Friday, October 31, 2008


“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Romans 13:1)

My last couple of postings have been in one way or another “heavy”, controversial, thought-provoking, spiritually oriented, etc. This one is going to depart from all that stuff.

Most of you know that my late father was a career employee of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (like the “D.M.V.” in most states). The Massachusetts Registry HAS changed in some ways. The driver license tests are now conducted by CIVILIAN examiners. If you stop over on Pearl Street, Framingham sometime and watch the examiners greet the folks coming to take their tests you’ll be surprised that most of the examiners are young, many are from minority groups, and these young people look more like they’d be bagging your groceries at Market Basket than conducting a driving test. Well, maybe that’s a subject for another day.

My main point in writing is to tell you there’s been a big change in the law regarding the annual state inspections all cars have to undergo. It went into effect on October 1, 2008. If you’re a Massachusetts AAA member, you can read all about it in the November issue of the AAA Horizons newsletter. Under the old system, your car had to be inspected once a year. Under the old system, the car had to undergo the major emissions testing (which a number of vehicles failed) every OTHER year. Under the NEW system, your car gets an emissions test EVERY year. Incidentally, you may have noticed the inspection stickers now look a LITTLE bit different. Instead of a big number in the center of the sticker, there is a smaller number in the center of the sticker with one of those computer bar codes under the number.

If you have an OLD car (as I do) the good news is that all 1995 and older cars are COMPLETELY EXEMPT from any more emissions testing! That means I never have to worry about that again regarding my 1989 Volkswagen Golf. IF an old car has a noisy muffler with thick black smoke coming out the exhaust or something like that, of course that COULD become an issue, but no more emissions tests, per se.

ANOTHER factor for whether your car will pass or fail is the LEGIBILITY OF YOUR LICENSE PLATE(s). That was not a factor before. I had a letter published in the MetroWest Daily News a little over a year ago in which I called for the old “greenie” series of plates from the late 1970s and early 1980s to be discontinued and recalled- largely for that reason. Incidentally, I DO have one of those plates on one of my vehicles. I’ve had that plate since 1983 and at this point it IS still legible. It’s not just the “greenies” that are a problem, however. I’ve got a friend who has Spirit of America series plates (which most of us have) with the paint almost completely worn and faded off. That car won’t pass. Take a look at your plates. If they’re not legible, I recommend you contact the Registry. It’s likely that if you have standard issue plates, they’ll issue you new plates, probably with a new number. IF you have “reserved” plates (like I do on the a Volkswagen- I have plate # 280) in that case, they’d have the prison make up a new set of plates for you. I’m sure there would be a cost, but I think we all agree with our law enforcement officials that for the safety of all, it’s important for plates to be clear and visible.

No, I’ve never worked for the Registry, but with the Registry history, knowledge, and insight I have, I feel like I could be called a “Junior Registry Man”!

Monday, October 27, 2008


“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)

This posting may mark two FIRSTS:
1a. I believe this is the first time I have started a posting with TWO Bible references rather than one.
1b. I believe this may be the soonest after I’ve posted one entry on the blog that I’m back posting another one.

The last posting on the blog was very “spiritual” and kind of deep. I considered it pretty significant; something I wanted to be the lead posting on the blog for a few days for people to read and think about.

I did not realize that this evening’s dinner conversation would be, well, kind of like accidentally falling off the Golden Gate bridge, instantly being mauled by a sea monster, and then having the misfortune to wash ashore and somehow survive.

At supper, my wife Mary Ann asked me an innocent enough question:

“Did you send the Nelsons (NOT their real name) a tape of Sunday morning’s service?” (Yeah, I’m kind of embarrassed about it but we’re still doing tapes. We hope to begin offering CDs by early ‘09.) (The Nelsons are a couple who were away on vacation this past weekend.)

“Yes I did!” I calmly and kind of happily said.

She looked as though I’d announced that her mother had just been murdered.

Mary Ann then asked how I could possibly have sent the Nelsons a tape when there was material on it that they could find highly offensive and even insulting. My 25-year-old son Jon and I were incredulous.

“What material?...What could they possibly find offensive on that tape?” we both asked almost in unison.

Mary Ann reminded me that I had mentioned from the pulpit that another parishioner was on vacation in Seattle and then mentioned that they were on vacation at a small New England city just down the road from where they live.

“It sounded like you thought their vacation was it was a stupid place to go...and I happen to know they had a great time.”

I realized I’d announced at prayer time that we needed to pray for those who were away and I did kind of make a “tongue-in-cheek” comment that one person was in Seattle and the Nelsons were in that small New England City. I kind of did that humorous smirking thing you’d use saying something like to a valet like, “Well, my friend here has the $38,000 2009 Lexus coupe, and you’ll have to be REALLY careful with mine ‘cause I’ve got the 20-year-old blue hatchback that looks like something a teenager would drive in a demolition derby!” (Incidentally, if you’ve seen my car, I really DO!) I tend to make silly tongue-in-cheek comments like that.

My son said, “Mom, he wasn’t REALLY meaning anything bad about their vacation! He was just kind of humorously comparing it to Seattle. No one would possibly take offense at THAT.”

She wasn’t convinced.

“You know, there were also a couple of things said in the course of the sermon that people could possibly take the wrong way.” she added.

Then, “Bob, what if they ARE offended? What if they are hurt? What are YOU going to tell them?”

I replied that I would certainly NEVER send a couple a tape if I thought it would hurt or offend them. I also said that if I’d really intended malice toward them in what I said, I’d make sure they never heard the tape; but again, I sent it because it never occurred to me that they could possibly be offended and that I had no malice toward them in anything said on Sunday.

It’s too soon to know if the tape really DID offend the Nelsons or not.

I know, I know. If Mary Ann reads this blog piece SHE will be offended. Well, MAYBE, but I hope not! In all fairness to Mary Ann, she DID have some valid points. It’s something I’m very troubled by and very ashamed by, but in the twenty-years I’ve been pastor of First Assembly of God of Framingham, MANY people have left the church saying I deeply offended them. In fact, I’d say that at least 60% of the people who have left First Assembly of God of Framingham since 1987, and there are lots of them, have left for that reason. In most cases I was shocked and surprised. In most cases, I was totally clueless that I’d said or done something that was offensive. Ironically, just a few days ago, someone who left the church told me they read something on this blog that intensely offended them. That was another huge shock.

This business of people offending people and being offended. Wow. It’s complicated. And, I’ve got to tell you, in most cases, I just don’t get it! My father died in 2000, and since he was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s Disease when he died, to me it’s like he really died around 1994. Over the past few days, I’ve been really missing him- and we weren’t close. But I miss that fact that he’d “have it out with you”- he’d TELL YOU OFF, but then it was COMPLETELY OVER WITH like it never happened. There was NONE of this long-term “being offended” stuff. I miss him. I miss that.

