Saturday, October 22, 2016


"And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy   (Acts 2:17-18)

There are so many Bible verses I could have used to start this piece, but since it has to do with God supernaturally intervening in the lives of very ordinary people, I chose those words from Acts chapter two.  One of the hardest aspects of being a "Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christian who believes in the dramatic and dynamic interventions of the Holy Spirit, and that absolutely nothing is impossible with God" is also coping with things when life is difficult, confusing, and seemingly unfair.   We sing a song entitled, Blessed Be Your Name, which has a line about, "when there's pain in the offering".  Yes, that's what I'm talking about.  The Israelites in the time of the exodus from Egypt got very angry with God and with Moses.  Many of them became so angry, despondent and faithless that they seriously desired to return to Egypt, ask the Egyptians' forgiveness, and just volunteer to be slaves again!  Yet, these were the people who'd experienced the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, and God miraculously sending free food [i.e. manna] on a regular basis.  They became so obsessed with their problems and difficulties that they [apparently] forgot about His miracles done to bless and help them!  I'm so embarrassed to admit that I'm so much like them!  I can focus on my immediate situation with its problems, perplexities, and difficulties and completely forget about great things God has done for me.  In fact, God has done many great things for me, although I'm in one of those "dry" and challenging periods of life right now.  Today is Saturday, and on this Saturday I've found myself thinking about a great intervention of God in my past.  

The year was 1988.  It seems like only about eleven years ago; I can't believe it was over twenty-eight years ago!  It was mid-June.  Our family was leaving for a one week vacation on Cape Cod.  We would be staying at a cottage owned by a family who attended the church we pastored in Framingham.  In those days, we had only one car.  (We did not become a two car family until 1993.)  Our car was a 1982 AMC Concord station wagon.  (Some people called it a "Rambler" which is fine because the name of the Rambler make was changed to AMC some years prior to 1982.)  We bought the AMC used in 1985.  For the most part, it was a terrible car.  It leaked oil- lots and lots of oil every day in any location in which it was parked!  Our driveway was covered with oil stains and looked horrible.  It "broke down" a lot! There were many vacuum leak problems with that car, there were many radiator problems with that car, and from time to time, there were carburetor problems with that car.  Frankly, I spent a number of very sad and frustrating days because of that 1982 AMC station wagon!  On that mid-June Saturday morning, we packed the car and I attempted to start the car.  There's no way the car was going to start!  I telephoned Bill Lincoln, a member of our church, and one of the finest mechanics I've ever known.  Bill came over, literally took out the carburetor, took it apart, cleaned it, put it back, and the car started.  What a way to start a vacation!

Driving to Cape Cod during that morning, I experienced something mystical and supernatural.  I did not hear an audible voice, but it was so real and so definite that it might as well have been an audible voice.  Deep inside my spirit was a silent yet very real and very powerful impression.  The message I was getting was this:  "You will leave this car on Cape Cod.  One week from today you will drive off Cape Cod in another car which you will buy while you're on vacation on Cape Cod."

I didn't say anything to Mary Ann.  I thought she might think I was nuts.  And I felt like maybe I was nuts!  You'd have to know me well to understand this, but I can be a very rigid and inflexible person.  Shopping for a car while on vacation on Cape Cod (or anywhere else) is something I would never, ever do for many reasons.  I was totally puzzled.  There was no way I was going to shop for a car or buy a car while on vacation,  so how could that inner impression be correct?  Yet, I knew I received that message, and I knew it was real, it was powerful, it was supernatural, and dare I say it:  It was God.

The very next day we were at the home of Fred and Shelley, friends of ours, in Mashpee.  Shelley asked what was happening in our lives and how things were going.  I mentioned that we were having a lot of problems with our car.  Shelley suddenly became both very still and very happy and excited.  She said with conviction and enthusiasm, "I believe God is going to have you buy a car and it's going to be very soon.  It's going to be a little scary, but the whole situation is going to be of God and you're to buy that car!" 

