Thursday, February 28, 2008
I know the above verse is talking about false prophets being thrown into Hell at the last judgment. That’s NOT what this posting is about, but I felt those words were fitting for how you feel when a perfectly good credit or debit card is “declined”. My son hates the whole modern world of credit cards, checks, and so forth (although at least a year ago he broke down and opened a checking account). Jon would rather that everybody just carried around large wads of cash on their person (and guns for protection). He thinks that’s a whole lot more real an honest. In many respects, I’m not far from Jon in my own thinking. My late father used only cash and money orders. My MOM did have checks and a credit card for emergencies, so maybe he was “cheating” but I try to use cash as much as possible and I like it better that way. Now, this whole thing of BUYING stuff on-line: for the most part I don’t like it. (Admittedly, the last few times I’ve flown my wife bought the tickets on-line, so maybe I’m sort of cheating like my Dad did.)
The above was just an introduction for my latest “I can’t believe this” story. About a year ago, the church set up a simple website on-line. Despite the fact that I have a blog, I’m really not very technically inclined at all. I’ve done very little to maintain or update the website, but at least our church has a presence on the internet. In order to have a website, we first had to register a domain name . Last year, I went to the site of an “outfit” (or is it a “company” or a “corporation” or WHAT is it?!) to register a domain name. At that time, the church had a checking account but did not have a credit or debit card. I had to use the VISA debit card from my own checking account to secure the domain name. I really DIDN’T like the idea of using my own debit card and my own name, etc. but it was the only way I could do that.
Within a few weeks of that situation happening I talked to our Board about the importance of our church at least having a debit card connected to the checking account. We applied for a debit card and received (I think) 3 cards for myself and two officers of the church. I went to an ATM and “activated” my card for future usage. Several months ago, our church’s men’s group decided to sponsor a child in a third world country through World Vision. We decided we collect money for this each month at our meetings, but to make things easier, we’d just set it up using the debit card for automatic withdrawals every month to support the kid. WELL, I started getting letters from World Vision saying the card had been declined. This happened several times, and it was VERY embarrassing! I ended up going to our bank. It seems the bank has a security rule that the address on file of the card owner has to match the address the card owner has given the merchant or the card will be declined. BOY, IT WAS NICE OF THE BANK TO TELL ME, WASN’T IT? World Vision had my personal address and it did not match the church’s address....I got things all straightened out between the bank and World Vision.
A few days ago, my wife ordered some Christian Education materials through a publishing house and used the church debit card. Guess what? It was declined. Once again, it was the whole address thing. We do not use the church address as our shipping address, so the addresses did not match. My wife was able to call the publisher’s toll free number and get the matter straightened out. Also, a few days ago, I received an e-mail reminder from the domain name outfit or company or whatever that the church’s domain name was going to expire soon and I needed to go to their site to renew it. Well, the whole reason I got the church debit card in the first place was for stuff like this, and I really didn’t want to be using my personal name and information for the church’s domain name registration, SO I went to the outfits site, entered my password and other security info. and went through the on-line procedure to reregister. The card was declined. I went through the procedure again. The card was declined again. This time there was a warning telling me if I was declined again I would be “locked out of my account”! I then had to go through a bunch of on-line hoops to find customer service. Was there a toll-free number where I could talk to someone (like my wife with the publishing house)? NO! The on-line registration outfit and I exchanged several e-mails. I ultimately received a reply from them saying their billing is by a “third party” and essentially “sorry there’s nothing we can do”! I was totally disgusted and wishing I was living back in 1964. I know, there were no personal computers or blogs or websites in 1964! (And, was that such a bad thing?!)
Finally, I went on-line yesterday. I used my personal debit card and information and reregistered the church domain name. One thing I wonder is, what happens someday when I’m no longer the pastor of the church? How do they secure the domain name then? And, the whole point of getting the church a debit card was to MAKE THINGS EASIER. I think the local bank’s policy of addresses matching exactly for security purposes is STUPID. What bank is is? All I will tell you is, it starts with an “F”.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
My cousin Marilyn is one of the all time nicest people you would ever want to meet! In fact, she’s one in 1461!
She’s a LEAP YEAR BABY...born on February 29 during a leap year. Thus, Marilyn only has a “real” birthday once every 4 years!
I would tell you how old she’s going to be this year, but I know women sometimes feel funny about revealing their ages! I will say she’s within a few years of my age.
There was a great article in Tuesday’s MetroWest Daily News about LEAP YEAR BABIES. One thing I didn’t know is that the birth date February 29 really confuses Departments of Motor Vehicles and many times Leap Year Babies have trouble renewing their driver’s licenses.