Something happened in my life a few days ago that could have left me offended- that SHOULD have left me very offended. A person I think a lot of really let me down, in my opinion. Yeah, I started to stew about it a little bit. But then I thought about it and I prayed about it. I realized I’ve failed people many times. When I fail people, I want them to extend grace to show me love forgive give me another chance. I decided to extend grace to that person, and it felt so good to just LET THE STUPID OFFENSE GO!

Yeah, I could take offense at things. I’m in a pastors’ prayer and support group that meets every other Wednesday morning. The guy who leads it is a very seasoned, classy, mature minister. He’s taught me so much. I’ll call him “Mike” but that’s not his real name. One time about two years ago, I showed up for the group. Mike asked me how I was doing. I just kind of calmly and matter-of-factly said, “O.K.”

All of a sudden, Mike launched into this big weird display of sarcastic, mocking behavior toward me. He’s never done it before or since. He called me EEYORE (you know, the Winnie the Pooh donkey?!) He kept saying,

I wanted to say something like, “Mike are you DRUNK or something?!”
I could really have gotten offended. I could have walked out and never come back. I could even have done that AND said a lot of nasty things about him to others. I realized I’d be wrong to do that. Maybe Mike hadn’t had enough sleep. Maybe Mike was under stress. Maybe Mike had problems HE couldn’t deal with and he was just venting. I still think it was inappropriate, but I’ve forgiven him. That happened ONE time in 5 years and all the others he’s been fine. Again, I extended grace, love, and forgiveness to him, as I’d expect to be extended to me.

About six months ago, I was at a social gathering and a guy I’ve known for many years asked me if I’d ever had a colonoscopy. I hadn’t and I still haven’t. He got kind of perturbed, looked me right in the face and said, “THEN YOU’RE A FOOL!!” Now, a lot of people would have taken offense to that one. And I admit, it was maybe a bit much. But I know this guy. I know that’s his way. A casual observer might think he had little regard for me. I know the exact opposite is true. He’s really a LOT like my late father. He says exactly what he thinks. He told me that because he’s concerned about my health. I know SOME people would have been really offended at that one. I wasn’t.

I suspect some of you are wondering if I ran this piece by my wife before posting it. I didn’t

Will she be offended?

I hope not, but maybe.

If she is, you guessed it, I hope she’ll extend grace, love, forgiveness, all that stuff to me.

And, I’m really hoping the “Nelsons” are not offended by anything on their tape, but if they are, well I hope they will too!

If you want to leave a comment, please do! I trust I won’t be offended.
(You just click on where it says 0 comments, or 1 comments, or whatever and then there’s a procedure to “set up a Google identity” and leave a comment.)
If you want to comment and you don’t want to set up a Google identity and all that stuff, you can e-mail me- the address is under “About Me” in the column at the right.


“And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” (I Corinthians 14:32)

As I post this one, I realize it is NOT a typical “The Blog of Bob Baril” posting.
I am aware that it may confuse some people. I am aware that it may bore some people. I am aware that it may upset some people. All that said, I’m going to post it.

Right now I’m preaching and teaching through a series on Spiritual Gifts at church. I’ve preached about the Motivational Gifts of Romans chapter 12 and the Ministry Gifts of Ephesians chapter 14. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been preaching about the Gifts of the Spirit from I Corinthians chapter 12. Next Sunday I’ll be primarily in chapter 14 from which I quote about. This is controversial stuff in many circles. Sadly, even in “Pentecostal” and “Charismatic” circles, it’s getting to be considered controversial stuff.

Interestingly enough, I’ve had a lot of occasion in the past few weeks to talk and muse about the topics of “Prophecy” and being a “Prophet” with some Christian friends. “What does that mean?” “How is prophecy used?” “How can you tell if a prophecy is from God or not?” And a BIGGIE is, “Even in Christian circles, why are prophets and their prophecies so often ridiculed and rejected?”

I’m NOT quick to put the label of “Prophet” on someone; yet I’d have to consider The Reverend David Wilkerson a prophet. In 1958, 26-year-old Wilkerson, then the pastor of a church in rural Pennsylvania, felt called of God to the streets of New York City to confront the toughest and fiercest teenage and young adult street gang leaders and members and lead them to Jesus. Certainly this would seem to have been a FOOLHARDY plan. Yet, Wilkerson was AMAZINGLY SUCCESSFUL and the “Teen Challenge” ministry was born. In the early 1970s, David Wilkerson published the controversial book, “The Vision”, a prophecy of what would happen in the church and society of North America over the roughly 30-40 years following 1973. At the time, his prophecy seemed outlandish. Today, we know that it was real and most of it has come to pass. (Incidentally, he also has been prophesying the collapse of America’s investment banks and leading financial firms for OVER TEN YEARS.)

When God uses you as a prophet or to speak prophetically, it is NOT easy and you are usually NOT popular. Sadly, your biggest enemies and critics will often NOT be atheists nor agnostics, nor the average Joe down the street. Usually your biggest enemies and critics will be fellow born-again Christians who do not want their toes stepped on!

I’m on an e-mail list called “The Glory of God on Cape Cod”. It’s a newsletter calling for revival, and then people often send their comments and responses to the entire e-mail list. (NOTE: I don’t know for sure how I got on that e-mail list.) Today, I received an e-mail to everyone on “The Glory of God on Cape Cod” list from Rod Shepitka. I do not know Rod Shepitka. But I was touched by his e-mail, especially since I’ve been talking and wrestling with the kind of “stuff” he talks about here.

This is NOT light reading. If you are not a born-again Christian you probably won’t understand it. If you ARE a born-again Christian, I’d say there’s at least a 60% chance you won’t understand it. But if you’re “game” here’s the contents of Rob Shepitka’s e-mail:


Great industrial concerns have in their employ men who are
needed only when there is a breakdown somewhere. When
something goes wrong with the machinery, these men spring into
action to locate and remove the trouble and get the machinery
rolling again.

For these men a smoothly operating system has no interest. They
are specialists concerned with trouble and how to find and correct it.

In the kingdom of God things are not too different. God has always
had His specialists whose chief concern has been the moral
breakdown, the decline in the spiritual health of the nation or the
church. Such men were Elijah, Jeremiah, Malachi and others of
their kind who appeared at critical moments in history to reprove,
rebuke and exhort in the name of God and righteousness.

A thousand or ten thousand ordinary priests or pastors or teachers
could labor quietly on almost unnoticed while the spiritual life of
Israel or the church was normal. But let the people of God go
astray from the paths of truth and immediately the specialist
appeared almost out of nowhere. His instinct for trouble brought
him to the help of the Lord and of Israel.

