Monday, January 29, 2007


“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field...”  (from Matthew 13:44)

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

I’m sure you’ve all heart that one.

No matter how much my sister and I explain how much stuff...”junk” parents managed to accumulate over several decades, there really are no words to describe it.  If anybody my father knew was getting rid of virtually ANYTHING, my father would take it!  In just the RAFTERS of the basement of the house in Canton is enough stuff to fill a large dumpster!  We haven’t even gotten to most of THAT stuff!  My parents have each been dead for over 6 years.  After that amount of time, at least one-third of their “stuff” still remains.  Less than 2 weeks ago, on a Saturday afternoon, my sister and I put together 7 large green trash bags of junk from stuff that was my father’s.  That stuff  WAS all just junk and was thrown away.  I’d say in the past 5 years, we’ve thrown away at least 200 large green trash bags full of my parents’ junk.  We’ve also sold a lot of stuff, and given away some things.

You never know what you’re going to find.  Earlier this month there in Canton on a shelf we found a wooden case.  I’m very poor at estimating dimensions, but just from memory, I’d say it was 2 feet by 2 feet by 4 inches.  I opened up the wooden case.  Inside was a series of motivational training records (probably 33 and a third R.P.M.) for Kaiser-Frazier salesmen and dealers.  I know.  Most of you don’t even know what a Kaiser-Frazier dealer is.  Kaiser and Frazier and later Henry J were automobiles manufactured by the Kaiser-Frazier Corporation (later the Kaiser Willys Corporation) in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  They were not big sellers.  The last of their new cars in the U.S.A. were sold in 1955.  I go to a lot of classic car shows and I think I’ve MAYBE seen 1 Kaiser and 1 Henry J (ever) at a classic car show.  I went on-line and did not have any success at locating a Kaiser-Frazier Owners Club.  (There are clubs for most makes that are easily found...DeSoto, Edsel, Hudson...all have clubs.)  I told my sister NOT to throw the case out.  To an automotive history “nut” or a “Kaiser-Frazier nut” that case is a rare find.  The exterior is in fair condition but the inside (records and slogans) is in very good condition.  The problem is- how do you find that “Kaiser-Frazier nut” or “automotive history nut” who’d make an offer on it?  

About a year ago, we found a small black-and-white photo display booklet for Graham-Paige automobiles from the 1920s.  I did find a Graham-Paige club on-line.  Ultimately, a guy from just outside Montreal, Quebec bought that booklet from us for $50. U.S.

Following the famous “6 degrees of separation” theory, there’s SOMEBODY reading this that’s “6 degrees” or less from a person who’d make an offer on that Kaiser-Frazier training case.  Think about it.  Mention it around.  I’m serious. Thanks.  

Incidentally, I have no idea how much that’s worth to a serious collector.  I’d guess $100-$300 but who knows?

Oh, how did my Dad get that?  An acquaintance of his was Ash Cox of Quincy, Mass. who ran “C.A. Cox Motor Sales”.  For many years they were an American Motors dealership, but in the ‘40s and ‘50s they sold new Kaiser-Frazier cars.  I’d guess Dad got that from Ash Cox.  I doubt Ash Cox is still alive.  He’d be at least 100 years old!

I think it should be obvious from the headings on this blog, but I can be reached at

THAT WHICH IS LOST (extra entry)

“Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?”  (Luke 15:8)

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Is God trying to tell me I need to be more concerned for the lost?  Maybe.  At the very least, today’s happenings may make a good future sermon illustration on a Luke 15 sermon.  My late father did not handle it well when he lost something.  He was not one of those who could just “forget about it” or “don’t think about it and it will just show up”.  Not him.  When something was lost, it was a dire emergency and life itself stopped until it was found.  I hate to admit it but I’m EXACTLY the same way.

My present pair of eyeglasses came with 2 pairs of clip-on sunglasses.  Each pair of clip-ons actually clipped on and functioned a little bit differently.   On September 18 of last year, the day before my birthday, I literally ran for the train back to Framingham at Back Bay Station in Boston.  Five minutes after I got on the train (huffing and puffing) I sadly realized one of my pairs of clip-ons in it’s case had been dropped as I ran for the train.  I was pretty “bummed out” about it, but since I did have ANOTHER pair of clip-ons in another case, I figured they would just have to do.  (I liked the pair I lost in Sept. the best.)  Today, I lost the other pair of clip-ons!

This morning, I took a walk from the church to the library and the post office in downtown Framingham.  I like to go to the library to read the Bible devotionally- so no one will disturb me.  I walked into the library wearing my clip-ons.  When I took them off, I was a little disturbed that I could not find their case which is usually in my pocket.  I laid the clip-ons on a desk and did some Bible reading.  I put the clip-ons back on the glasses and walked to the post office.  I opened up the church’s post office box and retrieved the mail.  I then walked back to the church.

I noticed that in an area of the church parking lot that does not get any sun, there was still some snow from Sunday’s little snowstorm.  I decided to get a broom and sweep the snow away, which I did.  I spent some time working, and went to go home for lunch.  I was about to put my clip-ons on, but there were no clip-ons.  I looked “everywhere” for them.  I drove to the post office, and asked a clerk if any clip-on sunglasses had been turned in, but was told “no”.  I saw little need to go back to the library, but just to satisfy my curiosity, I did drive to the library.  Amazingly, I found the sunglass CASE on the floor of the library near where I’d been sitting.  So I DID have the case with me after all.  I’m not sure how the case fell on the floor.

I really DO know I wore those clip-ons out of the library, but I have no memory of what I did with them.  It’s really frustrating.  I got those eyeglasses in late May of 2005.  I managed to have and take care of the two pairs of clip-ons from May 2005 to September 2006, but now in the past four months, I’ve lost both pairs!  The brightness outside really bothers me, and I hate that I don’t have those sunglasses.

I know I dropped the other pair and its case as I ran for the train in Boston in September, and I have consoled myself that it was an accident, but today’s incident seems just plain stupid and senseless.  I realize it’s not on the level of people dying in Iraq or kids getting cancer or things like that.  But it just BUGS me!  I can’t stop thinking about it.  It’s a real mystery.  Where did those clip-ons go?   Will they turn up?

Friday, January 26, 2007


The reason I posted the Saint Lucia piece at 1 a.m. is that we ended up being up due to a heating emergency.

The last time we awoke smelling burning plastic was in 1991.  At that time, the relay switch on a freezer in the basement burned out.  At that time, the cellar was filled with pungent smoke, and the fire dept. arrived.

When I got up tonight, I honestly thought toast had been burned in the kitchen.  To my surprise, there was no smell in the kitchen.  The burning smell - like burning plastic - was very strong on the upper levels of the house and determined to be coming out of the heating ducts.

I hardly smelled it in the basement and barely on the first floor.  I am so thankful the church put the most expensive NSTAR gas service contract on the system for all gas appliances in late Nov.  We'd had no service contract for about a year.  It used to be that even if you DIDN'T have a service contrat and you called NSTAR with an emergency they came out.  Be warned.  That policy has changed.  If you do not have a service contract, NSTAR makes no guarantee at all that they'll come out.  That's why the church put the full service contract on the parsonage gas system in November.

