Sunday, August 31, 2008


"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;  and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;" (I Corinthians 1:27)

I received an e-mail today from my close friend Ed Duddy in Texas.  It was a "forward" from a friend of his.  According to this e-mail, Sarah Palin grew up in an Assemblies of God church in Wasilla, Alaska and attends an Assemblies of God church in Juneau, AK.  If she IS elected, this will be the highest U.S. governmental position ever attained by a person who attends an Assemblies of God church. 

In the Reagan era, Secretary of the Interior, James Watt attended an Assemblies of God church.  He was very controversial and probably ended up bringing the Assemblies of God as much bad publicity as good publicity.  In more recent times, active Assemblies of God layman John Ashcroft, was Attorney General during George W. Bush's first term.   Ashcroft's  Dad was the first President of Evangel College (now Evangel University) our AG "university of Arts and Sciences" in Springfield, Missouri.  Ashcroft was at least as controversial as James Watt was.

For you non-Assemblies of God people,  I'm sorry I just put you to sleep, but for you fellow "AG people", I thought you'd find the information about Sarah Palin interesting! 

Some said the country wasn't ready for a Mormon President.  Is it ready for a Pentecostal Vice-President?

Friday, August 29, 2008


“The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33)

I was eating lunch at the Star House Chinese Restaurant on Route 135 in Framingham when I was drawn to watch “Breaking News” on channel 7 over the restaurant’s television set.  It was McCain announcing his running mate.  Along with millions of others, I was very surprised.  I would never have guessed McCain would pick Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, and along with most Americans, I knew almost nothing about her.  I will say I e-mailed my friend The Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell, pastor of First Baptist Church of Framingham who is originally from Alaska.  I wanted to get Mindi’s “take” on Sarah Palin.  Mindi e-mailed me back a fairly positive report about Sarah Palin saying she’s been a good governor. (Mindi is an independent and quite a bit more liberal politically than I am, so she may not actually vote for Palin. I do think Mindi’s thumbs up, from someone who KNOWS something about Palin and who is not a conservative or a Republican is interesting.)

 One more thing about my friend the Rev. Mindi Welton-MItchell:  MAYBE Mindi will have something to say on her own blog about this, considering Sarah Palin and Mindi Welton-Mitchell are from the SAME hometown of Wasilla, Alaska!  I'd be checking Mindi's blog at

Commentators and political pundits like Jay Severin on Boston’s WTKK will be furious about the Sarah Palin pick.  They consider this the kiss of death and believe it guarantees a huge Barack Obama win in November.  Most conservatives believed McCain HAD to pick Mitt Romney or his campaign would be doomed.   I admit I’d have probably advised McCain to choose Romney, but with that out of the way, I DON’T think Governor Palin is a bad choice.  In fact, I think this will turn out to have been a good choice!  

It’s no secret that many women are angry and disappointed that Hillary Clinton is not the Democrat nominee for President.   Many believe the nomination was “stolen” away from her.  That may or may not be true, but I think a woman on the G.O.P. ticket will attract quite a number of these women to vote for McCain.  Hard-line conservatives see McCain as “disloyal”, “not a true Republican” and “not a real conservative”.  Honestly, those are the exact factors that  make McCain very likable to millions of independent voters and to the old Reagan Democrats, as well.  McCain’s pick absolutely flies in the face of the Republican establishment.  McCain is either a very foolish man or a brilliant strategist.  Had he been a very foolish man, I don’t think he’d have ever survived his captivity and torture in North Vietnam so many years ago.

There are issues on which John McCain and I disagree.  That said, he has been a hero to me for years.  I will proudly vote for McCain’s ticket in the Fall.

The political pundits will laugh, but I’m going out on a limb and predicting that McCain wins in November and that McCain carries 41 states to Obama’s 9 states and the District of Columbia.  It’s right here in print.  I will take the credit in November if this turns out to be correct, and I will accept the criticism if it does not turn out to be correct!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


“And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone:  and he poured a drink offering theron.” (Genesis 35:14)

Today has been a day that was both special and surreal.  For one thing, today, Mary Ann and I are observing our 26th wedding anniversary.  To me it seems like I got married six or seven years ago, but NOT twenty-six!  Twenty-six doesn’t even seem possible, and Mary Ann said she feels the same way.  In years past, we’ve often gone away to celebrate our anniversary, but since Mary Ann has a key position at Marian High School in Framingham, and since school starts there next week, this was just NOT a week in which we could consider taking time off.  (That’s why we took that mini-vacation to Cape Ann last week!)  The day was also special and surreal because Mary Ann and I journeyed to Stonehill College in Easton this morning and I had some wonderful time to walk and pray and reflect.

Some of you know I’m a graduate of Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri.  What many of you don’t know is that I had a life “B.C.” well to be more accurate, “B.C.B.C.” or Before Central Bible College.  I went to Stonehill College in Easton from 1972 to 1976 and I graduated from there with a B.A. in History.  THAT period of my life SEEMS like something out of “History”!  Well, in a way, IT IS!  In my first semester at Stonehill I got to take advantage of the brand new “eighteen-year-old vote” Constitutional Amendment.  All my Republican pals, PLEASE don’t smash your computers, but I voted for George McGovern that Fall.   And, shortly after graduating, I voted for Jimmy Carter for President in 1976.  Now, at Central Bible College, I was part of things.  I had friends, and some of them turned out to be lifelong friends.  I got involved in campus ministries.  During my final semester there, the wife of a married student gave birth to twins prematurely.  The babies’ lives hung in the balance.  The whole school was praying.  I was that couple’s closest friend on campus, and I was the contact person when things were very private and difficult for that family.  