Such a man was likely to be drastic, radical, possibly at times
violent, and the curious crowd that gathered to watch him work
soon branded him as extreme, fanatical, negative. And in a sense
they were right. He was single-minded, severe, fearless, and these
were the qualities the circumstances demanded. He shocked
some, frightened others and alienated not a few, but he knew who
had called him and what he was sent to do. His ministry was
geared to the emergency, and that fact marked him out as different,
a man apart.

To such men as this the church owes a debt too heavy to pay.
The curious thing is that she seldom tries to pay him while he lives,
but the next generation builds his sepulcher and writes his
biography, as if instinctively and awkwardly to discharge an
obligation the previous generation to a large extent ignored...

[-From the Foreword to Leonard Ravenhill's "Why Revival Tarries".
A brilliant book!]

The historian D'Aubigne writes: "A great work of God is never
accomplished by the natural strength of man. It is from the dry
bones, the darkness and the dust of death, that God is pleased to
select the instruments by means of which He designs to scatter
over the earth His light, regeneration and life." [- D'Aubigne's
"History of the Reformation"].

Another writer has observed: "In the various crises that have
occurred in the history of the church, men have come to the front
who have manifested a holy recklessness that astonished their
fellows. When Luther nailed his theses to the door of the cathedral
at Wittenberg, cautious men were astonished at his audacity.
When John Wesley ignored all church restrictions and religious
propriety and preached in the fields and by-ways, men declared
his reputation was ruined. So it has been in all ages. When the
religious condition of the times called for men who were willing to
sacrifice all for Christ, the demand created the supply, and there
have always been found a few who have been willing to be
regarded reckless for the Lord. An utter recklessness concerning
men's opinions and other consequences is the only attitude that
can meet the exigencies of the present times." [Quoted by Frank
Bartleman in "Azusa Street", pg 46. (Also published as "Another
Wave Rolls in"). - Another brilliant book!]

God bless you all.

Friday, October 24, 2008


“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

There’s something about being awakened by a strange smell, sight or sound in the middle of the night that can be, well, a night terror. Last night, I woke up around 1:30. It was one of those times that I was exhausted but wide awake. Admittedly, I’d had a very stressful day and I’d had too much caffeine to drink. I went on the computer for about ten minutes to check my e-mail, and I went back to bed.

We have gas forced hot air heat at home. I could hear the heat running, but suddenly I could also hear a loud, shrill, electronic tone which also was making a weird grinding sound. This is not the kind of thing you want to hear in the middle of the night. I have a basis for being concerned about what I wake up to at night. In 1991, I woke up to a burning plastic smell. It got stronger and stronger. It was strongest in the basement. I could not find it and ended up calling the fire department. At first the fire department had a difficult time finding it! Ultimately it was found. We had a freezer in the basement. The relay on the freezer was shorting out and burning out. Thank God I woke up! In a couple of hours the whole house could have been on fire! About two years ago, I woke up to a problem with the furnace and had to get Nstar Gas out for an emergency call in the middle of the night.

My gut feeling was the noise was probably coming from the heating system. I got up and walked around and as I got away from the bedroom, the noise became fainter. Going back to the bedroom, I listened at the window. It really seemed to be coming from OUTDOORS. I walked downstairs and opened the front door. Yes, outdoors on Harrison Street was a loud, shrill, electronic tone which was also making a grinding sound. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t anything close to our property, which it was not. The noise WAS kind of loud and kind of scary. I wondered if anyone else was hearing it. It seemed like it was coming from the distance, maybe at least five houses away.

I went back upstairs and lay down. For about 45 minutes I heard that loud, shrill, electronic tone which was also making a grinding sound. Sleep? Are you kidding? Suddenly, it stopped. After about fifteen minutes, I was asleep.

I know, I know, some of you are thinking this thing with the loud electronic tone really didn’t happen- that it was a dream. No, it happened! In the morning I thought of it. I’m one of those people who tries to see symbolism in just about anything. I thought about that NOISE- that noise that caused night terror. It was like a haunting alarm in the dark and no one was responding.

How many shattered lives are out there? In my experience LOTS. How many people as it were are (in some way) “sounding an alarm”- crying out even hauntingly- and are we listening, and what do we do about it? .....

Well, that’s my philosophizing. And, finally, on a physical and emotional gut level: I’D BETTER NOT BE AWAKENED BY THAT NOISE TONIGHT!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


"I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:" (III John 13)

I arrived home from the Assemblies of God ministers' retreat this afternoon a little before 4. It was a good time. There is SO much I could write about it, but suffice it to say, it was a good time in many respects. I got to walk a beach yesterday; something I love to do, and I was very grateful!

I had not been on-line in over 48 hours.

I went on to discover that AOL has "launched" a new "upgrade" to AOL mail. I had 46 e-mails at and I WAS able to read them with no problem, but I was not able to send any e-mail. It just WOULD NOT SEND e-mail! One e-mail was from an out-of-state friend who'd experienced a crisis involving his teenage daughter. I wanted to let him know I'd received his message, but I could not. (I actually tried phoning his house and the call didn't even go through!) I also got several e-mails from the Convener (the leader) of the Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association. I am this year's Secretary, and there was one of them I really needed to respond to. I finally ended up calling his office and leaving a message with his Secretary. (At 4:45, I assume he'd probably gone for the day.)

I know we're all spoiled by these modern electronic "gadgets". Ten years ago, I did not even know what a "blog" was. (Did they even HAVE blogs ten years ago?) Fifteen years ago, I was just learning how to turn on and use a computer, and I was not on-line in those days. Now, like everybody else I'm completely dependent on e-mail. It was hard being away from it for over 48 hours. And, then the AOL Mail not working! Well, I was "not a happy camper".

(Although AOL Journals "goes away" after Oct. 31, there is a site on AOL blogs were people can comment on the new AOL mail upgrade. MANY left comments that they could not send e-mail today and are not happy. I also left such a comment! I hope this is all fixed in less than 24 hours!)

Monday, October 20, 2008


“And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.” (Luke 9:10)

I’ll be attending the Ministers’ Retreat of our Southern New England District of the Assemblies of God from Monday through Wednesday of this week. The Ministers’ Retreat was called “Ministers’ Institute” until a few years ago, and it always takes place in the Fall. I haven’t been to an Assemblies of God Ministers’ Retreat (or “Institute”) for at least seven years. For a number of years, I’ve attended Vision New England’s “New England Pastors’ Prayer Summit” every November in the Keene, New Hampshire area. I’ve thought that two ministers’ retreats in “back to back” months was a bit much, so I’ve opted to attend the Prayer Summit only. This year, I’ve decided to go to both. Originally, the church was paying for the Prayer Summit, and I was paying for the AG Ministers’ Retreat. I’ve already paid for it, in fact, but several people were nice enough to offer me money to offset my expenses and I’ve been very grateful for that!

