Thursday, February 26, 2009


“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24)

Back in the ‘90s there was a guy who attended our church who used to (critically) ask (about me) “What does he DO all day?!” That comment “got back” to me a number of times. I’ve found after all these years that there’s NEVER a typical pastor’s day. A few years ago, I submitted a piece to the MetroWest Daily News about what ministers do “all day” and I was very pleased that they published it. I’m sitting at the computer at 5:20 in the afternoon and I decided to write a similar piece because today was an interesting day for me.

Some people imagine ministers (and priests and rabbis and other clergy) have ecstatic spiritual experiences...communing with angels...seeing rapturous visions...even hearing the audible voice of God...kind of like Moses with the burning bush. Well, YES, things like that ARE possible and sometimes people of ANY stripes CAN experience all the kind of stuff I’ve just mentioned. But 99.9% of what a minister does and how he lives is just living out what someone has called “the stuff of life”. My wife leaves for work at Marian High School before 6 a.m. Today was Thursday, and that meant trash day for us. I also had a meeting to attend in Worcester, so I made sure I was up at 6 and into the bathroom. By 7 I had all the trash and recycling out to the curb.

The cost of oil has hit our church hard because we “locked in” our price last summer. I know, I know....not the smartest move. It means keeping the church building really cold. I knew Claire, an elderly lady would be coming into the church building to do a few things this morning. I decided to go over and turn up the heat. In the process of that I took a phone call which really got me hot under the collar. The person on the phone was just expressing their opinion about something they felt was important. I know it’s bad to be REACTIVE but that’s exactly what I did. After the call was over, I was in a blue funk and didn’t feel like going to the meeting in Worcester. I’m not blaming the caller, incidentally. It was me and how I reacted, but I came within a whisker of not going to my “Assemblies of God pastors sectional meeting”. I realized I’d told Gary, the pastor running the meeting I’d be there. Not wanting to break my word, I headed up the highway to Worcester.

We met in a function room at Denny’s restaurant. I was one of the last to arrive. Many guys were already being served their meals. I was so hungry, and even more, I WANTED COFFEE! All the guys (and gals) about my age were at the opposite end of the table where no more seats were available. I sat down with two very young and very energetic pastors. I felt so old! Then, a man who was even later in arriving than me entered the room. It was 84-year-old Ray Jacobsen who had been the District Superintendent (like a bishop) in the 1970s. He sat down next to me. I could tell he was not feeling any more comfortable with the enthusiastic twenty-somethings than I was, and he began talking and talking and talking to me like we were best friends. He told me all about what Sectional meetings were like in the early 1950s. Believe it or not, I enjoyed the conversation.

One thing that cracked me up is that when the formal part of the meeting started, one of the guys yelled out, “Brother Jacobsen, you look really good!” Immediately he happily responded, “That’s because I’m full of embalming fluid!”
It was one of those times when everybody laughed nervously, but he was fine with it. I mean, he was essentially saying, “I want to keep myself looking good so I’ll look good in the casket,” and laughing about it! I guess he really is like the Apostle Paul...looking forward to being “present with the Lord” (see 2 Corinthians 5:8)!

The speaker was an evangelist who now is on staff at one of our larger churches. As he began speaking, it occurred to me that he sounded remarkably like Marlon Brando as The Godfather! I was fighting to keep from laughing. I soon learned that the evangelist was in a terrible accident in 2006, CRUSHED, on life supports and that he clinically died several times. He walks with a cane and talks like The Godfather, but has made a remarkable recovery! His “message” spoke RIGHT TO ME. It was uncanny. He began sharing from Psalm 143 and shared a number of specifics that he felt were for someone present today. It was awesome, because that someone was obviously me. (And to THINK of how close I came to not attending!) I was “playing it cool” on the outside, but inside I just felt like breaking down in tears. God spoke to me SO powerfully through this guy. Afterwards I handed him a business card and asked him to phone me or e-mail me. I left feeling quite mystical- happy, scared, sobered, reflective all in one.

Back at the office there was more work to do to get ready for this Saturday night’s church business meeting. I worked on that for awhile, and felt guilty about going home for lunch because it seemed like I had JUST eaten breakfast. I whipped up a quick lunch, and then I headed off to the banks where the church has accounts. I needed to get paperwork to change the signatories on the accounts after this weekend’s business meeting. Well, that USED to be an easy matter! I learned at each bank that due to “The Patriot Act” all who are going to be signers have to come into the bank(s) with I.D. and a letter from the church explaining the changed to the account(s). I know that people with jobs and “lives” just love when the church requests they take time out of their busy week to do something like this, but we just will have to. I was back at the office and in the process of putting out some church related e-mails when suddenly it hit me that I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AT A DENTAL APPOINTMENT WHICH I’D FORGOTTEN!

I frantically called the dentist’s office and I drove (very fast!) to my appointment.
The hygienist was new. She was very nice, but I missed my old hygienist. I always get a lecture about not flossing and today was no exception. Well, I DIDN’T have any cavities, so THAT was good!

Back at the church office I had F.I.C.A responsibilities to attend to. No, I’m not referring to Social Security...I’m this year’s Secretary of the Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association. I needed to write and e-mail the Minutes of our most recent meeting, update the e-mail list, update the U.S. mail list, and e-mail some other information to the Convener (this year’s leader). I was glad to get that all done. Then it was onto some church paperwork for awhile, and it got to be almost 5 0’clock.

Yes, I’ve got our church business meeting this Saturday. It’s kind of a big deal because two of our long time Board members are “stepping down”, one after 27 years. (That one is the elderly lady I mentioned.) So, it will be kind of an emotional business meeting. My wife called this afternoon to let me know we’re having coffee and refreshments after the meeting, “Mr. Faith”... all I can think of that there’s supposed to be ICE on Saturday night and snow on Sunday. Some of the guys up in Worcester were talking about that forecast. Pastors HATE Sunday snowstorms.

Well, it’s almost supper time, so I’m going to quit writing.

That’s what I did on Thursday, February 26.

God is good.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


"...thy word is truth." (from John 17:17)

I watched most of President Barack Obama's speech to Congress tonight...the "sort of" State of the Union address. I'm a right of center Republican, so there ARE a number of issues about which the President and I disagree. Even so, President Obama is an excellent speaker. Overall, his delivery was very good. He's definitely a charismatic speaker and President. I heartily agreed with probably about half of what he had to say, and I disagreed to one degree or another with about half of what he had to say.