I know most of you don’t know my cousin Marilyn PERSONALLY. And I know it might seem really strange to send a birthday greeting to someone you don’t even know; but since she is a Leap Year baby, and only gets a “real” birthday once every 4 years, I thought it would be really cool if she received a whole bunch of HAPPY BIRTHDAY e-mails on or just before FEBRUARY 29.
For obvious reasons I’m not going to tell you Marilyn’s last name (it’s NOT Baril) nor am I going to give you any other personal information, but I will say her e-mail address is
Would you do something really nice for a Leap Year baby?
Sometime between now and the evening of Friday, February 29, would you send an e-mail to Marilyn at
Just have the subject say “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” and the message could say something like:
“I’m a friend of Bob Baril’s, wishing you a very Happy Birthday!”
I’ll be interested to learn how many Happy Birthday greetings Marilyn receives.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Early in his Monday morning broadcast, Michael Graham on Boston’s 96.9 WTKK was talking about how LITTLE homework most American kids get and the fact that we are behind most industrialized nations when it comes to academics. I found that interesting because I “guest taught” four theology classes at Framingham’s Marian (Catholic) High School on Monday. (The first two classes were roughly at 7:30 and 8:20; then I had a break before coming back to teach at 10:05 and 10:55.) I gave a general overview of the life and significance of Saint Paul. (If I do say so, myself, it’s a excellent talk which a lot of adults would find interesting!) Most of the kids were well behaved and received it quite well. I was struck by the fact that Mr. McGarry gave his classes a fairly demanding homework assignment due on Thursday. The Freshmen have to write a 600 word paper on Saint Paul, using three sources. The Sophomores have to write an 800 word paper on Saint Paul, using four sources. Those assignments would have been no big deal for me when I was in college, but in HIGH SCHOOL, would have been pretty intimidated by such an assignment being due in just 3 days or so.
In junior high and high school (well, even in the upper grades of elementary school) I always HATED homework. Homework over school vacations was TWICE as bad as regular homework. Michael Graham was taking the very conservative line that our kids need to toughen up and get more homework. Interestingly enough, Dr. James Dobson, the famous social conservative is NOT a big “homework” person. No, he’s nor against ALL homework (nor am I) but I’ve heard him say that when his kids were teenagers. several times they had several special family long weekends ruined by homework assignments. Dobson feels a lot of that kind of stuff is busywork, and that quality family time is more important.
I’m kind of torn, because I really agree with Dobson and I really never cared for homework, BUT I also know that college is, well, at least 75% HOMEWORK. If a kid is not prepared to do homework and to work independently, that kid will most likely flunk out of college. At Stonehill College in the early 1970s, I was a History major. Almost every semester, I took a “tutorial” course by Dr. Anne Carrigg. Dr. Carrigg was very brilliant and VERY intellectual. We usually read a book a week in her courses. The books were mostly highbrow, and, well, just plain boring and TOUGH. There were never more than 4 students at a time in her tutorial meetings in her office. You met once a week with Dr. Carrigg and three other kids. It was literally just like the McLaughlin Group on television. She’d be babbling on about the Revolutionary War or something and then in John McLaughlin style she’d fire something at me like, “And Benedict Arnold had a surprise at Fort Ticonderoga DID’T he Bob?!” If you couldn’t give a flawless answer, you were dead. Honestly, 50% of the time, I was snowing her, yet in most of her classes, I got Bs.
Come to think of it, contrary to what some folks think, I DON’T just work one day a week. Every sermon, every class, every Bible Study, even every prayer meeting takes a LOT of preparation. (Then there’s all the legal business of running a church that’s a pain but you’ve got to do it.)
So, maybe Michael Graham has a point. Maybe kids do need more homework. Michael, if the public school isn’t giving your kids enough, you can always give Marian High School a call...
Saturday, February 23, 2008
I know probably only people over 50 (like me) will remember the television show, “My Favorite Martian”. The show ran on CBS in the 1960s. It starred Ray Walston as the Martian and Bill Bixby (who was Bruce Banner on “The Incredible Hulk” about fifteen years later). There was a scene in “My Favorite Martian” where the Martian, commenting about something, says to the Bill Bixby character, “It’s as easy as tying a shoe!”. The camera then pans over to Bill Bixby’s shoes. The laces were all untied and just loosely flopping about!
