Saturday, March 31, 2007


“And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people:  and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” (Exodus 24:7)

I guess first I’d better tell you who Chris Brown is.  Chris Brown is a woman in my age group who attended our church (First Assembly of God of Framingham) along with her husband Gary and her three sons, for many years.  Currently Chris and Gary Brown attend Metro Church in Marlboro.

Chris Brown has a very nice singing voice.   She was a song leader and worship leader at our church, and usually did a very good job.  Chris also worked tirelessly for many years as our church Treasurer.  I believe she loves God very much.  Chris Brown is a schoolteacher.  Like me, her primary ethnic ancestry is French.  Also like me, she tends to be kind of a perfectionist and tends to be quite opinionated.  Depending on the issue and situation, Chris Brown and I either really got along well and worked well together or we didn’t.  There was no in-between.  I once told Gary Brown that Chris is very much like me.  He didn’t agree, but I stand by that statement.  

Chris and Gary left our church over five years ago, and I don’t see a lot of them, but there’s an impact Chris has made on my life.  I don’t know if she even remembers this, but one day Chris Brown said, “If every Christian would just seek the Lord and find out what he wants them to do and then DO it, most of the problems would be solved.”  Whether she meant most of the problems in the church, or in the world, or in life, or whatever, Chris Brown made a true statement that day!  I have  quoted Chris Brown’s statement about a thousand times over the past several years.

All of us, including me, get in trouble when WE want to be our own bosses...when WE just get out there and do what WE want to do.  I suppose SOMETIMES that works, but I want to tell you, most of the time it causes a lot of pain and heartache and confusion and stress and leads to all kinds of other junk.

One person, a 60ish woman, challenged me on Chris Brown’s sage advice.  That woman said, “But THAT’S not REALISTIC!”  Ironically, the woman who said, “But THAT’S not REALISTIC!”  believes just about anything many TV preachers say.  Go figure!  Maybe it’s NOT realistic, but I’m gonna keep proclaiming it and trying by the grace of God to live it.

Recently, two women from our church congregation challenged me on Chris Brown’s sage advice.  Their beef was that I keep quoting a woman who left our church...who in doing so hurt me and hurt a  number of people at the church.  My response to that is twofold.  First, that all happened over five years ago, we ALL make mistakes and we need to leave that “at Calvary” as we born-again Christians say.  Secondly, whatever Chris may have done in leaving our church, her statement is a TRUE statement and a good statement.  I happen to be a guy who is full of flaws and failures.  I’d hate to have someone reject a powerful and true sermon of mine just because I said they wore a dumb looking tee-shirt or I accidentally scraped their car on my way out of the church parking lot or something!

What Chris Brown said is SO simple it could easily be marginalized or forgotten, but I pray it WON’T be.  Like the movie, “Pay it Forward”, if everyone reading this piece put Chris Brown’s sage advice into practice, our whole society would be revolutionized and changed for the better!

Again,  “If every Christian would just seek the Lord and find out what he wants them to do and then DO it, most of the problems would be solved.”  I know some of you are thinking, “But I’m not a born-again Christian.”  Well then, that’s step one, and then make following Chris Brown’s statement step two.

I’m serious.

Friday, March 30, 2007

"OLD CATCAN" AND LIPATOR (extra entry)

(This is not one of my usual well-written philosophical, reflective, thoughtful pieces.  Today I'm just wondering about a couple of things...)

Have you seen the new Lipator commercial on television which features a doctor?  Is it just me, or does that doctor look remarkably like President George W. Bush?

There was a person who often posted on my blog with the name "OldCatcan".  If his purpose was to BUG me about WHO he was and how he knew some of the stuff he knew...he succeeded!  If what he said was true:  OldCatcan spent a lot of time in the U.S. military service.  He has visited (and possibly spent a lot of time) in Africa.  He knew my father, the late Eugene A. Baril and apparently had been to my father's residence in Canton.  He has also visited the church I pastor in Framingham, although not recently.  His postings indicated he is an intelligent and inquisitive person.

I may have scared OldCatcan because sometime ago above one of his postings I asked him about who is really is and he disappeared.  I don't think he's posted anything in around 5 months.  I wonder if this will bring OldCatcan out of the woodwork!

Thursday, March 29, 2007


"...whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (from I Corinthians 10:31)

All of my kids are very talented in the area of drama.  I've never done much acting except for very small parts in various church productions, and yet I'm a very good actor, so I assume they've inherited that ability from me!  Throughout high school, my kids were all active in their school's drama group, sometimes even having lead parts in plays and musicals.  Rachel is currently a Theater Arts minor at  Westfield State and is active in that school's Musical Theater Guild.  My son Jon played Captain Hook in a production of "Peter Pan" with the north shore's Mystic Players in late 2005 and currently is rehearsing with the Worcester County Light Opera Company as they prepare for nine performances in April of "Sweeney Todd".

Up until very recently, the Assemblies of God (like most theologically conservative Protestant groups) took a dim view of drama.  Really strict "low church" Protestants in North America traditionally considered drama "the work of the devil".  Catholics, Jews, and pagans could put on plays, dancing shows, make movies, etc. but NOT good "Bible Believing Christians".  One of the first "evangelicals" to make positive use of drama was Billy Graham.  His organization founded "World Wide Pictures".  Their evangelistic films of the early '50s were very hokey and corny, but their 1975 film "The Hiding Place"- the true story of the Ten Boom family of Holland who saved countless Jews, were eventually found out, and taken to a concentration camp, is a first-class film in every way.  Up until sometime in the 1970s the Assemblies of God forbad "attendance at theaters"; however, there's been a radical shift in the past thirty years, with many Assemblies of God schools offering courses in drama.  Ironically, one of the founders of "Blue Man Group" is a graduate of the Assemblies of God's Evangel University!