There IS one "nit-pik" I have about the speech. When the President was talking about the importance of the revitalization of the American automobile industry he stated that "America is the country that invented the automobile". MANY people believe that, but it's absolutely untrue!

In fact, the gasoline-powered automobile was invented in Europe. Both Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz (competitors) applied for patents for gasoline vehicles in Germany in the same year: 1889. That was almost ten years ahead of the American gasoline automobile.

It IS true that Henry Ford built one experimental gasoline automobile in 1893, four years after Dailmer and Benz, but the Ford Motor Company did not actually go into business until 1903. There were a number of American cars built in the late 1890s and early 1900s but overall the U.S. automobile industry lagged about 5-10 years behind Germany, Italy, and France.

In the very early years of the Twentieth Century, there WERE over one hundred automobile manufacturers in the United States, not counting homemade autos or tiny garages which built only a handful of cars a year. Most of these companies were in just a few states. Probably the leading auto manufacturing states prior to 1910 were Michigan and Massachusetts. It was Henry Ford's Model T, introduced in 1908 as a car for the common man which sold like hotcakes, put American on wheels and set America on the way to becoming the leading automobile manufacturing country for many decades.

I heartily agree that I'd like to see the U.S. auto industry return to health and prominence, but, Mr. President, America didn't invent the automobile!

Monday, February 23, 2009



So, I'm starting it with a disclaimer. I realize there's a link from our church website to this blog. But all postings here (and particularly this one) are the thoughts and opinions of Bob Baril as a private individual, and do not necessarily reflect the official positions and practices of First Assembly of God of Framingham, nor of the Assemblies of God, nor of any other person or entity.

You've been warned!

If at any time in the reading of this posting you become offended, please just stop reading and leave the site. I really don't want to read a bunch of unnecessary e-mails or receive a bunch of unnecessary phone calls.

Thank you.

"Let brotherly love continue." (Hebrews 13:1)

Today I received the latest in a series of unexpected mailings. I feel free to write about this one because the sender does not own a computer and never goes on-line. The sender is a very nice and well-meaning person. I opened up the letter to find a $500 check made out to either me or my wife. The letter instructed me that the money is specifically designated for me to take a trip to New York City to visit a certain church and be ministered to. The sender highly prefers that my wife and I EACH go, but that if I insist upon going by myself, that will be O.K.

Now what do I do?

I don't really have much of an inclination to go to New York City and visit this church, and with her schedule and activities, my wife really CAN'T go.

Do I sent it back and insult the person? Do I just let it sit and not cash it and insult the person? Do I cash it and use it for something else? You don't know how much I WANT to do that, but I'm not going to as that would certainly insult and anger the person. I will probably write a pleasant note and send it back.

This makes me think of a Christmas season of about fifteen years ago. A financially successful and generous couple showed up unexpectedly at our home one December evening bringing some large boxes. The boxes contained a brand new computer. We'd never owned a home computer at that time, so it kind of WAS a big deal. In fact, my wife was praying at the time that someone would give us a USED computer. That particular evening, I owed several hundred dollars worth of bills that I couldn't pay. The creditors were constantly phoning. Buying food was a real stretch. I wasn't going to be able to buy any Christmas presents. I was what you'd call TOTALLY STRESSED OUT. I sat there looking at the brand new computer being set up and I was just numb. I know this is probably wrong, but I remember thinking, "It's not going to pay any bills," "It's not going to buy any food," and "It's not going to buy any Christmas presents."

The wife of that couple got really angry with me because I wrote them a thank you note on looseleaf notebook paper. She thought such an expensive gift warranted a thank you letter sent on nice stationary. Well, I didn't happen to own any nice stationary, and I'm sure just the postage stamp was a challenge.

Well, YES, that started us on computers at home, and I'm writing this on our THIRD computer that we bought last summer.

I think of my friend James Rayburn. He now pastors an Assemblies of God church in Georgia. We went to Central Bible College in Missouri together. Over thirty years ago, his wife gave birth to twins prematurely. Their survival was "touch & go" for awhile, but after a couple of months, they were home. People would give James gifts but with strings attached. "Use this check for you and Debbie to get a babysitter and go out to eat", the card might say. But James needed to buy diapers and food. He got so many designated gifts like that, and he started to get really irritated about it.

I called this "I MAY GET IN A LOT OF TROUBLE FOR THIS ONE!" because I get irritated by such gifts, too. I have a policy of not giving designated gifts and not giving "with strings attached". Here's a HINT: If you REALLY want to give a designated gift, like money to buy groceries, for instance, then give a Stop & Shop gift card. If you really want somebody to buy clothes, then give them a clothing store gift certificate. But as far as cash and checks, I just don't give with strings attached. It may be well-meaning, but it can open the door for a lot of problems.

I remember when a famous evangelist promoted a trip to Israel using the photo and name of a pastor I knew. He told he pastor, "I'm using your photo and name, but when the people sign up for the trip, YOU will get a FREE trip to Israel with us!" The pastor was not happy. He did not want to take that trip to Israel. He had not suggested it or authorized it or anything, and he didn't go. That whole situation was frankly very manipulative on the part of the famous evangelist. (Incidentally, NO the famous evangelist was NOT Billy Graham!)

So, to quote that very pastor, after reading this one, "If you still love me, say AMEN!" and if you don't say, "Oh, me!"

Saturday, February 21, 2009


"When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room." (Luke 14:8-9)

Sometimes I walk right into these "egg on your face" situations and I certainly did this time! I should have known better.

After a stressful day or a stressful week, sitting down at the computer and "surfing the net" can be a distraction and a relaxation for me. A lot of times just for fun I look up "stuff" on that free on-line encyclopedia which I'll call "WILL-o-pedia" just to see what I can find. Back in December, radio host Avi Nelson said, "Anybody can post anything on..." (what I call WILL-o-pedia). I chose to believe him, which was mistake #1. I decided to try to post something on WILL-o-pedia.

My thought was to post an entry about my late father, Eugene A. Baril. Now, before you think that was a totally foolish thought, my father was considered the foremost expert on early automobile usage in Massachusetts and about the early history of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vechicles. He was in the early stages of writing a book about the subject in the 1990s when he also slipped into the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease and that was that.

My first step in doing a "WILL-o-pedia" entry was to create an account, which I did. I then had to read all their rules and policies which I (well) skimmed. One of their big things is that you HAVE to provide links to other places on-line which prove the validity of what you're writing. AND, you can't just make up a person or something about a person. In fact, at the MA Registry site there's a photo of my father holding up the first MA license plate ever produced (from 1903) and including historical information which mentions him. There is ALSO a site on-line from some national criminal justice record center which has information about the two television programs about fatal accident investigation he made as police training videos which were videotaped by Boston's WGBH channel 2 and run on channel 2 AND a number of other public broadcasting stations around New England.