The AG Ministers’ Retreat is taking place in Falmouth on Cape Cod at a “resort” called The Sea Crest. I THINK we may have had another retreat at The Sea Crest, but if we did it was sometime in the 1990s and I don’t remember it too well. I DO have memories of The Sea Crest, however! In 1971, my father was an “Assistant Supervisor” at the Registry of Motor Vehicles which was the highest rank of a “uniform man” and he was assigned to the Public Relations branch of the Registry’s Boston headquarters. (You may know, he started out giving driving tests at the Registry in 1956 and he retired as the Supervisor of the Medical Affairs branch in Boston in 1982.) Each year, there is a big national convention of “motor vehicle administrators” held somewhere in North America. The organization is known as the “A.A.M.V.A.”, that is the “Association of American Motor Vehicle Administrators”. In 1971, Massachusetts was hosting the A.A.M.V.A. convention and all the “setup and breakdown” was essentially “my father’s baby”.

At the time, I was a Junior in high school and my brother Eddie was a Freshman. I remember my Dad let us skip school, and we went with him in a rented U-Haul truck to bring some desks and tables to The Sea Crest to set up. At the time, this U-Haul truck was the first decent sized truck I’d ever equipped with automatic transmission. I think that even surprised my father. Eddie and I worked hard, but we got to be included among the guests at the banquet that night, eating all kinds of fancy foods and feeling like a couple of big shots. My father was always talking about a woman named “Gert” that he worked with. He was constantly putting her down and talking about how much he didn’t like her. Eddie and I expected Gert to be a 1971 version of the wicked witch of the west, but to our surprise we found out she was O.K. and we really wondered why my father couldn’t say a good word about her. One thing I remember is that my father got loads and loads of “A.A.M.V.A.” pads of paper. At my parents’ home, they were using those pads of paper for phone messages seemingly FOREVER!

That was thirty-seven years ago. At the time, my father was forty-eight-years old. To me, it seems like it was MAYBE ten years ago. Now, I’m fifty-four, six years older than Gene Baril was in 1971. And, I’m a minister on retreat. Maybe this time I really AM a big shot...or not! Actually, it’s a “not” but sometimes we like to pretend!

Yes, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I’ll be making some new memories at The Sea Crest!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


“Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father...The elder women as mothers...” (from I Timothy 5:1-2)

My twenty-five-year-old son Jon and I went to the showing of the 2007 documentary “Young @ Heart” at the Costin Room of the Framingham Public Library. What a moving and powerful film!

[I’ve first got to say as sort of a “disclaimer” and in the interest of full disclosure, that several people who are very close to me, and that I respect very much, strongly disagree with me EVER recommending secular films or books, especially any which contain swearing. It DOES bother them when I (an Assemblies of God minister who holds to very conservative theological and social positions) seem to be hypocritical and/or dishonoring to the Lord by doing so. This IS a secular film. I think I counted a total of five swears in 108 minutes. I don’t swear and I don’t care for swearing, but my experience is that a person can and will hear far more swearing if you walk through the streets of downtown Framingham on any particular afternoon!]

“Young @ Heart” is the name of a chorus of senior citizens from Northampton, Massachusetts who (primarily) sing rock songs, and I mean ROCK songs! I read a short blurb about the film in the paper and was very curious about seeing the film. I expected it to be very funny, and parts of it WERE very funny. Watching senior citizens, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s singing the stuff you usually hear played on “Boston’s Classic Rock”; well, it IS a riot! These are people of my parents’ generation and even a little older! The film was NOT a comedy, though. At times, it was very sad. Most of all, it was one of the most inspiring films I’ve seen in a long time.

Musician and artist Bob Cilman created “Young @ Heart” at a senior center in Northhampton in 1982. Originally, the members sang mostly pleasant songs of their generation, but when the group was several years old, they tried one rock song of MY generation which was very popular with their audiences, and the rest is history. Young @ Heart has toured, not only around America, but has also toured Canada, Australia, and Europe!

The documentary was shot by British filmmaker Stephen Walker a couple of years ago, and originally broadcast on “Channel 4” in London. It was so well received on television that Walker got it into some British theaters where it was also a big hit. Last year, Fox Searchlight, a subsidiary of Twentieth-Century Fox, acquired the film and tweaked it to make it “more cinematic”.

“Young & Heart” not only showed a number of the group’s rehearsals and perfomances, but there was also footage of interviews of the group’s members and their families. In addition, it included following some of the seniors on difficult trips to the hospital where very real issues of life and death were being discussed. One of the most moving parts of the movie was watching a concert of “Young @ Heart” at the Hampshire County Jail.

There’s a LOT more I could share, but I’m afraid I’d spoil the film for you!

Really, this was GREAT! I had no idea the group “Young @ Heart” even existed, but if they ever perform in the MetroWest area, I’ll be there!

The film “Young @ Heart” just came out on D.V.D. this month. As you can tell, I highly recommend it!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


“...weep with them that weep.” (Romans 12:15)

This is a very sad and difficult day for the Garrahan family of Framingham, Massachusetts. The body of twenty-seven year old William C. Garrahan, Jr. is being laid to rest today at St. Stephen’s Cemetery, following a funeral Mass at St. Bridget’s Church.

There are three reasons why I express my condolences to the Garrahan family today:

The first reason is that my own brother, Edward Stephen Baril, was laid to rest at age twenty-seven in July of 1983. It was twenty-five years ago, but in many ways it seems like only yesterday. The Garrahan obituary states that William “died unexpectedly” as did my brother Eddie. Eddie collapsed at work on June 29, lapsed into a coma, and died a few days later. This was the only time I ever saw my very macho father cry, and he was a mess. Both of my parents were a mess. My parents each died seventeen years later, but a big part of them died during the summer of 1983. In so many ways, they never recovered from their horrible loss.

The second reason is that the late grandfather of the deceased, Attorney John P. Garrahan, Sr., was a dear friend of our little church, First Assembly of God of Framingham. Our church went through some very dark days in the mid and late 1990s. It would be far too much to write about at this time, but in those days, our church was in serious trouble with two Departments of the Town of Framingham, and we were even threatened with closure. There were several big spreads about it in the local newspapers. Two local clergy (Deacon Guy Spiri of St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, and Pastor Ben Marshall, then of New Bethel Baptist Church) told me the one man who could help our church was Attorney John Garrahan. Each of these men phoned Mr. Garrahan. On their recommendations, John Garrahan met with me and with our church leaders a number of times. He went and spoke before various Town officials on our behalf. He was ALWAYS available to me on the phone. John Garrahan donated many hours to our little church. He charged us NOTHING. Mr. John Garrahan had a very interesting demeanor. He was not a weak man. He was a very strong man and a very intelligent man, but he was always full of graciousness, kindness and CLASS. I attended John Garrahan’s funeral several years ago. As I stood there near the graveside, I felt the loss very deeply.