The experience of CALLING NSTAR was NOT pleasant.  The first time, I went through voice mail H__l and was disconnected!  The second time I kept saying "Emergency" and eventually (after waiting on hold to nice music) got a person.  What if I was smelling gas?  What if the house was about to blow up?  Do you think I wanted stupid voice mail and holding to nice music?  Of course not!  There ought to be an emergency number you call and get right through with to a "real" person!  Finally, I did get to speak to a "real" person.  The woman asured me someone would be out within the hour.  They always get confused becuase the name on the account is "First Assembly of God".  They THINK they are going to a church building.  I explained it was a residence.  The repairman did arrive in about forty minutes.  I will say he was very good.  He quickly found that a switch in the furnace had burned out.  He had the replacement switch on his truck.  In no more than fifteen minutes, we were back in business.  We were very thankful this turned out well without some big disaster.  The previous very old furnace was replaced wtih a brand new one in late 2001.  Since this one is only 5 years old I hoped it could be fixed pretty easily and I'm glad that was the case.

If there are some "typos" on this piece, please forgive me.  I'm tired and typing at 1:15 a.m.  I hope we won't have any more problems with the heading system for awhile!


“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth...” (from Revelation 7:1)

Worcester radio station WSRS-FM 96.1 has been doing a major promotion from a resort in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia this week.  I’ve almost wanted to hit the morning D.J. and newsman as they’ve announced single digit temperatures (and subzero wind chills) from their Caribbean paradise where the daytime temperature virtually never goes below 70 and the nighttime temperature virtually never goes below 60.  Seriously, I’d love to be there in St. Lucia right now!

We’ve really had it pretty easy this winter with the temperature rising above 60 several times and even hitting 70 once or twice.  I guess we were due for single digit stuff.  How easy it is to forget a winter a few years ago where the typical daytime temperature was 2 below with wind chills of 25 below!  The WORST (coldest) winter weather I’ve ever seen was in Springfield, Missouri in 1977.  Several mornings in a row it was 10 below.  One morning it was 17 below.  I’ve never seen it colder than 4 below in Massachusetts.  We Bostonians probably don’t realize that the sea breeze actually keeps the arctic air WARMER.  In Springfield, Missouri the arctic air is as raw and biting as it is in Yellowknife, NWT, Canada!  Missouri has a shorter winter than Massachusetts does, but it can be brutal.  This year, with Springfield’s most DANGEROUS and DAMAGING winter on record, is a case in point.  I guess there is no “typical” winter in the 48 contiguous states, though.  When my daughter Amy and I visited Springfield, Missouri in February of 2002, the temperature was running in the high 60s the whole time we were there!

My late mother believed that the more you focus on the weather and the more you complain about it, the worse it gets for you.  She thought if you would get your mind on something else, things would not be so bad.  I’ve used that theory for summer heat and humidity, and at least to a degree (no pun intended) it has helped.  Friday was the coldest morning in probably over a year.  It was 9 degrees in Framingham...not subzero, but bad enough.  Last night it hit zero in southside Framingham.  Inside the church building, much of the day the temperature was under 60.  I found that if I didn’t think about it, it helped.   I am grateful to have heat, electricity, and hot and cold running water.  I am grateful to NOT be homeless.  I’ll be glad when it’s a little warmer, but I know it could be a lot worse!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind...” (from Acts 2:2)

In this piece, I’m actually NOT writing about the sound of the wind, I’m writing about the sound of wind chimes.  I know this will sound very Andy Rooney-esque of me.  I really don’t like wind chimes.  I guess I’ll declare a truce on the very small wind chime ornaments that attach to an exterior door and make a pleasant little sound in the breeze.  I know my parents used to have one of those things, and I think many years ago, we did at our home for awhile.  Those little ones are not too bad.  But I’m about fit to be tied with the big ones.  Our next door neighbors, who REALLY  ARE nice people and good neighbors have a  big set of wind chimes on their front porch.  Every time the wind blows, it sounds as if someone outside is playing the glockenspiel or the xylophone, or some such percussion instrument.  

Now that I’m over fifty, I’m up at least once in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom.  There I am at 2 a.m. listening to “bllinngg, brrinnggg, llliiinnngggg,  rrrriiiinnnnggggg,    whistle-blinngg....”.  It’s loud, chimey, and annoying.  I thank God I really can’t hear it from my bedroom, or I’d have to sleep with earplugs!  

Yesterday I took a short walk around my neighborhood (as I often do). It seemed as if the wind chime sounds had doubled in intensity.  They had.  The house on the other side of my neighbors’ now has it’s own set of front porch wind chimes!  I know that in a sense they’re pretty, but the key words are “in a sense”.   Wind chimes get old - pretty fast.

I know I sound like the Grinch who hated the “noise, noise, noise, noise”.  But, let’s face it...unwanted noise IS a problem.  My late father loved old-fashioned clanging and bonging clocks.  There were two in the living room which could be heard throughout most of the house.  It was embarrassing to call a radio talk show from his Canton residence.  You’d have Jerry Williams saying, “Hello, you’re on the air”, as the clock suddenly “said” over WRKO, “bing BONG bing BONG!”.  The last couple of years l lived there, I slept with earplugs every night.  It was the only way I could sleep.

The wind chimes are not quite as bad as the clocks, but they’re close.
I haven’t got the heart to tell this stuff to my next door neighbors, because compared to many people in my neighborhood, they really ARE good neighbors.  BUT,  if you have wind chimes- LOSE THEM.  And, if you are thinking of buying wind chimes- don’t even think about it!

I do sound like Andy Rooney, don’t I?  Do you suppose CBS would hire me after he retires or passes on?  Well, I guess the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:58)

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  (Galatians 6:9)

Yesterday morning I bought a Boston Herald to read as I ate breakfast.  I read something in the paper that really troubled me.   In a nationally syndicated advice column, a woman had submitted a question regarding how to handle invitations to baby showers that she really doesn’t want to go to.  This woman can’t emotionally handle going to baby showers because she recently had an abortion.  It turns out she had the abortion because the doctor told her the baby she was carrying would be born with serious mental and physical defects.  The woman’s question made me very uncomfortable.  I believe abortion is murder; that it is a very serious sin.  Yet, I believe if I knew I was going to have a mentally and physically defective baby, well, yes, I’d be tempted to want the pregnancy terminated.  I felt very ashamed and uncomfortable even thinking that.  I wished I’d never read the advice column!

During the day, I thought about that advice column.  As strange as this may sound, I believe God had me read it.  My reaction to want to terminate such a pregnancy was a sinful and selfish reaction, but a very human reaction.  Humanly, we don’t want to deal with what’s painful and inconvenient.  This doesn’t just apply to pregnancies.  There are fully grown people that God loves, but who are very difficult to deal with.  The human reaction is to send them away.  Remember the Gospel account when the 5000-plus needed to be fed?  The disciples wanted to send them away.  Their attitude was essentially, “it’s not our problem!”.  Jesus told them differently.  He blessed the loaves and fishes and miraculously fed the crowd, and the rest is history.

This is a struggle for me because being a “people person” does NOT come naturally to me.  God called me to be a pastor.  Sometimes I wonder if He made a mistake.  Honestly, this week I’m in a depressed and introspective mood.  I’m REALLY wondering if God made a mistake!  But He didn’t.  God frequently calls us to do what is NOT natural to us.  He will equip us for His call (I Thessalonians 5:24) but we have to obey Him and follow His directions.  