I wrote my piece, and cited those links. I figured that when I clicked "SUBMIT" if there were problems...i.e. the piece didn't meet WILL-o-pedia standards, didn't meet WILL-o-pedia format, etc., it would be immediately rejected and I'd get some blurb to that effect. I was actually shocked when it went through and THERE IT WAS on "WILL-o-pedia"! I tried going to the spot several times just to make sure it had really happened, and it worked! I was SO delighted and SO proud of myself.

I immediately sent an e-mail to several people asking them to check it out.

A short time later, I tried going to the site again. It was still there BUT this time it was preceeded by a big red box! The wording inside the big red box said it was subject to immediate deletion because it did not meet "WILL-o-pedia" standards. There was a place to click to OPEN A TALKING POINTS PAGE and explain why I thought it DID belong. Well, I opened the talking points page, and I did write that this was not just a frivolous obituary...that my father truly WAS expert in his field and left import and valuable artifacts and information about Massachusetts motoring history upon his passing.

Five minutes later I checked.

It was gone!

How did I feel about that? Well, after I cleaned all the raw egg off of myself, I felt pretty bad. I wished they'd have things set up so they reject the entry IMMEDIATELY and not the way they did it.

So, my father MAYBE got 15 minutes of fame on "WILL-o-pedia"; and I'm still smelling rotten eggs on my person!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


"But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (I John 3:17)

These are difficult and challenging financial times which have hit a lot of people very hard. I think that almost goes without saying. At our church and in my "sphere of influence" a number of people are really feeling it- including me. This afternoon I was thinking about a woman I knew who had to cut back and tighten her belt. I got a chuckle thinking about it, and I was so TICKLED that I had to share it with you.

You may wonder how I could POSSIBLY think someone having to cut back financially was funny. Well, here's the rest of the story:

The woman in question died over ten years ago. If she were still living, she'd be at least 90. I won't use her first name; I'll call her Claudette. Claudette was originally from Europe. She was originally from the east, and later lived for many years in France before coming to the U.S.A. in the 1950s. This woman was quite wealthy. She was not exactly "Bill Gates wealthy" but she certainly had "serious dough" as my father used to say. Claudette did not attend the church I pastor and did not live in Framingham, but she did have a heart for First Assembly of God of Framingham our family a dishwasher. She gave several generous gifts to the church. Claudette once told me, "Bob, if you or the church are EVER having financial difficulty, please give me a call!"

I believe the incident I'm writing about happened somewhere around 1991 or 1992. For some reason at that time, money was very tight for me and for the church. I don't remember if I phoned her to ask her to help ME with something or to ask for help for the's SO long ago. And, please understand, it's never easy to make a phone call like that. But there were times when things got pretty lean both for the church (well things are pretty lean THERE right now!) and for me. It's not easy to ask someone for some help, but HEY, if somebody SAID give me a call, well, WHY NOT?! So, I called Claudette.

Here is the essence of what she told me (imagine this being said in a heavy French accident by a woman of at least 75):

"Bob, I know I told you to call me, but things have been very bad. I've had to REALLY cut back. I've had to REALLY face things and make some TOUGH decisions. You know, I'd been planning a trip to France of at least three weeks. I was looking forward to seeing my friends and relatives. But; I sat down, did the math, and had to face the facts. I HAD TO SETTLE FOR 2 WEEKS IN FLORIDA. Yes, it was painful. Yes, it was disappointing. I really wanted to go to France, but that's the way it is. AND, my Mercedes got to be 5 years old. It was time to trade and buy a brand new one. I went to the dealership. I looked at the cars and the prices. It was painful. I had to make a tough decision. There's NO WAY I could buy a brand new Mercedes like I always do. I had to settle for a used two-year-old Mercedes! Now, I was going to have one whole floor of my house completely redone. I met with the contractor. We talked. We went through the figures. I had to face facts. All I can do this year is re-do the kitchen!"

Boy, did I EVER want to sarcastically say something like, "Yeah, Claudette, LIFE'S TOUGH. Maybe I'll send some leftover hot dog rolls over to your house!" I didn't.

I don't remember if she GAVE anything at that time to me or the church or not. It's so long ago. But I was thinking of that today. It's all relative, isn't it?

Sometimes we THINK we've got it so tough!
In fact, we don't!

It's like the guy who complained about having no shoes until he met a man who had no feet!

So, now do you see what that TRUE story tickled me when I thought of it today?!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


"Let all things be done decently and in order." (I Corinthians 14:40)

If there's any (English-speaking) Framingham resident who has not heard about or read about the traffic stop and arrest of a Boston radio talk show host which took place early last Friday morning, then such a person must be a hermit! The host was NOT arrested for "making an illegal U-Turn" or for "going through a red light" (and as both have been reported I'm not even sure what the reason for the initial stop was). The arrest happened after the cop "ran" the plate and driver's license and the license came back as "revoked".

The exact circumstances for why the license was revoked are also not 100% clear. As I can best figure it, the license was revoked by the Commonwealth of VIRGINIA (his VA license, that is) - then by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Virginia's beef was non-payment of auto insurance, although the host had NOT lived in VA for almost a year at the time this became an issue. The host also is known locally as living in Hopkinton in a large house on a rural road although the fact that the MetroWest Daily News published the exact address of his Framingham apartment has been part of the controversy.

Most of you know the identity of the radio host. I'm taking the Dragnet posture of omitting the name to protect the innocent, or the guilty, or whatever! I've communicated by e-mail with this host several times over the past few years, and very briefly met him in person at "remote broadcasts" a couple of times. I genuinely feel bad for him. I hate to see any decent, ordinary person handcuffed and jailed for a mess-up in motor vehicle department paperwork the person was not even aware of. I also feel sad that his address was used in the paper, and in learning of his multiple addresses, I feel sad that there's got to be some unfortunate stuff happening in his personal life, which the public really didn't need to be made aware of.

ALL THAT SAID, there's a lot more about this story that's sad.

Most of you know, my late father, Eugene A. "Gene" Baril, was a career employee of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. He started out giving driving tests to (predominantly) teenagers in the 1950s and retired in the 1980s at "Supervisor of Medical Affairs" at the old Nashua Street headquarters. My father passed away in 2000. Over the past few days I've been wondering what my father would have to say about this case, about the radio host, and about the current Registrar and Registry policies. It CAN get dangerous trying to put words in the mouth of a dead person, but here's some of what I think he'd say:

Dad was always known for practicality and common sense. On the one hand he was known for, "doing things by the book", but he had a side which would say, "Let's sit down and talk this out and find a REASONABLE solution, here!"