Things had been so different at Stonehill.  At Stonehill, the campus mice were probably better known than I was!  I was as quiet as a mouse and very much in the background in those days.  I’m not sure what the ratio of commuters to on-campus students is today at Stonehill, but in those days it was around 75% residents and 25% commuters.  The residents tended to be VERY involved in activities on campus.  Now, SOME of the commuters got very involved, but probably at least half of us commuters just showed up, went to class, and went home.  It was like going to work at I.B.M. or something.  At Freshman orientation, they warned the commuters that if we treated the school like that we would, “miss out on a lot of college life”.  Well, I did.  But then again, I was not very brave nor was I very cool in those days.  Speaking of Freshman orientation, we ALL had to live on campus for a few days during Freshman orientation.  I had a “roommate” for that experience.  Well, he did not make it through the night, at least not in our room.  I woke up to find an empty bottle of vodka in our room.  I forget the kid’s name.  He gave me some crazy excuse about what happened, but really he just wanted to hang with some friends of his and drink.  I met another kid who had a brand new Chevy Nova his parents had BOUGHT him.  He took me for a ride in it and drove like a nut.  To my parents and their peers, in the early 1970s, sending your kid to Stonehill was like sending your kid to, “Bells of St. Mary’s” College or something.  All they needed to make it complete was Bing Crosby saying the rosary and Ed Sullivan featuring the Singing Nuns from Belgium.  (If you’re under 45 you have no idea who the Singing Nuns from Belgium were; I know!)  Stonehill WAS a Catholic College, and still has a loose Catholic affiliation.  It’s run by the Holy Cross Fathers, and in fact, Stonehill’s “sister school” is Indiana’s Notre Dame!  Incidentally, my parents always pronounced it, Stone-HILL.  I noticed Catholic World War 2 Generation people from the Boston area almost always pronounced it that way!  At school we all said, STONEhill.

The reality in the 1970s is that Stonehill was pretty much U. Mass. with a Catholic Imprimatur!  I hope no Stonehill alumni or staff are reading this and getting angry.  In fact, for the most part, Stonehill had high academic standards.  80% of the faculty were “lay people”- most quite well educated and well qualified.  There were some nice people attending Stonehill. But Stonehill was a pretty liberal and pretty worldly place .

Mary Ann went to Stonehill today to attend a meeting with some leaders from Marian High.  Stonehill has a Marketing program to help non-profits, and Marian is going to have a student intern in Marketing working to help promote the high school in the coming year.  (Stonehill has always been an excellent school for business and especially Marketing.)  While Mary Ann was in the meeting I took a walk around campus and spent time in prayer and reflection.

I must say I WAS IMPRESSED.   There are at least twice as many buildings on campus as there were when I was a student there.  The whole place has a classy, expensive feel to it.  The property is lush and beautiful.  It looked “O.K.” thirty years ago, but they’ve really cranked the place up a few notches!  I’d guess the student body size has at least doubled since I graduated- maybe tripled.  I know Stonehill has been written up in magazines as one of the best small colleges in America.  I know their academic standards have gone up.  Frankly, even during my tenure they rose.  My own SAT scores weren’t that hot.  By the time I was a Senior, the school had raised the SAT standards, and I knew I’d never have qualified to be in the Fall 1975 class of incoming Freshmen!  When Stonehill does well, it can’t help but benefit everybody who holds a Stonehill degree, so I’m happy to see the school doing well.  We never started classes for the Fall until after Labor Day, but times have changed, and school was already in session for Fall 2008.

The campus was a WONDERFUL place to walk around.  I couldn’t help but think of my student days at Stonehill in the 1970s and of my wedding on this date in 1982.  I sure look a lot different!  I’m around forty pounds heavier, and have that rapidly graying look of a guy in his 50s.  Stonehill has changed and so have I.

The timid, uncool kid of so long ago is today often seen in a very public, vocal role today...not only in the church I pastor, but in the Framingham community.  In fact, I’ve spoken to classes at Marian High School on several occasions with no restrictions, and have been quite well received.

It’s  “doing the math” on days such as this that can scare me.  Yes, my wife and I got married twenty-six years ago today.  In another twenty-six years, if I’m still alive I’ll be 79 and just a few weeks away from turning 80!  I graduatedfrom Stonehill in 1976.  That day, former Boston Mayor John Collins and Boston Pops conductor Arthur Feidler received honorary doctorates.  I was 21.  In thirty-two years, I’ll be 85!  My own parents died in their mid seventies.  At 75, my father had full blown Alzheimer’s Disease.  

Yes today’s Stonehill scenes brought many and varied thoughts and reflections.  I guess I need to remember the words a senior citizen told me many years ago:  He said, “This is no time to retire- this is time to REFIRE!”  Yup!  That’s it!  Time to refire!

Monday, August 25, 2008


“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” (I Corinthians 12:28)

We had a wonderful Sunday evening service at First Assembly of God of Framingham last night, and I want to share about that!  (Incidentally, at one time virtually all Assemblies of God churches had distinct Sunday morning and Sunday evening services.  In the mid-1990s, Sunday evening services began rapidly disappearing.  At our church, we hold a Sunday evening service once a month, and exactly which Sunday of the month that is varies from month to month.)
Last night, we actually had more people present for our EVENING service than we did for the morning service, and I was happy about that!

Sunday morning's service was "O.K."- I wouldn't classify it as particularly good or bad; it was a rather typical "O.K." service.  By contrast, THE EVENING SERVICE WAS NOT AT ALL TYPICAL.  THE EVENING SERVICE WAS VERY POWERFUL!  The whole service was very good, and the altar prayer time for the sick was one of the most powerful and anointed times I've ever experienced at our church.  I can only think of maybe three times EVER that were more powerful, and frankly at each of those we had special guest preachers.