Wow!  I don't remember what I said at that point.  We went through a normal few days of vacation on Cape Cod.  On Thursday afternoon, we stopped to visit the Sandwich Fish Hatchery.  I'm not sure why we even went there, but when I was a kid our family had visited the fish hatchery, and I thought our kids just might like it.  About fifteen minutes after we'd started walking around, I looked and to my shock, a guy named Tom that we knew [who was both a fellow Assemblies of God minister and a car salesman] strolled onto the grounds of the fish hatchery with his daughter.  Tom walked right up to me and almost on cue asked, "Are you looking to buy a car?"

"Well," I replied, "in the flesh, no; but in the Spirit, maybe!"

Tom said he thought he had the perfect car for us.  He asked us to stop into the dealership in Hyannis on Friday morning, and we agreed to that.  The next day, Tom told me he'd been driving by the Sandwich Fish Hatchery and [similar to my own experience while driving to Cape Cod] he got a strong inner impression from God to drive into the fish hatchery and begin walking around.  He said he'd thought, "But I've already been to the fish hatchery!"  Instantly, that inner impression replied, "Yes, but your daughter hasn't seen it."  When Tom saw me he said he knew God was up to something and believed a very desirable used car on their lot was probably for the Barils.

On Friday morning, we test drove a 1986 Plymouth Caravelle.  (That was a mid-sized model, also marketed by Chrysler Corporation as the Dodge 600. )  We still were making payments on the AMC.  The payments on the Plymouth would be for four and a half years, and would be almost double what we were paying for the AMC, and frankly couldn't afford.  Yet, Mary Ann and I knew this was of God.  We said "Yes".  We signed the appropriate paperwork.  We were told this would all be processed through the local Registry of Motor Vehicles branch and that the Plymouth would be ready to pick up on Saturday morning.

After we made the deal, we went out for Chinese food.  In the parking lot of the Chinese restaurant, we smelled an unpleasant odor, and noticed green anti-freeze fluid pouring onto the parking lot.  I had to call AAA to come and help us!  Had we made the right decision to get rid of the AMC and buy the Plymouth?  It sure seemed like we did!

I'll never forget that shortly after we got home and showed the "new" car to a couple from the church, the wife gave me one of the dirtiest looks I've ever received from anyone!  "How did you possibly buy that car?"  she'd asked.  "I financed it!"  I'd excitedly announced, and that's what brought the dirty look!  During the 1980s there were many evangelical Christians who taught it was always wrong and always out of the will of God to finance an automobile.  I think she believed that.  And, frankly, we couldn't afford the car.  Well, we made the car payment every month for four and a half years, and we had that car for two and a half years beyond the payment book.  Mary Ann has an expression that we, "drive our cars into the ground".  Usually, we do exactly that!  On a late summer day in 1995, a flatbed truck pulled up to 40 Harrison Street in Framingham, loaded up the 1986 Plymouth Caravelle and hauled it away.

This is only one of probably scores of similar stories of God's intervention in my life that I've experienced.  Honestly, I don't know why sometimes God seems very silent and very distant.  I know He's not.  I also know at times I've cried myself to sleep wondering why a prayer went unanswered or a terrible disappointment took place, and wondering why God seemed to be not there.  I want Him to be as present and as real and as dramatic and even as cool and mystical as He was to me in that situation involving the purchase of the '86 Plymouth.  And, yes, this is why we teach "new Believers" that we "don't go by feelings".  I guess if those "mountaintop" kind of things always happened, we'd take God for granted.  A true story such as this one about the two Saturdays in 1988 keeps me on track, praying, reading my Bible, "witnessing for Christ", going to church services, and hoping for the future.  I needed to be reminded of it this week, and if it was helpful to you in any way, I'm glad, and I hope you'll give the glory to God!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them."  (Acts 13:2)

A couple of days ago, I posted the following on my Facebook page:
"VERY nice service this morning at First Baptist Church of Marlborough where my daughter Amy Baril Julian was guest speaker (sharing about her Missions call and ministry). Great music and worship! My friend Pastor Stafford Trapp looks GREAT!"