If not for a very stern father, I would have been the next Bill Bixby! I know most kids around 3 or 4 proudly start all the “I can do it myself” stuff, whether it’s drawing their own bath water, getting a bowl of cereal, brushing their hair or tying their shoes. My kids tended to do the “I can do it myself” routine, and that was especially true of Amy who is getting married next month. I was NOT that kind of kid. I guess I was planning to be a welfare recipient or something because I expected everything to be done for me! At age seven and a half I still could not fathom how to master tying a shoe, and I certainly had no interest in learning. My mother tied my shoes every day...well, until this one day in the summer of 1962 at the cottage where we were staying on Cape Cod. My father got so angry with me! He told me, “You’re not getting out of that chair until you have learned to tie a shoe!” Nobody could lecture like my father. Nobody. And he laid into a fifteen-minute lecture and shoe tying demonstration that was about as pleasing to me as being an inmate at Walpole prison would have been...well, actually, compared to my father’s lecture and demand...as long as I could have been in protective custody, I think I WOULD have preferred Walpole prison! It took awhile, but yes, I learned to tie, and untie, and tie, and untie a shoe that day...and I even learned the fine skill of double knotting.
What’s weird is, I have never forgotten that. It’s good in that I can tie and untie a shoe. But it’s bad in that I NEVER tie or untie a shoe without mentally going to that chair and that lecture on Cape Cod in 1962. Never. On Friday, I came in from shoveling show, and as I tediously untied the laces of my boots, I was there at Cape Cod being told “You’re not getting out of that chair until you have learned to tie a shoe!”
I know my father was right. But, here’s another item for all you amateur “shrinks” out there. To this day, I hate “tie shoes”! Those of you who know me personally will notice that most of my dress shoes are loafers, and whenever I can get sneakers (“tennis shoes” for you midwesterners) which use velcro rather than standard laces, I will do so. Now, I DO own some sneakers, some shoes, and boots with laces, but to this day, I hate them. I was reading somewhere that “tie shoes” came onto the market around 1900. Before that, women’s shoes were fastened with buttons and men’s shoes with buckles. You know, “one-two, buckle my shoe!”.
I’ve often said that to me the guy who invented air conditioning is a hero. (Yeah, I know it’s ruining the atmosphere, but...he’s still a hero to me!) Well, I know this will sound terrible, but to me, the guy who invented “tie shoes” is a bum! Now, the VELCRO shoe guy? ... he’s a hero!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I was really intrigued by a newspaper story I read on Tuesday.
The front page of the Tuesday, February 19, 2008 MetroWest Daily News featured a photo of a 17-year-old named Adam Engel and a story about him entitled "Coin operated". Although it was a front page story in the actual paper, I don't think it made it to the on-line version of the MetroWest Daily News, which is unusual.
Adam Engel is trying to raise 3 million pennies to pay for his first year of college. He's got to be either brilliant, lazy, innovative, eccentric or a combination of all of the above.
You may want to check out Adam Engel's blog at
What do you think? Is he brilliant, lazy, innovative, eccentric or a combination of all of the above?
FINALLY, maybe I'm a sap, but I mailed Adam Engel off a dollar bill (equal to 100 pennies) and an encouraging note. Right or wrong, Adam reminds me a lot of me at that age; and I suppose he's even a bit like me right now!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
In this posting, to use the famous line from the old Dragnet television show, “...the names have been changed to protect the innocent.”
Some of you who are know me well and are familiar with the church I pastor will figure out who I'm writing about in this piece. If you do figure out who I'm writing about, I ask you to just keep that information to yourselves. I also want to clarify that I mean NO disrespect, unkindness, or hostility to or about the person who is the topic of this piece. Rather, I'm just thinking about a woman I know that I shall call “Kelley”. Kelley has had numerous contacts with the government, with the medical establishment, and with the church. I'm reflecting today; and I'm wondering if the agencies and entities with whom Kelley has interacted have helped her, or if they have actually hurt and crippled her. Ill warn you, for those of you who hold to a hard and fast political ideology, this will not be a piece that's easy to process, and it will not make you comfortable.
Kelley is a woman about 38-years-old. I don't know what her I.Q. is but it’s not very high. I don't consider her mentally retarded, however. Some folks who know Kelley DO consider her “mildly retarded”. I'd say she has a below average I.Q., but I have known some retarded people through the years, and Kelley is frankly much smarter and sharper than probably any of them. Kelley hasn't worked in well over ten years, with the exception of a few part-time “under the table” jobs. She receives a government check each month and is classified as “disabled”. Kelley also lives in a heavily subsidized apartment, located in a complex for the elderly and disabled. Kelley is diabetic, and struggles with her weight.
It might surprise you to learn that Kelley is the proud graduate of a pubic high school located in one of Boston's MetroWest suburbs. She graduated from high school around sixteen years ago, at the age when most young people are graduating from college. Kelley is very proud of the fact that she made the honor roll several times in high school. Yet, Kelley cannot spell the word “doctor” (to her it's “dockter”), nor can she spell the word “second” (for her it's “secend”). Until just a couple of weeks ago, she had no idea what the word “famine” meant. In fact, Kelley imagined a “famine” must be some type of animal.