I had advertised that at this service there would be "no sensationalism or foolishness".  Some will read this and think I lied...that I actually did behave in a sensational manner.  But I did not.  Rather, the Holy Spirit moved in a very powerful way.  If you’re unfamiliar with these experiences, this may sound bizarre, but several people were "slain in the spirit" or "fell down under the power of God" depending on what you want to call it.  In the case of one man, he swayed from side to side, then suddenly was slammed on his right side to the floor.  It was like something you'd see in a movie.  He was COMPLETELY UNHURT and had a blessed experience in God.  The only time I've ever seen anything like that is in a few Benny Hinn services.  My wife commented that the anointing of the Holy Spirit was particularly thick over three people who were prayed for, and I agreed that I felt and sensed a strong anointing of the Holy Spirit over those three.  The Lord definitely used me as a channel to flow through on Sunday night.  Listen, I get sick and have all kinds of shortcomings and maladies.  It blesses ME when God flows through this earthen vessel!


It  can get discouraging to pastor a very small church located in a disadvantaged neighborhood.  Over the years, I have experienced many heartaches and disappointments.  There’s a song that Gospel singer Alvin Slaughter recorded about ten years ago called, “That’s when He (God) Steps In”.  It’s exciting when “God steps in” and that’s what happened on Sunday night!  Honestly, I think God has some special days ahead for our little church.  Despite our "insignificance" in the natural, I think God does see our church as very significant!

Friday, August 22, 2008


“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.” (Psalm 107:23-24)

Yes, I know, the title is, “Cape Ann 2” and you may well be thinking, “I don’t remember reading CAPE ANN 1!”  Well, you really DID read, “Cape Ann 1” except that I entitled it, “Bob Baril’s Day Off”.  That was about six weeks ago and told of the wonderful day trip my daughter Rachel and I had to Rockport, MA.  Incidentally, Cape Ann is the “other Cape” of Massachusetts.  It’s only about a fifth as large as Cape Cod and is located around thirty or forty miles northeast of downtown Boston.

Mary Ann and I just returned from a mini-vacation to Cape Ann.  Those of you who know in New England know that the weather has been wet and awful this summer, but God blessed us with two sunny, spectacular, beautiful days!  On Thursday, we went on a whale watch out of Gloucester Harbor.  We had to get on the road fairly early on Thursday morning to make it up there, and fortunately we got there with time to spare.  The whale watch was from “Capn Bill & Sons Whale Watch”.  I’m sure if you just do an internet search you can get all the info. you need on-line.  (Mary Ann was the one who got all the details we needed.)  I’ve been on a couple of whale watch trips out of Cape Cod.  This was MUCH better than either!  We saw fifteen humpback whales and two minke whales.  We got some good photos and it was all really quite exciting!  They had comment cards for each person to fill out and turn in, and then there was a drawing for a free future whale watch.  No kidding, I won the drawing!  There is no time limit on’s good whenever I want to use it!

We stayed at Bearskin Neck Motor Lodge in Rockport.  If you’re familiar with Bearskin Neck it’s MOSTLY a pedestrian walkway with an occasional car or truck negotiating its way through the sea of pedestrians and small shops, restaurants, and art galleries.  The water views from Bearskin Neck are SPECTACULAR!  The Motor Lodge is almost to the end of Bearskin Neck.  It’s a typical 1960s type two-story motor lodge.  There is no air conditioning, but by midnight the room was cool enough with the windows open that it was like natural air conditioning.  The view from our room was just wonderful as we could see the water, beaches, boats, and hear that restful “sound of the sea”.  Yeah it was a bit pricey.  The cost for one night is what you’d normally expect to pay for two nights or even three in a 1960s type motor lodge, but honestly, it’s worth it! Beaches, shops, and restaurants are all anywhere from a two-minute to a fifteen-minute walk away, and in most cases you can get to just about anyplace in downtown Rockport within a ten-minute walk from the motor lodge.  We got up early today and walked to the beach.  We stopped at a coffee shop and had hot beverages and a light breakfast on the way.  The guy who runs the Bearskin Neck Motor Lodge is a very nice man who looks VERY much like Pat Boone, but I’d say he’s gotta be at least fifteen years younger than Pat Boone!   I had phoned in the reservation about ten days ago.  He let us check into our room an hour early yesterday.  Today, after we checked out at 11, he let us leave our Dodge Caravan in his parking lot for two more hours while we hit more of the shops in downtown Rockport.  

On the way home, we stopped at the famous Fisherman’s Memorial in Gloucester.   You know, that “Gorton’s Fisherman logo” which actually was the Fisherman’s Memorial FIRST!  It’s a beautiful spot, and the Bible verse I quoted above is etched onto the Memorial.

So, that’s my report of , “Cape Ann 2”, or “Bob and Mary Ann Baril’s mini-vacation”!
I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I hope you can have a mini-vacation to Cape Ann sometime!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Acts 5:42)

Have you seen today’s “Dear Abby”?  (I mean “Dear Abby” for Tuesday, August 19, 2008.)  
Today is my day off, although sometimes my “days off” are more like “days ON” and I feel like this is going to be one of them!  I’ve got quite a bit on today’s agenda, including a 10 a.m. dental appointment. Around 7:30 in the morning, I sat down to breakfast at McDonald’s while reading today’s MetroWest Daily News.  I gave “Dear Abby” far than my usual glance over.

“Dear Abby” today is about how to handle “religious solicitors” who knock at your door and bother you.  The piece primarily dealt with “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and I will agree they do about 90% of the door-to-door “soliciting”.  One person wrote in to say she bluntly tells “Jehovah’s Witnesses” :  “I’m sorry but I didn’t see the accident”!  I actually thought that was kind of funny!
Another guy wrote in that he’d just stepped out of the shower and was wearing nothing but a towel when the “religious visitors” arrived.  Sounding like Bob Barker, he said “Come onnn innn!”  They retreated and never returned!