To my surprise, when I looked at that posting today, Norman Biagetti, one of my Facebook friends, had left a poignant comment regarding my posting.  He wrote, "Just what is a nice service? Except that your daughter was there."

I must say, Norman's comment sparked a lot of thought in me.  I suppose we could ask a hundred Christians what constitutes a "nice service" and we'd get a myriad of responses!  Some might describe a "nice service" as a "quiet service".  Many might describe a "nice service" as a short service in duration which did not make them feel uncomfortable.  Some would say a "nice service" is a service in which the sermon was interesting and they "got fed".  Many pastors would say a "nice service" is a service in which a large offering was received!  The type of Christians who tend to be very excited and exuberant might say a "nice service" included public utterances in tongues with the interpretation of those utterances, as well as Christians being filled with the Holy Spirit.  

When I described the service at First Baptist Church of Marlborough as a "nice service" I did not mean it was a nice service because my daughter Amy was speaking there.  Admittedly, that was part of it, but I meant much more than that.  The group was small.  I don't think there were many more than thirty present.  The people were pleasant and friendly.  The "worship team" who led in music and singing were truly wonderful!  The Bible passage which Pastor Trapp read (from the Book of Esther) was a very relevant passage to "where I'm at" at this time.  Amy's message was one I'd heard her give before, but it touched me in a special way.  Yes, that's what I meant by a "nice service".

The verse I opened with comes from Acts chapter thirteen, the chapter that begins what we call, "Paul's First Missionary Journey".
The chapter opens with, "the story behind the story", (to use a line from the late radio broadcaster Larry Glick) about what caused Paul and his companion Barnabas to embark on that great missionary journey.  Paul and Barnabas were very active in a young and dynamic church in Antioch in Syria.  At that church, they "ministered to the Lord, and fasted" and then God called them to the great work He had for them.   When I was growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, we called the public gatherings for worship, "masses", or "Sunday mass".   Most (but not all) Protestant churches call these gatherings, "services".  More correctly, they should be called, "worship services".  An important reason we meet is to teach and help and encourage and pray for one another.  That's taught in the Book of Hebrews chapter ten.  Another reason for holding public gatherings is to encourage friends and family to come and join us and learn about the Lord and His Holy Word.  Yes, those are important reasons, and they're part of why we meet and hold public gatherings, but they shouldn't be the primary reason we meet.  The primary reason we meet is found in the verse I opened with.  We meet to, "minister to the Lord".  It's about Him!  It's not about us.  It's a "worship service" because we gather to "serve the Lord in our worship."  And, when we do that, extraordinary things can happen- such as the Holy Spirit dramatically calling someone to serve as a missionary to a foreign land.

It's sad that some "church services" are nothing like what I've described here, indicating what they should be.  Sometimes they involve people who are on "power trips" or who want to push a private agenda, or who want to "show the pastor where he's wrong".  (Many years ago, a gentleman attending the church I was pastoring told me his job was exactly that- to show me where I was wrong!)  Of course,
church should involve practical projects to help the needy and other benevolent actions.  That's part of it, too.  But I think we often forget; and listen, many times, I've been guilty of forgetting, that the matter of a "worship service" and of "ministering to the Lord" is "where it's at" and will be the action which facilitates all of the other "good things" that a healthy church practices!

Saturday, October 8, 2016


“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”  (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

In our amazingly fast-paced, instantly on-line society, it seems there are fewer opportunities to “stop and smell the roses”.  I had one of those rare moments yesterday around Noon.  I’d gone to meet my wife prior to us heading to Logan Airport to pick up our daughter Amy.  We’re so thrilled that Amy’s in the area for ten days or so to do several public appearances regarding her family’s missionary call.  I arrived a bit early at Marian High School in Framingham where Mary Ann works.  It was such a pleasant day that I decided to take a few minutes, sit on one of their outdoor benches, and just enjoy the atmosphere.  My eyes quickly zeroed in on the beautiful autumn colors of a tree located just off the school’s parking lot.  Suddenly, I remembered a scene from my own high school days.