One issue the radio host keeps hammering is that the Massachusetts RMV should go back to the practice of sending out letters reminding people when their driver's licenses are about to expire. Dad would 100% endorse that! He would have considered it stupid and unreasonable that the RMV discontinued this practice last year. Dad would have believed most people are too careless to notice when their licenses are running out and that they need to be reminded. Frankly, Dad would not only have disagreed with the present Registrar about this but (sorry, ladies) he would have absolutely opposed having a female Registrar! (Remember, he's from the days of GENERAL Richard E. McLaughlin who was a Registrar who ran the RMV as almost a macho Military operation!) Dad WOULD have believed the host should have been notified about his license being revoked but would have asked the question about whether the host changed his address from Hopkinton to Framingham with the RMV. THAT has never been made clear in any of the reporting. I also suspect Dad would have felt the RMV should have ignored VA's beef with the host, based on the fact he host had lived in MA and had a MA license during the period in question. (I DO think there are now iron-clad "reciprocal" agreements in place between the states about revoking licenses and it's POSSIBLE the MA RMV thought that WAS unreasonable on VA's part but was bound to such an agreement.)

Dad was not a jerk. He'd have thought the handcuffing and jailing of the host was a bit much. I don't know if they still have "Hearing Officers" and "hearings" at the RMV headquarters. In the OLD days, that's how this matter would have been handled. In one morning in a hearing at the RMV headquarters, the whole issue could have and (I believe) would have been straightened out. I will say, like anyone who'd been a career state employee and who reached a fairly high level, the Commonwealth of MA and the RMV meant a LOT to my father. While he WOULD have thought the RMV should handle this matter much differently, it would have greatly bothered him to see the host sensationalize this case on his show and on his blog.

The RMV had GREAT public relations at one time. In fact, in the late '60s and early '70s when Richard E. McLaughlin was the Registrar, my father was his public relations man. McLaughlin was constantly all over radio and television. McLaughlin would probably have gone on the host's show! In fact, in those days, there'd probably have been a meeting with McLaughlin, the host, the host's lawyer, and a few other RMV higher ups to straighten this all out and to (probably) change some RMV policies to make things more user friendly for the public. McLaughlin would probably have at least tried to turn this whole thing around and done some P.R. spots with the radio host and my Dad would have been right in the middle of all of it.

That was then. This is now.

I look at the whole thing: the arrest, the court date(s), the sensational publicity, the inaccurate reporting, the stubbornness and unreasonableness of the MA RMV, AND the apparent incompetence of the Virginia Dept. of Motor Vehicles; and well, it's all just a very sad commentary on the world of 2009 in which we live.

Dad's world of circa 1970 is long gone and I mourn its passing and his passing...

Monday, February 16, 2009


"...he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised..." (from Luke 4:18)

Saturday, my wife and I had an appointment in Foxboro scheduled. (Now, for you PURISTS, I realize the correct legal spelling of the community which hosts, among other property owners, Gillette Stadium and the New England Patriots is "Foxborough" but I'm using the spelling the way the Foxboro Company does it. I also spell Marlboro, MA like the cigarette brand and not the legal "Marlborough".)

Yes, we had an appointment in Foxboro. Our tax account's business office is located in a professional building on Route 140 in Foxboro. I never look forward to a tax appointment, but Mary Ann likes to have our taxes done early because it's very helpful in filling out all the college financial aid materials regarding my daughter Rachel's college education. I phoned Jim, our accountant, on the first week of January and set the appointment for lovely Valentine's Day at 9 a.m. We got a late start on Saturday and seemed to "hit" every red light between Framingham and Foxboro. It was around 8:45 and we were in downtown Walpole. We had not had any breakfast nor coffee. I was craving each. Despite running late, I headed to McDonald's on Rte. 1A in Walpole for breakfast sandwiches and coffee. I called Jim on the cell phone and told him, "I'm running about ten minutes late but we're on our way."

Jim did not know what I was talking about! He'd never written down our appointment! He told me there was NO WAY he could see us on Saturday morning. He said he WOULD be willing to squeeze us in at 12 Noon.

Mary Ann and I were both pretty shocked that he was not expecting us, and I was pretty perturbed. While eating sausage McMuffins and drinking coffee we tried to figure out what to do. This all seemed like such a senseless waste of time. Suddenly, Mary Ann offered, "Why don't we go to Beit Techiya?"

My first (admittedly snappy) answer was, "I'm not in the greatest mood right now and I really don't think I want to go to Beit Techiya."

As I chomped on the Sausage McMuffin (which Mary Ann told me I was eating way too fast!) I realized going to Beit Techiya might actually be a good idea.

Congregation Beit Techiya is a Messianic Jewish fellowship located on a farm at 209 Oak Street in Foxboro. I tried to find a website for them today, and I couldn't find one, but they ARE listed in a directory of Messianic Jewish congregations at

I preached at Congregation Beit Techiya last year...I think it was late August or early September. The Messianic Jewish movement is admittedly controversial, but it's growing. Once considered kind of a weird, fringe movement, Messianic Judaism is being taken more and more seriously. I find that most Christians think of Messianic Jews as "Jews" and most Jews think of them as "Christians". They're actually BOTH, but they usually prefer the label "Messianic Jew" to "Christian". While some critics will make statements such as, "It's IMPOSSIBLE to be both a Jew and a Christian!" they forget that St. Paul, among many, many others, considered himself to be both a Jew and a Christian. In fact, St. Paul NEVER calls himself a "Christian" in the Bible, but DOES call himself a "Jew" many times, and those times are AFTER his conversion to Jesus.

Congregation Beit Techiya meets in a small very attractive and welcoming room in a renovated barn. (Yes, I said "barn"!) I'd say the room would comfortably seat 40 and you could probably pack about 55 people into it. There were probably around 32 people present this past Saturday morning. The service began shortly after 10:30 with female Rabbi Tobi Hawksley (a close and dear friend of mine) and her husband Alan arriving just in time! The worship was to CD praise & worship music with the words projected on a screen using powerpoint. I know some folks knock worshiping to CDs but right now we're doing that at our small church. When you close your eyes and focus on the Lord it really doesn't matter whether there's a live worship band or a CD. The anointing of the Holy Spirit was definitely evident. We read some Jewish prayers from their prayer books, interspersed between singing and worshiping. Several folks also shared wonderful testimonies of what God is doing in their lives.