From time-to-time I have church members ask me (and they’re usually “new Christians” who are highly excited and motivated), “So, Pastor, WHEN do you want me to join you to go DOOR-TO-DOOR spreading the Gospel?!”  They’re usually quite bewildered when I don’t pick up on that offer.  Today’s “Dear Abby” is a big part of why I rarely go door-to-door.

There’s no question about it, the New Testament advocated ALL Believers getting out into the world and proclaiming the Gospel.  As far as I can tell, the New Testament is absolutely “pro” going door-to-door.  And, there are ministries who have gone door-to-door with good results.  I don’t know if it still exists, but World Literature Crusade (also known as “Every Home Crusade”) used to have teams all over the world taking the Gospel in print and on tape to thousands and thousands of residences.  There are scores and scores of testimonies of people who came to personal faith in Christ through their ministry  Fundamentalist Baptists also frequently go door-to-door.  They definitely do that in Framingham.  My daughter Rachel told me the story of two zealous people from South Middlesex Baptist Church who came to the door and pretty much wouldn’t leave until she told them how she knew she was “saved”.  Well, Rachel satisfactorily did that, and they left.

Unfortunately, as the “Dear Abby” piece proves, so many people in North America are SO turned off by “religious solicitors” going door-to-door that I fear it probably does more harm than good.  One of my Board Members and I DID go door-to-door in our church’s neighborhood over a period of several weeks in the Summer of 1996.  In order to keep doors from being slammed in our faces, I would start off saying, “We’re NOT Jehovah’s Witnesses, so please don’t panic!”  We gave them a church magazine (if they were interested) and in under sixty seconds gave a quick invitation to come and visit our church.  We got varied responses.  Even after my disclaimer, some slammed the door, usually uttering a few four-letter-words.  In our church’s diverse neighborhood, we found that the LEAST friendly and receptive people were white Americans.  Blacks, Hispanics, and Brazilians were MUCH friendlier than white Americans and always gave us more of their time and attention than did white Americans.  We found that even Russian Jews were friendlier than white Americans.  

We did not get any more than a couple visitors as a result of our canvassing, and no one joined the church as a result.  

I think one has to use wisdom and consider the culture he or she lives in before “going out to preach the Gospel”.  Vineyard Christian Fellowship, for instance, sometimes has outdoor concerts on the downtown Framingham common.  They pass out literature, and free cans of Coca-Cola, to those who drop by and express any interest in what they are doing.  I’ve found that building relationships with people over a period of time and THEN inviting them to special events at church is far more effective than the cold turkey “door-to-door” approach.  I also like to leave a tract with my tip at a restaurant, but let me remind you that if you’re going to do that, you’d better make it a generous tip!

One of the people at our church who sometimes gets all fired up about going door-to-door is a guy who’s sister in California is a “Jehovah’s Witness”.  He usually goes out to California and spends a week or two with his sister and her husband at least once a year.  When he returns, I hear all sorts of admonitions about what “good witnesses” they are and that they obey the Bible by going door-to-door while we don’t.  I know he’s repeating what they’ve told him.  Within a day or two, he usually adds a number of criticisms of their narrow-mindedness and then the, “Why don’t we go door-to-door?” stuff winds down.

There’s no question that as evangelical Christians we ARE supposed to be sharing our faith and making disciples.  I’m not absolutely opposed to doing door-to-door evangelism, but I kind of think the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and others have spoiled it for us.  Even so, we have got to find loving and creative ways to “let our light shine” in this world!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


“ the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (from Romans 1:16)

Yesterday (Saturday, August 16, 2008) it was my pleasure to speak at Congregation Beit Techiya in Foxborough.  “Beit Techiya” is a Messianic Jewish congregation.  I know that raises a lot of questions.  I’m sure if you do an on-line search for “Messianic Judaism” you will find quite a bit of information.

Up until somewhere around 1970, if a Jew “received Jesus Christ as his Personal Lord and Savior” and became a “born-again Christian” he was pretty much through with being a Jew.  There were more Jews who became born-again Christians in the pre-1970 days than you might guess.  An early Assemblies of God writer and scholar, for instance, was Myer Pearlman.  He wrote the “Ministers’ Manual” (you know, the “little black book”) that I use for weddings, funerals, and all that sort of thing.  The business manager of Central Bible College in the 1970s was also a born-again Christian from a Jewish background.   In those days, they were often called “Jewish Christians” or “completed Jews”.  Somewhere around forty years ago, a movement began which encouraged born-again Christians from Jewish backgrounds to remain Jewish in a new movement called Messianic Judaism.  (This is NOT necessarily to be confused with “Jews For Jesus” which is a separate, “parachurch”, SOMETIMES controversial and confrontational organization.)  In Messianic Judaism, the houses of worship are called “synagogues”.  The organization of the synagogue is very similar to traditional Judaism, with each synagogue having a President and a Rabbi.  Jewish holidays are celebrated.  The day of worship is Saturday “Shabbat”.  In some cases, Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter are celebrated along with Jewish holidays, but in most cases, it’s strictly the Jewish holidays that are celebrated.  Messianic Jews call themselves exactly that.  Most DON’T like to be called “Christians”, although some don’t mind that moniker. 

Messianic Jews are frequently disliked  and misunderstood.  Most traditional Jews do not consider them Jews but rather “Christians”.  I’d say at least half of Gentiles and Christians consider them Jews!  Some evangelical Christian scholars have been quite critical of Messianic Jews, saying their very existence causes division in the Body of Christ.  But there ARE those evangelical Christians who have praised the Messianic Jewish movement which has brought scores and scores of Jews to “personal faith in their Messiah”.  I’m of the opinion that Messianic Judaism is a good thing.