It was this time of year, early October of 1968.  I was a fourteen-year-old freshman at Canton High School.  Miss Starr’s English One class overlooked a courtyard which included a small number of deciduous trees.  Miss Starr commented to the class that she’d taught at Canton High for several years in that very classroom.  Every autumn, she enjoyed watching the few trees as their leaves changed to bright fall colors, then dropped to the ground.  I remember her commenting that the trees changed color one tree at a time, in the very same order every year.  I don’t know why I remember Miss Starr saying that.  At that age, it would never have occurred to me to watch a specific group of trees changing color during autumn, or that they all went through the process in the same order each year.  Such a thing would have been about as interesting to me as watching paint dry!  Now, here I was, at Marian High School, forty-eight years later, a sixty-two-year old man, watching a tree off the parking lot in beautiful fall colors and remembering Miss Starr and her observations.

I had some very good teachers at Canton High and I also had some very bad teachers there.  I think of a few of them from time to time.  Miss Starr was of the vast majority of my secondary school instructors whom I’d considered somewhat “in-between”.  As I’ve thought about Miss Starr over the past day or so, I realize she was far more than a mediocre teacher.  Miss Starr left Canton High after that year and I never saw her again.  I remember that we read Charles Dickins' Great Expectations that year.  I also remember Miss Starr introducing us to great poetry.  I was really not interested in that material at the time.  I just sat through it, looking at the clock and waiting for class to end.   We read and discussed works such as Richard Cory and My Last Dutchess.  I even remember that Miss Starr played a recording of The Kingston Trio singing,  Tom Dooley.  Today, I’m a guy who loves good poetry and great short stories.  Did Miss Starr contribute to that appreciation of good writing that I now possess?  Maybe she did!  I don’t know where Miss Starr is today.  She probably has a different last name.  Several times in her class, another kid named Steve and I were laughing and fooling around.  I remember that one day, she kind of verbally laid in on me, saying this was my “seventeenth time” of fooling around, and that day she moved my seat to a different location.  My seat in her classroom remained in that location for the remainder of the year.  In those days, it would never, ever have occurred to me to thank Miss Starr for all she was teaching us and trying to do for us.  Today, I wish I could do that!

Yes, all of this came to me as I sat at Marian High School and watched a tree displaying its beautiful fall colors.  I wonder if those trees are still standing at Canton High School?  Trees typically live a long time.  My guess is, they probably are.  If they are still there, their leaves are transforming to bright fall colors, one tree at a time, in the same order as they were changing back in 1968.

1968 was a presidential election year.  Those were tumultuous times!  Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated.  Rioting broke out at the 1968 Democratic Convention.  The major party candidates were Democrat Hubert Humphrey and Republican Richard Nixon.  Humphrey was Vice-President under Lyndon Johnson. He was seen as a man who wanted to retain the status quo.  Nixon seemed at least somewhat phony and like a throwback to the 1950s.  The country was pretty disheartened and unimpressed with these presidential candidates.  Sound familiar?

No fourteen-year-old kids at Marian High School or any other school could imagine how fast forty-eight years go by!  It seems like only yesterday.  Today, I thought about how old I’ll be in forty-eight more years.  It will be 2064.  I will be a hundred ten years old!  Frankly, I’m one of those Bible-believing Christians who believes we’re very close to the second coming of Christ and the end of this Age.  It’s difficult for me to believe we’ll reach 2064 without the Lord having come back!  The bottom line is, this life as we know it will all be over so quickly!  And each autumn, in their order, the deciduous trees in North America continue to change color and drop their leaves.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


August 20, 2016


"...the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”  (from Acts 20:35)


Recently, a church's outdoor sign caught my eye!  It proclaimed:


I hope you'll seriously consider this "different" idea which COULD become a great blessing:

My 62nd birthday is Monday, September 19, 2016.