Forty years ago an Assemblies of God pastor would never approve of his 23-year-old son performing in a play like "Sweeney Todd" and certainly would never go to see it.  Well, times have changed!  Jon doesn't drive- maybe that will be a topic of another blog entry- so I've driven him to a number of his practices and I've hung around watching rehearsals.  I've been very impressed with the dedication of the Worcester County Light Opera Company.  They actually own their own theater/headquarters building  in a  residential neighborhood in Worcester on the far west side of the city near Webster Square.  I'm amazed at the time the members of the WCLOC put in-not only practicing songs and lines, but building sets, and physically maintaining their building.  They even run a camp for children during the summer to instill an interest in the theater in them.  In church work, it's sometimes hard to get people to show up for anything outside of Sunday morning, and often when there's hard work to be done, hands are few.  That's not true of this acting company in Worcester.   Maybe "Sweeney Todd" wouldn't be a lot of Born-Again Christians' "cup of tea" but some Christians could learn a thing or two about commitment from watching these hard working thespians.

The Worcester County Light Opera Company does have a website where you could find more information about their group and about "Sweeney Todd".  Their web address is

Monday, March 26, 2007


“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3 New King James Version)

This past week, Lord caused me to “consider the plank in my own eye”.

Here is the story:

Around nineteen years ago, a man named Sam and his wife, along with their severely developmentally disabled daughter, moved from Cape Cod to Millis, MA.  They began attending our church in Framingham.  Some of our church people used to vacation on Cape Cod and worshiped at the church on the Cape where Sam’s family attended, so it was only natural  that when they moved to MetroWest, Sam and his family would want to worship with the people they’d met.

As I recall, at that time, Sam’s daughter was 24-years-old.  She was on the developmental level of (maybe) a 1-year-old.  We had sort of a nursery/crying room immediately at the back of the very small church’s sanctuary.  (We had a different church building at that time.)  Sam and his wife brought their 24-year-old daughter and put her in the nursery/crying room just as though she was a 1-year-old.  She was kind of big...well, not “fat”, but bigger than the average 24-year-old and there she was taking up at least one fourth of the small room.  I know this sounds terrible, and I KNOW God loves their daughter, but it just plain looked and seemed weird.  At that time, I had three kids under the age of 6, including a 1-year-old.  I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was really uncomfortable about the 24-year-old being in the nursery.  I knew that if I were a “lay person” and I visited a church with my family, and came upon this scenario, I wouldn’t come back.  I spoke to a few of our church’s Board members and got them to agree with me.  I then spoke to the parents (over the phone) and expressed my concerns.  Sam actually didn’t take it too badly. I ran into him outside of the church a few times after that and he was very friendly.  But Sam’s wife was quite offended.  They never came back to our church.  

Sam and his family began attending another small church in another MetroWest community.   It turns out, Sam is a very talented businessman and motivator.  Sam became the “right hand man” of that church’s pastor.  He became Men’s Director and a key Board member.  Over the next ten years, that church grew from 30 people to 250.  Several years ago,Sam and his family moved out-of-state.

I hadn’t thought about my phone call to Sam and his wife for years, but God brought it to my mind last week.  Many times I have felt sorry for myself because I’m a person that influential people have tended to marginalize and talk down to.  Suddenly, I realized I’d marginalized THEM.
I never prayed about my decision to call them.  I never even prayed about the fact that the disabled daughter made me feel uncomfortable.  I was way out of line.

Imagine if Sam had stayed at our church.   Would WE have been the tiny church that grew to 250 (now over 300)?  Maybe.  So, folks, learn a lesson from my stupidity!

I’m actually trying to get either a street address or e-mail address for Sam so I can write to him and apologize.  I know it’s about 19 years too late.
I admit this posting doesn’t make me look too great, but it shows I’m human.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


“ the work of an evangelist...” (from 2 Timothy 4:5)

Tomorrow (Sunday, March 25) would have been my brother Eddie’s 51st birthday.  For a few of you from First Assembly of God of Framingham, it would also have been Dorothy Chick’s birthday.  I think Dorothy Chick would have been 79.  For ME, March 25 is a big day because we have Evangelist Rob Fisher from New Jersey at our church as our special speaker for the 10:30 a.m. service.

I’ve been receiving Rob Fisher’s on-line newsletter for some time.  Although he’s called an “evangelist” I think he’s also more of a “prophet” in the sense of someon like David Wilkerson (founder of Teen Challenge who has given numerous prophetic words to the Church of our time).

Rob Fisher speaks all over the place, especially the northeast.  He speaks in large churches and key venues.  For us to have Rob Fisher at our tiny church is really a blessing and an honor.  

You know how it is when you entertain a guest in your home...or something like that... you want to put your best foot forward.  Well, I want to do the same thing at our church.  Right now even if everyone at our church showed up we’d have over 35 empty seats.  Somehow, I’d love to fill up those empty seats.

If you are from the Framingham area, “What have you got to loose”?
As Billy Graham would say, “You may be Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or no religion”.  (I used to wonder why he didn’t include Hindus, Buddhists or Muslims!)  Well, you MAY be “Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or no religion”.  Why not spend this Sunday morning in a special church hearing an interesting speaker?!