The Foxborough congregation is small and has a female Rabbi.  The service was kind of least two and a half hours.  There were many elements of traditional Judaism in the service.  We had hard cover liturgical books we were reading from, and some traditional Jewish songs we were singing.  Something very NON-TRADITIONAL, however, was prayers of thanksgiving in Hebrew and English for Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah.  Many Protestant pastors have been invited to come and speak at Beit Techiya but according to the Rabbi, I’m the first to do so.  I used the New Testament which was fine with them and the sermon was well received. 

After the service we had Oneg Shabbat in an adjoining facility.  “Oneg” means “delight”.  Oneg Shabbat is a meal.  The meal was kosher.   Wine was served, but grape juice was available for those who (like me) don’t drink alcohol.   The fellowship was great and I had a good time!

For me, it’s like I had TWO Sundays and no Saturday this weekend!  Of course for the Messianic Jews, Saturday is like Sunday and Sunday is like Saturday.  Incidentally, one of the criticisms of Messianic Judaism is that up to 50% of the congregations are typically made up of Gentiles who are “wanna-be Jews”.  That WAS true at Beit Techiya.  I’d say probably about half of the people were Gentiles by birth.  Even so, about half were born Jews and had spent years worshipping at traditional synagogues.  It was obvious they were much more comfortable at a place like Beit Techiya than they’d be at a place like First Assembly of God of Framingham. 

For me Sunday as my “day of worship” and Protestantism (and previously Catholicism)   have been so engrained in me that I don’t know if I’d be comfortable worshipping at a Messianic Jewish synagogue all the time.  Even so, I was invited to drop in for the service any Saturday I’d like to, and frankly, once in awhile, I will!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

THE JOURNAL (a "follow up")

“And he said unto them, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3)

This posting is a “follow up”.  It is the sequel to my previous posting entitled, “ZIP IT !”.  If you have not read, “ZIP IT !”  I think you should do so before you read this.

This has been quite a week of reflecting and repenting and renewing and praying and all sorts of “stuff” like that for me.  Most of you know I’m sort of doing a “partial e-mail fast” this week.  I’m writing a lot fewer e-mails than I usually do (and one pastor friend has called me, “The King of the E-Mails”!)  Well, this week, the King is more like the Serf!  I have been responding to e-mails 24 hours after I receive them, if at all, with just a couple of important exceptions.  I have been doing lots of soul-searching, and I have deeply appreciated thoughtful feedback I have received.

Several people that I respect a lot thought that I’ve become much too whiny and depressed over the events of the past few weeks and days and that I’ve forgotten how to be encouraging and edifying.  Those are difficult words to hear, but I’ve had to mull them over and to conclude there IS a lot of truth in these criticisms.  One of the things we all need to learn to do in life is to love people enough to correct them and to tell them the things they may not want to hear.  In the Book of Ephesians it’s called, “speaking the truth in love”.  (that line is from Ephesians 4:15)

On the one hand, I’m very “real”- I’m not at all a phony!  On the other hand, I guess one that take that “real” stuff too far sometimes.  Recently I watched a video piece about a relatively new church in Texas where everybody (including the pastoral staff) dress REALLY casual at all times, and everybody (including the pastors and leaders) are COMPLETELY real and open with everybody else.  Their slogan is actually, “No Perfect People Welcome at this Church!”  One woman commented that the pastors say things like that they’re in rotten moods or that they really messed up or failed here or there, and everybody thinks that’s great,   I must convince that as I watched that video piece, I thought, “Boy, except for the dressing really casual, THAT’S the place for me!!”

Well, maybe it isn’t!  Up until around twenty-five years ago, pastors of evangelical Protestant churches were expected to be perfect, and I mean PERFECT.  They looked perfect. The spoke perfect.  They prayed perfect.  They preached perfect.  They loved perfect.  They led perfect. They didn’t sin.  Well, maybe one little sin every couple of years, but that was about it!  There are still a lot of guys in the ministry over age 65 who come across like that.  THEN, we’ve got the new generation swearing, saying they’re in rotten moods, and going out to catch the latest R rated movies.  I guess there’s gotta me a middle ground someplace (doesn’t there?).

The Bible verse at the top of this posting is from the story of John the Baptist and his lapse of faith while in prison near the time of his execution.  It’s kind of a sad verse.  John the Baptist was a mighty man of God.  John the Baptist was a great prophet and a great preacher.  John the Baptist was the greatest of all prophets leading up to Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the “Lamb of God”.  YET, in prison, John the Baptist got down and whiney and depressed and doubting.  The New Testament says John the Baptist was a man “in the spirit and power of Elijah”.  Like Elijah, he was a mighty prophet.  (Remember Elijah’s great victory over the prophets of Baal?!)  But like Elijah, he easily doubted and got depressed and whiney to the point that it’s embarrassing.  You may recall that Elijah felt sorry for himself, said he was the only one serving God, and said he just wanted to die.  It’s hard to read such whiney, self-pity and doubt coming from such great men of God.

Jesus actually commended John the Baptist in Matthew 11.  I think He did that because He knew John’s doubt and negativity would badly tarnish his previous good reputation, and Jesus was trying to save him from that.

While both men were much greater than I am, I’m so much like Elijah and John the Baptist that it’s SCARY.  I’m a powerful preacher and Bible teacher.  I’ve absolutely been used as a Prophet of God.  (Some reading this will believe it and some will not.)  I’ve absolutely been used in several spiritual gifts, including healing.  Yet, I’m capable of depression and fear and whining and self-doubt that would make even Elijah and John the B. want to kick me in the rear end!