Several years ago, Kelley excitedly told me she was being transported to a demonstration in protest of proposed cuts in state healthcare for the disabled. I cautioned Kelley against attending that demonstration, telling her that hardworking people from our church congregation who might see her on television would be very angry that she was protesting while they were struggling to put food on their tables.
“Do you know where your benefits come from? Do you understand how they are paid for?” I asked.
She had no idea.
When I told her it all comes out of taxes, she was horrified. Kelley didn't think her benefits should come from the taxes hardworking people pay. She thought essentially that the government should just print money and take care of poor and disabled people.
I don't think Kelley should lose her apartment or her checks. She'd never survive. In fact, she's barely surviving now, because until recently no one ever REALLY taught her how to handle money. Some concerned women from our church have been helping Kelley and she's been making progress.
Kelley's life story is horrific. As an infant, she was abandoned by her biological parents. She was then illegally adopted by an unsuitable and undesirable family. As a teenager, she was made a ward of the state and placed in a group home. Kelley's social skills were deplorable, but the group home did greatly help her. While she was a resident of the group home she completed high school. Social service agencies have taught her how to use the system to survive, or “exist” is a better term.
Kelley should NOT have been awarded a high school diploma. Of course, she got the diploma before the days of the M-CAST test. Kelley does math at about a 6th grade level. She reads and writes at around a 3rd grade level. Believe me, she's not the first such uneducated high school graduate I've met!
Kelley's main occupation is going to doctor appointments. Each month, there's an appointment with her chiropractor, then her diabetes doctor, then her eye doctor, then her orthopedic doctor. (There are actually others, too; those are the ones I can think of!) Most of the appointments are paid for by the state's health insurance for the poor.
Those of us who have worked with Kelley have found that she IS capable of learning, and changing, and growing as a person. Several have dedicated an enormous amount of time and energy to Kelley, and she's slowly but surely progressing.
But how many other Kelleys are out there...both men and women? Was it right to socially promote Kelley and hand her a high school diploma? Was it right for social service agencies to teach Kelley how to be a ward of the state and use the system? Is it right for doctors to have her keep coming for (often) meaningless appointments for which they then bill the state?
If the answer to most of the above is “no”, and the answer to most of those questions IS “no”, then what IS the answer?
Are we our sister's keeper?
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I know I drove a lot of you crazy a few weeks ago talking about all the confusion and stress when I signed up for Verizon FiOS. Well, I've had it for over a month now, and overall I'm happy with it.
I couldn't have been more surprised than I was at lunchtime today when I opened up a letter that came from my old cable company. It was a bill. As far as they were concerned, I was still a customer. They showed I had only paid my previous balance in part, and that now I owed a significantly larger balance.
I called the old cable company, and had to go through probably at least 6 voice mail prompts before I could get a "real" person.
On January 15, just a few days after we had FiOS installed, I went to the office of my old cable company. I asked them how much I owed to close out my account. I figured I owed at least $120 because I was about a month behind in my payments. I was quite surprised when I was told I owed $80 and change. I was perfectly happy to turn in the old equipment; then write out a check to "settle up" with them and that was that. Well, this new bill showed that I had actually owed far more (like I thought) and NOW they were billing me for my usage from Jan. 15-Feb. 15, as well. WHAT USAGE?
The kid I talked to (he didn't sound very old) was confused. First I owed one amount...then he checked, and found I owed another amount....then he checked and found I had a credit balance of 2 dollars....then he was all confused and did not understand why I got the bill and what my status was.
I was put on hold so he could talk to a supervisor.
After a while on hold, the kid came back and said they were going to leave things that I was owed a credit balance of 2 dollars, and they'd mail me the check. Honestly, I DO think I owed some money, going back to the fact that I was told I owed too little on January 15, but I was totally truthful and honest with them. I think the supervisor figured that since I'm no longer a customer, well, what were they going to do? Threaten to shut off my service? But I don't have any service. Take me to court? For around $200? It's just not worth it. So, it was a win/win for all.
Ya know what- switchin' to FiOS was probably the best thing (television-wise) that I ever did!
My good friend Ed (who is a rural letter carrier from Texas) sent me an important e-mail reminder!
On May 12, 2008, the U.S. postal rates go up. This will include the cost of a first-class letter rising from 41 cents to 42 cents.
YOU CAN SAVE MONEY BY PURCHASING A BUNCH OF THE “FOREVER” STAMPS AT 41 CENTS APIECE BEFORE MAY 12.