I’d love to see you Sunday morning at 10:30 !  (In case you don’t know, we’re located at 32 South Street -at South and Taylor Sts. - you can see our yellowbrick builidng from Route 135, and our property borders the Chicken Bone Restaurant.)

INCIDENTALLY, for those of you too young or too old to remember,
“SSUUNNDDAAYYYY!!!” was the radio rallying cry of New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire in the early 1970s!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


"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)

Some of you know one of my favorite television shows is "LOST".  My son and are are practically addicted to it.  If you think that's what I'm going to write about today, you'll be disappointed, because that's not it.  I just feel a little frustrated because lately I seem to be losing a number of things.

A few weeks ago, I lost a very nice pair of clip on sunglasses.  I looked and looked until I looked so much I almost needed a new prescription from straining my eyes.  They never turned up.  Fortunately, I have friends who run an optical shop, so I got new clip on sunglasses through them.  Earlier this week, I bought some off-brand instant shower cleaner.  You know, the stuff like "Clean Shower" except it was an off-brand.  I bought it first thing in the morning, so I brought it to the church with me to bring home later.  Well, I've searched the church, I've searched my car, and I've searched my residence.  After 24 hours of that, I gave up and went to the supermarket and bought ANOTHER bottle of off-brand instant shower cleaner.  I did not take any chances!  I put that right in my bathroom cabinet!

Tuesday morning, I could not find the MetroWest Daily News on my front porch where it always is in the morning.  I looked all over the place, more than once.  It felt silly to be out in my pajamas walking around the front yard looking for the paper, but I was.  I  later gave up and walked up the street to buy a paper.  (Wednesday we DID get our paper, as usual, but what happened to the Tuesday paper?)  Tuesday night when I went to put my cell phone away, I noticed that the top of its leather case was missing.  I looked all over the house, and it's no where.  I don't absolutely HAVE to have the top...the belt clip part is on the bottom of the case- but it's kind of annoying that it just disappeared.  I COULD go to the Verizon store and buy a new case...but I don't know.  In a few months I'll be upgrading the cell phone, so maybe it's just not worth it.

I once read an article that said that the thing to remember when you lose something is that old nursery rhyme which says, "Leave them alone, and they'll come home, wagging their tales behind them."  I guess there IS some truth to that one.  The "aerator" on our kitchen faucet "acted up" months ago.  I knew I had some spare faucet aerators around.  Well, I looked and I looked and I looked... and you know the drill.  I finally gave up.  This past weekend, I was looking for something else- my wife needed her passport for something.   I found mine but not hers.  While I was looking in my dresser for her passport, I found an envelope with spare faucet aerators!  On Tuesday I changed the kitchen faucet aerator.  It had been "acting up" for about 5 months and "driving us crazy".  Now, the faucet is back to "normal" weird awkward stream or constant dripping.

My sock drawer contains numerous single socks...where do those other socks go?  Well, I guess I could go on an on, but as an evangelical Christian, I know that as long as my SOUL is not lost, well, things are OK...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


“...and I will write upon him my new name.”  (from Revelation 3:12)

At last week’s retreat, one young pastor came up to me excitedly and announced, “I know your daughter Beth!”.   The problem is, I don’t have a daughter Beth.  The young pastor was dumbfounded because Beth Baril’s father is a Massachusetts pastor and so he assumed it had to be me.  Another guy later commented, “I assume you’re related to Dennis”.  In fact, there is a Pastor Dennis Baril in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.  We have met a few times.  Dennis and I are probably related WAY back but we are not close best we’re VERY distant cousins.

A couple of days ago, Claire Grimes, our church’s Secretary, brought in a photo of a Baril couple from Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard that she’d clipped out of the newspaper.  I also explained to her that I didn’t know these people and they’re not closely related to me.

My late uncle, J. Elbert Baril, (he was always known as “Al”) of Miami, Florida, did an exhaustive genealogical study of the Baril family.  In fact, Baril is a very uncommon last name.  There are only a little over 700 households in the entire United States with the last name “Baril”.  Most are in New England and in Michigan, but Barils are found in just about every state.  There are also probably three times as many Barils in Canada as in the U.S., most, but not all in Quebec.

The Barils of FRENCH ancestry in North America pretty much all descend from Jean Baril who immigrated to Quebec from France in the 1600s.  Jean was married three times and fathered seventeen children.  I descend from the second wife.  I say “The Barils of French ancestry” because there are also Barils in the United States who are Jewish and not French at all.  There was a store manager in Framingham around eighteen years ago named Scott Baril.  Scott is Jewish.  His last name Baril is a shortened version of a long, Eastern European name such as “Barilovsky”...something like that.  I actually saw an obituary of a Jewish Baril one time and some of the relatives had the name Baril and others had the longer version... again, I forget exactly what the longer version was.

Baril also can be pronounced several different ways...none is especially correct or incorrect.  In the U.S.A., most Barils pronounce it the way I do which is “Berr-ILL” with the accent definitely on the second syllable and the final letter “L” clearly pronounced.  Others pronounce it “Barrel”.  I HATE that pronunciation, but some Barils DO say “Barrel”.  In French Canada “Baril” has a silent “L”.  It’s pronounced “Barry” or sometimes “BarRIE”...depending on where they put the accent.  Somebody told me they had a Professor Baril at a college in Michigan who pronounced it “Barry”.

