Wednesday, October 31, 2007


"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." (Psalm 116:15)

I'm a compulsive planner and (generally) a neatfreak who can be (somewhat) compulsive.  (Incidentally, my wife is not very much like me in these areas so as you can imagine, that's been very problematic at times!)  This week for me has been a compulsive planner's schedule has been rocked again and again and again, and the unexpected and the frustrating has happened again and again and again.  I generally don't handle stuff like that (my schedule being messed with) too well.

This is a very long story which I have to greatly condense, but I became a "born-again Christian" at age 15 while a student at Canton High School.  This was during the "Jesus Movement" of the late 1960s and early 1970s.  (While the Jesus Movement was primarily on the west coast, it touched all of the USA and Canada...between 1967 and 1973 there was kind of a youth revivial and many thousands of young people between 12 and 24 "got saved".)  While I was a "new Christian" I led a friend of mine, Glenn Pickett, to the Lord.  At first Glenn wanted nothing to do with it, but within a short time he embraced the Gospel with all of his heart.  Today, Glenn Pickett is an Associate Pastor and Music Director at a very large evangelical church in central California.

Glenn's brother, Larry, about a year younger, initially wanted nothing to do with the whole born-again Christian thing.  I think he thought the two of us were a couple of space cadets!  Amazingly a year or so after Glenn "got saved" so did Larry.  Like Glenn (and me earlier) Larry embraced the Gospel with all of his heart and spent the rest of his life as a dedicated  Christian.  In Larry's case, he was an active Baptist layman and family man in suburban Atlanta, GA.  I'm writing about Larry in past tense because Larry passed away earlier this month.  Four and a half years ago, Larry was diagnosed with A.L.S. better known as Lou Gerig's Disease.  Back in '03 when Glenn told me of the diagnosis, I was pretty shocked. 

Glenn has done a lot to raise money for A.L.S. and awareness of the disease.  He's been in several bike-a-thons to raise funds.  Although Larry died on October 9, I did not learn of his death until yesterday.  It hit me really hard.

I had not seen Larry in well over  25 years.  I can still see Larry as a wiery teenager with a big grin, kind of making fun of me for being such a geek and a Bible-thumper.  It's really something that Larry ended up embracing "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ" as we evangelicals say.  I believe Larry is in Heaven today.  I'm happy he is not suffering anymore.  I'm certainly happy he is in Heaven.  I'm also sad that he died before he even reached 50 and left a family behind.

I'll be attending a memorial service for Larry Pickett on Saturday at Noon in Sharon, MA.  Yup, my schedule got all messed up again... it's strange that now I don't even care about my messed up schedule....

Monday, October 29, 2007


"But of that day and hour knoweth no man..." (from Matthew 24:36)

There is some confusion this year about when Daylight Saving Time ends (as there was about when it begins).  In previous years, this weekend (OCT. 27 - OCT. 28) WOULD have been the weekend to turn the clocks BACK.  (Except for the people in Arizona who don't turn the clocks at all!)  However, THIS year, that's not the case.

Due to a law originally proposed by Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey, the period of Daylight Saving Time was LENGTHENED  starting with 2007.  In the old days, clocks were turned AHEAD on the first Sunday of April and were turned back on the last Sunday of October.  Thus, this WOULD have been the weekend.

Under the NEW plan, clocks are turned ahead on the second Sunday of March and are turned BACK on the first Sunday of November.

Much confusion comes in because many computers and electronic devices which were built and sold during the late 1990s and early 2000s are programmed to automatically go on Daylight Saving Time on the first Sunday of April and to automatically switch BACK to Standard Time on the last Sunday of October.

THIS will cause some confusion for people.  I've already spoken to a guy from our church who was late for church today because his computer had switched  back to  Standard Time and he thought the clocks had been turned back this weekend.

If you're somewhat technically inclinded, there is a way to manually override the clock in your computer to set the correct time.  But otherwise you'll just have to live with your computer and other electronic devices being an hour off for the coming week.

Bottom line, you'll want to make a note or remind yourself in some way that the clocks go BACK one hour next weekend.  I plan to turn ours back Saturday evening, November 3.

Friday, October 26, 2007


"And there are three that bear witness in earth..." (from I John 5:8)

Yesterday, I went to D.D. on Waverley Street/Route 135 in Framingham.  I was there to get 2 medium hot teas (one for my wife and one for a friend of ours) and 1 iced coffee for me.  I know that often when you quickly order several things at once the staff CAN get confused and mess something up.  To make matters easy for them, I took a 5 by 7 piece of paper and wrote the following:

2 Medium English Breakfast Teas:
     1 black - extra sugar
     1 milk - extra sugar

1 Medium Iced Coffee- cream & 2 sugars.

I went into D.D. and handed the male Brazilian clerk that piece of paper.