THOSE 41 CENT “FOREVER” STAMPS WILL BE PERFECTLY GOOD ON AND AFTER MAY 12! IN FACT, THEY’LL BE PERFECTLY GOOD “FOREVER”!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
When I went to vote on “Super Tuesday” I was surprised to notice that my daughter Amy’s name was still listed on the Framingham voter rolls. Amy graduated from college and nursing school last May and became an official full-time resident of Springfield, Missouri at that time. She registered her car in Missouri, and got a Missouri driver’s license. At the time, I notified the Framingham Town Clerk’s office as well as the Treasurer/Tax Collector office of Amy’s change of address- providing them with all of the necessary information.
Amy still had an auto excise tax issue to settle, and she did that at the Framingham Memorial Building live and in person when she visited us in October. Neither Amy nor I had any idea she had to write to the Town of Framingham and have her name taken off the voting list. I moved out of Canton, Mass. in 1982 and out of Walpole, Mass. in 1986. To the best of my knowledge I never notified them to take my name off the voting rolls of Canton or Walpole. Do you suppose my name IS still on the voting rolls of those Towns? “Methinks” it MAY BE!
I sent an e-mail to the office of Framingham Town Clerk Valerie Mulvey last week asking her to take Amy’s name off the voting list. I always thought that Town Clerk Valerie Mulvey was the person in charge of voting in Framingham. (Well, they sure imply that in the MetroWest Daily News!) Would you believe the person in charge of voting in Framingham is actually the FRAMINGHAM ELECTION COORDINATOR? How many people out there knew Framingham had an Election Coordinator? Raise those hands nice and high!
Well, the Election Coordinator is a woman named Michelle A. Jenkins. Here is the exact text of an e-mail that Michell A. Jenkins sent to me:
Your daughter’s name is still on the voting rolls, because by MGL I am unable to remove her name without her actual signature. By notifying the tax collectors office that does not remove her from the voting rolls. She is not listed on your census form because you must have notified me last year that she moved, so I had to put her in a different family code. If your daughter could send me a quick letter stating that she no longer lives in Framingham, I would be happy to remove her.
Michelle A. Jenkins
150 Concord Street
Framingham, MA 01702
This is Bob Baril writing again: I do appreciate the fact that Michelle A. Jenkins contacted me. But otherwise, how were Amy or I supposed to know this? Is this (stupid) Massachusetts General Law the reason why the Town of Brookline had THOUSANDS of names on their voting rolls of people who no longer lived there? Probably. There is NO I.D. reqired at the polls. Any female could have gone in there claiming to be Amy Baril and could have voted. In my opinion, this whole system is archaic, messed up, and needs to be changed.
I’m going to contact State Rep. Pam Richardson about this.
Monday, February 11, 2008
It may be that some of you would like to hear how the healing service went.
While I'm certainly a very ordinary and very fallible person (who gets sick!) and I have never claimed to have "the Gift of Healing", I have seen God do mighty things in my life regarding healing. In 2001, my sister Dianne and I laid hands on our accountant who was very ill with cancer. We were meeting with him regarding the settlement of my parents' Estate at the time. Jim, the accountant, told us he was not doing well and in fact, that as soon as our appointment was done, he was checking himself into the Norwood Hospital. Dianne and I laid hands on him right in his office and prayed for a miraculous healing. A few months later I called his office to set up my regular tax appointment. I guess my faith had been weak, because I was amazed that he was perfectly well and had been MIRACULOUSLY HEALED OF CANCER! My wife and I just had our tax appointment with him this past Saturday, and he brought up the subject of having been miraculously healed of cancer. He is still fine.
A few weeks ago, as I was driving along the MassPike in western Massachusetts, God spoke to me and called me to have a healing service in which I would pray for the sick. It was not an audible voice, but it might as well have been. It was SO clear.
This involved a LOT of perparation work because when you are planning a special healing service and opening things up to family, friends, and the community at large, there's a lot to do. As many of you know, I put out several e-mails about it. We also put out (for us) a pretty high quality "hard copy" mailing to our mailing list. There was fasting and prayer that went into preparing for the service. No kidding.
I will say that several leaders of our church (including me) experienced TREMENDOUS spiritual oppression and opposition over the past couple of weeks. It would take much too much space to describe all of the problems, difficulties, and just plain spiritual oppression that took place- I believe this opposition and oppression was from the spiritual powers of darkness.
Over the past few years, our church has endeavored to "put on" several special services and events with mostly very poor results. I began to struggle with fear that this would be just one more of those events. I suspected there would be a "challenging" weather forecast for Sunday, and there was.
Even so, I KNEW (and I still know) that God absolutely called for this service.
Sunday morning, I was experiencing a myriad of emotions...joy, fear, anticipation, excitement, worry, plus bursts of energy and fatigue at the same time. The attendance for Sunday morning was considerably DOWN. I could easily have become discouraged about that. I had to really FIGHT it. I taught a very good adult Sunday School class. We had several good sessions of prayer...first with the Board early in the day, and then with some of the men just before the service. Yes, the attendance for the service WAS way down, but the musicians sang and played their hearts out and I preached my heart out. The offering was low and really put us in a "financial situation". I was kind of nervous about that, but I figured we'd make things up on Sunday night.