Mary Ann and I slipped out at 11:45 to go to our tax appointment. We arrived back at Beit Techiya just before 1. Tobi was just wrapping up her sermon, and then had special prayer over several people. Lastly, she called Mary Ann and I up to be prayed for, and several lifted up their voices on our behalf. It was a wonderful and special time for us...truly GOD'S appointment!

Yes, the services at Beit Techiya ARE a little long... longer than I'd typically "do" at our church, but you're so blessed by them that the time flies by! I also wanted to mention that Tobi's daughter Tammy Blenkhorn, a Member of the congregation, is a highly accomplished artist. Her beautiful and insightful paintings decorate the room. Tammy is also under contract to do the illustrations for a children's Bible which is being released in a couple of years.

Whether you're Jew or Gentile...whether you're "pro" or "con" on Messianic Judaism, I would HIGHLY recommend that you visit Congregation Beit Techiya in Foxboro some Saturday morning!

Friday, February 13, 2009


"Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew 13:9)

This morning I found myself thinking about a short story that my 8th Grade English teacher, Mrs. Wheatley, read to our class over 40 years ago. I never forgot the story. It's called "Fever Dream" and it's written by science fiction writer Ray Bradbury. There's a great synopsis of the story on wikipedia at

While some prefer to see all kinds of symbolism of adolescent development and conflict in the story, I tend to think Bradbury meant it quite literally. In the story, hostile microbes are taking over the body of a fever ridden thirteen-year-old boy. He desperately tries to warn his parents and doctor about what is going on and begs for their help. To them, it's just the ramblings of a boy with a high fever. They pay no attention to him. From their point of view, he miraculously recovers. Yet, the writer lets us know that he has NOT truly recovered. Rather, the microbes HAVE taken him over, and what all observers THOUGHT was the case, WAS NOT! That's how it ends.

Forty years, and I never forgot that. I think I even referenced it once before on the blog, but in a much more general way. I've seen that happen. More than once. (A 13-year-old boy taken over and transformed by hostile microbes? NO, of course not! But I mean that someone is DESPERATELY TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING and you jump to conclusions and don't get it at all.) I admit I'm a TERRIBLE listener. I talk and I talk and I talk, and I often DON'T listen. Even if I listen audibly, I really don't "hear" what somebody is saying. I remember a guy in our church in late 1998. He was in his late 60s. I'll call him "Ted" but that was not his name. Ted was in church a lot in early December that year. He was talking a mile a minute. He was very warm and friendly. He gave gifts to some people. He phoned me one day; it was a pleasant call, and he said, "Pastor, I want you to know I'm doing O.K."
About a week after that, he disconnected the air bags in his Lincoln Town Car. He drove it into a large tree at a high rate of speed and was killed instantly. He had a lot of conversations with people and a lot of contact with people. We didn't hear him.

There was also a guy who attended our church that I will call "Dennis". Dennis was heavy-set, kind of tall, somewhat outspoken and very opinionated. He was talking constantly. He came across as very macho and he was constantly talking about doing great things for God. One of our deacons said that Dennis often said to him, "If the people of this church really knew me, they wouldn't like me." The deacon could not understand that. That deacon LOVED Dennis and even looked up to him in many respects. Well, Dennis was eventually arrested for committing a very serious crime. Dennis went to prison. Dennis had been living a double life for years. We didn't "hear" him.

In the mid 1980s a boy at Canton (MA) High School (my alma mater) left a strange note for one of his teachers. It said, "I feel like killing somebody". The boy was kind of a weird jokester. (This was not during my time at Canton High...I graduated over a decade before this.) The teacher read the note but did not take it at all seriously. The boy murdered one of his classmates in a very gruesome fashion. The kid was tried as an Adult and is still behind bars. He wasn't heard.

I'm one who likes life to be all wrapped up in a nice, neat, safe little package. Really, a LOT of people are like that. A friend of mine says she, "takes people at face value". Yes, a lot of us DO that. We miss SO much that way!

But even when you're suspicious and TRYING TO NOTICE THINGS, you can still be fooled. My father was very street-wise. Yet he missed that my brother was drinking for years, right under his nose. We all did. Eddie was involved in numerous accidents and serious problems. Eddie insisted, "It's ME who has the problem", as my parents blamed his friends, the school, circumstances, etc. Finally, in counseling it came out that he'd been an active alcoholic for four years right under our noses. We did not see it. He TRIED to tell us. We did not hear.

I know, this is a pretty melancholy and sobering piece. For some reason, I awoke thinking of "Fever Dream" and thinking of the fact that too often we DON'T hear and we DON'T perceive what's really going on. If you read the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) carefully, you'll see that Jesus made the SAME point I'm making in this posting- several times.

Oh God, help us to NOT just try to wrap life up in nice, neat little packages which make us feel good. Give us EARS TO HEAR. Give us EYES TO SEE. Help us to be "clued in". Help us to NOT take the easy way. Help us to press in when we need to press in. Grant us wisdom, O Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;” (Romans 5:3)

I like the Monkees’ music. I know, I know, the Monkees were not a “real” group. They were a group of studio musicians and singers providing music for the late ‘60s T.V. show, very much like the situation with, “The Partridge Family”. Nevertheless, I find songs like, “Day Dream Believer”, “I’m a Believer”, and “Last Train to Clarksville” very pleasant to listen to.

I’ve got “Last Train to Clarksville” on my mind because I just drove in from beautiful downtown Framingham after having had a lovely experience with a blocked railroad crossing. I know that a few weeks back I wrote that I was going to try to do far less complaining on my blog. So, I’m trying to make this LESS about complaining and more about reflection and application. I guess you’ve got to make being stuck at a train crossing for quite a long time about reflection and application or you’re liable to have a cardiac arrest!

I was the first car in line to make a left turn from Route 135 eastbound (Waverley Street) to Bishop Street at Dennison Crossing to head north toward my residence. First, I was stopped for a red light. Then, the crossing guards came down with lights flashing and an MBTA Commuter Train heading into Boston went through. Then we were still held by the red light from making a left turn. Next, an Amtrak passenger train heading west went through the crossing. Then, twin CSX freight engines went through. Next some pedestrians decided to cross in front of the line of traffic I was in. Then a school bus (observing the law) made a full stop at the railroad crossing, delaying any cars who wanted to proceed. Finally after I don’t know how long, I was able to drive forward.