His female American clerk brought me 4 medium hot drinks and began to ring up the order.
"Wait a minute," I said, "I have an ICED coffee."
"It's coming!" she told me.
"And,"  I added, "There are too many drinks.  There should only be 3 drinks TOTAL."

Both the American female and the Brazilian male looked at me as though I had three heads.  Both strongly disagreed with me.  Both handed me the piece of paper to PROVE that I had 5 drinks coming....they believed I ordered 2 plain hot teas, 2 coffees (one black and one with milk) and one iced coffee with cream and sugar.  I carefully explained what I'd written on my piece of paper.
A customer behind me walked right out of the store.  I was not sure if the customer was mad at me, mad at them, or both!

Later, I tested my wife, my young adult daughter, and my young adult son.  SEPARATELY, I told each of them what I'd written on the piece of paper (BEFORE I told them what had happened) and I asked what THEY would serve a customer who handed them such a piece of paper.

My wife immediately got it right, but when I told her the story, she told me she COULD see how they got confused.

My daughter immediately said, "You have 3 drinks coming, right?!"  (She got it correct.)

My son immediately asked, "They DIDN'T give you 5 drinks did they?!" laughing!

Whether it's Brazil or America, young people have no idea what a colon followed by an indented column of items means!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow..." (from James 4:14)

First of all A BIG DISCLAIMER:  What I'm stating on this posting is NOT a prophecy from God or anything even CLOSE to that!  It's just my opinion of what I expect to happen in the 2007 World Series.  I may end up being correct...I may end up being fact, only GOD knows if I'll be correct or not!  But this is what I'm expecting:

I expect the Red Sox to win the World Series, but I also expect that it will take them the full 7 games to do that.  The Colorado Rockies will play very well.  They are possibly the best FIELDING team in major league baseball.  They're young, they're talented, and they're "hungry".  The Red Sox, however, are the better team and have got experience on their side.

I expect the Red Son to win Game 1.
I then expect the Rockies to win Games 2, 3, and 4,
and then I expect the Red Sox to win Games 5, 6, and 7.

It will be very exciting to have another World Championship in Boston!

What do you think?  Well, in a few days we will know if I was right or wrong, won't we?

Monday, October 22, 2007


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

If I put some time and effort into it, I could write some "clean" and inspiring lyrics to the tune of Frankie Vallee and the Four Seasons' hit, "Oh, What a Night!" as I think of the results of last night, and really of yesterday.  No, I'm not talking about the Red Sox, although I could add "THAT, TOO!"

I also could write, "Oh, what a week!"  I'm really tired this morning!  Many of you know that I was out for something like 8 nights in a row.  Since I'm not a "night" person, that's a lot for me!  In fact, I'm hard pressed to think of when the last time was that I was out 8 nights in a row!  No, today's piece is about the results of the very special drama presentations with Dennis Cole yesterday.  Overall, the day was wonderful!

I'll get the negative stuff out of the way, first.  As great as the day was, I was disappointed in the attendance.  Many of you know that our church has struggled over the past few years, and that a couple of times over that period it nearly closed.  From a fiscal "on paper" point-of-view, we are not "out of the woods yet".  Attendance figures for 2007 have averaged around 22 per service.  (As small as we are it wasn't too many years ago that our typical attendance double that.)   I had really hoped for 35-40 for the morning service and we actually had 28.  I had also hoped for 50-80 for the evening and we actually had 30.  However, we DID have several first-time visitors at yesterday's services and we had several people attend that I've not see for awhile.  As is always the case, there were people who told me ahead of time they'd be at the services who did not show up.

Quality-wise, the services were EXCELLENT.  On a 1-10 scale, I would give the morning a 9 and the evening a 10.  It's hard to describe the drama ministry Dennis does.  Just to state it matter-of-factly, it would sound almost boring. It's not.   When you hear Dennis Cole present "The Book of James" you really think James is standing before you.  And, he picks volunteers from the audience to interact with, and does all sorts of dramatic gesturing, standing on chairs (no kidding!) and all sorts of things that keep you rivited to his presentation.  The most powerful part is his commentary at the end of the presentations.  In the evening, it was particularly powerful.  After the "Sermon on the Mount" presentation, Dennis had those who wanted prayer come up front. With virtually no input from any of the people, he prayed specific prayers over each of them such that you'd think he HAD to know them and what they'd gone through or were going through.  To a stranger it would probably seem as though he has psychic powers; but no, what Dennis was operating in was the God's gift of "The Word of Knowledge" which is talked about in the book of First Corinthians.