It’s interesting when you do a “Baril”  Google search.  There’s a Steve Baril who ran as a Republican candidate for Attorney General of Virginia.  I actually got his e-mail address and communicated with him, which was kind of cool.  (Imagine, Steve COULD someday be PRESIDENT BARIL !)  There’s a Baril, who is originally from Michigan, that runs a website for Barils.  He’s big and bald and has the nickname “Bullfrog Baril”.  We’ve corresponded and he  refers to me as “Cousin Bob Baril”.   There is also a Bob Baril who is a runner.  It’s all pretty interesting.

You may well meet Pastor Dennis Baril or Beth Baril someday...and you’ll have to let them know you’re acquainted with the “other Pastor Baril”!

Incidentally, “Baril” in French is literally “Barrel” or “little keg”.  Most who have studied the name’s origin believe Barils were people in the French speaking areas of Europe who made barrels during the Middle Ages.

Monday, March 19, 2007

IT'S IN TODAY (extra entry)

My "February" column to the MetroWest Daily News (the Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association column) is (pretty heavily edited) in today's (March 19) MetroWest Daily News.  There, the heading refers to the Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association as the "Framingham Interfaith Council".

The MWDN can be read on-line at

just click "columnists" and then click "Baril".

At least it finally ran!

Friday, March 16, 2007

A FOUR LETTER WORD (on March 17)

“Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?...” (from Job 38:22)

Snow is a four-letter word.   I really don’t like snow.  I have learned to kind of tolerate it.  I don’t “hate” it the way I did twenty years ago.  But I really don’t like it.

Just three days ago, it was 71 degrees outside!  I did have a nice time at the retreat in Shrewsbury.  They gave us some “sabbath time” on Wednesday afternoon to just be alone and be quiet.  I took a half hour walk around a nearby subdivision.  Kids were outside in summer clothes, playing on swing sets, riding bikes, etc.  What a difference a few days makes!

My late mother used to talk a lot about the winter of 1955-1956.  That winter was a lot like this one.  It was unusually warm and had an unusually low amount of snow during December, January, and February.  My mother was “very” pregnant with my brother Eddie at that time.  I was under two years old and so I don’t remember any of it.  After an almost “snow less” winter, March dumped piles of snow on the Boston area.  Ed Sullivan (of CBS Variety Show fame) was scheduled to be the Grand Marshall of the St. Patrick’s Day parade which had to be canceled due to a blizzard.  There was ANOTHER blizzard that year on March 24-25.  Eddie was born during that storm at 5 minutes past Midnight at St. Margaret’s hospital in Boston’s Dorchester section.  My mother was a devout Catholic and adamantly maintained that “the Virgin Mary told her” the baby would be born on March 25, the Roman Catholic “Feast of the Annunciation”.  Well, whatever the case, the baby WAS born on March 25.

Thank God this storm wasn’t a blizzard, but this winter does seem to be a lot like I’ve heard 1955-1956 described!

I’m a minority in my home:  the only one with no Irish ancestry!  My wife is half Irish, and therefore my 3 young adult children are each a quarter Irish- so in THEIR honor:  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


"And after six days, Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart," (Matthew 17:1)

Back in 1980, I can still hear the new youth pastor, Denny Seler, at the old Christian Life Center Church in Walpole getting up and announcing to the teenagers, "Now young people- now we're going on a retreattt."  Yes, with his central Pennsylvania  accent, he pronounced "retreat" as if it had several "ts" at the end!  At that time taking a bunch of teenagers on a retreat meant monitoring shaving cream fights, and other such antics  (ref. the kind of behavior "Reese" does on the "Malcolm in the Middle" show)!  I was really glad I was not the youth pastor.  He could "have it"!  (Today, Denny Seler is a very successful missionary and educator to Latin America so somehow he survived those retreats!)

Well, I'll be going on a retreat this week but it's very different than those Denny Seler retreats of the early 1980s.  I'll be at the "John 17:23 Pastors' Retreat" which is being held at the Passionists' Retreat Center on South Street in Shrewsbury.  I'll be there most of Wednesday and Thursday, and I'm really looking forward to it.  If it's anything like the "John 17:23" retreats of the past few years that I've been to, then it will be spiritually refreshing and wonderful.   Fortunately, pastors over the age of 35 don't get into shaving cream fights or act like "Reese" from "Malcolm in the Middle"!

My next posting to this blog should be on Saturday, March 17; yup good old St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


"...this night thy soul shall be required of thee..." (from Luke 12:20)

Yesterday marked exactly 34 years since I had my first automobile accident- and it was a bad one.  The accident happened on Monday, March 12, 1973.  I was 18-years-old.  I was driving the 1963 Dodge Dart station wagon (about the size of a 1980s Dodge Aires or Plymouth Reliant wagon- if you remember those) owned by my parents.  In fact, I was on my way to pick up my mother from work.  I guess I was daydreaming because I suddenly noticed a Cadillac stopped in front of me.  I firmly applied the brake but I heard a deadly squeal as though I'd been going over 100 M.P.H.  It was very scary!  What I did NOT know is that the EXACT seconds that I had applied the Dodge brakes, a teenager across the street had decided to "peel rubber" with his hot rod.  Talk about a weird coincidence!  So I thought I had made the brake sound!  I DID stop about a foot short of the Cadillac's bumper.  A split second later was the CHAOS of a sudden drastic impact in the rear which pushed the Dodge Dart into the Cadillac.  The Dodge was folded at each end like an accordion.  Instantly my clear vision was blurred because my eyeglasses had flown off.  I had never felt them leave my face.  I later found them on the floor of the back seat area!  The Dodge Dart had been plowed in the rear by a distinguished 50ish guy named Parker Chartier who was driving a silver Ford LTD.  (For you car nuts out there, it was either a 1971 or a 1972...they look a lot alike and I forget which.)