This week a woman with Ausgerber’s Syndrome called me. (I’m not sure if I spelled the name of that syndrome correctly!)  I’ve never met her but she was worried that in the aftermath of the Lincoln-Sudbury High School incident people would think she is a monster capable of murder.  She’s “different” and she fears rejection and misunderstanding.  

I guess maybe we’re all like that woman.  I am.  As I write, there’s a song playing from the Computer’s iTunes.  It’s Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You”.  The song describes a lonely and needy woman standing on a bridge reaching out to a stranger for comfort and support.  I know Avril Lavigne is only about 22-years-old and a pop singer, but I think there’s a lot of depth and feeling in her songs.  This one is so true.  

“It’s a d__n cold night, trying to figure out this life, won’t you take me by the hand, take me somewhere new, don’t know who you are, but I’m...I’m with you.”

Yeah.  We all need somebody.  We need God.  We need acceptance.  We need understanding.  We need each other.  Yesterday morning Scott Allen Miller on WRKO spent a good deal of time talking about the Lincoln-Sudbury case.  Miller admitted that as a kid he was a misfit and probably still is as an adult.  Honestly, that’s true of me, too.  Lately several people have left the church and several very challenging  and stressful situations have arisen in the church and in my personal life.  Honestly, I haven’t handled them very well.  As I’ve written, I’m depressed and introspective this week.   Those difficult life situations are why I’m feeling that way.  

In 1970 I jumped at the opportunity to “give my heart to Jesus Christ” and be saved.  I was a messed up 15-year-old.  I was somewhat of a misfit.  I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Today, I’m a struggling 52-year-old minister...struggling because I’m as prone to depression as my late mother was and I’m as prone to irritability as my late father was.  Many times those emotions are pretty much in check.  Once in awhile, it seems like they are just wildly out of control.  For the past several days they’ve been wildly out of control.  Oh, I’ve managed to teach classes, and “m.c.” services, and to be pretty civil in most social settings.  But in my heart, I’m facing those “demons” of depression and irritability  in a stronger way than I have in quite awhile.  I thank God that He does not “abort” me as it were.  He does not reject me because dealing with me and my issues is inconvenient.  And, though I struggle with it, He’s calling me to be “real” with Him and with others and to reach out to others and help them along, just as He does with me.

I hope you can make some sense of this piece.  It’s a hard piece to write.  I’ve revealed even more about myself than I intended to when I began writing it.   And, I’ve got a confession to make:  I had originally written a totally different piece to post today.  That piece presented me in a very good and rather superior light.  I decided to totally scrap it and instead to write about where I’m really at today.

This on-line stuff can lead to some interesting communication.  Whoever you are that’s reading this, as Avril Lavigne says, “don’t know who you are, but I’m, I’m with you”!

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Like most New Englanders, I'm sad the Patriots won't be going to the Super Bowl this year.  (Of course, it was also a disappointment last year, and I was really hoping we'd be back in this year.)  

The AFC Championship game was very exciting.  Overall, the Pats played a very good game.  Sure, there were some unfortunate mistakes by the Pats but there were also some of those by the Colts, as well.  If it couldn't be the Patriots this year, then I'm glad it's the Colts.  Peyton Manning is a great Quarterback, and I'm still a great admirer of Adam Vinitieri.   I've driven through the Indianapolis area on a number of occasions.  It's "middle America" and it's a really nice place- good restaurants, pretty good roads, and mostly very nice people.

The Colts deserve it and I'm going to be rooting for them against the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl.  And, you heard it here first:  The Patriots are going to the Super Bowl in 2008!

"I have fought a good fight , I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:"  (2 Timothy 4:7).

Saturday, January 20, 2007


"...for he beareth not the sword in vain:  for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."  (from Romans 13:4)

That verse is kind of hard to understand in the old King James Version (above) but it's actually referring to law enforcement officers as "ministers" (or servants) of God who "bear the sword" (or carry guns) to enforce order.

I've got sort of a confession to make.  I have a love/hate relationship with police officers.  Like my daughter Rachel, I LOVE to watch "Cops" on the FOX television network.  I guess in that way I like to imagine what it would be like to be a cop, and how I'd handle the situations the police on that show encounter.  Many of you know that my father was a career law enforcement professional.  He started off as a Boston Police officer in 1951.  In 1956 he became a Registry of Motor Vehicles officer (that's NOW a division of the State Police).  He retired in 1982 as a Registry of Motor Vehicles official.  "Back in the day" growing up in our home in Canton, we were raised to practically revere the police.

I began to get a bit soured on that when I actually encountered police in traffic stop situations.  I've been a licensed driver in since 1972.  I had never been stopped until 1987.  Since that time, if my count is correct, I've been stopped a total of eight times.  Five of them have been in Framingham by Framingham police officers, and one was in Ashland by an Ashland police officer.  Six of the times have just resulted in brief verbal warnings, but two resulted in expensive tickets- one of the tickets was by a Framingham cop.  I really believe the Framingham police are motivated to find bizarre reasons to stop people.  From my friend, the Rev. Dr. J. Anthony Lloyd, I know there is a feeling by African-Americans that Black people in MetroWest are stopped an excessive amount of times for trivial reasons.  Honestly, if I were Black, I'd assume that it was because of my race, but I'm WHITE and it happens!  In fact, two of my stops in Framingham were by the same "gung ho" Black police officer!  (Those stops were about sixteen years apart!)  Around downtown Framingham, I can't tell you how many times I've seen people speed right through red lights.  I've seen it just a couple of times this week!  Usually the person who runs the light is a tough young male in something like a "low rider" Toyota, and usually that person DOESN'T get caught.  Conversely, if you start counting the number of teary 35-year-old white women with little kids in the car (or more likely, minivan) who are pulled over for some really trivial thing, you can find those incidents all over the place!  I tend to think that because the cop who pulls me over quickly discovers a nervous 50ish somewhat passive Caucasian white-collar male, he or she can't wait to bully me and verbally "read me out" about some trivial thing.  Meanwhile, three "low rider" Toyotas with young male drivers wearing baseball caps turned the wrong way go "bombing" right by us!

Once, I rounded a corner to IMMEDIATELY encounter a construction site policed by a cop with an attitude.  He thought I rounded the corner too fast and without anticipating there might be a construction site there.  Now, tell me, how many construction sites do YOU expect to encounter when you round a corner?

I could tell you several similar stories.

I suppose this would upset my late father, but NOW when I glance in the rear view mirror and notice a cruiser there, I make it a practice to turn into the first side street I can find.  If the cruiser follows me into the side street, which sometimes happens, I turn into the first driveway I can find.  So far, they all drive away at that point!

I really DO respect most cops and I think they've got a very tough job, BUT I don't want any more stops or lectures.  In case you're thinking I must have just been stopped, the last time was 7 months ago and the last TICKET was over 8 years ago.  For some reason, this is on my mind today.

For you Framingham residents- am I overreacting or do you think the police overdo it with stopping non-threatening middle-class residents?

Thursday, January 18, 2007


“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:8  NEW KING JAMES VERSION)
“ ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’  says the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than Your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9  NEW KING JAMES  VERSION)

At the “John 17:23 Pastors’ Small Group” that I attended yesterday morning, Alan Meister (minister, and counselor at The Bridge House) shared a powerful devotional about what it means to spiritually bear fruit.  Picture in your mind two peach trees.  Each peach tree has one peach growing on it.  The peach on the first tree is huge and beautiful.  The peach on the second tree is rather small, shriveled, and has a number of holes in it from where worms have been eating it.  Which tree would YOU judge has good fruit?