Dennis is a strong booster of World Vision's child sponsorship program and he promoted that yesterday.  (It's a lot like Christian Children's Fund and some of those other organizations you may have heard of.)  I know that at least one couple from our church sponsored a child.  Our Men's Group also sponsored a child.

We had a good tiime going out to eat with Dennis at lunchtime.  As our mutual friend Pator Rick Amendola of Webster, MA says about Dennis, "He's a card, isn't he?!"  Well, I'd say he's a "character" and he is, but since he plays characters in drama I guess that fits!

There was a positive, faith-filled atmosphere at the end of the service last night.  People had been very strongly affected by what they'd seen and experienced. 

I did not stay up for the very end of the Red Sox game as I was just so tired from yesterday and from the week, but it IS really exciting that the Sox are in the World Series.  This morning I'm tired and happy and reflective and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Incidentally, to those who did attend the Dennis Cole services, especially those of you from outside of our church, thank you so much for coming!

Saturday, October 20, 2007


“Cone unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;  for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

The phone call came in to our church office yesterday afternoon.  The caller was a man with a Polish last name (I could see the name on the Caller I.D.)  I won’t use his real name here; I will call him “Fred”.  Fred does not live in Framingham, but he does live in a community which borders Framingham.  Fred initially wanted some information about our church.

“Well, it’s pretty small,” I told him.
“HOW small?” he pressed.

Usually when people learn how small and limited our church is they quickly start making excuses and hang up.  Fred didn’t.  I asked Fred how he happened to call our church.  It seems an old friend of his from western Massachusetts attends and Assemblies of God church and gave him the information from our national church directory.  Fred proceeded to talk and talk and talk and talk.  The call quickly turned into a counseling session and I was the therapist.  Ironically, counseling is the thing I LEAST like about pastoring.  I usually do very little counseling, preferring to refer people to professional counseling centers. 

Fred is an older, retired man.  I asked his age, and was surprised to hear 68.  I would have guessed he was at least 78.  Obviously, I can’t break any confidences and I don’t want to give away who this man is, but he’s hard a difficult life and many serious problems.  Usually, callers like Fred turn out to be “takers” and “users” but I did not sense that at all about him.  Rather, he was a lonely and confused older man, at the end of his rope, desperately looking for someone to just listen and be a friend.  Fred has both a Catholic and Lutheran background. He obviously has “religion up to his ears but does not have Christ in his heart” as the saying goes.  Years ago, I would have done some “hard line witnessing” to him, forcing him to “pray the Sinner’s prayer”.  I’ve long since learned that’s a very bad approach.  It’s far better to just be a friend to someone; to LISTEN to them; and to try to offer help when you can.  After Fred’s litany of problems, I did offer some suggestions.  He was very grateful.  You’d think I’d have given him a million dollars.  I didn’t think I did much at all, but that’s how desperate this guy was. 

The call went on for almost an hour.  Will Fred ever come to our church?  I don’t know, but I think he will.  Will Fred be led into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ rather than just a religion?  Again, I don’t know, but I think he will.

After I hung up, I found myself in a reflective mood.  I really “didn’t have time” to talk to Fred, but I did it anyway.  On Friday, I was a bit depressed.  NOT severely depressed or anything like that....just more like in a “blue funk”.  There are several frustrating personal problems I’m struggling with.  There are some problems in the church that are a struggle.  There’s two families in the church right now with major personal problems.  There are also some very needy people in our church.  My wife and her friend spent hours trying to help one of those needy people this week, and I spent some time with another.  Yesterday in prayer I told God there are some “impossible” problems in my personal life and in the church I pastor that really need fixing...that really need MIRACLES.

Then, Fred called.

Do you think God was trying to help me put things in perspective?  ....maybe like the guy who was complaining that he had no shoes until he met a man with no feet? 

It’s now around 20 hours later, but I’m still reflecting about that voice on the phone...

Thursday, October 18, 2007


"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20)

This morning, as usual, I received my copy of the MetroWest Daily News by 6 a.m. and proceeded to look through it over a bowl of cereal. The past 24 hours must have been a "slow news day"! One of the main, front page, "top fold" stories was, "Car Shop Wages in Need of Repair?" It was about auto body men who want to make $40 an hour instead of $35 an hour. I did not know the state regulated that, but it does (which is crazy in my opinion!). As a young guy in his early twenties, my brother did body work. When I read what auto body workers make, I think maybe he had the right idea. Who needed college when you could make THAT kind of money?!