So this week (actually the past few weeks) has been and IS very difficult for me, but I’m making changes.  On Sunday afternoon, I will go back to more of a “normal” way of handling e-mail, although I DO intend to never respond to a controversial or confrontational e-mail without letting 24 hours elapse, first.  AND, I’m going to do better with this blog.  I may still share about my struggles, problems, and bad days, BUT never without including something positive, motivational, and ministry-oriented.  At least that’s my goal.

Comments?  You can post ‘em or e-mail to

Monday, August 11, 2008

"ZIP IT !"

“ ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (from Matthew 10:16)

Do you remember the old “Morton Downey, Jr.” television talk show from the late 1980s?  Downey pioneered RUDE talk.  (I could be wrong but I think he was doing that sort of talk BEFORE Jerry Springer.)  Initially his show was seen on New York City’s channel 9.  I first watched it on cable.  Then it became nationally syndicated and Boston’s channel 38 picked it up.  As I recall it was on several nights a week around 8 p.m.

Sadly Morton Downey, Jr. is dead.  He was a chain smoker.  I believe he died of lung cancer.  He was very obnoxious and one thing he constantly yelled at his guests and his studio audience was the line, “Zip it, ZIP IT!!”  Well, that’s the inspiration for my title.

I’m worn out.  It’s maybe not “clergy correct” or “church correct” to write what I’m about to write, but twice recently I’ve gotten myself into horrific situations because of e-mails.  I recently wrote about responding in immediate anger and zeal to a confrontational e-mail, and that I painfully was reminded that’s NOT the way to do it, AND that I’m going to start waiting 24 hours before responding to controversial e-mails.  I’m also (until further notice) going to start waiting 24 hrs. before responding to ALL e-mails!  That will not be a permanent policy, but it IS in effect through at least next Sunday.

About a week ago, I responded to an e-mail which was sort of a CONTROVERSIAL e-mail but not really a CONFRONTATIONAL e-mail.  That e-mail somehow accidentally got FORWARDED to a person I wrote some negative things about.  I was confronted by that person at a restaurant meeting over the weekend.  As a teenager, I used to dread disciplinary confrontations with my father.  Boy, yesterday, a disciplinary confrontation with my father would have looked REAL GOOD!  Well, in comparison to sitting at a restaurant table and explaining why you wrote negative things about someone in an e-mail...explaining it to the person you wrote it about TO THEIR FACE; yes, facing an angry Eugene A. Baril with a list of punishment details would have been a pleasure.  I hope you never have that lovely experience I had yesterday afternoon.  I am not blaming the angry person I wrote about.   I am also not blaming the person who wrote me the letter that I then responded to.  I am saying that HAD I WAITED 24 HRS.  to respond, it is very possible I just would NOT have written most or all of the nasty stuff I wrote about that person I was later confronted by.

This is a very “dicey” job...being a pastor.  I know, “it’s not a job, it’s a ministry.”  Well, it’s actually both.  And it involves all sorts of interpersonal struggles, foibles and situations.  To survive as a pastor you have to be as prayerful as a pious saint, as good a preacher as Billy Graham, almost as good a businessman as Lee Iacocca,  AND you have to have the interpersonal street smarts of Lt. Columbo who LOOKS stupid but doesn’t miss a trick.  I actually USUALLY do O.K. with the Lt. Columbo thing, but let me tell you, if you “let your guard down” on that one, it can come back to bite you; listen it can come back to cripple you and worse.  

Yes, I did it.  I cannot pass the buck.  I DID IT.

But this is the second time I’ve been “had” by responding to e-mails in as many weeks. So until at least next Sunday, I’m not responding to ANY e-mail for at least 24 hours and if and when I do respond, my responses will be brief and cautious.

In the words of “Serge” from the film, “Beverly Hills Cop”, “DON’T   be  STUPID!”
Yes, don’t be stupid.  Be careful with e-mail.  I’m living proof you gotta be careful and I’m serious about the 24 hr. thing.  And as far as “instant messaging me”, don’t even THINK of it!

Saturday, August 9, 2008


“...the labourer is worthy of his hire..." (from Luke 10:7)

Some of you may wonder how I did at my sister Dianne’s Canton Yard Sale today.
The answer is:  I did very well!  I sold a lot of inspection stickers and a lot of license plates.  I made a very good financial haul, and I am pleased with that.

The one thing that’s very difficult about these things is a couple of guys came who were very greedy and had very bad attitudes.  (I’m happy to say a number of people came who were pleasant and had good attitudes.  There was a plumber named Kevin O’Keefe from Norfolk- SUPER nice guy!  If I lived in the Norfolk/Walpole/Franklin area and needed a  plumber he is the man I would call!)  But as far as the “jerks” and they were “jerks”:  one began yelling at others at the table and at me.  He ended up angrily leaving after buying just a couple of items.  He wanted what everyone else had and did not want to share the opportunity with others.  I guess this is a lesson he never learned in the sandbox in Kindergarten!  Another really wanted a 1955 inspection sticker.  In my advertising I had specifically said I wasn’t going to sell 1955-1958 stickers today.  I do have a FEW of these stickers that I’m keeping for MY OWN COLLECTION.  This guy WHINED so much about a 1955 sticker that I sold him the ONE I had with me for $5.  He then whined that I’d advertised selling stickers for $3 apiece but sold the ’55 for $5.  (I sold it for $5 because it was NOT one of those advertised as being “on special” and in fact was not supposed to be sold at all!)  I then offered him a bunch of other stuff CHEAP,and he REFUSED.   The thing that does sadden me is that so many guys (and there are a few gals) who are into the automotive collectibles hobby are SO greedy and mean-spirited.  I’ve seen that over and over again.  It DID feel good to make the money that I made today, but I almost felt like I’d prostituted myself.  On the way home I wondered, “Is this really worth it?”  Yet, I do want to be a good steward of these valuable collectibles that I have inherited.  I have been able to use the proceeds to buy the basic necessities of life (GAS for instance) without feeling strapped all the time.  On the way home I stopped at a CVS and bought some stuff like razor blades and shaving cream that I needed, and it was nice to pick out good quality stuff and not worry about what it cost.  It was even nice to be able to donate to a local food pantry at the checkout instead of having to say, “sorry no” because I was down to my last few dollars.