Most of us would choose the FIRST tree.  Yet, once the first tree’s beautiful peach is eaten and the pit thrown in a trash can someplace, that’s the end of that.  The small, shriveled peach, would ultimately fall on the ground and maybe roll around on the hilly, grassy soil.  Ultimately, it’s pit would find its way into the soft soil.  Years later a healthy peach tree bearing many peaches has grown from the one small, shriveled peach.

Which tree had the better fruit?  We have no right as Christians to think that our fruit as individuals is weak and insignificant, NOR do we have the right to think of our church’s fruit as weak and insignificant.  We are called to be faithful, to obey God, to give our all to God and for God, and to leave the rest to God.

ISN’T THAT GOOD STUFF?  Thank you, Alan!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Tonight, the 6th season of “American Idol” begins on the FOX television network.  I’m one of those for whom “American Idol” is a MUST SEE television program.  I’ve enjoyed the reruns from past seasons which the CW Network has been running on weekends, but it will be great to have new shows on FOX.  The auditions of some of the best and some of the worst singers imaginable, such as we’ll see tonight, make for riveting viewing.  

Being eccentric and (to use some people’s description) “crazy”, I’ve let my imagination run this week and wondered what it would be like if “American Idol” were instead known as “American REVIVAL”: a speaking competition between various clergymen (and women).  I think that would be a blast!  You know those, “a priest, a minister, and a rabbi” jokes?  Well here’s my fantasy of “American REVIVAL” featuring a priest, a minister, and a rabbi:

The “American REVIVAL” theme (which sounded remarkably like Sly and the Family Stone’s “We Are Family”) came blasting over the airwaves, and then Randy, Paula, and Simon were introduced.  The first audition was The Priest, Father Tom O’Rourke from suburban Detroit, Michigan.  O’Rourke looked to be about 60, but his resume stated he’d been ordained a priest in 2004.  

“Man, is this RIGHT...Ordained in ‘04?!” Randy exclaimed.

“I should know,” Father replied, “the priesthood is a second career for me.”

“Really?” asked Paula, “What was your first career?”

“Television critic for a major daily newspaper,” he bluntly replied.

“What are you going to do for us?” asked Simon.  
Father Tom replied he would recite a brief portion of the mass.
“Off you go!” said Simon.

Tom’s delivery was pretty flat, almost like someone reading the phone book aloud.  “Through Him, With Him, In Him, all Glory is yours Almighty Father, forever and ever,” proclaimed Father O’Rourke.

“I think we’ve heard quite enough,” quipped Simon.

O’Rourke insisted upon continuing.
“The mass is ended, go in peace,” he said nervously.
“Thanks be to God!” Simon replied.

Now, it was the time to decide if O’Rourke would move on to the next round.  Paula made the most positive comments.  Enamored with the priest’s vestments and modern stole which was covered with peace symbols, she said, “Oh, Father, I LOVE your outfit!  For me it’s a yes!”

“Dog.”  said Randy.  “That justdidn’t do it for me.  I’m gonna have to say no.”

“It’s a NO!” yelled Simon.
“Make a good Act of Contrition!” Simon added.

The next contestant was Rabbi Suzanne Plotner from Long Island, New York.  The three judges seemed startled that Rabbi Plotner was no older than 35, pretty, and wearing a tasteful Burgundy dress.

“I was expecting a Hassidic Jewish old man!”  said Simon.
Paula quickly gave him a playful punch.  “Will you STOP being so SEXIST?” she cried.

“Do I call you Rabbi or Rabb-ette?” asked Randy.

“Call me Suzanne.” she said, proceeding to recite a litany of Hebrew prayers.  After three minutes of reciting Hebrew prayers, Rabbi Plotner recited the 23rd Psalm in English, which was familiar to all.

“The only word from the Hebrew I can remember was ‘Baruch’” said Randy.
“I think I heard that at a Bar-Mitzvah one time.”  
Rabbi Plotner explained that “Baruch” means “Blessed”.

“DOG!” Randy yelled excitedly, “You sold me!  You got SOUL!  I vote yes!”

Paula sadly shook her head.  “I’m...I’m sorry...” she stammered, “but I’ve just never enjoyed hearing sermons in foreign languages.  I think you have to say something people can understand.  I have to pass!”
“It’s a NO!” yelled Simon, adding, “There’s a job at a kibbutz in Israel just waiting for you!”

Next, the minister walked in.  The Rev. Clancy Studebaker, from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, wore a dark brown suit,  with a large silver cross hung from a large-linked chain  around his neck.  

“What’s with the silver cross?” asked Simon.

“Well, I’m part of the religious LEFT,” Studebaker began, sounding more feminine than masculine, “but I don’t want anybody to tell me I’m not a Christian!”

“What do you have to present?” Simon probed.

Studebaker replied that it was an important piece of philosophy he’d recently read as part of a sermon.  The good Reverend then proceeded to read Karl Marx’s, “Communist Manifesto” aloud.

“Well, I’LL tell you, you’re no Christian!”  Simon boldly exclaimed immediately upon Studebaker’s finish.

“Simon,” that’s so terrible, Paula stated, her eyes filling with tears.
“He wears that beautiful cross!   He’s such a good Christian. I say yes!”

“Man...” Randy was shaking his head, “my old grandma’s turnin’ over in her grave.  Dog!  You can’t read no Karl Marx in place of a Bible.  You didn’t do it to me!  For me, it’s gotta be a no!”

“Go start a peace march!” Simon yelled, mocking the Rev. Studebaker who sadly shuffled away.

“Are we THROUGH?!” Simon wanted to know.

After an embarrassingly long pause, Ryan Seacrest announced that a rather young Jewish carpenter wanted to say a few words.

“Well, this is appalling!  I say no!”  yelled Simon.

“Dog!”  cried Randy as the young man walked out before the panel, “Are you a Jew or a Christian or what?  Are you a Rabbi or a preacher or what?”

The young man just stood and smiled.

“You make me nervous,” Paula said.  “I mean, no offense, but you need some make up.  I can see some kind of scars in your hands.  Were you in the Iraq war or something?”

Standing to his feet, Simon said (almost shouting), “Well it’s CERTAIN you’re NOT what ANY of us are looking for!  What’s the MEANING of you even being here!  No one would want to listen to you for one moment!”

The young Jewish carpenter just smiled, saying only one thing,
“...I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (from John 14:6)

Suddenly, all three judges got on their knees, bowing to the ground!
(See Philippians 2:11-13).

Now, wouldn’t you like to see THAT?!

Monday, January 15, 2007

THANK YOU PATRIOTS! (extra entry)

This may sound very stupid and very worldly to some, but the Patriots pretty much “made my day” yesterday.

The Sunday morning events at church (leadership prayer, coffee & fellowship time, Sunday School, and 10:30 service) were O.K. but not particularly outstanding.  Since we’ve just gone through one of those periods of a few people saying, “I’m offended about (fill in the blank) and I’m leaving the church”, and since ours is a very small church anyway, it means coming out to minister to a pretty empty room.  Several people were missing from church which made it a really empty room.