The other "top fold" story was called "Tangled Golden Retrieved" It was
about a dog who got caught in some ropes while dog paddling at Learned's Pond in Framingham. His owner, George Butterly of Framingham, pulled the emergency box at the beach, and the fire department responded. According to the article, it took a firefighter in a wet suit and a boat to rescue the dog. I know this is going to sound very "Andy Rooney-ish" of me, but there's a whole other story that the reporter (Norman Miller) completely missed. I certainly have no
problem with rescuing the dog, BUT Learned's Pond beach and property is closed to the public. If you stop by there (as I did this morning) you'll find that there are several large signs posted (in English, Spanish, and Portuguese) stating "BEACH CLOSED NO TRESPASSING". I THINK there also used to be a "No Dogs" sign. I could not find any sign specifically prohibiting dogs, but that really is a moot point because I could find several signs prohibiting people (and one would assume their dogs, too) from trespassing. Come to think of it, Framingham has a leash law for dogs? What about that? Is George Butterly of Framingham going to be cited for trespassing and for not having his dog leashed? I'd
cite him. If that sounds harsh to you, you can certainly talk to a Town
Meeting Member of someone on the Board of Selectmen about changing those laws.

On the "OP/ED" Page there was a bizarre column by "Roger Reidy- Local Columnist" entitled "Catholic Bedrooms Exposed onFox News". If I understand Reidy's column correctly, he is a devout (I'd say "fanatical") Roman Catholic who believes any Catholic who "practices" any form of artificial birth control will burn in Hell. He definitely believes such Catholics should not receive Holy Communion. My guess is that would knock out at least 85% of Catholic adults. Don't get me wrong, I'm pro-life and anti-abortion. I also think it can be very bad (health wise) for a woman to be on the "pill" for more than a few years. But, really! With ALL the problems in the world, and all the sin in the world, THAT'S the big deal?! I have 3 grown kids of my own and I consider myself
"Pro Family", but once a couple has had 5 or 4 or 3 or even 2 kids, is there really anything wrong with them deciding they can't afford to have any more kids and with then using artificial birth control? Would Jesus really condemn them? As I understand chapters such as I Corinthians 7, I don't think Jesus would.

By the time I got through with today's MetroWest Daily News I wondered, "Was that REALLY the MetroWest Daily News, or was it something maybe the old WEEKLY WORLD NEWS come back to life?!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


“And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give:...” (Luke 10:7)

I had kind of an embarrassing experience last night that I’ll call “The Eating Thing”.  We had an Assemblies of God meeting (primarily for pastors and their spouses) in Marlboro.  (Our church is in the “Central Massachusetts Section” of the Southern New England District- this was a Sectional meeting.)  The meeting began at 7.  Typically, evening Sectional meetings will consist of some singing and worship, announcements, a special speaker, and a fellowship time featuring coffee, soda, water, and refreshments such as brownies, cookies, crackers and cheese, a vegetable tray...stuff like that. 

The only ones home for supper last night were my 24-year-old son Jon and me.  I grilled a couple of burgers and made a box of macaroni and cheese.  I also drank a big mug of coffee after supper.  I was SO full after supper that I had that “too full” feeling you can get.  I actually took a brisk fifteen minute walk to kind of help me with digestion, and just so I wouldn’t feel so bloated and overstuffed.  When I arrived at the 7:00 meeting  (just about on time) I certainly was not hungry. Several people made comments like, “I’m SO hungry.  I can’t WAIT to eat!” 

Oh, no!  HOW did I mess up on the information, but this was a DINNER MEETING?!

We were all directed to the small fellowship hall where tables were nicely set and salads and rolls were at each table.  It was the kind of thing where people from the church had made the meal and not to eat it would be really rude.  But I concluded that throwing up all over my table would have been ruder.  I struggled to eat my salad and one roll, but that was it.  I explained that I did not understand that it was a dinner and that I was full.  I did feel a little better that one pastor at the table said to me, “I didn’t know it was a dinner, either.  If I hadn’t have called the church today, I would never have known.”  (Boy, I wish I’D have called!)  At our table was the church worship leader who’d make apple crisp for dessert (smothered in vanilla ice cream).  I considered trying it, but I was still so full that I declined.  I got the feeling she wasn’treal happy with me eating nothing but my salad and a roll, but what do you do in a situation like that?!