Sunday afternoon's weather was "wild". Sun, drizzle, and intense snow squalls INTERMITTENTLY! Like Sunday morning, I was experiencing a myriad of emotions: joy, fear, anticipation, excitement, worry, plus bursts of energy and fatigue at the same time...sounds familiar, doesn't it...although the intensity was triple what it was in the morning. I spent a good deal of time in prayer on Sunday afternoon.
In the past, our very small group of church people has often worked their hearts out to put on special events, and then been emotionally crushed when they did not go well. With all of my heart I did not want to see that happen! I was determined that no matter how many or how few people showed up on Sunday night, I was going to give the service my all. Fifteen minutes before the service, I don't think 10 people had even showed up. Five minutes before the service there might have been 14 present. In a private room before the service I was trying to muster up all the courage and strength I could, but I was battling disappointment in people and anger. I had to remind myself that God called me to have the service, and that I needed to give it my very best.
We had a total of 17 people show up. Honestly, in one way or another, at least 110 people had been invited. When I prayed for the service, I had pictured 50 or 60 people being present. There was only one visitor. The visior was a female friend of mine and Mary Ann's from Norwood. I was SO grateful that she came! The music was good. I think I preached an outstanding sermon. I anointed with oil and prayed over and prophesied over around 8 people. Not everyone who reads this may understand it but I was under an mighty anointing when I prayed over at least 2 of the people. There was a powerful sense of God's presence over at least those 2. I have no doubt that God touched several people in special ways, and I'm looking forward to hearing special testimonies about what was done!
What was difficult is that one of our leaders looked cold, distant, and angry throughout the entire service. I wondered if I was misreading that person, but that's how the person looked, and that's what I was feeling. After the service, someone tried to greet that person and did not get a very friendly response.
I don't want to reveal a lot of information about who the angry person was, but again, it was a LEADER in our church. Later on, someone told me the person had angrily, cynically, and disgustedly said, "I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT I'M DOING HERE!! THERE'S NO SENSE IN ME EVEN BEING HERE!"
After the service, a few of us compared notes. (NOT that angry person...others.) Several said they felt that God DID move in a powerful way in the service, BUT that there was TREMENDOUS spiritual opposition and it was like we were up against a wall.
I will say, ministry in this church in Framingham has always been difficult. In the 21 years of pastoring this church, nothing has been easy. Spiritual oppression and opposition have been the norm. There have been little victories here and there, after enormous labor. One of the reasons I admire John McCain so much (and YES for my political friends, I know he is on the "wrong" side of many issues) is that I feel in a SPIRITUAL sense I have experienced in Framingham the kind of torture he experienced in Hanoi. McCain was a guy who just never gave up, and I don't give up, either.
I am grateful for the presence of God on Sunday night. I am grateful for the anointing. I am devastated by the negative comments and attitude of the person I mentioned because I genuinely care about that person.
Initially, I was angry immediately after the service. I felt like the church needed lots of prayer support and moral support tonight from friends of the church and friends of mine from OUTSIDE of our congregation that we (mostly) didn't get. I believe there were supposed to be at LEAST another 15 people present.
On a mercenary note, because of the financial situation I did not get paid on Sunday.
I kind of vented and got depressed for a half hour after the service, but then I pulled myself together and calmed down. As my wife pointed out, "WHO called you to have this service?" And, it's true, God did. I will be interested to see and hear testimonies of healing and other things God did as a result of the service. At times I've been told I'm crazy to stay at this church...that I'm an outstanding and dymanic speaker and teacher and that at 53-years-old I deserve better. Well, I do deserve better, but I'm not going anyplace.
In my depressed half hour I said, "Well, I'm not having any more healing services because after tonight nobody will come!". NO, I take that back. I'm having more. LOTS more. There is NO way I am ceding this church or my ministry or even this community to the powers of darkness. NO WAY!
I'd love to hear from you!
Friday, February 8, 2008
LENT is earlier this year than it almost ever is. The first day of Lent was Ash Wednesday, February 6, and the final day of Lent will be the day before Easter.
As a kid raised in Roman Catholicism, I grew up with the concept of Lent...the forty days before Easter. Usually Roman Catholics “gave up” something for Lent such as smoking or chewing gum or swearing. Then they promptly resumed the cigarettes, Bazooka Joe gum, and @#&@*$& language on Easter Sunday.