Pastors are told they should not be spiritually or emotionally impacted by walking out to minister to a really empty room.  The fact is 90% of pastors ARE badly impacted by it.  I know the numbers are that high, because I talk to my colleagues behind the scenes.  Even though they may SEEM all positive and confident on Sunday mornings, I’m telling you, during the week behind the scenes, if numbers are down, they’re affected.  I was trying not to notice the mostly empty room during the service, but I gotta tell ya, it wasn’t easy.  We also needed a minimal amount for an offering yesterday.  I made the mistake of really setting myself up because I kept thinking “if we don’t get such and such a figure, we’re in real trouble”.  I actually DID think we’d get “that figure”.  Well, we didn’t.

Also, have you ever had someone make an offhanded remark who had no idea the remark was cutting through you like a knife?  Well, that happened after the service yesterday.  Instinctively, I reacted to the person.  I didn’t yell or make a scene or anything like that, but suddenly and WITHOUT THINKING, I made a very “passive/aggressive” comment back to him.  Over the next few minutes, I was feeling really guilty that I’d made the “passive/aggressive” comment.  So, I went up to the person and said, “Look, I know what I said was kind of inappropriate and I’m sorry I reacted like that.”  I even quickly shared some of WHY I’d reacted the way I did, and I could feel my voice cracking and my eyes watering up.  (That DOESN’T happen with me too often.)  Amazingly, the person gave me a mini-lecture about that if I was really a good Christian I wouldn’t think or act that way.

Honestly, ten or fifteen years ago, I would have gone home, composed a resignation letter, made some phone calls to friends in other parts of the country asking if they knew of other churches open, and been a complete bear to my wife and family.   I have no plans to write the letter or make the calls, because I know God wants me in Framingham right now despite the drop in church attendance and income.  I WAS pretty negative and depressing to be around for about an hour, but it pretty much passed.

I DID spend some quality time in the Bible and in prayer during the afternoon, which I really needed to do.  It may sound stupid, but I said to God, “Lord, I just NEED something today.”  I didn’t know what the “something” would be.

I watched the Patriots game, and into the 4th Quarter it was getting to be a real nail biter.  As we were into the last part of the 4th Quarter, with the Patriots losing, it pretty much had the feel that it was going to be a Chargers win.  I began to feel a little disappointed that this would be the end of the Patriots season, but I also felt proud of them that they’d taken us to the playoffs and really done a GREAT job this year.  The thing I most respect about the Patriots is that these guys just DON’T QUIT!  These guys give their all until the very end.  Well, they didn’t quit yesterday!  Those of you who saw the game saw that one “good” field goal by the Patriots and one “missed” field goal by the Chargers meant that the Patriots won the game and will continue on towards the Super Bowl!  As I was yelling “YES!” at the end of the game, I realized the Patriots gave me the “something” I needed to turn my day around!

The Patriots also provided me the example to keep going and giving my all, NO MATTER WHAT!  The devil is “charging” at me and at our church in Framingham.  The devil is not going to win!

“...and having done all, to stand.”  (Ephesians 6:13)


“The first angel sounded, and there followed hail...” (from Revelation 8:7)

Some of you know our daughter Amy just returned to Springfield, Missouri from Christmas break on Thursday.  Since then, Springfield, Missouri has experienced a very severe ice storm.  The national news has covered (appropriate) stories about severe conditions in Oklahoma City and in St. Louis, but Springfield, Missouri (headquarters of the Assemblies of God and home of several major Christian and secular colleges and universities) has been hit very hard.  

Amy had called us a couple of times, informing us that 80% of the city has no electricity.  Initially, electricity was expected to be restored by late Tuesday.  However, it’s now believed parts of the city will be without electricity (and heat in most cases) until Friday or even Saturday.  Yesterday, Amy’s friend Faith drove Amy and another student to Faith’s home in Kansas City where they’ll spend the next few days until things return to normal in Springfield, Missouri.

I spent over two years in Springfield, Missouri in the late 1970s and experienced ice storms, but nothing like that.  Yesterday I spoke to a friend who lived in Springfield in the mid-1980s and DID experience that sort of thing with ice and no electricity for days.  I guess it only happens about once every 20-25 years, typically, and this is the year.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:2)

The late radio talk show host Jerry Williams used to often dramatically announce on air, “There’s SOMETHING in my BEDROOM!”.  In Jerry’s case, he has respiratory problems which were at their very worst in his bedroom.  When things got bad enough, his on air voice would be raspy.  In his later years, Jerry was becoming more and more phobic of germs and was more and more often heard to announce, “There’s SOMETHING in my BEDROOM!”.

A couple of weeks ago, a 23-year-old young man essentially announced, “There’s SOMETHING in my BEDROOM!”, but what was happening in his bedroom was something wonderful from God!   Since I don’t have specific permission from the family to use their names (although I doubt they’d mind) I’m going to use fictitious names. I’ll call the young man “Steve” and his parents “Dave and Melissa”.  Dave is the pastor of a medium sized church in central Massachusetts.  His son has completed a little over a year of college.  Steve was working three part time jobs and was excited about the hip-hop group he was part of.  Within the past few months, he’d broken up with his girlfriend and the hip-hop group had begun to disintegrate.  Steve was wrestling with what God’s purpose for his life might be.

One day just a couple of weeks ago, his mother arrived home in the late afternoon.  She entered the house and smelled the savory smell of delicious Italian tomato sauce. Steve had been cooking some good stuff.  (I forgot to mention these folks are all Italian-Americans who appreciate good cooking!)  Melissa began looking for Steve and calling him.  Suddenly, there was Steve walking toward her with a very intense look on his face.  Melissa became very alarmed.  Two years earlier, a close friend of Steve’s had died, and that’s the last time she’d seen such a look on Steve’s face.

“Steve, what’s WRONG?!”  Melissa asked.

To her amazement Steve replied, “Mom, there’s NOTHING wrong, but I’ve got to tell you, The Holy Spirit is in my room!”

Melissa and her daughter walked to the bedroom with Steve.   Upon entering the room, Melissa experienced what she could only describe as a “thick presence of the Holy Spirit”.   For some of you for whom such a thing is completely foreign, I’ll say it could probably be described as a very definite and awesome supernatural presence.  Melissa and her daughter dropped to their knees in prayer and worship.  

About two hours earlier, after Steve began simmering the homemade sauce on the stove, he went into his bedroom and began writing a hip-hop song.  As he wrote, he began writing beautiful Christian lyrics.  The more he wrote, the more he sensed the presence of The Holy Spirit, and he then began to worship the Lord and enjoy this wonderful experience.  Melissa, who had always been critical of the “holy laughter” movement in some churches (as I have been) was startled in that she began laughing joyfully and almost uncontrollably.  This went on for almost an hour.  Her husband Dave arrived a short time later to find that his family had experienced what I suppose we could call a “Book of Acts” experience.

Steve quit his jobs and has just started as a student at Zion Bible College in Rhode Island.  He is enjoying this change in his life.  I started Bible College about a year younger than he is now back in 1977.  No, I didn’t have one of those “Holy Spirit in my room” experiences, but I do remember the same sense of peace and being in God’s will.

