happen on Friday night in downtown Framingham. I was most privileged to be a part of it. Did it happen because I was there? No; it happened possibly in spite of the fact that I was there, but a small group of people really did experience a powerful move of God in downtown Framingham on Friday night.

The service was a service of prayer and unity planned and promoted by "Churches United in Christ Ministries". That organization is very small at this point. It's the vision of Bob Gill of Framingham. Bob is a good personal friend of mine. An ordinary blue collar worker, Bob came to Christ in the 1990s. Bob felt called of God to the ministry and in 2001 began taking correspondence courses toward ministerial credentialing from the Assemblies of God's "Berean College of the Bible". It was a hard road for Bob, but in a couple of years' time he completed his ministerial courses. Today he is Ordained by a group headquartered in Alabama and he's a member of New Hope Church (Assemblies of God) in Marlborough. For several years, Bob has had the vision of getting pastors and churches together and seeing God move as a result of the prayer, humility, and repentance of diverse Christians from diverse churches. It's been a very slow and difficult road to get churches and pastors together, but on Friday night at the Brazilian "Philadelphia Baptist Church" across the street from Dunkin' Donuts in downtown Framingham around thirty people came together for a prayer service. The speakers included Pastor Murillo DaSilva who leads Philadelphia Baptist, Pastor Rob Woods of New Hope Church (Assemblies of God) in Marlboro, Pastor Dan Condon of the fairly new Meeting Place Church (Assemblies of God) in Framingham, Pastor Jesus Munoz of the Spanish-speaking Celebration International Church in Framingham, Pastor Gary Lee pastor of a small predominantly African-American Church in Randolph, Pastor Rob Paiva of Living Water Church in Marlborough, and me. Honestly, considering the fact that I pastored a church which closed and that my reputation has suffered, I questioned whether I should even have been included. I did share from Acts chapter twelve about the power of prayer and it seemed to be well received. I would be remiss if I did not mention another speaker who was layman Ron Sebastian from Faith Community Church of Hopkinton (formerly First Congregational Church). Ron has a heart for pastors and a tremendous burden to see a genuine move of God in our area. The impressive thing about the service was not the speaking, however, although each speaker was very good. The most impressive thing was the prayer time at the altar. The sense of God's presence was very powerful. Some of us have read from the history books about what revival services were like decades and centuries ago. A friend of Ron Sebastian's named Brad told me after the service that the second he walked into the building on Friday night he felt God's anointing there. It's controversial in some circles but several people were prayed for and were "slain in the Spirit" or as some say, "fell down under the power of God". I know that a lot of this behavior in other services and venues has indeed been forced and phony and I know that a number of people are skeptical about it, but all I can say is THIS WAS THE REAL THING. I have since learned that a couple of people have testified of genuine healings after having been prayed for on Friday night.

True, there were only around thirty people at the service, and it did not make the newspapers or television, but (no kidding) I saved my notes and printed order of service from Friday night because I believe it will be looked up in the future as having been such a significant event. Pastor Jesus Monoz boldly proclaimed (regarding revival in the MetroWest area) "It starts HERE TONIGHT!" I agree.

Pastor Rob Woods from New Hope Church in Marlborough posted this comment on Facebook on Saturday: "I thank God for the way He used Robert Gill to lead the Churches United In Christ service last night at Philadelphia Baptist Church. Praying with fellow pastors from different denominations and experiencing the power of God touch people was amazing. Father, do more! I pray for all the churches represented to see the move of God in their services like we saw His presence fall last night!"

The next "Churches United in Christ" prayer service is scheduled to be hosted by Living Water Church at 204 Main Street in downtown Marlborough on January 24 at 7 (snow date is January 31). You ought to mark that down on your calendar!