After I “got saved” at age 15, I learned that Lent wasn’t too important to most born-again Christians. But a couple of years ago, I began thinking about Lent, and I decided to drastically cut down on caffeine for Lent. In the manner of the people from liturgical churches, I promptly on Easter Sunday resumed the over use of caffeinated beverages. In 2007, I also drastically cut down on caffeine for Lent, but I did NOT resume heavy caffeine use afterwards. I still drink caffeinated coffee and colas BUT in great moderation. I’m no longer ADDICTED to them and it feels great!
THIS YEAR, I decided that instead of “giving something up for Lent” I would do something positive for Lent. I decided to salute and affirm 40 people whom I particularly appreciated- who have touched my life in some special way. I decided that each day during Lent, I would choose a person for that day and write that person an affirming e-mail; 40 people in all.
This task WILL be challenging for mid-March as I’ll be out-of-state for at least 8 days due to my daughter Amy’s wedding, but SOMEHOW I will get these forty e-mails out during Lent. Each e-mail will contain “affirming information”, telling that person why they were chosen and will also contain a “prophetic word”....something encouraging I believe God would have me tell them.
I hope each of the 40 will then turn around and bless and affirm someone else.
Incidentally, if I do not choose YOU as one of my “TOP 40” please don’t be offended...there’s always next year!
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
fathers to the false prophets." (Luke 6:26)
I tuned it to the Jay Severin Show (or is it "Extreme Games"?) on Super
Tuesday afternoon. Most of you know I'm a radio talk show "junkie" and a political
"junkie" so I was happier than a crack user at a police department drug
warehouse. Jay's juvenile behavior yesterday was so disappointing that as
competitor Howie Carr used to say, "He should be caned".
Here is what happened:
A guy from Weston called; I think the guy was "Jim From Weston". What Jay
DIDN'T GET...what Jay DIDN'T PERCEIVE...is that Jim From Weston was actually an
ADMIRER of Jay's. I knew right away exactly where Jim From Weston was coming
from. Jim was thrilled to be on the air, and he HAD to be very nervous.
(I've actually done a little bit of radio on the now defunct WJLT radio including
hosting talk shows and taking calls, and believe me, calling in to a show is
a thousand times more scary than is hosting a show.) Jim obviously liked Jay
and enjoyed his show, but was disappointed at times that Jay can be
unnecessarily abrupt, rude, arrogant, and juvenile in how he treats callers. The
mistake Jim made (and on this I agree with Jay) is that Jim "LED" with that thought.
That thought was maybe 10% of Jim really wanted to say on the call, but it
was all he got to say.
Jay grilled Jim savagely. If it was a boxing match, Jim was on the group,
spurting blood, on the verge of death, and almost unrecognizable, and Jay was
shoving the referee aside and kneeling down to CONTINUE the beating. Did
anybody watch "Lost" last week when Jack beat up Ben? Well, Jack was KIND to Ben in
comparison to how Jay treated Jim from Weston.
I wanted to hear Jim's point. We never got to hear it. Instead we got to
hear Jay with a display of insecurity and whining like I haven't heard since my
youngest was a preschooler (Sorry, Rachel, but it's a great illustration)! If
that wasn't bad enough, for at least five minutes after Jim's call was over,
Jay was making fun of him and taking pot shots at him.
I wonder what Jim from Weston's opinion of Jay is now. If Jim has friends or
family who were listening, I wonder what they think of Jay Severin. If I was
talked to like that by Jay Severin, I'd be embarrassed, but I'd just try to
put the experience behind me. If Jay Severin ever treated a close friend of
mine that way, well, I'd have to take the next day off and spend it praying
because I'd frankly be so angry.
I've heard Michael Graham, Howie Carr, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Finneran, and Moe
Lauzier all take calls from people who "LED" with criticism the way Jim did.
Frankly, the only other host who reacts like Jay is Moe Lauzier, but even Moe
would not keep making fun of the guy after the call was over.
Michael Graham, Howie Carr, Rush Limbaugh, and Tom Finneran are no "push
overs". They're all smart guys and they're all very capable of handling
themselves in a debate or argument, and USUALLY they come out of the argument
victorious. They've also got enormous amounts of grace, class, and wisdom.
In my opinion, Jay Severin has a higher I.Q. than Michael, Howie, Rush, or
Tom. He certainly has a higher I.Q. than me. And, YES, Jim from Weston was
wrong to LEAD with that critique. He should have saved it for late in the call or
e-mailed it to Jay. But there's a classy way to treat a person.