Chartier had heard the kid peeling rubber, turned his head to the left to see it and then plowed into the Dodge Dart.  I felt very guilty about the accident.  I HAD been daydreaming and I ALMOST plowed the Cadillac myself.  If you reread my account and think even a LITTLE bit about it- well, it was a comedy of errors and happenstances.  We were all in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My father was a perfectionist and a PERFECT driver as well as having been  an auto accident investigator for the Registry of Motor Vehicles.  Dad was pretty much the type that if you were one of his kids and you had an auto accident, it was your fault, period.  (He should have worked for an insurance company!)  He was also the type that if you did something wrong, well, you could feel comfortable again in your relationship with him - well, in about a year or so.

It's something that I still remember so much about that accident.  It's one of the worst memories of my life, but it certainly illustrates that, as Dad used to say, "Accidents happen when LEAST expected!".

I had some minor injuries as did the people in the Cadillac, but that was it.  We were actually very fortunate.  Yesterday I had a poignant conversation with my 21-year-old daughter who is living and going to school in Springfield, Missouri.  Last week, a 50ish man in their community named Keith was badly injured in a motorcycle accident.  Amy knows his daughter and son-in-law, and their little children quite well.  Keith was a much loved and highly respected chiropractor in Springfield, Missouri.  Amy has spent a lot of time house sitting and babysitting for Keith's daughter during this terrible ordeal.  Yesterday, the family made the gut-wrenching decision to have Keith removed from all life supports.  (He had a living will which specified that would be his desire given such circumstances.)  The family is devastated.  The community is devastated.  As she's doing the babysitting, Amy is right in the middle of it, and grieving along with them.  Just a few days ago, Keith was on top of the world with a highly successful chiropractic practice and a great life.  Now, he's gone, and his family is devastated.  Thank God, Keith was a committed born-again Christian.  Keith is in Heaven, but somehow that doesn't make the loss any easier.  My own parents had to make the decision to remove my brother from life supports in July of 1983, and my sister and I still become shaky and emotional when thinking about that time.

I don't mean to be morbid.  As I often am, I'm in a very reflective mood.  I thank God I walked away from that March 12, 1973 accident.

Accidents will happen.

To learn more about Dr. Keith Perkins of Springfield, Missouri go to
and click on the info. about Updates re. the accident

Monday, March 12, 2007


I received an e-mail from MetroWest Daily News Op/Ed Editor Rick Holmes stating that my column must have "fallen through the cracks" and that he'd never received it.

I e-mailed him back saying that this is not the first time something has "fallen through the cracks" with the MWDN, and I once again sent him a copy of the column.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I wrote the piece that follows a little over a month ago.  The Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association has an agreement with the MetroWest Daily News that we have a monthly column featured which is written by one of our Members.  The column can (within reason) pretty much be about ANYTHING.  I believe it’s supposed to be about 600-800 words although I’ve seen them run columns that are over 1000 words long.  Through the years, I’ve written at least four of these columns.  The following is what I submitted to be the February column.  Granted, it’s about 1200 words long and I’m sure that gave me trouble, but I think it’s a good column.  It’s not political, nor is it especially controversial, nor is it “sexy”.  I don’t think Editor Rick Holmes was much interested in an Opinion column which was neither political nor controversial nor “sexy” and that ran 1200 words.  BUT, if someone read this column and took it seriously it would change their life  and it would make a difference for time and for eternity.  I’m VERY disappointed the paper did not run it!  Incidentally, if you read this and you think it should have been run in the paper, you can let Rick Holmes know that at   AND  if you DON’T like it and you agree with Rick Holmes decision to NOT run it, you can let him know that, as well.  

Here is (word for word)  the exact column that the MetroWest Daily News did not run.  It’s original title was  “It’s Important We Get it Right!”:

    A few months ago, I agreed to write the Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association’s monthly newspaper column for February.  There are a number of subjects I could have written about.  I certainly could write a piece containing a February theme such as “Love and Marriage” (Valentine’s Day) or “Black History Month” or even something like “What made our great Presidents great?” (Presidents’ Day).   As I’m writing this on a very cold February afternoon, none of those themes is “grabbing” me!  I think it’s much more important that I share something I’m genuinely passionate about; that I’m genuinely “evangelical” about.  Unfortunately, many modern Americans believe  that an evangelical is someone who always agrees with President George W. Bush, someone who hates anyone who has ever had an abortion, and someone who hates homosexuals.  Most evangelicals that I know would not fit that description.  Theologically speaking, an evangelical Christian is one who believes it’s of the utmost importance to make a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and to read and study the Bible, applying its teachings to daily life.  You may or may not be a “born again Christian” but I am going to share some Biblically based principles in this piece that I believe will truly help you, if you apply them to your life.

    A few weeks ago, I was studying Genesis chapters 25 and 27 and I was so blessed and fascinated by the life principles found in these two chapters that I preached a sermon about them.  (If you own a Bible, I encourage you to check out Genesis 25 and 27 sometime soon.)  Here’s some of what I talked about in that sermon and what the principles are we can apply to our lives:

1.  “WHO’S THAT LADY?” from Genesis 25:1-6.  This passage talks about Abraham’s second wife named Keturah whom he married after his first wife died,  and a number of children he fathered by that second wife.  Sometime ago, a man challenged me that he flat out did not believe this portion of the Bible.  Abraham would have had to be something like 130 years old, marrying Keturah and then having a bunch of kids.  It does sound kind of crazy.  Careful research and study revealed that Keturah had been a concubine of Abraham’s long before he’d married her (see I Chronicles 1:32).  It’s likely he fathered the kids many, many years before he’d actually married Keturah.  My friend, the Rev. Dr. Dick Germaine teaches that no matter what the problem you have, God always has an answer.  Now, this was a confusing Bible passage, and God helped me find the answer to it.  
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: You may be going through a very difficult time in your life right now.  Nothing makes sense.  Hope seems lost. REMEMBER : Seek the Lord.  He DOES have an answer for you!