The issue of railroad crossings in downtown Framingham, and what to do about them, has been a hot and controversial one for over a hundred years. One of the big problems is that Framingham was and still is a big railroad hub. I haven’t counted all of them, but I understand there are 9 railroad crossings in the downtown Framingham area. A big issue is often made of the crossing at 126 and 135 and of the congestion on Route 126, but I’m among those who believe “Dennison Crossing” (where I was today) is actually worse; and that the congestion on Route 135 is more of a problem than the congestion on Route 126. There’s been a lot of talk about constructing a Route 126 underpass, but even in the unlikely event that happens, I don’t think it will solve most of the problems.

Well, all of THAT gets back to my reflection and application. We evangelicals joke about “never praying for patience” because when you pray for patience God allows all sorts of trials in your life. Yes, “tribulation worketh patience”. Sometimes that tribulation is VERY serious stuff: cancer, loss of a job, giving birth to a disabled child, an elderly parent being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, things like that. Other times it’s being stuck at a railroad crossing and wondering why you’re seemingly wasting your time.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m one of those people who really likes to be “in control”. But situations like today at the Dennison railroad crossing remind me just how much “control” I really have, and it ain’t much! What is it they say in the Recovery programs... “Let Go and Let God”? I know they also say “One Day at a Time” and “Easy Does It”. No, I’m not in control, and yes, next time I’m stuck at Dennison Crossing, maybe I’ll just relax and sing “Last Train to Clarksville”!

Monday, February 9, 2009


"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42)

I spent today (Monday) in a very unusual way for me.

My wife Mary Ann insisted I take the day off and go somewhere to seek the Lord. She REALLY wanted me to get a room for the night someplace and was not real happy I chose to "take a day trip with the Lord" instead. Maybe she's right. It would take pages and pages to say WHY Mary Ann suggested that, and a lot of it is personal. Suffice it to say I've been under a lot of stress and (in her opinion and some other opinions) have been kind of out of tune and out of sorts with God. (I know at least some of these gripes ARE valid.)

I wasn't really sure WHERE I was going to go or what I was going to do, but as I awoke today I had a strong "gut feeling" to take the train into Boston. I did just that. Many of you won't understand this, but for me, SOMETIMES "seeking the Lord" and "coming into the presence of the Lord" is very easy for me and sometimes it's very difficult. Today was VERY difficult. I walked around the Prudential Mall and the Copley Place Mall, and the streets and even the Boston Public Library. I prayed and I read my Bible, but things were flat for the most part. I DID have a short but good and earnest prayer session standing outside the Roman Catholic St. Francis Chapel at the Prudential Center (obviously it was soft whispered prayer at that point, but it was good).

About an hour after that, I had found a place to sit in another part of the Prudential Center Mall. Behind me, I could hear a woman's Caribbean accent. I glanced and she was a black woman around 30 with a baby in a carriage. The woman was talking on a cell phone, exhorting her friend with Bible verses and (frankly) preaching. She was GOOD. I've heard many a professional Pentecostal preacher who was not as good. I listened for about twenty minutes. Her words were POWERFUL. In fact, much of her conversation pertained to ME as well as to her friend, and she didn't even realize that. I was getting misty-eyed and I knew God was talking to me.

I'm a big believer in "Men minister to men and Women minister to women" for obvious reasons, but God can always make an exception.

When she finished I introduced myself to her and told her she'd really ministered to me by what she said. She was surprised and delighted. She then lifted her voice in prayer for me and for the church I pastor. I verbally "amen-ed" her prayer and we each praised the Lord right out loud in the mall (this time, no obvious whispered prayer!). When she finished, I asked, "What's your first name?"

"Valerie" she replied.

"Valerie," I said with my eyes filling up with tears, "I don't know you, and I'll probably never see you again until we're in Heaven, but your ministry blessed me today and at this moment I consider you a dear friend."

She smiled, thanked me, and wheeled the baby away.

When you go off to meet the Lord, you never know what He will do.

No, my problems did not all disappear, but I DID gain a better perspective and I know God ordained that part of my day!

Friday, February 6, 2009


“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17)

That verse comes from the account in Luke’s Gospel of the healing of ten lepers. The incident happened late in the earthly ministry of Jesus- as He was on His way to Jerusalem and what would ultimately be His arrest and crucifixion. Ten lepers come toward Jesus on the road that borders Galilee and Samaria. They cry out for mercy. Although they are not IMMEDIATELY healed, Jesus tells them to go and show themselves to the priests. Now the ONLY reason a leper would go and show himself to the priests is to verify a complete healing. The implication was that IF they would start on the journey to go and show themselves to the priests they would be healed. Sure enough, as they went, they WERE healed. Of the ten lepers who were healed ONE came back and thanked Jesus. The others did not. Growing up in the Catholic Church, I remember this passage being used many times as the Gospel reading during Sunday mass. The lesson then taught by the Catholic priest was usually something about remembering to say “thank you”. Through the years, I’ve heard some people say that it’s wrong to be angry with the nine who did NOT come back to give thanks, because they were simply following Jesus’ original instructions to go to show themselves to the priests.

My mother often cited the ten lepers passage when talking about my father’s life experiences in dealing with people. In those days, MANY people wanted to be friends with someone from the Registry of Motor Vehicles. If someone’s kid needed to have a road test scheduled tomorrow afternoon, or somebody needed a ticket “fixed”, or somebody was looking for a “5-figure plate” for their car, or one of many other Registry issues, they’d just call my father and he’d take care of it. He did many, many favors for people which were NOT often returned. And it wasn’t just Registry favors, for that matter. My father was the guy who’d spend his Saturday fixing somebody’s broken down plumbing or mowing somebody’s lawn or dozens of other things. My mother deeply resented that of all the favors my father did for people, they were seldom reciprocated. One exception was the story of Carmello Felice. My father met the young Italian immigrant in 1965 when he was riding his bike a long distance to work every day because he could not understand enough English to pass the Registry test. (Keep in mind this was 1965. Today they routinely give licenses to people who can’t speak English.) My father spent hours and hours and days and days tutoring Carmello in English AND in his driving skills. Eventually, Carmello got a driver’s license. He was SO grateful that every few years, he would come and PAINT the exterior of our house for free! My mother used to call Carmello, “the one leper who came back”.

I found myself thinking about the famous ten lepers account this morning. One day this week, I shared a meal with a man I know who is a very wise and mature Christian. I talked frankly about a number of life issues I’ve struggled with. The man told me that although I’ve experienced a large number of “wounds” from people, and although I’ve often been wronged and mistreated, I have to divorce myself from all that and simply walk above it. His counsel was that if I will completely divorce myself from the hurts and wrongs, truly forgive, and walk above that stuff, I’ll be a new person and can have a much more powerful and much more effective ministry.