I often tell our church people that “God has so much for us”.  He really does, but we have to be open.  We have to quiet ourselves, listen to God deep in our spirits, and get away from the radios, television sets, and (yes) the computers and all the rest of it.  We also need NOT to “empty our minds” as mystical cults advise, but rather we need to FOCUS our minds on the Lord (as Steve did when he was writing the Christian song lyrics).  No, we should not try to duplicate the experience of this central Massachusetts family.  God may meet with some of us in very different ways, but if we’ll be open to the Lord, there’s no telling what He might do!

Thursday, January 11, 2007


“Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”  (2 Corinthians 8:21)

Shortly after 11 o’clock this morning, WRKO announced they are hiring convicted felon and former Massachusetts Speaker of the House, Tom Finneran to be the morning drive talk show host effective February 12.  I guess Honest Abraham Lincoln is turning over in his grave!  Following the WRKO press conference, callers barraged on-air personality Todd Feinberg with angry opposition to Finneran’s hiring.  Feinberg did the dutiful, “I support my employer right or wrong” thing.  Feinberg is a nice guy and a sharp guy, and I’m sorry he was put in that awful position.  The WRKO management person who spoke put so much SPIN on this announcement that I’d guess Jerry Williams is also turning over in his grave.

The worst part is that current morning host Scott Allen Miller will be let go from the Boston station.  According the the management announcement, Miller is being “considered” for jobs at other radio stations in other cities.  (I wonder if Entrecom has a station in Podunk, Arkansas because if they do, that’s probably where Scotto is headed.)  Scott Allen Miller is a good talk show host, but not a great one.  It is understandable and believable that his ratings are not great.  However, my guess is that WRKO could have found another time slot for him, but just chose not to.

In the past I’ve been highly critical of FMTalk 96.9 and their treatment of talks show host Michael Graham.  After experiencing how badly WRKO has treated Scott Allen Miller and the WRKO listeners, I admit I owe FMTalk 96.9 an apology!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007



“...old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I know the above verse (in context) speaks of salvation and THAT’S a good thing!  Right now, I’m using that verse out of context and speaking of new things in general.  Some new things are certainly good, but I am of the, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” school of thought.

On Tuesday of this week, I went (with my daughters and my daughter Amy’s boyfriend) to Boston by way of the “T”.  I prefer the commuter rail, but in order to save money we took the Green Line out of Woodland Station off Route 16 in Newton, adjacent to Newton/Wellesley Hospital.  I guess the last time I took the Green Line out of Woodland Station was about 17 months ago.  Here is what taking the Green Line out of Woodland Station USED to be like:

You pulled into a parking lot.  Before you could go very far at all, there was an Indian woman (from India) at a booth saying, “Thlee dollars Pleese” (three dollars, please) and handing you a validation card that you left on your dash.  You found a parking place in the lot, and walked to the area where the “trains” (well, trolley cars) stopped.  You walked onto the trolley car and deposited a bunch of quarters into the change receptacle- like $2.50 worth.  That was that.  To come back, you bought a $1.25 token in Boston, got on a “D- Riverside” trolley car, and got off at Woodland Station.

That was all too simple.  Now, THIS is what it was like on Tuesday:

I pulled into Woodland Station and immediately Amy exclaimed, “WHEN did they do THIS?!”  There was virtually NO parking lot.  Several buildings worth of brand new condos were under construction (almost complete).  At the far end of what used to be the lot was a parking garage.  I drove into the parking garage and took a ticket, as you always do at parking garages.  We walked over to the area where you get the trolleys.  There were machines to purchase “Charlie Tickets”.  We were very confused and discombobulated as were several other people.   We finally managed to buy “Charlie Tickets” each “charged” with $5 apiece.  We later found out you didn’t have to charge that much worth on a “Charlie Ticket”.  We got on the trolley and slid our “Charlie Tickets” where the driver told us to.  After several hours of visiting in Boston, we used our “Charlie Tickets” at Copley Station, and got on a “D” Green Line trolley.  We got off at Woodland Station, and walked to the parking garage.  I drove to the exit and tried to pay.  I looked for a guy to hand my ticket and money to.  NO SUCH THING.   There was a place where you were supposed to slide your parking garage ticket.  I slid it, and the screen said,  “Ticket unpaid- see cashier”.  My immediate thought was, “WHAT cashier?!”

There I was with my car blocking an exit; I climbed out and found the cashier’s office.   I entered into an annoying and tedious conversation with the man and woman “running” the office.  It seems you’re supposed to pay your ticket at this cashier’s office before you ever get into your car to drive away.  Well, it would have been nice of someone to TELL me that!  It would have been nice to have proper SIGNS or something!  I did tell them that in my opinion this was the stupidest parking garage payment procedure I’ve ever heard of.  The whole thing was embarrassing and humiliating.

My wife and I are going to a conference in Boston in early February and she’ll want to take the trolley from Woodland Station.  That is the only reason I did not vow to NEVER use that parking garage or trolley again- but honestly, I’m REAL close to vowing that one.  I WILL use it in February with Mary Ann, but after that, “the jury is out” on whether I ever will again.
I believe that Dan Graubaskas who did a super job improving the Registry of Motor Vehicles a few years ago now runs the “T”.  I think Dan ought to work on making the “T” more user friendly.  I will vow this.  Next time Howie Carr on WRKO has an hour on “Why did you stop using the ‘T’?” I’m positively calling in with this story!

Incidentally, “The New Zoo Review” or some title like that was a children’s show in the 1970s.  I just liked the title for this piece.

Monday, January 8, 2007



“If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”  (John 13:14)

This past Sunday afternoon and evening , my 20th anniversary at First Assembly of God of Framingham was observed.  As I recall, I moved into Framingham on January 3, 1987 and my first Sunday was January 4, 1987.  Interestingly enough, this past Sunday’s date was January 7.  It was on January 7, 1977, THIRTY years ago, that I arrived at Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri to begin my training for full-time ministry.  So, Sunday was a significant event.

We mailed out around fifty invitations to people outside of the Framingham church family, and the event was heavily promoted within the Framingham church.  There was a potential maximum attendance of around 130.  About a week ago, I began receiving notices of people who were declining to attend.  Several had very valid reasons.  Some had previously scheduled events to attend.  Some were ill.  Some just had no reasonable way of getting to Framingham.  Others seemed frivolous about not attending and did not give the reason.  It was very hard to determine how much food to plan for and how many seats to set up.  There were also two very difficult developments within the church.  A couple of weeks ago, a prominent and very much loved woman in the congregation abruptly left the church.  This caused some confusion and hurt feelings in the congregation.  And, just this past week, a couple who has been very loyal to me and very faithful went on an angry rampage and announced they were leaving the church.  Throughout the years, that kind of thing has been the most difficult that I have faced in pastoring.  I know a lot of these matters are (frankly) spiritual warfare.  We also had gang graffiti sprayed on our church building twice in the very recent past (which I’ve cleaned off).  Despite this “stuff” I tried to be positive about the anniversary day.  We had a total of about 60 people in attendance.  Some came for just the reception at 5 p.m., but most stayed for the 6:30 service.

I was very blessed by those who did come.  Pastor Rich Hurst of the Framingham Lutheran Church attended the reception.  He praised my involvement with the clergy as well as my commitment to the greater Framingham community.  I was quite humbled by his compliments.  I was honored that Chuck and Gretchen Pierce, who for many years pastored Village Bible Chapel in Framingham, attended.  In recent years, Chuck has pastored a medium-sized Baptist church in southern Rhode Island.  He has just retired.  Chuck mentored me during my early years in Framingham.  Several other clergy friends were in attendance.  It was great that our friends John and Kathy Ventresco came down from New Hampshire, and Duff and Barbara Kirklewski, who were active at our church for many years, made a special effort to be present.