Two years ago, for my 60th birthday,  I THOUGHT I had a cool idea!  Since it was a "milestone" birthday, I e-mailed out a list of 5 ministries and charities to many of my family and friends.  I asked each to choose at least 1 of those ministries and charities and send a small donation to them; and then to let me know about it.  I envisioned at least 100 people doing this!  I thought it would be SUCH a wonderful thing to do on the occasion of my 60th birthday!

About 8 people participated. 

Frankly, I appreciated those 8; but I was disappointed with the response.

SO, it's with "fear and trembling" that I send THIS out; aware that perhaps nobody will act upon it!

I'm hoping the reaction to this request will be much better!

This year, on the occasion of my birthday, I thought it would be SO great if many, many OTHER people could receive special cards and encouraging notes during the week of September 19.  Yes, I KNOW people could send e-mails or text messages, but I'm asking that you not send the messages that way!  I'm asking you to send actual HARD COPY cards or notes!

Here's why:

-  There are many veterans out there who never receive an encouraging card or note from anyone.

-  There are many senior citizens (vets and non-vets alike) who never receive an encouraging card or note from anyone.

-  There are many people of all ages who are going through difficult crises, who never receive an encouraging card or note from anyone.

---  I'd love to see scores of them receive an encouraging card or note during the week of September 19!

If you THINK about it, you can come up with SOMEBODY worthy of receiving one of these cards or notes!  Yes, this COULD require an hour or so of your time and a few dollars to pick out a card, write a couple of encouraging sentences, put a stamp on the envelope, and mail off the card or letter.

That's not much! 

It's not much at all, but what an encouragement it would be!  If you also want to include a gift card to a coffee shop or a supermarket, that would be very nice, but you certainly don't HAVE to do that.

I think it would be so wonderful if you'd "get on board" with this;
and even pass this information on to a friend or two!

AND if you're on Facebook or another form of social media, please copy and paste the link (URL address) to this post on your Facebook (or other) page and add a comment saying something like, "I'm sending a note of hope on 9/19!"

Imagine what could happen if most of my friends (and most of their friends) DID "get on board" with this!