I’ve thought about that wise man’s advice. And, I know what he says is true. I’m also ashamed to admit that IF I truly DO follow that advice it will be a radical change for me. Part of me really WANTS to follow that advice and part of me really doesn’t want to- even thought I KNOW it’s the thing I need to do. My father was a very macho guy, but he didn’t “hold on” to many offenses. My mother was a much more passive, even somewhat cowardly person, but she definitely “held on” to things. In 1962, my father was badly wronged by a man named “Clem”. (No joke, that was his name.... “Clem” rhymes which “phlegm”!)
It was a HORRENDOUS wrong that was done which badly hurt not only my Dad but our whole family. There were not too many Christmas presents in 1962 and the Fall and Winter of ‘62 and ‘63 was a dire time for our family. About twenty years later, my father and Clem happened to be on the same committee working for a good common civic cause. One night, Clem phoned my father to talk about it. When he got off the phone, my mother was incredulous, asking, “HOW can you talk to that guy after the terrible thing he did?!” My father replied that you can’t be holding things against people that happened twenty years ago.

She “kept score”. He didn’t. You know, even Jesus was TEMPTED to “keep score”. In Jesus’ humanity, He could not understand why only one guy came back to give thanks, and He commented about it. But He immediately moved on. He did not allow this to become a sin or a festering problem. Well, YES, I know... He WAS Jesus, and that helped! Now, if I had been Jesus, I might have said, “Oh, so THIS is how people thank me for miraculous healings?! WELL, I guess I won’t be healing anybody for QUITE a while, and THEN let’s see how they like it??!!” THAT’S keeping score.

It’s amazing how I began thinking about the story of the ten lepers this morning. It just popped into my head. Initially, I thought about writing something about the small percentage who show appreciation, but then I believe the Holy Spirit “spoke” to me in a much deeper way. My mind went back to the advice of the very wise man. Several years ago, I put untold hours into “mentoring” a man who later walked out of my life and “burned” me. A few months ago, he came back into my life. I forgave him, and began “mentoring” him again. This past weekend the guy “burned” me again, and it looks like he’s walking out of my life again. (He isn’t on-line and doesn’t read the blog, but I’d still have written about it, either way.) This sort of thing is a real test for me. Now, I’m NOT saying we are supposed to be “doormats”, and I’m NOT saying we don’t hold people accountable for wrong things they do. But I am saying if we inordinately hold onto things, this will only cause harm.

This is SUCH a struggle for me. It was around eight years ago now that probably the best family in our church (big financial givers, hard workers, faithful attenders, and people who LOOKED nice physically, and made a GREAT impression on people) abruptly left the church after many years. They made the mistake of writing a farewell letter to the church to be read at the church’s Annual Business Meeting. As pastor, I should have counseled them that having a letter read publicly in a forum such as that was a BIG mistake and could open them up for all sorts of problems. I should have been gracious. I wasn’t. I read the letter and then I proceeded to state exactly what I thought of it. Was I right? Well, bluntly in the world of “an eye for an eye” I was absolutely right. But in Jesus’ world of forgiveness, taking the higher road, walking in love, etc., I was wrong. It was “keeping score” at its worst. Ironically, I think my passive, cowardly mother would have cheered it on, but I think my father would have said something like, “Well, what the h____ did you think you were going to accomplish by doing THAT?”

After a long time, I communicated with those people and apologized and we have a pretty good relationship today. Something I wrestle with, though, is I can’t absolutely promise I won’t respond to a future situation in a similar manner. I’m not alone. There’s a large percentage of pastors who struggle with this very thing of “keeping score”. It’s not a majority, but it’s a large percentage. I find it’s most common among large church pastors who want to keep their “well-oiled machine” going. They reward what they believe to be absolute loyalty to them and to the church they pastor, and they severely punish what they believe is disloyalty. Yes, it can be rather common with a lot of “big church” pastors, but my case proves it happens with small church pastors, too.

Now, before you get all cocky and think something like, “I told you all pastors were phonies!” or “I told you pastors were no good”, or even, “Boy, I’m glad I’m not a pastor so I CAN’T have a problem like that”... let me tell you, OH YES YOU CAN! The problem of keeping score and holding onto offenses, and all that stuff is as old the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.

I have enormous respect for guys like Pastor Vinnie who writes the “Check Your Compass” blog. It’s GOOD stuff. He’d have been able to treat this issue in much fewer words and with much greater insight. It takes a little more effort for me! So, yes, I’ve made myself really vulnerable with this posting. I know I need to follow the advice of that wise man I shared the meal with. For me, it’s a genuine struggle. I honestly don’t know if I will. I do know no one can MAKE me follow it. It’s a daily walk.

Many times Christians are NOT honest, and I think that’s a lot of why we DON’T attract people to saving faith in Christ. The fact is, we are human, we have issues and we have struggles. If I will really let God have His way with this “keeping score” stuff, I’ll be a better pastor, a better Christian, and a better person. For me, it’s just going to have to be a daily walk...a daily thing. We’ve all got issues. Let’s pray for one another. Let’s ENCOURAGE one another. Let’s build up one another. Let’s help one another. And, when we blow it, let’s try to NOT “keep score”.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


“...for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (from 2 Corinthians 3:6)

Yesterday on his radio show, WTKK’s Michael Graham was talking about the phenomenon and tradition of residents of places such as South Boston and East Boston who shovel out a parking space in front of the building in which they live and then “claim it” by leaving a orange traffic cones, or trash cans, or a lounge chair, or maybe even an old refrigerator to “claim” the space as “theirs”. In fact, this is NOT just something which happens within the city limits of Boston or Cambridge. On the southernmost strip of Grant Street, Framingham, (near Howard Street) in the downtown Framingham area you can drive by and see an interesting assortment of chairs, appliances, etc. “claiming” residents’ parking spaces.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino had taken a lot of criticism for a policy he’s implemented which states a person who shovels out in one of the city’s congested neighborhood WILL BE ALLOWED to do one of those “claim it with a sofa” routines for up to 48 hours after the end of a snowstorm. After that, city workers are told to haul away the sofas, bookcases, and refrigerators as trash.