I remember about seventeen years ago that a woman had invited a bunch of people over to her home in Millis for “dinner”.  I had eaten nothing all day.  When Mary Ann and I got there, the woman served us cheese and crackers.  One guy leaned over to me and (sarcastically) said, “This is all there is, you know- just crackers and cheese!”  I quickly discovered it was NOT a joke.  Each person there awkwardly said they’d expected a dinner.  The woman ended up sending out for pizza.  That was an embarrassing experience to the other extreme! 

I could probably write 27 postings about other embarrassing eating situations...such things as someone serving you their favorite delicacy, and you’re wondering how you’re possibly going to get such horrible food down...or liberally sprinkling what you thought was shredded cheddar cheese on your meal, only to find out it was CURRIED COCONUT.  And, speaking of coconut, there was the time I tried to eat what I thought was a coconut ice cream dessert which turned out to be a moist washcloth!

Anyway, what would YOU have done last night?  Was I rude to not eat most of the food?

Monday, October 15, 2007


“...forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” (from Philippians 3:3)

Many of you may recognize that the title “What Color is Your Calendar?” is a takeoff on the famous job hunting book, “What Color is Your Parachute?”.  Ever find yourself just plain doing a “Marathon Calendar” week?  It’s a week where you look at your calendar (yes, I still use traditional, old-fashioned paper calendars and datebooks and not the electronic stuff) and just do a double take and think, “You gotta be kidding!”?  Well, I’m on one of those Marathon Calendar weeks right now.

A couple of weeks ago, I actually “begged out” of one event that would have involved most of this Tuesday, and then another meeting that I was planning to attend on Tuesday ended up being moved.  Now, I realize how “Providential” all of that was, to use a word my later mother often used.  I’m not a “night person” at all, but I’m now in a schedule where I’m out every night for nights and nights on end.  It started with leading our church’s Friday night Bible Study (as I always do), then the New England Aftercare (“The Bridge House”) annual banquet was on Saturday evening.  Yesterday, I had a commitment to drive a couple of people to Medford.  This involved me being in Medford from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.  I had all of that time to “kill”.  I did a lot of walking, including a lot of prayer and Bible reading.  I managed to hear the bulk of the Patriots game, and snippets of  “60 Minutes”. I also read a chapter of a book, and I paroused the MetroWest Daily News; but killing 8 hours in Medford is a “trip” and I really didn’t mean that as a pun!  Tonight, I’m in Medford again!  Then, Tuesday night I’m at a meeting in Marlboro.  Wednesday night is our church prayer meeting.  Thursday night is a church Board Meeting.  Friday night is that Bible Study again.  Saturday night is attending a play in Medford, and yes, that’s connected to all the driving to Medford.  Sunday we have a special guest at our church ministering in drama in the morning and in the evening.  Next Monday, I may be in a coma  :-) !

I usually take Tuesdays off.  This week I took Monday off and am working Tuesday.  (Well, I’ll bein Medford tonight from 6 to 10 so I guess that’s kind of “on”!)  I have leaves to rake and a lawn to mow today.  I absolutely don’t want to do that today, but somehow I have to motivate myself to!  No joke, I’m also committed this morning to drive a guy and his cat to an animal clinic to have the cat boarded.  His apartment is being totally renovated and he has to get the cat out of there for a week or so.

I actually left out a lot of  “stuff” I’m doing this week!  Pardon me while I try to keep my face from falling into the keyboard......

Thursday, October 11, 2007


"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)

This will not be too long,  but I will quickly share two tips I picked up just living my life around Framingham this morning:

FIRST:  Do not talk on your cell phone while you're parked and waiting at the "drive up teller" window of a bank.  I was at the Franklin Street branch of TDBankNorth this morning.  That branch seems to have downsized in that there seldom seem to be more than 2 or 3 people at work there.  There was a guy in a large S.U.V. parked at the drive up teller window.  The teller who was covering the window was busy working on his transaction.  This went on for about 3 minutes.  In fact, the guy is a former Framingham restaurant owner and I believe he is still on the Framingham Zoning Board of Appeals.  He was talking on a personal conversation on his cell phone, and the BANK MICROPHONE WAS PICKING IT UP CLEARLY!  He was broadcasting his entire personal conversation to the bank customers and employees.  I actually said to one employee, "This is better than listening to '96.9 FMTalk'!"  The employee told me, "This happens ALL the time.  People talk on their cell phones and don't realize its being broadcast to the entire interior of the bank!"  So, think about that the next time you're at a drive up window (especially if you have to be delayed right at the window and microphone for some reason).