One of the highlights of my life was being a two-hour in-studio guest of
David Brudnoy's on WBZ in early 1989. The topic was the Assemblies of God. I was
scheduled to do one hour with David, and we were getting so many calls from
all over the country and David enjoyed it so much that he asked me to stay for
a second hour. David Brudnoy was gay. David Brudnoy thought the New
Testament was bunk. David Brudnoy was also a perfect gentleman, asking me off-air
about my wife and kids and the church I pastor, and even buying me a coke
during the news! When David was on his death bed at M.G.H. I tried to get in to
see him and was disappointed that I was not allowed in. I think the family
thought I'd come in there acting like a wild and crazy southern preacher. I would
have spent no more than 5 minutes in the room and thanked David for that night
on WBZ and just prayed a loving prayer for him.
If by some miracle Jay Severin ever reads this, I hope it will cause him to
do some soul-searching this Lent. I'll still listen tohis show, but it was so
disappointing yesterday that I ended up listening to Larry Poitras on
Woonsocket, Rhode Island's WNRI AM radio!
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Monday, February 4, 2008
Dave Milley was Senior Pastor of Christian Life Center in Walpole when I was an Assistant Pastor there back in the early 1980s. Milley was always a charismatic, captivating speaker. One thing I remember him saying during services was, "Friend, I read the back of the book and WE WIN!". That's true. The above verse is the very last verse of Revelation and of the New Testament. Almighty God and His children DO win and live in peace, happiness, and fulfillment for all eternity.
As a New England Patriots fan, I need to remind myself of that verse today!
It was an exciting game last night, but the loss was very disappointing. Many of you know, that I'm a "perfectionist". The thought of "a perfect season" was absolutely intoxicating to me. I've gone to several of the Super Bowl victory parades in past years, and I was SO looking forward to that for tomorrow. I really wanted to see the Patriots win number 19 for a perfect season. It didn't happen.
Well, that's life. I'm still very proud of the Patriots. They gave us an OUTSTANDING season and a lot of excitement. It was wonderful to have them in the Super Bowl again. The Giants are a great team, but the Patriots are the better team. HOWEVER, the Giants DID give it 200% on Sunday night, and, yes, managed to beat the stronger and better team. That's kind of hard to take, but we do have to give Eli Manning, and Tom Coughlin and all of 'em credit. Now, I might point out what happened in the regular season when the Pats beat them in the final regular season game, but, would that be kind of unsportsmanlike...? Maybe. So, it's hard for me to get the words out but, "cccooonnngggrrraaattt...uuu...lll...aaa...ttt...iii...ooo...nnn...sss, Giants."
The Giants are having their day in the sun.
I hope the Patriots will be back and win the Super Bowl next year.
And, my consolation is that as a born-again Christian, like Dave Milley, I read the back of the book and we win!
Friday, February 1, 2008
The above verse is taken from Romans chapter 13, the theme of which is “responsibility to civil authority”. A careful reading and study of Romans 13 almost makes it seem like it was written by someone like Pat Buchanan. It’s VERY “law and order” and very pro government. I will say, there’s another side to the whole “law and order” thing. When the Nazi government demanded that “All Jews must now be rounded up,” for instance, does that mean Christians should have cooperated. Of course not. The balance to a chapter such as Romans 13 are statements like those in the book of Acts (cf. Acts 4:19 and Acts 5:29) which state that when the authorities contradict the Word of God, then God must be obeyed first and foremost.
Anyway, that above paragraph was just for clarification and to explain the theme of Romans 13. Romans 13 is a chapter I reference to encourage people to do their civic duty. Some Christians say, “I don’t pay ANY attention to politics. I NEVER watch the news. They’re all phonies and crooks anyway. I just love Jesus.” WHAT A COP OUT! I believe chapters like Romans 13 tell us we ought to “watch the news”, follow politics, and get involved in our society.
If you’re not registered to vote, then it’s too late for this coming Tuesday, but if you ARE registered, the Massachusetts Presidential Primary is this Tuesday. If you don’t know where you’re supposed to go to vote, call your City Clerk or Town Clerk’s office. They can tell you. I’m a registered Republican so I have to take a Republican ballot for a primary such as Tuesday. (In general elections, I mostly vote for Republicans but I have been known to vote for both Democrats and Libertarians, and even the Reform Party on occasion.) If you’re a registered Democrat or Republican, then you’ll have to take the Democrat or Republican ballot they hand you and vote accordingly. In Massachusetts, independent or “unenrolled” people CAN vote in the primary. In that case, you choose either a Democrat or Republican ballot, and there’s usually a procedure right there at the polls where you can “switch right back to be unenrolled”.
If the Patriots win (well, WHEN they win) there will be a big Patriots parade in downtown Boston on Tuesday. I plan to go in to the parade. Tuesday is my day off! BUT, I plan first and foremost to vote on Tuesday.
I grew up in Canton, Massachusetts. Canton had a longtime Town Clerk and State Representative named Maurice J. Ronayne. He was one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. He used to say, “Vote as you please, but please vote”. Thus, that’s my inspiration for the title and the posting.