My kids ministered in music and were FABULOUS.  They sang songs that were both funny and serious.  The entire worship service was great.  I think I scared some people by preaching a 20 Point Sermon- but actually it only lasted for forty minutes!  We had Communion, and during the Communion service, my son played a 25-year-old recording of a flute solo by Alice Lund who often played her flute at services at Christian Life Center-Walpole in the early 1980s.  That was a nice touch.  Incidentally, the title of the flute solo was “Adoration” and that’s what I’ve chosen to entitle this blog entry.

Most of us ate too much food, and we had a good time.

On Monday, it was not just me who had mixed feelings.  I talked to several key people from the church who loved the service but were deeply disappointed in the actions of several individuals which they felt kind of tarnished the day.  I guess we have to put all that stuff in perspective.

Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, including Judas’ feet.  Sometimes we are called to do the same.  

Saturday, January 6, 2007


“But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.”  (2 Corinthians 1:18)

I THINK the “Pat Whitley Restaurant Show” is still on the air.  I know it started in 1975.  People call in to give their reviews of restaurants; a good review is classified as a “Praise” and a bad one is classified as a “Zing”.  Whitley also has a weekly ad in the Boston Herald listing various “Praises and Zings” of New England restaurants.  Well, I’m borrowing his terms for today and in my very reflective “just fooling around” mood sitting at the computer, I’m going to give some of my LIFE Praises and Zings for the first week of January 2007:

ZING:  Deval Patrick’s urging the Massachusetts Legislature to ignore the state Constitution and this week’s opinion of the state Supreme Court in a feeble attempt to subvert democracy.  Thank God the legislators did not listen and we’re one step closer to the Gay marriage issue being on the November 2008 ballot.  WHEREVER you stand on the issue of homosexual marriage, you should support the rule of law and the people’s right to vote on the issue.

ZING:  Former President Ford’s funeral that lasted forever.  Yes, Ford was a good guy, but closing the post office on Tuesday and endlessly praising Ford’s pardoning of Nixon on radio and television was definitely OVERKILL.

PRAISE:  Wal-Mart.  I know Wal-Mart is the store people love to hate, but I find consistently that you can find just about ANYTHING at Wal-Mart.  I was on the market this week for a VERY PARTICULAR type of padlock.  I called a store which specializes in locks, as well as several hardware stores.  None had what I wanted.  My wife recommended I go to Wal-Mart.  I found exactly what I needed and purchased it.

PRAISE:  Our ‘93 Oldsmobile has been repaired (again).  This time it was a MASSIVE power steering fluid leak.  Believe me, I hope I never deal with a power steering fluid leak again!  Like a Biblical plague, there is power steering fluid all over my driveway, all over the street in front of our home, and covering several parking spaces at the church.  It’s been that way for weeks.  When it was warmer, I tried hosing my driveway down, etc.  The stuff just does not go away AT ALL!  (In fact, if you know a good product to break down and get rid of power steering fluid stains, let me know!)  Anyway, the car got fixed at good old Absolute Car Care at Clark and Grant Streets in Framingham.  The price was quite reasonable.

ZING:  Cold.  No not weather, MY cold.  I’ve had a cold for over a week.  In the beginning it was all intense head congestion and headaches.  Now it is post nasal drip and coughing.  It’s miserable.  I want it gone!

PRAISE:  Melaleuca products.  They’d probably kill me for saying this because there are all kind of hard and fast rules for those enrolled in Melaleuca about how you’re supposed to present the products and the sales program, etc.  I know they wouldn’t be crazy about me just talking about the products on the blog.  Anybody I ever tried to enroll in Melaleuca just thought I was a sap and that anyone who buys these products is a sap. NOT TRUE!  The toothpaste is the BEST, as is the bar soap.  The Melaleuca oil is absolutely superior for skin irritations.  I’m thinking about Melaleuca because I just unpacked our family’s latest order a short time ago.  (Although I’m posting this on Saturday I’m actually WRITING it on Thursday.)  If you ever have a chance to enroll in Melaleuca, regardless of WHO “presents” Melaleuca to you, do it!

ZING: Mike Barnicle slamming evangelicals on the radio AGAIN this week.  I wonder what FMTalk 96.9 would say if I asked for equal time.  “The fairness doctrine” no longer exists in American broadcasting, and has not for a long time, so I think they just wouldn’t care.

PRAISE:  Marjorie Clapprood.  Speaking of Pat Whitley (above), ten years ago, “Clapprood and Whitley” was a regular morning radio talk show in Boston.  Marjorie Clapprood is an ultra-liberal Democrat with kind of a foul mouth.  One thing we each have in common:  we each hold Bachelor’s Degrees from Stonehill College. WHY would I PRAISE Marjorie Clapprood?  For one thing, she did some radio fill-in work in late December and she was actually very good.  For another, a number of years ago, I wrote her a letter about something.  She sent me back a really nice, personal note.  She may be ultra-liberal but I really respected that!

PRAISE:  The blessing of pretty good health (except for the cold, of course). But the cold will be gone soon. This week,  I heard of a 40-year-old man who has a brain tumor.  He’s a great guy, and this news made me sad, but it also made me realize I have much to be thankful for.   I am thankful for the power of prayer and I will certainly be praying for this man.

ZING:  All the hassle of getting ready for our church’s special event and service happening this Sunday night.

PRAISE:  I’m actually very happy for what’s happening on Sunday night.  My 20th anniversary at the church is being observed.  I truly pray THE LORD will be honored and glorified at the service and that each one who attends will truly be ministered to.

PRAISE:  The computer equipment I’m using now and the fact that I know how to type.

ZING:  The “bondage” that computers and modern technology can be.

PRAISE: The interactive technology that is the internet.

ZING:  The fact that I don’t get a “real lot” of feedback about my blog.

PRAISE:  The fact that you’re reading this and you’re (I hope) not mad at me!

Thursday, January 4, 2007


"And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."  (Isaiah 65:24)

The telephone is a mixed blessing.  It IS a wonderful invention.  It is great to be able to pick up a telephone receiver and speak to someone (whether across the street or across the country) as if they were just eight feet away!  Of course, in the past few years, cell phones have opened up even more accessible communication.   The bad part of telephones is unsolicited business calls.

I realize there are "Do Not Call" lists, and in fact, I've signed up for the "Do Not Call" list for my home phone, my cell phone, and the church number.  One big problem with "Do Not Call" lists is that most Non-Profits are exempt from being restricted by the "Do Not Call" rule.  Also, I believe that if you are a regular customer of a business, they CAN call you.

Calling me is NOT a way for a business to impress me.

Many "church plants"  (brand new churches)  use computer generated "blanketing" telephone calls to attract people.  In some cases, each household within five miles of the new church will be called.  Such efforts are amazingly successful.  I say "amazingly" because I would never attend a church that phoned me like that.  I consider such calling very intrusive.  Years ago, the Christian school we sent our kids to wanted to do computer generated calling of households all over the MetroWest area.  Right in the middle of a Parents and Faculty meeting, I yelled out "Please DON'T!"  They didn't.