The third reason is that the sister of the deceased, Shannon Garrahan, graduated from Marian High School with my daughter Amy in 2003. Amy certainly thought a lot of Shannon, who was one of the nicest kids in that graduating class. My wife is the full-time Administrative Assistant at Marian High, and Mr. William C. Garrahan, Sr., father of the deceased, and son of the late Attorney John Garrahan, is on Marian’s Board. Although the Barils are not Roman Catholics, we’ve had a strong connection to Marian High for years, and are pleased, along with the Garrahans, to be part of the Marian family.

I remember that Eddie’s wake had a HUGE attendance. Countless people filed past, saying, “We don’t know what to say.” We understood. As one announcer said immediately following the collapse of one of the World Trade Center towers, “There are no words.”

Sometimes, indeed, there are no words.

I am so sorry for the Garrahan family’s loss. I pray God’s comfort and peace for them at this painful time.

Monday, October 13, 2008


“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23)

People who know me well know I’m famous for saying, “I don’t like surprises.” And I don’t. At least, I USUALLY don’t. Yesterday, I received a surprise that blessed me. After the service, I walked into my office and on my desk was a medium-sized white envelope with my name on it. I was a little puzzled as I opened it, wondering what it might be. Inside was a $20. check from a person in our church who was wishing me a “Happy Pastors’ Appreciation Day”. (At least ten years ago, Dr. James Dobson of “Focus on the Family” designated the 2nd Sunday of October as “Minister [or Pastor] Appreciation Day”.) The greeting card companies have embraced it and the rest is history. I was particularly blessed because the person who wrote me the $20. check is NOT a person of means. In fact. $20. from that person would be like $200. from most people. In a way, I’ll almost feel a little guilty when I cash it, but that person’s kindness deeply touched me.

I was a little apprehensive when I saw the envelope, because my experience has been that usually an envelope on my desk with my name on it (unless it looks like an obvious birthday card or something) is NOT a good sign. About twelve years ago, I received such a letter from a couple stating they were leaving the church. It came as a complete surprise, and to say the least, it was not pleasant. I contacted that couple and insisted they meet with a Board member and me at a neutral location before leaving. They did that, but boy, I wish people would learn that the “hit and run” letter approach can be very destructive.

The classic was the Letter on Super Bowl Sunday. It was Super Bowl Sunday 1997. If you recall, that was the year the Patriots went to the Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers. That had been quite an intense weekend for me. My sister’s short marriage was on its last legs. She had what turned out to be a final meeting with her husband and a professional counselor. I was asked to be in that meeting, sort of as “moral support” for her. It was the Saturday of that weekend and it was tough. After a grueling “session” her husband enthusiastically asked me about whether I thought the Patriots could beat Green Bay. Well, I guess he’d given up on the marriage, but figured there was still hope for the Patriots.

Many of the guys of our church were getting together at a Board Member's house for a Super Bowl party. I stopped by my office around 3 that Sunday, shortly before heading over to Dave’s house. On my desk was an unexpected envelope with my name on it. I opened it. In small type was a two page computer written letter from a prominent man in our church. The letter was highly critical of me. The man is no longer at our church, but I won’t use his real name. I’ll call him “Nick”. When you read this, you may think I hate Nick. I really don’t. Nick and I exchange e-mails from time to time and occasionally we get together socially. Nick has never flat out apologized for the letter. but it WAS over eleven years ago, and from his body language and demeanor, I think he NOW regrets having sent it.

I’ve been in full-time ministry for over twenty-seven years. In that amount of time, I still think this is the worst letter anyone ever sent me. The letter started out insisting I could tell no one about the letter. (That’s very unfair. If you want to level charges at someone you should be willing to have those charges objectively examined by others!) The letter accused me of “not sacrificing” and essentially accused my immediate family and I of being extremely greedy because we insisted on receiving all of our benefits (in my contract) and that I had asked the church to reimburse me $24. for a professional journal I’d subscribed to.

It was tough to read that just a couple of hours or so before the game. It was really tough to get through the Super Bowl with that on my mind, but I went to Dave’s house that night and enjoyed pizza with the guys. In the second half, the Pats went down to defeat, but we had a “fun evening” anyway. On Monday morning, I wrote Nick one of the greatest letters of my letter-writing career. I cited some Scripture from the Apostle Paul, but I also pointed out that in the previous few months, the church had received several unexpected large checks from my mother, from my brother-in-law, and from a wealthy businessman who was a friend of mine. I pointed out that they did not give these checks to “First Assembly of God of Framingham” for the fun of it, nor did they give them coincidentally or accidentally. They gave them because of a personal connection to ME. If I “blew” a few hundred dollars of that money on myself and my benefits, did I feel guilty about it? No, I certainly did not.

Maybe part of why I’m thinking about that is that on Saturday I listened to an outstanding C.D. by a minister friend of mine from rural Kentucky. In his sermon, he told the story that he purchased a guitar and an amplifier and had been going with several others on a regular basis to minister at a nursing home. My friend told two pathetic stories on that C.D. about people who had felt sorry for themselves and whined and complained about various facets of that nursing home ministry...never thinking about the sacrifice HE had made, and of course, missing the big picture of the sacrifice our Lord Jesus Christ has made! As a pastor, I could absolutely relate.

Yes, I’ve had my “Letter on Super Bowl Sunday”!

But, thank God, I now have had a NEW Letter on Super Bowl Sunday. Nope, this weekend was NOT the Super Bowl, and in fact the Patriots lost to San Deigo...but that simple $20. check and act of kindness made Columbus Day weekend a kind of a “Super Bowl Weekend” for me!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” ((Romans 13:1)

There are quite a large number of people who are afraid of travel by air. When they DO have to take a trip by jet plane, their knuckles are white during takeoffs and landings. Should there be any turbulence experienced during the flight...well, FORGET IT! I marvel that people have THAT much fear of flying, and yet they think NOTHING of traveling in congested traffic, many times at high speeds, to and from the airport. The fact is that, statistically speaking, travel in a car is MUCH more dangerous than is traveling aboard a jet plane! Remember that poor Hispanic lady from the Jamaica Plain section of Boston who was killed back in 2006 when the giant concrete panel fell on her car in that “big dig” tunnel on the way to Logan airport? Well, I rest my case!