Thank you,


Monday, July 4, 2016


"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24)
To any and all who watched, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" on mostly ABC television stations today, July 4, 2016, (or on October 12, 2015, when that episode first aired) I'm sure you probably have thoughts on what you'd have done were you the contestant or the "Plus One".
You may or may not believe this, but things are so different when you're actually on television.  I stood there with my son Jon, looking at the very bright lights in front of us, and the entire experience seemed surreal.   In thinking back upon it, it all seems like a dream.  I was so proud of Jon when he was selected to be on the show.  I was surprised and pleased when he asked me to be his "Plus One".  I will admit that the thought of being Jon's "Plus One" was a bit intimidating.  Jon has a very high I.Q. I wondered what I would possibly know that Jon wouldn't know, unless it was 1960s pop culture or automobiles of the '50s and '60s or something like that. 
I was elated to watch Jon just whip through most of the first few questions!  I was also elated that within just a few minutes, he'd amassed a "bank" of $30,000!  Upon being asked to join him for that difficult $50,000 question, I did not know the answer, but in that moment, my entire focus was the importance of Jon winning the $50,000.  My focus was not at all the fact that Jon had $30,000 and that he could opt to just walk away with that money.  I've seen many contestants on that show look at the correct answer to a question and say, "Well, I know that can't be the correct answer!"  I've shaken my head and commented, "How stupid can you be?" on many occasions when I've watched that and other game shows.  Never did I think I'd make the very same type of mistake!  I remember being just fixated in my opinion that "it just can't be 'those who smoke marijuana'!" 
People in my age group will remember the old opening sequence of "ABC'S Wide World of Sports"  which included a skier completely 
"wiping out"- and the audio track in that moment announcing the line, "...the agony of defeat."   That's exactly what I felt the moment Jon uttered the incorrect answer that I strongly encouraged him to utter- and instantly observed his cash prize shrink to $5000.   A few minutes later we were being escorted into the studio's parking lot.  We were pretty quiet, and I felt absolutely numb.  Most of you probably realize the show was pre-recorded. It was taped a year ago, in late July of 2015.  I actually went through a difficult time for the first twenty-four hours after we walked out of that studio!  It's a long story, but as a young man, I made a foolish remark that led to my brother Eddie's photograph never being taken for his graduation high school yearbook photo.  It's been over forty years, but that still haunts me.  At the time of Eddie's death in 1983, I thought of his classmates who'd be looking for his photo in their yearbooks, only to find Edward Stephen Baril in the "Photos Not Available" category.  In my heart, I felt I'd done the same kind of thing to my son Jon.  I felt that in giving Jon very bad advice on national television, I'd taken away $25,000 that he'd won, and I felt horrible about it.  I felt I was not only a terrible brother but a terrible father, as well.  I honestly identified with Bill Buckner letting that ball go through his legs in Game Six of the 1986 World Series!  On the drive home, I began telling Jon how sorry I was.  He corrected me and told me it was not my fault- that it was a game, and that he was free to take or leave my advice.  Jon said he gave the famous "final answer" so the blame (if we want to use that word) is his.  Jon also reminded me he was still going to receive the largest check he'd ever received in his life, so it really wasn't such a bad thing!  Jon also told me his initial gut-level instinct was that "those who smoke marijuana" was the correct answer, but ultimately he was not sure.  Jon's words helped a little bit, but it took a lot of prayer and soul-searching over the next couple of days for me to come to terms with the experience.
I don't mean to sound melodramatic and fatalistic!  In fact, I had a "blast" visiting "Who Wants to be a Millionaire"!  The people who work on the show behind the scenes are very nice.  We got to meet several other contestants and their "Plus Ones" during the couple of days we were there in the New York City area.  (For any of you who watched the contestant "Mike" from Cheshire, CT on Friday's show- he's almost seven feet tall- we met and talked with him, for instance.) It was a great experience which I will cherish for the rest of my life!  And, I'm indeed glad Jon chose me to be his "Plus One"!  That twenty-four hours immediately following our appearance was stressful and painful for me, but thank God, I did totally get over those negative and self-condemning feelings!  I wasn't sure how I'd feel about watching and re-living that moment of leading Jon to give an incorrect answer,  but in fact I enjoyed watching us on the show, first on October 12, and then today.  Jon really did such a good job getting to the $50,000 question and was so personable and animated that it was a real joy to watch (without the stress of having to be called up and help answer a difficult question)!  I thought I looked a bit old and very nervous on television, but this was really Jon's moment and not mine;  and I'm fine with it, and again, very proud of him!
We've received mostly positive feedback since the program aired last October, and I also received positive feedback about it on social media today.  Listen, if you ever have the opportunity to try out to be a contestant on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", I hope you'll do exactly what Jon did and try out!  And, if a friend or relative invites you to be their "Plus One" on the show, I say, "Go for it!"

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


[Note:  It should be obvious to all readers that the story in this posting is a complete work of fantasy!  Please use your imagination as you read it; but please don't receive its message lightly!  The story may be fantasy, but the message is one of utmost importance at this hour.]

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" (2 Timothy 3:16)

The title I've chosen to both highlight and sum up the amazing experience of which I write has a double meaning.  For readers from around the Boston area, especially those familiar with Boston's Hyde Park and Readville neighborhoods, Paul's Bridge is a familiar landmark.  It's a very old stone bridge which spans the Neponset River between suburban Milton and the City of Boston's Readville neighborhood.  If you do an on-line search you can find more information about "Paul's Bridge".  The story here is not about the Boston landmark, though.  It's about the Apostle Paul (also commonly known as "Saint Paul") and an unforgettable visit I received from him!