So it was a good day....I guess....

Friday, August 8, 2008


“But I say unto you, Love your enemies...”  (from Matthew 5:44)

I just returned from  “enemy territory”, that is, the suburbs of New York City!  Now, I’m not a FANATICAL Red Sox fan, but I DO like the Red Sox and I certainly don’t like the Yankees!  (I’m also not big on the Giants, and I can take or leave the Jets and the Mets.)

I was attending one of the ten New York City satellite locations of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit at Harvest Time Church in Greenwich, Connecticut.  (Perhaps I will talk about that conference more in the future.)  I had never been to the Greenwich church before.  It is literally right on the New York state line in the northwestern section of the town of Greenwich.  Literally right next door to the church is the Westchester County (NY) airport.  There were jets and commuter planes taking off all the time.  I thought it was kind of cool.  It was more fun than listening to the trains all the time in downtown Framingham.  The church building seated around 200 and was a first-class facility.  (Boy would I love it if our church had a facility like that, and I hope that’s not considered “coveting”!)

The conference was all day Thursday and all day Friday.  I stayed on Friday night at the Courtyard Marriot in Rye, New York, about ten miles south of the church.  I had a terrible time finding the hotel on Thursday evening.  I finally stopped in a strip mall parking lot and asked three forty-ish guys who were standing and talking in the parking lot.  Hearing I was from Boston they immediately asked, “Are you a Yankees fan?!”  

“I think we’ll have to declare a truce on that one!” I replied.

One said, “Right now, you’re a Yankees fan!”

One of them had me follow him and he led me right to the hotel.  It was only about a mile from that location but would have been very tricky for me to find as it involved a small traffic circle (Massachusetts is NOT the only state with “Rotaries”) and sort of a convoluted route that I would have found difficult.  The guy smiled and told me, “I lived in Brookline, MA for a number of years!”

Seriously, these Yankees fans were very sympathetic and more than helpful to me.  When I think about that young guy in Falmouth a few weeks ago who attacked a guy just because there were New York plates on his car, I feel kind of embarrassed.  I know people usually say “Yankees S__k!”  But I’ll say, “No in THIS case, Yankees SOLVE.  They solved my situation and let me to the hotel!”

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


"Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body." (Hebrews 13:3)

Outside of some positive comments about John McCain and occasionally mentioning that I'm a registered Republican,  I don't think I've written a lot about politics on this blog.  I've also not tended to give a lot of attention to  "political hot button" issues here.  I must speak to this one, however:

One of our Church Members has ordered a number of prayer bracelets for distribution to anyone who is interested in praying for the persecuted Christians in China, particularly during the Olympics.  You can go to the site of "Voice of the Martyrs" at

to get all the information.

Please make sure you go to .com  and not .org 'cause that is another organization's website.

Hope you'll check out
and I hope those of you who know how to pray will do so.

Monday, August 4, 2008


“And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness;
that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” (Luke 16:9)

Every year my sister has a big yard sale on a Saturday at her home in Canton.
 This year's is THIS coming Saturday!  I always have a table selling
automotive collectibles, and I'll have such a table this year.  The following is the
exact text of a U.S. mailing I sent out to 25 of my regular customers today.  
If you know any Classic Car Affectionados, please let them know about this.  
"HELLO", so please come by this Saturday and say "HELLO"!


    FROM  BOB BARIL, P.O. BOX 4702, FRAMINGHAM, MA 01704        

Monday, August 4, 2008

YOU WOULD ?!    GREAT !!    Please   read  on:

                        I Bob Baril will have my own table at my
                        sister’s big Canton yard sale on
                        SATURDAY, AUGUST 9, 2008!

                        Although her yard sale starts at 8, please
                        note that MY TABLE WILL ONLY
                        BE OPEN FROM 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. !
(I’ll be at a seminar in the New York City area on Thursday and Friday of
this week and will probably get home to Framingham late Friday, so I will need
rest and recuperation before the yard sale!  Please be patient! I’ll be there by
10 a.m.!)
some  of what  I  will   have  for  sale  on  Saturday-

1,  Collectible MA inspection stickers from late 1930s thru early 1980s.
(sorry: 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958  NOT available).  THESE will sell for $3 per
sticker or 4 stickers for $10.  (all stickers are actually worth at least $5

2.  I’ve got around 25 “BOOKS” of 1979 inspection stickers (exactly what the
auto shops had and tore the individual stickers out of).  MOST CONTAIN 100
1979 stickers are worth $5. apiece.  Am I crazy?!  Maybe?!                        
3.  Then there are probably at least 100 of the mint condition early 1980s MA
motorcycle plates I wrote about above.  (They are worth $5 apiece to any
serious license plate collector!)  These mint motorcycle plates will sell for $3
apiece or 4 for $10.

4.  I also have boxes and boxes of handicapped plates from the 1970s...most
in mint condition.  My Dad spent a lot of time as “Supervisor of Medical
Affairs” at the R.M.V.  That’s why all the handicapped plates.  There is NOT a lot
of call for these handicapped plates so you can get a handful for a dollar.

5.  There may also be other “goodies” I will try to dig up.  I think I still
have a few Chilton auto repair books from the 1960s, for instance.

6.  KNOW ANYBODY who is into antique military Jeeps as a hobby?  I have a
whole (huge) bin of M38A1 Jeep parts that I’d practically give away!