2.  “A TIME TO DIE” from Genesis 25:7-11.  This passage tells us of Abraham’s death.  He died at age 175.  Ecclesiastes 3:2 says there’s a time to be born and a time to die.  Some may live to be over 100.  Someone rarely may even make it to 175, but we all will die.  
PRACTICAL APPLICATION:  We all have to be prepared to die.  If you are not prepared to die, I challenge you to devour your Bible and ask God to leadand guide you.  He has the answers you need to help you to be ready when the time comes to die.

3.  “THE LEGACY LEFT”  from Genesis 25:12-18.  Former President Jimmy Carter wrote a significant book a number of years ago entitled, “The Blood of Abraham”.  This portion of Scripture tells of the descendants of Ishmael, the first son of Abraham.  Ishmael fathered the Arab peoples, and Isaac fathered the Jewish people.  I want to be careful how I word this because neither of those people groups is intrinsically good or bad, but sadly they have had a history of great conflict.  The conflict has been an unfortunate legacy left from Abraham.
PRACTICAL APPLICATION:  The legacy is what’s left behind when we are dead.  How will we be remembered?  Will the world be a better place for us having been there or will it be a worse place?  Think about it.  What kind of a legacy will you leave?

4.  “A TOUGH PREGNANCY”  from Genesis 25:19-26.  The story of Jacob and Esau, the fraternal twins of Isaac and Rebekah, is a fascinating one!  Rebekah had a tough pregnancy with them!  The Lord revealed to her that these boys would father two nations- The Edomites and the Israelites.  When they grew up, they were exact opposites and they did not get along.  
PRACTICAL APPLICATION:  You don’t own your kids.  They area lent to you.  WHile environment certainly has a lot to do with shaping who your kids become, so does heredity.  Again, they are lent ot you.  When they grow up, you have to let them go.  If you don’t, you will have serious problems.

5.  “A FATEFUL DECISION” from Genesis 25:26-34.  These verses tell us that Esau sold his birthright (the double-portion inheritance right of the firstborn) for a bowl of stew!  While it was mean and selfish of Jacob to go along with this, it was stupid and carnal of Esau to sell his birthright.  
PRACTICAL APPLICATION:  Radio commentator Paul Harvey has said, “Think overtime trying to anticipate and avoid unerasable  mistakes.”
I think that says it all.  Many are haunted by tragic mistakes in their past.  While God can and will forgive us, there are some things such as the loss of a life or a limb which cannot be undone.  So, “Think overtime trying to anticipate and avoid unerasable mistakes.”

6.  “A SCAM WITH CONSEQUENCES”  from Genesis 27:1-29.  In a scene that seems like something right out of the 1950s sit-com “I Love Lucy” Rebekah and Jacob plot to deceive Isaac and steal Esau’s blessing.  In that culture, the blessing bestowed by an elderly father near death was a very significant matter indeed.  Jacob dresses up as Esau and fools his nearly blind father.
PRACTICAL APPLICATION:  God is a big God.  God is perfectly capable of working out His own plans.  You don’t need ot take matters into your own hands and try to pull off crazy schemes to make things happen to benefit you.

7.  “A BAD DAY”  from Genesis 27:30-46. Here, Esau, victimized by the scam plots the death of Jacob.  For Esau, Jacob, and Rebekah, as with Daniel Powter’s 2006 pop hit, it was a bad day!
PRACTICAL APPLICATION:  We all have bad things happen to us.  No matter what is in your past, Philippians 3:13-14 encourages us to forget the past and press on to what’s ahead.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007


"So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."  (Hebrews 13:6)

Yesterday afternoon, I walked the quarter of a mile (or so) from my office to the downtown Framingham post office.  The first odd sight was what appeared to be a liberal spreading of dirt, sand, and salt over the concrete stoop area in front of the exterior door.  I thought someone had kind of "gone crazy" applying sand and salt when it was covered with ice and then forgotten to clean it up.  The next odd sight was that when I went to use the stamp machine it had a message on the screen that you get when you've placed an order for stamps.  No one was around the machine.  I tried to clear the message out by pressing the "Clear" button, and then pressing other buttons, and absolutely nothing happened.  I really wanted to use the stamp machine rather than go to a live clerk because I needed to get rid of a bunch of change, including pennies.  (Those postal stamp machines will even take pennies!)  When you DO stand there feeding around 100 coins into the machine, well, YES, you do feel kind of stupid, but you feel far less stupid than you would if you had to tie up a clerk counting pennies and nickels.  I ended up having to give a bunch of coins to one of the clerks after all, because the machine was just plain frozen.

Just before "Diane" the clerk waited on me, she was on a conversation with one of her superiors on a cordless phone.  She was dramatically telling the story of a dog who had appeared at the post office that morning and (I'll try to clean this story up) done "number two" all over the stoop.  The employees tried to clean it up, but much of it FROZE to the concrete.   (So THAT'S why all the dirt, sand, and salt on the stoop!) Diane was asking the supervisor for instructions on what to do.  I really don't know what he told her.  