Actually, I DON’T rest my case, because THAT was just the introduction!

It’s too bad driving is not fun, but driving is just not fun! There are SO many things that can go wrong when you’re at the wheel! I don’t want to go into great detail in writing because this is a matter that’s in the hands of the insurance companies, but Mary Ann had a car accident on Friday morning. Fortunately, our 2000 Dodge Caravan is drivable and she was not hurt, but the whole inconvenience factor is a nightmare. (Mary Ann probably had her worst day of 2008 on Friday! Her work computer had a total meltdown and had to be carried off by a computer technician; AND about an hour later she was in a car accident!) All I will say about her accident is that it involved two people backing up in a parking lot. Did you know experts say one of the most dangerous things you can do at the wheel is backing up in a parking lot? There are quite a number of accidents that happen when drivers are backing up in parking lots!

I know Mary Ann felt bad about the accident. Well, I have a confession to make. A week ago, I ALMOST had a car accident! It was Friday night, October 3. I had finished teaching a Bible Study at our church. I was giving a guy a ride home. Listen, I know the folks who have been planning a state-of-the-art community health center facility for the corner of South and Waverley Streets in Framingham have argued that it’s NOT a particularly dangerous place to walk around and drive around... but... well, IT IS! I was making a right turn from South Street onto Waverley. As is frequently the case, there were parked vehicles which made it kind of hard to see, and there was a lot of traffic heading east on Waverley St. I stopped, looked, and waited for car after car to go by. Finally, the last car passed. I eased my foot off the break pedal and looked to the right. INSTANTLY THERE WAS A GUY RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY 1989 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF! I slammed on the brakes! The car stopped with a slight jolt because I was only rolling at 2 or 3 M.P.H. What I’m describing all happened in maybe ONE SECOND.

The man I was giving a ride to said the pedestrian had been waiting to cross the street and then suddenly to his surprise had lurched in front of my car. My passenger had been about to say, “There’s a guy in front of the car!” Before he could get those words out, the above events happened! The pedestrian was a male, probably in his late thirties or early forties. I’d say he was at least five feet ten inches tall, maybe taller. He had olive skin and curly dark hair. He had the look of a guy who’d spent a lot of his life in streets, in fights, and in bars.

“HEY!” he yelled, “YOU TRYIN’ TA HIT ME??!! YOU WANNA HIT ME??!!”

Maybe I should not have said anything, but I said, “No”. It sounded like the weakest, most wimpy “no” I’d ever said in my life! (Thank God the car did NOT strike him! I missed hitting him by at least a foot. Had I hit him, I hate to think of what that would have been like!)

“How about if I call the police?!” he continued, “How about if I take down your plate number and call the police?!”

I said nothing, but I thought, “Oh, great, I WOULD have plate number 280. That’s a pretty tough one to forget or mess up!”

He slowly walked away, staring at me with a look of absolute hatred.

I made the right turn and drove along Waverley Street.

“I wouldn't’ blame you if you’re scared,” said my passenger, “that would scare me, too!”

“Well, it was a surprise, but I’m all right” I said.

I wasn’t. But I was trying to be calm.

I dropped my passenger off, went home and turned on the television set.

I could just imagine the phone ringing, and hearing a voice saying, “This is the Framingham Police Department. We’ve got a report that you were involved in an incident with your motor vehicle....”

No joke. My wife called asking me to pick her up at Marian High School and drive her over to get her car where she’d left it in a parking lot in Ashland. I did not want to drive anywhere else that night! But, I did it!

No, there were never any phone calls or letters from the Framingham Police Department or the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Thank God! But, boy, am I cautious driving now, especially in areas where there are pedestrians, and particularly pedestrians who may want to jump out in front of your car when least expected!

That reminds me of what my father, who was a driving expert, always said about car accidents: “Accidents happen WHEN LEAST EXPECTED!” They do! Please, when you’re driving, remember that YOU JUST CAN’T BE TOO FOCUSED!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


“That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.” (I Corinthians 10:9)

I was “kissed off” by someone (by e-mail) today.

First of all, I want to explain the expression “kissed off” just in case you aren’t familiar with it. It does NOT mean anything dirty or obscene or anything like that. It means someone in a civil yet curt manner rejected you. An example could be something like, “Harry kissed off those Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to his door.” When you “kiss somebody off” it does not mean you’re all loud and angry and overtly hostile. It just means you give them a soft but cold and definite rejection.

I know I’ve written my opinions about the etiquette of e-mail Forwards and mass e-mailings in the past. I don’t want to repeat all that. I will say I probably receive somewhere around 60 e-mail Forwards and mass e-mailings a week. I will always at least scan them. If the e-mail interests me, which is true about 40% of the time, I will thoroughly read it. If I feel the e-mail would be enjoyed by others or would be of some interest to others, I forward it on. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have also started at least 20 mass e-mailings in my twelve years on-line. I’ve found you’ve really got to be savvy when you do that, and exactly how you do that, or you can be “suspended” by your server. I’ve been twice “suspended” by AOL.) Of the 60 or so Forwards and mass e-mailings I receive per week, I probably forward around 7 of them along.

When I send along a Forward, I do NOT send it to my whole address book which has at least 110 names in it. Rather, I will go through my address book and click “send” for those to whom I believe the e-mailing might be of particular interest. (I did send a “Forward” last night which seems to have provoked an acquaintance of mine and I’ll share more about that later in this posting. ) If my memory serves me correctly, only 3 people have ever “kissed me off” after I sent them a Forwarded e-mail or mass e-mailing.

One was a female attorney here in Framingham that I do not know well. I had her e-mail address because we each belong to the same local civic organization. She wrote saying I’m “always complaining about something” and that she receives over 500 e-mails a day and does not have time for my mailings. I wrote her back a short apology by e-mail and assured her she’d never get any more mailings from me, and she never has.

Another was a guy I’ve known fairly well for over ten years. He sent me a short e-mail, similar to the attorney's, implying how important he is, and asking me to continue sending him personal e-mail but no Forwards or mass e-mailings. I was a little surprised, but I obliged. I happen to know he reads my blog, so maybe he is a little surprised I mentioned this! My friend D.C.M. of Stoughton, MA has some very good advice for people like the above two that get SO agitated by receiving an e-mail they don’t want. “That’s what the delete button is for!” says D.C.M. He is absolutely right!

Yesterday, I received a Forward from a very good friend who lives in Florida. He’s a clergyman who is semi-retired and who had a very active and effective ministry in the Boston area, especially in the MetroWest area, for many years. The e-mail was put out by the denomination he belongs to. It was a strong endorsement of the recent statements from the Vatican (my friend and his denomination are NOT Roman Catholic) about the hypocrisy and sin of “pro-choice” Catholic politicians.