99 Independence Street, Canton, MA 02021
(corner of Prospect and Independence Sts.)
near Dean S. Luce Elementary School
only one mile from downtown Canton.
near Sherman Street and Pleasant Street.

The  weather on Saturday morning and early afternoon is supposed to be very
good but IN CASE OF RAIN THE YARD SALE WILL BE CANCELLED so carefully watch the


Friday, August 1, 2008


“A soft answer turneth away wrath...” (from Proverbs 15:1)

I wish I’d have thought of that verse a few nights ago!  It may well have been helpful.

E-mail is a wonderful invention.  Most of the time, I really like it.  This may surprise some of you, but I’m really NOT a big “telephone” person.  Yes, at the church office and many times at home I have to take calls from Church Members and others, and I certainly do that.  But I find the telephone intrusive and confining.  Well, cordless phones and cell phones are NOT particularly confining, and that’s a good thing.  I like to be able to receive an e-mail, read it, think about it bit, and then respond to it.  The fact that it’s in writing enables you to do some rewriting and editing.  E-mail is also (usually) far preferable to old-fashioned snail mail.  My good friend Ed who lives in the Midwest is quite a letter writer.  He’s even more of a letter writer than I am.  In the old days, he’d write me a lengthy handwritten letter, then I’d write back a lengthy handwritten letter, and so on.  The correspondence would seemingly take FOREVER!  Now, Ed and I e-mail each other several times a week!

The bad part about e-mail is that you can sometimes fire off a quick, thoughtless, nasty letter which is not easily explained or taken back.

One of the worst things to do with e-mail is to send a lengthy confrontational letter that the person has no inkling is coming.  Have I ever done that?   Yup.  Have I learned it’s not a good idea- listen, as one who has DONE it, it’s almost never a good idea.  Another “worst” thing to do is to fire off an angry reply as soon as you’ve received a lengthy confrontational letter.  It makes lots of sense to wait 24 hours to reply.  In some cases, it actually may not be desirable to reply at all

No one needs to know who from or what the issues were, but I received a lengthy confrontational e-mail a few nights ago.  In my case, I particularly do badly if I read a confrontational e-mail after 8 p.m. or before 8 a.m., although I guess I don’t do too well with ‘em anytime!  I fired back an angry gut-level reply, and this has ended up being a very stressful and difficult week.

There are actually VERY GOOD Biblical guidelines for writing confrontational letters or e-mails.  (I think if the issue is serious enough, you should make it a hard-copy letter and send it by U.S. mail and keep a copy.  I don’t think e-mailing something like that is the best idea.)  For all of our future references, one place where you find guidelines for writing confrontational letters is in chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation.  There, JESUS essentially sends a confrontational letter to each of seven churches of “Asia” (what we would now call “Turkey”).  In Bible College, we learned that each letter followed a pattern.  They have 4 parts.  They start with a greeting (usually a pretty warm greeting).  Next is a commendation.  Each church is praised for what they’re doing good and right.  This makes the recipient feel warmly greeted and praised and not like a total failure or something. THEN, comes the confrontational part, which in Bible College we learned was the “condemnation”.  (Actually the church at Biblical Philadelphia was doing nothing wrong so there was no “condemnation”.)  Last was a “Promise” from the exhortation to do the right thing and good would happen.  I have actually used that pattern several times in writing confrontational letters, with very good results.   About ten years ago, a woman in our congregation was having some issues with an adult son of hers who lived far away.  She wanted to confront him in a letter, but she did not want to alienate him.  She asked my advice, and I told her about this pattern.  She did write the son a letter following the pattern of the letters in the Book of Revelation and her son received it pretty well and everything worked out!

Another pattern for confrontational letters is the little Book of Philemon.  Philemon is the shortest of the Apostle Paul’s letters.  In the Bible it is found just before Hebrews.  Philemon is one of the most SYRUPY, FLATTERING, and (frankly) manipulative letters I’ve ever read!  Does God condone writing syrupy, flattering and manipulative letters when there’s a very difficult issue to confront and try to resolve?  Well, based on the fact that Philemon is in the Bible, I have to say “YES”!

Paul wrote Philemon from prison in Rome.  It was written to Philemon in Asia (“Turkey”, remember?) hundreds and hundreds of miles away.  Philemon’s slave Onesimous had run away.  Somehow the runaway and Paul had connected in Rome.  Onesimous regularly visited Paul.  They really liked each other.  Everything was all “palsy-walsy”.  Good, right?  Well, NO.  The wealthy Philemon was a personal friend of Paul.  The law said Paul needed to report this runaway, out of respect for Philemon, and that if Onesimous got beaten or jailed or killed or all of the above, well, so what?!  Paul kind of let the situation go and let the situation go.  Paul really wished Philemon would just forget the whole thing, forgive Onesimous, free him from slavery, NOT be angry with Paul, and also be all “palsy-walsy” about the whole thing. What were the odds of THAT happening?!  Well, I’d say FAT CHANCE!  Nevertheless, Paul wrote that SYRUPY, FLATTERING and very manipulative letter.  How did the matter turn out?  Unfortunately, we don’t know!

I have also used the Philemon pattern in writing confrontational letters.  About ten years ago, an elderly woman in our congregation was frustrated because her grandson who was about 24 had stopped attending our church and stopped visiting and paying attention to her. It really bothered her.  I actually wrote this young man a syrupy, flattering, manipulative letter following as closely as I could the pattern of Philemon.  He never actually wrote me a letter back, BUT he came back to the church and began visiting and paying attention to the grandmother.  IT WORKED!

So, for all of you in the future who decide to send me a confrontational letter or e-mail, there are some great tips for you!  Seriously!

And, when I get a confrontational e-mail, from now on, I’m not answering it for at LEAST 24 hours, so you’ll need to please respect that!