Once she was off the phone, I bought my five stamps with my bunch of coins.
I decided to inform her the stamp machine was broken.  I told her, "It's frozen."

I could tell she didn't believe me and thought I was just an unhandy geeky white collar guy.  Well, I AM an unhandy geeky white collar guy.  But that machine WAS frozen.  She left her position at the counter and proceeded to investigate the machine.  After about a minute of total frustration, she announced, "It's NEVER done anything like this before!"

I was pleasant, but I DID add, "I told you it was a computer."

My kids hate when I do that "I told you so" thing, and especially when I do it in public to a clerk or waitress or someone like that.  I felt justified because I did not say it in an angry way nor did I say it in a sassy way.  But I DID say it.

Wow.  What a wild trip to the post office.  Now, it WAS as cold as Point Barrow, Alaska outside, but after the happenings inside the post office, I really didn't mind the cold on the way back.

You'd think that in 2007 a trip to the post office would be all "high tech" and "state of the art".  Well, in all fairness, at the MAIN post office on Route 30, things usually are pretty good, although they also have their moments...and because they ARE pretty good, they draw huge crowds from all over the MetroWest area, and waiting in line, well, kind of defeats the purpose, if you know what I mean.

The U.S. Postal Service is seriously considering raising the price of a first-class stamp to 41 cents before the end of 2007.  I think that's ridiculous.  In fact, I'd vote to drop it to at least 38 cents.  When they can truly get their act together, we'll maybe that will be different!

My maternal grandfather was a career postal employee and one of my best friends is a rural letter carrier in Texas, but, this piece about the stamp prices and the U.S. Postal Service is (after all) just MY opinion. I just  couldn’t resist telling you about yesterday's trip to the downtown Framingham post office!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

FACTS FOR FINNERAN (extra entry)

"But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." (Matthew 12:36)

Most Boston area talk radio listeners know there is a full blown "family feud" going on between WRKO morning host (and former Massachusetts Speaker of the House) Tom Finneran and afternoon radio host (and Boston Herald columnist) Howie Carr.  Finneran (a convicted felon) cracked jokes last week on-air with Governor Deval Patrick about having Howie Carr "whacked" and throwing his body in the trunk of the Governor's Cadillac.  A few days later, Carr wrote a formal letter to the judge who gave Finneran a suspended sentence, recommending Finneran do some jail time.

 On "Finneran's Forum" this morning, statements were been made by callers and Tom Finneran that Howie Carr "stole" Jerry Williams' program, essentially kicked Jerry when he was down, etc.

This bothered me and I e-mailed these facts word for word to Tom Finneran:

" Howie Carr's first full-time job at WRKO was as Gene Burns' replacement doing the timeslot that Todd Feinberg now has.  Previously, Howie had been a frequent substitute host for Gene Burns and Jerry Williams.

After just a few months, WRKO fired Howie Carr and brought in Tom Leykis, who turned out to be a disaster.

In the meantime, Howie had gotten a 3-7 PM show on competitor WHDH.  Howie's show, which drew a big Baby-Boomer crowd was killing Jerry's show on WRKO in the ratings.  When  F.C.C. ownership rules changed, the owners of WRKO bought WHDH.  Within a few months, the new owners killed WHDH (which became WEEI Sports Radio).  They then put Howie on WRKO from 3-7 and gave Jerry Williams the late morning timeslot.

Howie actually had a nice tribute show to Jerry Williams at the time of his passing.  I was one of the callers who had an interesting story about Jerry Williams to share.

My father was a career state employee, retiring as an RMV official in 1982.  Dad died in 2000 but I've  got MA plate # 280 on my car as a legacy to his career.  (You can't have plate #280 and neither can Howie!)  Over the years, Dad brought home many stories of hacks and phonies at all levels of state government and administration.  When I later heard Jerry Williams and Howie Carr tell similar stories it was all too familiar."

In fact, Tom Finneran essentially STOLE Scott Allen Miller's morning drive radio show!


“Is any among you afflicted?...” (from James 5:13)

On Sunday, my 23-year-old son Jon was really sick with intestinal pain.  He is our main singer/worship leader for the “Praise & Worship” part of the service.  He got through it by the grace of God, but he had a tough time.  He was in much pain and very fatigued.

I actually had minor intestinal pain and diarrhea on Friday and Saturday and minor intestinal pain on Sunday.  I don’t know if I gave it to him, if he gave it to me, or we both got it elsewhere.  Yesterday morning, I woke up with what he’d had on Sunday, only not QUITE as bad.  I had moderate intestinal pain 2 or 3 times as intense as I’d had over the weekend.  The worst part was getting up from a sitting down position and the second worst was just walking.  The pain would come and go.  Sometimes the pain was a 1 or a 2 and sometimes it would actually be an 8 or a 9 (for just a minute or so).  I had a lot more sympathy for what Jon had gone through on Sunday.  On Monday he described himself as 90% better, so I assume that by midday on Tuesday I’ll be pretty well “fit as a fiddle”.

I’m like most men when I’m sick- A BIG BABY.  I get a lot of “little” colds and sinus issues and I get a minor headache here and there, but as far as getting REALLY sick, it hardly ever happens.  When it does, I want to call out the Surgeon General of the United States or something!  Well, I actually DID go to work on Monday.  If Jon could lead “Praise & Worship” on Sunday, I certainly COULD go to the office on Monday.  I DID get a fair amount of work done.  I just had to drag myself through the day.