SECOND:  I attended the Framingham Downtown Renaissance meeting this morning.  What is F.D.R.?  Well, technically it is NOT part of Framingham Town government, although it usually meets inside the Framingham Memorial Building and there are usually at least 5 Town employees present.  Today it was described as "NOT an organization or an appointed Town group, but rather a conglomeration of representatives of organizations".  ANYWAY, one issue that came up today was PARKING; not just abuse of parking lots, but rules about parking on Framingham streets, etc.  I was one of the few people who knew that Framingham has an ordinance that you CANNOT park in one place on a Framingham street for over 2 hours at a time UNLESS it is posted "Resident Parking Only" and your residence is a short distance away from that parking place.  Over the past two months, Framingham has hired a female parking enforcement person.  She's very tough and has no mercy.  I see her out on the streets of downtown Framingham ticketing cars (for large sums of money) all the time.  A number of people at the table this morning were complaining about that and asking what can be done to improve the parking situation in Framingham.  We are actually going to address parking more in depth at next month's meeting, and it would take several paragraphs to report all that was said today, but my tip is, make sure you understand your community's parking regulations.  I know that Canton used to have a similar 2 hour time limit throughout the Town of Canton (and they may still have it).  Often these Town wide parking limits are not enforced, but when Towns decided to start enforcing them, you can really get hit in the pocketbook!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to to bring us unto Christ...” (from Galatians 3:24)

Over a year ago I was interviewed by Framingham TAB reporter Tyler Reed.  Reed was doing research for a story about local bloggers.  He asked me if my blog was “religious” and I explained that at least 75% of the postings in my blog are not overtly “religious” or “spiritual”, although virtually everything I write has SOME spiritual overtones.  THIS piece is one that Reed could rightfully label as “religious”.

Yesterday, I was fascinated to see Jewish agnostic A.J. Jacobs interviewed on one of the “morning shows”.  (I THINK it was on CNN, but I can’t remember.)  Jacobs was also featured on page 1D of yesterday’s  “USA TODAY”.  A.J.Jacobs has recently come out with a book entitled, “The Year of Living Biblically”.  For 381 days, Mr. Jacobs decided to totally live according to the Ten Commandments AND all of the other rules and regulations of the Old Testament.  (I’ve been told there are over 600 of ‘em...I’ve never actually sat down and counted them!)  Among other things, he did not shave, he wore white, he wore a robe and sandals, he ate crickets, and he became a literal sheep herder. He even stoned an adulterer (with pebbles)!  Jacobs also visited and spend quality time with the Amish, some Jehovah’s Witnesses, some Hasidic Jews, and some evangelical Christians.  He found the year or so that he spend attempting to live totally in line with the Bible to be very inspirational and meaningful.  One new practice that he will keep for the rest of his life is that he will keep the Sabbath as a day of total rest.  I was MOST fascinated that he told the television interviewer that he was unable to spend even ONE twenty-four hour period completely without sin of ANY kind even though he tried his hardest. 

This may sound strange to the masses in our day who reject the concept of sin and whose answer for everything and anything is “I’m a GOOD person!”.  The fact is that God calls each human being to love God with the whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  No matter HOW “good” you are, try doing that for even 24 hours straight.  As  A.J. Jacobs found out, you can’t!  This is a paradox.  God’s Word says we HAVE to fulfill the Old Testament fully and totally every day of our lives to go to Heaven...yet, we can’t.  Jesus said we have to be “perfect” to go to Heaven...yet we just can’t achieve that.  (Check out the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7.)  The fact is, that’s the biggest part of why Jesus came.  He came not to destroy the Old Testament Law but to fulfill it.  Jesus paid the penalty for your sin and my sin because even if each of us tried to totally fulfill the Old Testament Law with all of its rules and regulations, we just can’t do it.  What we need to do is “receive” Jesus Christ (see John 1:12), be “born again” (see John 3:3), and put our trust in Christ (see Romans chapters 1-10).  That’s the meaning of “getting saved”.  The verse above says that the Law was our “schoolmaster” to bring us to Christ.  The purpose of the Law is to show us God’s perfect standard, and then to let us know we can’t measure up and THAT’S why we need Jesus Christ to become Lord and Savior of each of our lives.

If what I’m saying sounds crazy, BEFORE you dismiss it, slowly, carefully, and prayerfully, read the New Testament through from Matthew to Revelation.  If you do, I believe that experience will change your life in an even more profound way than A.J. Jacobs’ experience changed his life!