I AM very thankful for "Caller I.D."  If an incoming call is identified as "Unavailable" or with a strange toll-free number, I let the answering machine pick up the call.  Each day at the church, a call comes in identified as "Unavailable" and the caller hangs up just before leaving a message.  EACH DAY.  At home an Alabama call comes in at least twice a day- just hanging up.  Also at home, a 1-866 toll free number comes in 2 or 3 times a day, every day.  I wish they'd just stop calling.  I just keep erasing the Caller ID, and they just keep coming in.  It's annoying when I'm watching television and the phone rings...I run to the phone and its "Alabama" or "1-866-..."  or "Unavailable"...
At the church, I've run upstairs to get to the phone, only to have it be "Mr. or Ms. Unavailable"!

I know a lot of high-tech people will really laugh at this one but I still have the very slow AOL dial-up.  When I'm on-line, my telephone rings "busy" at either the church or my residence.  Think I wanna change that?  Think I wanna be able to get phone calls while I'm on line?


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

GREAT NEWS ABOUT BOSTON'S 96.9 FM TALK - (extra entry)

"...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)

Many of you will remember my rant of about three months ago when Boston's 96.9 FM Talk knocked Michael Graham out of his afternoon drive slot and put him on for the 7-10 p.m. slot when "nobody" is listening.  This was done to make room for the return of Jay Severin.  Jay is an O.K. talk show host, but I felt 96.9 FM Talk was VERY wrong to bump Graham, even though the afternoon drive time has ORIGINALLY been Severin's.  Along with others, I "pitched a fit", contacted the radio station, contacted media outlets, and sounded off on this blog.  I also prayed that God would turn things around for Michael Graham.

GOD ANSWERS PRAYER!  Today it was announced that effective next week, Michael Graham will be on the air mornings from 10 to Noon.  This is a far better time slot for Michael Graham, and I think Michael Graham will do a far better job than Mike Barnicle has.  Barnicle constantly whines that he DOESN'T like talk radio and DOESN'T like the callers.  (Then WHY does he have a radio talk show??!  Well the management at 96.9 FM Talk finally figured that out!)  Also, Egan and Braudie will be on from Noon to 3 instead of Noon to 1.  Congratulations to both of them!  Both are liberals (especially Jim Braudie) and I frequently disagree with them, but they are engaging and local.  Bill O'Reilley's nationally syndicated show was O.K., but JUST O.K.  I'd rather listen to Egan and Braudie ANY DAY!

Now, there's only one more thing they need to do:  Give Pastor Bob Baril a 2-4 hour weekend show or at least make me a substitute host!  Honestly, I DO have some radio broadcasting experience from my days on the now defunct WJLT ("J-LIGHT RADIO).  No, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for Paula O'Connor to call me, but I guarantee I'd treat callers with more respect and warmth than Mike Barnicle does!

Monday, January 1, 2007


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

I know I just used the above Scripture as my verse for the posting entitled, “The Most Wonderful Time?” but it kind of fits this one also.  (I usually post entries on this blog on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but I’m going to post this now on Monday instead of Tuesday.)

I’m writing this around 6 in the morning on January 1.  I actually DID stay up to “see the new year in” and I went to bed around 12:30.  I’m sick this morning- no it isn’t a hangover; I don’t drink alcoholic beverages at all- I’ve had a cold since Wednesday of last week and this morning my bodily symptoms have been moderate chest congestion with some coughing, and using the bathroom far more times than I’d care to admit.  The Assemblies of God believes in Divine Healing.  No, we’re not weirdoes who don’t go to the doctor or anything like that- in fact my daughter is training to be a nurse at one of our colleges.  But there DOES tend to be the feeling in SOME Assemblies of God and Pentecostal circles that if you’re REALLY close to God you’ll seldom if ever get sick.  Thus, emotionally, when I do get sick a part of me tends to feel like a really lousy Christian and a failure, even though my brain tells me such thinking is profoundly stupid and illogical!  Anyway, I feel humble and vulnerable and a little less spiritual admitting I’m sick, but I’m sick.  I really feel “lousy” today.  And, so I’m just sitting here “typing” at the computer and reflecting on New Year’s Days of the past.

Boy, they’ve been many and varied!  I actually remember New Year's Day of 1961 pretty well.  That year I was six-years-old and in the first grade.  Baby Boomers will remember “Captain Bob” who had a children’s and young people’s program on channel 5 Boston which featured Captain Bob (or whatever is real name was) doing all kinds of artwork and sketching.   He sketched a big “1961” on his pad, and turned it still said “1961”!  I thought that was very cool and I was writing “1961” on drawing paper and turning my 1961s over and over that day!  

I remember New Year’s Day 1978.  It was a Sunday.  At the Sunday night service of the old Walpole Assembly of God I preached my first official sermon.  I was 23 at the time, and I was home on Christmas break from Central Bible Collegein Missouri.  At that age I tended to be shy and awkward one-on-one and I tended to be someone who was NOT seen as a leader type.  I think some people had some real doubts about me becoming a minister, but I that first sermon was almost as good as the sermons I give today.  God has blessed me with strong public speaking ability, and God anointed that sermon.  At least one person admitted to being quite positively surprised by how good my sermon was; and for a young man who DIDN’T feel very confident or like a leader-type, that did a lot to build confidence in me.  

I have sad memories of New Year’s Day 1980.  My alcoholic brother who was two years younger than me “had it out” with my father that day.  There was as much yelling and as many “F Bombs” as you could imagine.  It was a terrible day for my very emotional mother who struggled with depression.  It was not a great way to begin the 1980s.  Incidentally, Eddie died of natural causes in 1983.

I also remember New Year’s Day 1990.  We spent December 31, 1989 and January 1, 1990 at our friends’ home in New Hampshire.  When the clock struck midnight to begin 1990 we were watching a video of the Tom Hanks movie “Big”.  I really liked that movie, but I was very surprised and disappointed that it contained at least one “F Bomb”.

My first official day as Pastor of First Assembly of God of Framingham was January 1, 1987.  If my memory serves me correctly, we did not actually MOVE into Framingham until January 3 and I conducted my first service as Pastor on January 4 but I’d been officially hired in November 1986 to start as a paid employee on January 1, 1987, so as the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s...”  song says, “It was twenty years ago today...”

I also remember January 1, 1997.  In the Fall of 1996, Mary Ann kept bugging me that she really wanted to have a special “open house” for New Year’s Day for all of our family and friends.  We went “all out”.  We bought lots of food, sent out scads of invitations, and cleaned and spruced up the house.  We expected 30 or 40 or more people to filter in and out, visiting during our 1 p.m. to  8 p.m. open house.  A grand total of 2 people came:  a single mom and her then 9-year-old daughter, who were friends of ours.  We WERE very thankful that they came because otherwise it would have been a total loss!  Later, our church people told me, “We thought that open house was mainly for your FAMILY, so we didn’t come.”  And, our families told us, “We thought that open house was mainly for your CHURCH PEOPLE, so we didn’t come.”  That day was particularly bad for Mary Ann’s self esteem, although it didn’t do a lot for mine either!  Since then we’ve held graduation parties for our kids which have been very well attended, but we’d never even CONSIDER a New Year’s Day open house!

Well, I’m going to stop writing now.  The Lord willing, my next posting will be Thursday morning.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!