I read it over and although it was “very Catholic” (well, duh!) and obviously anti-Democrat and very pro-life, I thought it was interesting enough to pass on to a number of people in my address least for them to read and think about. Most of you know I’m a registered Republican who would be described as a “conservative” on most issues, although I think (overall) I’m actually a moderate who leans right; and I’m very pro-life/anti-abortion. I have family and friends who are pro-choice. I also have family and friends who are Democrats and independents. (Incidentally, I vote for SOME Democrats; I’m not one of these “party only” Republicans!) I decided I WASN’T going to forward that along to anyone I knew to be pro-choice or that I knew to either be Jewish, agnostic, or atheist. I ended up forwarding my friend’s e-mail to exactly 50 people.

To my surprise, this morning’s “kiss off e-mail” was from a clergyman here in the MetroWest suburbs of Boston. I will call him “Ron”...but that’s not his real name. Ron is in his 50s. Ron is an evangelical. Ron tends to be conservative theologically and liberal politically. Ron’s e-mail to me said, “Please remove me from your mailing list”.

Now, was that a “kiss off” or what?!

This is a guy I KNOW PERSONALLY. This is a guy I’ve had a number of personal conversations with. This is a guy I’ve been out to lunch with. This guy and I mutually belong to at least two local organizations. He didn’t even write, “BOB, please....” He wrote impersonally as if I was some e-mail sales spammer or something. The other two who kissed me off were actually a little more personal.

You know what’s really awkward? I happen to be this year’s Secretary of one of the organizations to which we mutually belong! That means I HAVE to send him e-mailings from that organization. I will continue to do THAT.

In the past, regarding another organization I belong to, I’ve sometimes sent this guy e-mails about what happened at the meeting if I happened to go and he happened to miss it. He’s always appreciated that.

I have to assume he’s voting for Obama/Biden which is fine. This is America. Our soldiers have fought and died for the freedom to vote as you please and to support the candidates of your choice. I assume he may be a Democrat; well, he probably is. I THOUGHT he was pro-life; now I’m not sure. As I wrote, I have pro-choice friends. I have Democrat friends. I SO wish this guy had just written me something like, “Bob, That was a very offensive e-mail to me. I felt you condemned my politics unfairly.” THEN, I could have contacted him and we could have had a dialog, even if we agreed to disagree.

I have not e-mailed this guy back.

Believe me, I know some folks on the political right can be real jerks. I do NOT defend conservatives or Republicans who act like jerks. But on the other side, the problem I see with SO many liberals and left-leaning Democrats is that if you say or write ANYTHING contrary to their beliefs they “kiss you off”. This is a perfect example of that!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


REMINDER:  AOL Journals/Blogs are being discontinued effective Oct. 31, 2008.  I plan to continue writing a blog using another service with (obviously) a new URL address.  I have not finalized any of the details of that at this point.  Any questions please e-mail to

“...I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (from Revelation 3:20)

A number of weeks ago, I received an invitation in the mail to attend the 3rd Annual WEZE Pastors’ Luncheon at Lantana function hall in Randolph.  I did not go to either of the previous luncheons, but for some reason I chose to go to this one.  The luncheon invitation was for a pastor and “guest” which usually means the pastor’s wife, but I knew there would be no way Mary Ann could go with me today, and I couldn’t think of anyone to invite, so I just signed up to go by myself.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I can speak to large groups of people, if necessary, with no problem, but sometimes attending functions where I don’t know ANYBODY present, and having to introduce myself, etc., can be awkward.  The event was scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  I’ve been to functions at Lantana before (although it had been a LONG times since I’d been there) so I found my way there pretty easily.  I arrived around 10:45.  I immediately noticed what I noticed the last time I attended a “Benny Hinn Pastors’ Breakfast”- that 75% of the attendees were either Black or Hispanic.  PLEASE, I don’t want you to think I’m least I HOPE I’m not!  But back when I was first in the ministry, if you went to an evangelical Christian event in the Boston suburbs, most of the crowd would not only be white but in fact MOST in the crowds at such events 25 years ago would either have been W.A.S.P.s or Scandinavians.  Even a French-Canadian from a Catholic background, like me, would feel a little out of place for OTHER reasons.  TODAY, it’s urban Blacks and Hispanics that are attracted to such events.  The white suburbanites have pretty much sworn them off, and I guess THAT would make for a whole demographic study.  Although the luncheon was advertised as starting at 11 a.m., I picked up a program and quickly noticed it was actually starting at 11:25.  In the interim, there were exhibits from their sponsors set up which they wanted you to check out.  I was uncomfortable with that, so I actually went out and sat in the car.  

While the luncheon didn’t feel like it was starting out very well, things improved very quickly!  I went into the banquet hall around 11:20, and I sat with a Hispanic pastor and his wife from Jamaica Plain and with two white guys around 30 who were among the sponsors (THEY were promoting the Boston Pops and Boston Symphony orchestras.)  I had a nice time conversing with the people at my table.  Some years ago, Dr. James Dobson declared October as “Pastor Appreciation Month”.  For that reason, WEZE started the Pastor Appreciation Luncheons.  I was blown away that they have each pastor a large gift bag full of high quality new Christian books and teaching CDs.  The meal was first-class!  I had prime rib.  Some had chicken cordon bleu.  It was a full meal from salad to dessert to coffee and was GREAT.  The speaker was Dr. Michael Youssef who pastors a large church in Atlanta, Georgia and has a well respected radio ministry.  He was GREAT.  I did not know he was born in Egypt, and had emigrated to Lebanon and later Australia with almost NOTHING many years ago.  Youssef and his family have been in the States since 1977 and are American citizens.  His message was VERY POWERFUL.

At each table was a beautiful gingerbread house covered with candy.  The gingerbread was frosted in the colors and logos of Salem Communications’ three Boston area stations:  WEZE 590 AM; WROL 950 AM; and Spanish language WWDJ at 1150 AM.  The person at each table who had a birthday closest to October 7 won their table’s gingerbread house.  I won it!  I brought it to Marian High School and put it in the faculty room!  There was an empty seat at my table so I took THAT gift bag home and gave it to Mary Ann!  SO, I did not leave empty handed.

And, don’t panic Michael Graham, but I set a couple of buttons on my car radio to WEZE and WROL!