One does not expect someone to just appear out of nothing and suddenly be sitting in your presence.  In fact, he not only appeared out of nothing, but the Hollywood director type chair in which he sat appeared out of nothing as well!  I'm not sure how I instantly knew this was Paul the Apostle, but I did.  He was sitting for the whole visit which lasted an hour or so.  He was short.  I'd guess he was maybe five feet five inches tall; perhaps less than that.  He was lighter complected than I'd have imagined.  His hair was part gray and part reddish brown; well, more brown than red.  He wore a full beard.  He wasn't completely bald.  There was a bit of hair on the top of his head, but he definitely was suffering from "male pattern baldness".  He greeted me loudly, crying out, "Paul, the Apostle, visiting twenty-first century Massachusetts!"

I marveled that he spoke English.  In fact, I marveled that he spoke English with what sounded like a Baltimore, Maryland accent.  I commented about that.

He laughed.  "Yes, this is what could be called a textbook Baltimore, Maryland accent," he proclaimed, followed by the exclamation, "Very good!"

I commented that I'd have expected him to be speaking in first-century Greek or Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) or even Hebrew.  He shook his head, stating that it was important I understood what he had to say.  I was also surprised that he was wearing blue jeans, a Promise Keepers tee-shirt, and a pair of sneakers.

"Well, I wanted to look as I would have looked in 2016!" he laughed. 

I spent the next fifteen minutes or so quizzing Paul.  I asked him what many of you would probably consider very silly questions, but hey, how often does the Apostle Paul show up in your home?!  This was my chance to fire away with questions!   Incidentally, he refused to tell me exact meaning of his "Thorn in the Flesh" (from 2 Corinthians 12) and I was kind of disappointed about that.

The conversation turned to much more serious and pertinent matters.  Paul soundly rebuked me; well not just me.  He soundly rebuked virtually all of today's American Christians.  He told me we were "very soft, very lazy, and very clueless" about the times in which we live and the manner in which we live.  I asked him who he'd be supporting for President of the United States this year.  This is almost word-for-word what Paul had to say:

"Well, if that isn't the stupidest question!  You and your fellow believers sound like the Israelites in the days of Samuel of old when they wanted a king.  They wanted to be like all the other nations.   They failed to understand that God was their king.  They failed to understand that all men and women are fallible.  God reluctantly gave them Saul, for whom I was named.  (Readers may know that he had two names all of his life:  Saul was his Jewish name, and Paul was his Roman name.)  But it was never to be so."

I asked if it was wrong to vote and to be interested in politics.

"No, of course it's not wrong," he admonished, "But the believers of today have everything backwards.  They fight and argue to 'defend the Constitution' but they fail to realize that the Bible is far, far more important.  They wonder why the current choices seem to be so poor and inadequate.  The fact is, they're not praying for their leaders, nor for the people who aspire to be their leaders.  And, they're not living and praying with an attitude of humility and repentance.  It's true that Peter and I did not always get along!  Boy, did we have our confrontations!  But, how many of you know what it says in First Peter chapter four verse seventeen?  Read it!  And, don't just read it.  Remember what my friend James said in James chapter one verse twenty-two?  Well, ninety percent of today's believers have no idea what it says, but it challenges God's children to not just read and hear what the Bible says, but to do what the Bible says, for Heaven sakes; and I mean it:  For Heaven sakes!" 

He was yelling when he said that.  The next part is embarrassing and difficult for me to write:

"You know, Bob, you're so soft, man.  Have you ever been beaten for being a follower of Jesus Christ?  I was beaten many times!  Have you ever been jailed?  Also, many times.  You guys and gals today get into fights about what worship music you like and what worship music you don't like!  Would you like to see me throw up?  Because that's what I feel like doing when I see and hear things like that!  Do you think anybody cared what "worship style" Silas and I were using when we sang the praises of God in the jail at Phillipi after we'd been beaten with rods?!"

He wasn't done.

"In fact I ended up being beheaded.  Yes, my head's on now; how'd you like to have met a headless Paul?!   Listen, were I ministering in America today I'd have little patience for people who can't make it out to church services, for people who can't make it out to prayer meetings, and for people who whine about the stupidest things!  Some say 'Church goes on too long';  have you ever read about the time I preached until Midnight and a young guy fell down from an upper story dead?!  And, I raised that young man from the dead!  You 'sweet little Christians' wouldn't have been able to do that; why?  Because you don't pray consistently and you don't believe!"