I know we hear about all kinds of vaccinations like the H.P.V. vaccine for women.  Sometimes I wonder, why in 2007 we still get intestinal “bugs” like this?  The Bible does say in the last days there will be “pestilence’ which can INCLUDE sicknesses and new diseases.  I’d just like to never be sick again!  Well, that’s the big baby in me talking!

Saturday, March 3, 2007


“Render therefore to all their dues: ... honour to whom honour...” (from Romans 13:7)

Yesterday in the early morning, I was quite distressed to find that my cell phone was just not working.  This is my third cell phone.  I got my first in 1999 as a gift.  A couple paid for my first two years of having a cell phone, then I took the service over.  I got my present cell phone in February 2006.  Around 10 a.m. I went to the Verizon Wireless store in Natick at Sherwood Plaza.  Thank God it was not crowded at all (in Dec. you can't even get in the door!).

I saw Thiago, a young technician, who was super.
He found that my problem was indeed unusual and strange.
He opened up the phone, took out the battery and put it back in.  That DID get the phone working again although the battery was VERY weak.  When I bought this cell phone in thirteen months ago, I never opted for any service coverage or extended warranty or ANYTHING like that on it. Thiago told me if this was just five weeks ago he could have kind of tweaked it to give me an extended warranty on the phone,  but now that I've passed a year he can't.

Thiago did tell me a new similar phone would be $50 and a new battery would be $40.
However, he felt that maybe (like computers) the phone just "froze" as can happen.  He encouraged me to go home, turn the phone off, plug it into the charger and let it charge several hours.  I did that and the phone now works fine.  Incidentally, did you know you’re really supposed to turn the phone OFF each and every time you charge it.  NOT turning the phone off can eventually cause the phone to “freeze up” and have other problems.

Thiago thinks the phone’s present battery CAN last a few more months.  He said before the end of 2007 I WILL be eligible for a phone upgrade, but I'm just not eligible YET.

Yesterday’s service call cost me NOTHING and "hopefully"  the cell phone will be O.K. for awhile.
Overall, I’m very happy with Verizon and I’d recommend Verizon Wireless to anybody!

I also have Verizon landline phone service for my residence and the church.  As long as I live in Massachusetts, I won’t use any telephone company other than Verizon!

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Over the past week, I have had the occasion to attend two funerals.  The first was the funeral of 97-year-old Rachel Bangs, which I conducted last Thursday.  The second was the funeral of 75-year-old Al Davis who died a little over a week ago.  Al’s funeral was on Monday at Living Waters Church in Norwood.

I did not “conduct” the Davis funeral, but I was pleased to be one of several people giving eulogies.  Al and his wife Princess Davis (that’s her name not a title!) have accomplished more as a couple during their lives than most medium-sized CHURCHES accomplish in half a century!  I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not.  I met Al and Princess in early 1976.  At that time this middle-class Black couple were in their mid-forties.  Al was an Engineer for Kendall Mills in downtown Walpole.  Al was leading a home Bible study for those who were interested in “the Baptism in the Holy Spirit” and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It would take me many paragraphs to explain that to those who are unfamiliar with these experiences and manifestations, but I’d encourage you to check out the entire Book of Acts, plus First Corinthians chapters 12 through 14.  To make a very long story short, it was through Al Davis that I was led to seek and receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and to join the Assemblies of God.  I would not be an Assemblies of God minister today were it not for Al and Princess Davis, especially Al.

Al and Princess moved from inner-city Boston to the mostly Jewish Boston suburb of Sharon in the middle 1960s.  Somewhere around 1969 they each became “born again Christians”.  When they did, there was no stopping them!  One bearded guy around my age also spoke at the funeral.  In 1971, Al and Princess had rented the Unitarian Church facility in Sharon on one night a week (maybe Saturdays?) and ran a program for troubled teenagers called “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”.  They were not professional counselors.  They did not have state funding.  They just DID THIS.  I suppose today we’d ARREST them for running a program like that without a license or something!  Anyway, this guy was 16 in 1971...from a broken home...and on drugs.  He wandered into “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” and was told by Al Davis that God loved him and so did Al.  This guy turned his life over to Jesus Christ and has never been the same.  He graduated from Bible College, pastored for ten years, and lived in Israel for a time.  

“I’ve led hundreds of people to Christ,” he said, “and it all started with a guy named Al Davis telling me God loved me!”

In the audience was a couple who were won to Christ by the Davises over thirty years ago, after the accidental drowning of their 9-year-old daughter in the family swimming pool.  There were SCORES of people who could have told similar stories had there been time.

George Nickerson, an old friend of Al Davis told about going golfing with Al.  

“He’d write ‘God loves you, John 3:16’ on all his golf balls!” George exclaimed, “I couldn’t believe it.  He hoped that a wild drive into the woods or something would lead to someone finding the ball and finding Christ.”

George, much to Al’s dismay, insisted on keeping one of those golf balls which he still has and treasures today.

I almost forgot to tell you why I called this piece, “Fancy Meeting You Here!”  Al Davis had a ridiculously corny sense of humor.  At the funeral, some told of the stupid corny jokes he used to tell.  I told about the fact that EVERY time I ever saw Al Davis, he would make an impish and silly face and say, “Fancy Meeting You Here!” and then start laughing.  At the beginning of my eulogy, I remarked that if Al is looking down from Heaven, he’s saying to me, “Fancy Meeting You Here!”  After my five-minute eulogy, I closed with this thought:  The next time I’ll see Al Davis, it will be in Heaven, and he will probably greet me by saying, “Fancy Meeting You Here!”

Second Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”