Thursday, October 4, 2007


“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”  (Matthew 5:38-39)

Those words from the Sermon on the Mount can be among the most difficult for “Born Again Christians” to deal with.  There are actually a number of New Testament references which APPEAR to contradict them.  Without turning this piece into a lengthy theological dissitation, I think the context has a lot to do with how we understand and apply Matthew 5:38-39.  Nevertheless, devout Christians frequently find themselves put over a barrel (no pun intended on my last name) when dealing with difficult and unreasonable people- especially “unchurched” people.  Granted Jesus loves them and died on the cross for them.  Granted we are to extend grace and mercy and all that good stuff to them.  But that certainly doesn’t mean (for instance) that we let Charles Manson out of jail, or that Osama Ben Laden is a nice guy.

Our church facility is located in what could be called a “low income” neighborhood of downtown Framingham.  Our current facility (we were in a previous location for decades), purchased in 1994, was the United Auto Workers Union Hall.  The early days in that neighborhood were a challenge.  Most of the people in the immediate neighborhood were Hispanic, with a smattering of whites, blacks, and Brazilians.  Some were very nice people.  But many were hardened “street types” who took all they could get in any situation and had a “what are you gonna do about it?” kind of  an “in your face” attitude.  It would take me many paragraphs to talk about the early years in the South St. neighborhood.  The GOOD news is that the neighborhood is actually nicer and safer than in was in 1994.  The caliber of the people has improved.  A problematic bar across the street went out of business and that property has since been sold.  A number of cosmetic improvements have been made in the neighborhood.  But, as I tell people, “It’s not Weston!”.

We are blessed to own 2 parking lots...a paved lot which parks 34 cars immediately behind our building AND a dirt/gravel overflow lot immediately behind the paved lot which can park somewhere around 12 cars.  Back in the 1994-1995 era, we had huge problems with the parking lots.  People just used them like they owned them.  At times they’d be completely filled up with cars.  Those who parked there, (some from the neighborhood, and some wealthy commuters from Sherborn who’d park there to take the commuter rail into Boston), all took the attitude “I’ll park where I want to park and who the ____ are you to tell me otherwise?!”  We posted a NO PARKING sign, towed a number of cars, and made up a handout sheet with our parking policy.  Over the years, the number of “trespass” parkers in the lots greatly decreased.  In the past few years, I’ve typically had to have maybe 2 or 3 cars a year towed, but for the most part things have been quiet and there have not been any major problems...until recently.

There are two “problem parkers” who have come on the scene in 2007.  One is a Hispanic guy in a black Toyota “low rider”.  He’s been given a lot of notices, but as my late father would say, “He’s CUTE”...meaning, he’s smart enough not to REALLY push it.  His car may be constantly on our property for 2 or 3 days, but then you may not see it at all for a week or more.  He kind of knows when he may be “pushing it” and then he either parks on the street or stays away. I don’t think he lives in the neighborhood...I think he knows somebody in the neighborhood.  Much worse is the FEMALE owner of a maroon junky early 1990s 2dr. Honda.. About 6 weeks ago, that car began showing up regularly.  The thing that amazes me is that the car is always unlocked and the windows are ALWAYS down...rain or shine!   There are all kinds of CDs, packs of cigarettes, etc.  just left there waiting for somebody to steal them. 

About ten days ago, I was finally able to catch the owner standing by her car.  You may be mad at me for this but I call her “The fat girl”.  Why?  Because she IS a fat girl.  She looks Spanish or Brazilian but speaks excellent English. It turns out she recently moved into the neighborhood.  She used the old “Well I have no place to park/what am I supposed to do?!” line.  I told her, “Look, if you’re really STUCK, then park it in our dirt/gravel lot.  I really don’t want people parking here at all, but I know it’s tough to find a space.  Just put the car  in our dirt/gravel lot and I won’t bother you.”

Well, about two-thirds of the time she does, but about one third she parks it in the paved lot.  AND you’ll see her out there with her friends, socializing like it’s a Latin festival or something.  Today, I came onto the church property and there the junky Honda was parked in the paved lot.  I called the police to “run the plate” for me just to make sure it’s registered and all that stuff.  (The towing companies give me a hard time about towing unless I can prove to them the car is legally registered. Maybe another time I’ll write about how we’ve had to handle abandoned cars with no I.D. or V.I.N.)  I left her a note on the car telling her I’ve asked her to park it in the dirt/gravel lot, and I’m asking her again, AND telling her if she persists on parking in the paved lot, I won’t hesitate to have it towed.

Honestly,  I am SO tempted to just take the CDs and other junk out of her car and just put them someplace and when she flips and asks if I took them, I’ll tell her, “Yes, how does it feel to experience someone having no regard for YOUR property?!”.  The only thing is, I really don’t know how the law looks at that.  If that car is on “my” property and is unlocked, do I have the right to go into it and take stuff out of it? I’m not sure if I do.  AND when you’re dealing with the type of person she appears to be, you can have a car towed or something like that, and three days later, you may arrive and find the church building covered in graffiti, or the windows smashed, etc.