I felt myself turning red, and I looked down at the hardwood floor.

Suddenly his voice got very soft.  It was so soft I could hardly hear him.  I looked up.  Tears were streaming down his face.  He began to sob.  I actually handed him a paper towel!  I know it may sound a bit unspiritual, but he blew his nose.  Then he said in that very soft voice,

"Bob,  will you just remember my visit?  Will you tell people about it?   Will you tell them what I had to say?  And will you please tell them to read their Bibles?  And will you please tell them to stop all the focus on carnal issues that really don't matter?!  You want to have any kind of victory and influence in these days, Bob?  Well, remember Daniel and his companions!  You gotta be a Daniel and that goes for your fellow believers, too."

Instantly he was gone.  His director's chair was gone.  The paper towel was not gone.  It had fallen to the floor. 

He kind of was a bridge through time and through eternity.

If you don't like this, I'm going to say what I'm sure Paul would say:  Don't take it up with me, take it up with God!

Thursday, June 9, 2016


"The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty,
But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty."  (Proverbs 21:5 New King James Version)

The simple conversation quickly turned into an intense and shocking monologue.
It was at a laundromat, fairly early this morning.  One female customer began making small talk with the laundry attendant on duty who was also a woman.  It was the laundry attendant who launched into a disturbing rant.  

"A guy brought in a bunch of pennies and he wanted me to change them into quarters," she began. Quickly, she was yelling about her refusal to accept the pennies, but it didn't stop there.

"I hate pennies!" she went on, "No, I mean I really hate them!  I throw them away.  Anytime I have pennies, I throw them into the trash.  When I've found out my kids had any pennies, I've thrown them into the trash." 

It didn't stop there.  She continued on for at least a paragraph, laced with 'F-Bombs' and all sorts of blasphemies, profanity, and offensive language.  The level of hate she was manifested was amazing.  She mentioned that people have told her pennies are money and therefore should not be thrown away.  It was that objection which others have given to her regarding throwing pennies into the trash that made her the angriest of all.

I was so tempted to say something to her!  I wanted to tell her I'll give her a plastic container; that she can just deposit any pennies into it and once a month or so, I'll take them from her!  I also wanted to tell her that I understand that pennies can be an inconvenience, but that people who save them and bring them to the bank sometimes end up leaving the bank with tens of dollars, and occasionally even hundreds of dollars.

In the Assemblies of God, children bring in little plastic barrels filled with change once a month.  (That program is called "B.G.M.C.", which stands for "Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge".)  The money goes to missionary projects all over the world.  A number of years ago, my wife led the little church we pastored in a B.G.M.C. project to bring in pennies for a "penny weigh".  As I recall, it was boys against girls, and the side who brought the most pennies won.  I forget what they won and I forget who won, but I do remember that on the following day, Mary Ann and I wheeled an old-fashioned children's "red wagon" into the lobby of the (then) Shawmut Bank on Union Avenue in Framingham, Massachusetts.  The employees were very cooperative in helping us make the deposit.  As I recall, it was over $600. and that was from a very small church of under fifty in total attendance.

The attitude of that laundry attendant spoke volumes today.  To Mary Ann back in the late 1980s, the pennies were a wonderful tool to help the missionaries.  Eternity will reveal the many blessings that came from the large pile of copper coins.  To the laundry attendant, pennies (i.e. legal tender) are simply something to be thrown away.

This is really the classic example of:  One person's trash is another person's treasure!

What do you think?  Shall I print this out and bring it in to that laundry employee along with a shiny copper penny?  Do you think she'd just throw my article and penny away?

Please leave a comment or e-mail me!  I'm really interested in your feedback!  And if you want to give some pennies to your church for missions, I don't think your pastor will refuse that donation!