I would like to thank all of you who sent me e-cards and e-mails to wish me a happy birthday last week in honor of my 50th birthday.  Your thoughts and blessings were so much appreciated.  I feel truly blessed to be a part of such a wonderful "family".   Blessings to you all  ~  Mary Ann

Sunday, October 5, 2008


REMINDER:  AOL Journals/Blogs are being discontinued effective Oct. 31, 2008.  I plan to continue writing a blog using another service with (obviously) a new URL address.  I have not finalized any of the details of that at this point.  Any questions please e-mail to

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:18)

Today was a special day for my wife Mary Ann.

Her actual  50th Birthday was Tuesday, September 30.  Today we had a party for her at Marian High School with her family and good friends.  (We also had a church pizza social for her a couple of weeks ago, so she's getting plenty of well deserved attention for her 50th!)

Wow, what outstanding food, and I think we all ate too much! 

It was something to see one of those computer generated "slide shows" of Mary Ann's life literally from infancy through today.   Of course, the photos from the '80s and '90s also included several of me, and I can hardly believe I ever looked that young.  From just "yesterday" were the photos of a couple in their early 30s with three little kids, and then from March 2008 there was Amy's wedding photo including a very "over 50" looking Bob Baril!  My father used to ask, "Where does the time go?" and now I'm asking the same question! 

Considering all my idiosyncrisies I'm amazed there's anybody who'd put up with being married to me, so I'd have to say I've been really blessed having Mary Ann for a wife all these years, and having three kids who are now fine young adults.

It was a joy to have this celebration today.  It was nice to see friends like Nancy A. who used to babysit our kids when they were little.  It was nice to have folks from Marian High celebrating at well.  I also very much appreciated all the help we had cleaning up - thank you to a number of people who helped with that!

Thank you  also to Diane P. who helped Mary Ann quickly finish her Treasury duties after church today so she could arrive early for her very special event; and thanks for taking care of that deposit bag!

Mary Ann had a bunch of purple helium balloons tied near the entrance of her party.  When all was over, our daughter Rachel launched them!  Yeah, I know it's not good for the environment (sorry!) but they sure looked cool....almost like a "U.F.O." when they got high enough!

So, in the midst of an often hectic and crazy life, today was a day to celebrate, reflect, and be thankful. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008


REMINDER:  AOL Journals/Blogs are being discontinued effective Oct. 31, 2008.  I plan to continue writing a blog using another service with (obviously) a new URL address.  I have not finalized any of the details of that at this point.  Any questions please e-mail to

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do,  do all to the glory of God."
(I Corinthians 10:31)

"Pot Pourri" pronounced "poe- POURRIE!"  is often a category on the Jeopardy television show.  Ironically, I FIRST heard the term used by the late comedian Dick Martin on ANOTHER television show, "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" way back in the late 1960s.  It pretty much means an ecclectic mix of a bunch of stuff! So today's posting is a Pot Pourri of stuff I'm musing about.  Incidentally, I think this is the first time I have ever listed my mood as "mellow" and NO I didn't use illegal drugs to achieve a mellow mood!

1.  ABOUT THE BLOG CHANGE-  I've read various "stuff" on-line and realize I was not the only AOL blogger who was unhappy with the news that the AOL Journals/Blogs will end at the end of this month.  Some people are upset because their DEAD relatives used to have AOL blogs which they can still access and read and they assume these will soon be gone forever.  Some are upset because (apparently) AOL made this decision in July but just decided to tell us now.  They feel it was not enough notice.  (Actually, I DO think it was enough notice.  It would have been much worse if they'd have only given 24 hrs. notice!)  I now realize it's not all bad.  I get a chance to completely start over with a blog.  AOL is offering present AOL blog writers a way they can switch all their archieves to their new blogs wherever they go. My understanding is that information will become available on Oct. 7.  Some AOL blog writers are deciding to just jump to someone else and forget about the archieves.  I have not made a final decision, but I am leaning that way.  My wife and a few others have been critical of the way at times I've written a lot of negative stuff which they feel did not reflect well on me as a person or as a minister.  It's a chance for me to leave that stuff all behind.  I've also recently toyed with dropping the description "eccentric" and when I go to a new blog with a new service I may drop that.  So, it may all work out for good for me!

2.  ABOUT MY BLUE COLLAR PROJECTS-  For those who ask "What do you DO all day?" my life could be a reality T.V. show!  There was enough of a break in the weather on Tuesday morning for me to do some "prepping" for painting as far as the white trim work I have to do.  I plan to take most of tomorrow to DO that white trim touch-up painting.  I hope within the next week or two to get the gray porch floor done and to get some other stuff done.  I had originally planned for all this stuff to be done before Labor Day.  (For those of you who are falling asleep...SORRY, please grab your coffee and read on!)

3.  ABOUT TONIGHT'S DEBATE-  There are some Christian friends and ministers who LOVE when I discuss politics and there are some Christian friends and ministers who HATE when I discuss politics.  SO, I am about to make 50% of you mad....well maybe I will make 100% of you mad.   I did NOT catch most of the McCain/Obama debate last week.  It was on at a very bad time for me and I did not record it.  I DO plan to watch the Palin/Biden debate tonight.  How do I feel about Sarah Palin?  I will admit, I've been one of those middle-aged Republican guys who has really admired her, but I HAVE been nervous by her media interviews.  Honestly, even if she is completely stupid (and I hope she ISN'T) I'd still prefer her any day to Obama or Biden.  Biden has also made some very regrettable remarks, such as saying that F.D.R. was President in 1929 and that he addressed the nation on T.V. at that time!  Most of the media is biased to the left and so that is downplayed as no big deal.  Obama like Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is a very nice guy.  The problem is he's a far leftist who makes Hillary Clinton look somewhat conservative and even Bill Clinton look quite conservative.  He has all sorts of starry-eyed dreams for America which will cost a fortune and I don't think he has a clue how it will all be paid for.  All that said, this economy thing has hurt McCain badly.  I know some time ago on this blog, I predicted a huge McCain win in November.  I will vote for McCain /Palin, but I'm bracing myself for an Obama win.

4.  AT CHURCH-  This past Sunday I preached one of the strongest sermons EVER and I used no notes.  We've had several very powerful Sundays at church.  ALSO, last night we had another very powerful Wednesday night prayer meeting...the 4th in a row.  I have been praying for the growth of attendance on Wednesday nights and THAT IS HAPPENING.  We continue to have many challenges at our small church...yes finances are tough, but somehow we're getting by financially.  Preachers have a tendency to exaggerate, but I'm not doing so.  God is doing something powerful at our church.  I'm actually a bit scared about it.  When nothing is happening but you feel comfortable, that's not scary.  When God is moving in surprising ways, it's exciting but it's scary.  That's how it is.  Last Sunday an Assemblies of God minister from Rhode Island (that I don't know) was visiting in the service.  He phoned me yesterday.  He was blessed and impressed by what he saw.

That's my pot pourri for now!