So, this is where Matthew 5:38-39 can be really tough.  Where is Moses when ya need him?! (Just kidding about Moses, but SERIOUSLY, I’d love to hear from you at  or you can leave a comment here.... WHAT WOULD YOU DO?)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


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

Ten years ago, or so, my kids loved the television show and children's game entitled, "Where in the World is Carmen Sandeigo?"  The point of the game was to teach kids geography, and at least in the case of my kids, it worked pretty well.  That game was obviously the inspiration for the title of this piece:  "Where in the World is Framingham Centre?"

About five or six weeks ago, the State installed new directional highway signs on Route 126 at the Route 9 interchange.  In fact, they not only installed signs right at the "cloverleaf" but in that whole Route 126/30/9 area which longtime Framingham residents refer to as "The Junction".  The signs look nice and for the most part they're helpful.  The problem is there's a major directional error!

One sign correctly directs drivers to follow Route 9 West to Framingham Centre.  Another directs drivers to follow Route 126 South to Framingham Centre.  Anyone who has lived in Framingham for much more than a year knows which sign is correct and which one is incorrect.  The sign directing people to follow Route 9 West to Framingham Centre is correct.  Framingham Centre is NOT the same thing as "downtown Framingham".  It's no more the same thing as downtown Framingham than Pastor Dennis Baril of Rehoboth is the same as Pastor Bob Baril of Framingham.  (Yes, there IS a Pastor Dennis Baril of Rehoboth.  We're probably VERY distant cousins but we're not closely related.) Framingham Centre is in fact the original cultural, governmental, and commercial center of Framingham from the 1700s.  It was considered the main commercial, governmental, and commercial center of Framingham until around 1900. It's STILL a pretty busy commercial center and is the location of Framingham State College, but Framingham's town hall was moved to downtown Framingham, formerly known as South Framingham, in the early 20th Century.  The Route 126 sign SHOULD direct people to "Downtown Framingham" and not to "Framingham Centre".

I actually put out an e-mail a few weeks ago to the members of Framingham Downtown Renaissance about this.  I figured that since we've got a Selectman, a State Rep., a State Senator, and the headof the Framingham Chamber of Commerce all in that group (and all received copies of my e-mail) that someone would respond to me and someone would make a phone call or something to correct the problem.  No response.  As of now, the incorrect sign still remains. 

Is the incorrect sign really such a big deal?  Well, imagine yourself in Framingham for the first time and trying to find your way to Framingham Centre.  "Good luck!"

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

How many of you have ever forwarded am e-mail which warned of some impending internet virus- only to find it was an all urban legend?  I have.  A friend of mine forwarded the same e-mail and faced tremendous “flack” for forwarding it.  She was so discouraged by that experience that she told me, “I’ll never again forward anything to anyone.”  (Thank God, she’s rethought that and now she WIll forward certain particularly good and inspiring e-mails.)

If you’re like me, you probably receive anywhere from 3 to 13 “Forwards” a day.  Realistically, we can’t necessarily forward ALL of them.  And, we probably SHOULDN’T forward ALL of them.

Last week, I received two particularly good Forwarded e-mails.  Each contained a meaningful spiritual story.  I forwarded each on.  One woman contacted me to say that she was going to use each story when she went to minister in a nursing home.  A pastor friend of mine contacted me to say he was going to use one of the stories as a sermon illustration when he preached this past Sunday.

There are some e-mails I recommend you do not forward.  If an e-mail chides you to forward it or you’ll have bad luck- FORGET IT.  It an e-mail promises you blessings, or answered prayer, or money- FORGET IT.  If an e-mail says if you don’t forward it you’re not a good friend- FORGET IT.  But if an e-mail contains inspiring and encouraging thoughts- I SAY FORWARD IT ON!  I also think that it’s a good policy that when you do forward an e-mail on, you also send it to the person who originally sent it to you.  This lets that person know you thought enough of its contents to forward it on, and it just kind of makes the person who sent it to you feel good.

ONE WORD OF CAUTION-  I know of a person who got in trouble with their e-mail server because that person STARTED one of those “meaningful” e-mails that’s designed to be forwarded.  The server suspended that person’s account because the server has a “no tolerance” policy for those who start mass e-mailings.  So, if you ever intend to START a mass e-mailing, make sure it is not a violation of your server.

Well, “thems” my thoughts on the subject of forwarding e-mails!