Michael Graham thinks the practice of people shoveling out and “claiming:” public parking spaces is ridiculous. He believes the practice should not be allowed and that if you see a lounge chair “claiming” a spot where you want to park, you should just move the lounge chair and park there. Well, I think we’d all like to SEE Michael Graham do that and then see what might take place! I think we’d all agree that TECHNICALLY Michael Graham (and those who agree with him) ARE correct. The street IS a public street. A person who lives adjacent to a parking space has no more right to it than that guy in Natick with whom I had the little incident on last fourth of July. (The guy in Natick thought the TOWN property in front of his house where my daughter and I were watching the parade was HIS land- and it wasn’t.) I get that technically that parking space belongs to the city- it’s public and anybody can use it. BUT, to quote my father, the late Eugene A. Baril, “there’s such a thing as COMMON SENSE.” I don’t want to put words in his mouth because I’m not 100% sure where he’d have come down on this issue but I THINK he’d sympathize with the guy who’d shoveled out the space in front of his house. I can just hear my father saying, in his loud, dramatic, blue-collar, Boston-accented manner, “WELL, where’s the guy supposed to PAHHK his Chevy Impala, ON THE MOON??!!”

If you LIVE there and there’s nowhere else to park, it’s just kind of common sense that you can claim the space in front of your house! NOW, there ARE admittedly better ways for municipalities to handle this stuff than just allowing people to put sofas and refrigerators out in the street. In some neighborhoods in Boston, there are designated Resident Parking areas. I think that’s the case in much of the North End. My understanding is you PAY for an annual sticker for the designated Resident Parking area, and you can park in front of, or at least very close to, your house. Framingham also has areas which are designated as “Resident Parking Only”. I’m not sure why Grant Street is NOT designated that way, but perhaps the Town should look at expanding the Resident Parking Only areas.

In the meantime, those who have nowhere to park should “have no fear”! Just park in Michael Graham’s driveway in “East Worcesterboro” and have him shuttle you to and from the city!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

TV DATE PUSHED OFF TO JUNE 12 ! (extra entry)

I know, I know; you're probably sick of reading posts from me about whether or not the analog to digital change is really going to happen on Feb. 17 or if it will be delayed. In a surprise move TODAY (Wednesday, February 4) Congress voted AGAIN- this time to indeed delay the changeover until June 12. President Obama will sign the bill. This whole television thing has been quite a fiasco. Now, I'm predicting that the change won't even happen in June but will likely be delayed then, as well!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"WATCH THIS!" (extra entry)

I know, I know, some of you are getting tired of me talking and writing about Dennis Cole so much, but please understand this is a "big deal" for our very small church!

I came across this great video clip of Dennis Cole ministering in drama at a church.
Please check it out at:

If there's ANY way you can be present at our church on Wednesday night, Feb. 4 at 7:30, we'd love to see you! Any questions, my e-mail address is at the right. Thank you.


“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Our church receives an on-line newsletter from M.F.I. (the Massachusetts Family Institute), a VERY socially conservative political action group. I’m against abortion and against “gay” marriage, as they are, although I usually don’t think of myself as being quite as “hard line” in political activism as they are. Sometimes I think they make a big fuss about things they should just take with a grain of salt. Their on-line newsletter of Wednesday, January 28, 2009, however, featured a story that stunned me. It was about the new policy of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles which essentially states that a person who FEELS or THINKS they are the opposite gender can now be designated that way on their driver’s license! I kid you not! Here is the article:

“The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has bowed to the demands of the radical sex movement by releasing an updated policy regarding the changing of one’s gender on your driver’s license. The policy used to require a person to submit medical proof of sex reassignment surgery or an amended birth certificate before allowing a change. However, the new policy only require s a person who wishes to change the ‘gender marker’ on their state issued identification to submit an updated application together with a Gender Designation Change Form. This form, according to the Massachusetts Transgender Political Caucus (MTPC), must be signed by the person and a medical provider attesting to the gender that the individual considers himself or herself to be.

The MTPC says that they were working collaboratively with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and MassEquality to advocate for this policy change with the Massachusetts RMV.”

That was of interest to me because my late father, Eugene A. Baril, was not only a career Registry of Motor Vehicles employee, but retired in 1982 after several years as “Supervisor of Medical Affairs” at the Registry’s Boston headquarters. As Supervisor of Medical Affairs, my father was the guy who had the final say on whether some qualified for “handicapped” designated license plates, whether an epileptic could drive again, whether an elderly driver would be required to take a competency driver’s test, etc. It was during his tenure as Supervisor of Medical Affairs that sex change operations began to be performed on quite a few people. Now it’s ONE thing to get your NAME changed on the license. With marriage, that happens pretty frequently. Women AND men also legally change their full names at times, and the RMV had a procedure for issuing a new license with the new name. The dicey situation began when someone’s SEX designation from “M” to “F” or vice-versa needed to be made on the license. Guess who handled THAT situation? Yup, macho, conservative, World War 2 vet Eugene A. Baril did! I remember the first time a person had come to him at the Registry headquarters with all the medical proof (no he or she did NOT actually have to drop their pants- a doctor’s letter attesting to the sex change was sufficient!) to have the sex designation changed on their license. Dad came home and LAUGHED HIS HEAD OFF! He thought it was the weirdest, most bizarre thing he could ever imagine. He confessed to having had a really hard time to keep from laughing right in that person’s face.

Even my father admitted several years later that by the time he was nearly retired, he’d seen all sorts of people who’d had sex changes and had walked them through the procedure of getting the designation on their licenses changed. By 1982, it was no longer a laughing matter for him. It was as routine as checking a box on a form stating “corrective lenses must be worn”.

Whatever one thinks of sex change operations, and considering I’m a pretty conservative Assemblies of God minister I’m sure you can guess what I think of it; one CAN understand the legitimacy of changing the sex listed on the driver’s license after such an operation has taken place. But what about a “transgender”? Have you seen those Barbara Walters specials where some 10-year-old boy will beat you up if you tell him he’s NOT a girl?! (In my day, a 10-year-old boy would beat you up if you told him he WAS a girl! My, how times have changed!) Those who are “transgender” believe they are REALLY the opposite gender. The “plumbing” and physical appearance means virtually NOTHING to them. I believe the psychiatrists call it, “Gender Identity Disorder”.

O.K. but if a person had that disorder, then he or she or ...whatever...can have the sex that they FEEL they are listed on the license?!

I happen to know my ancestry because it’s been traced back for MANY generations. I know that I’m a mixture of French, Scottish, and English. I am NOT Native American. But what if I FEEL like I’m Native American? What if I love the Native American culture, traditions, music, etc.? Why can’t I just list myself as a “Native American” or “American Indian” if that’s what I FEEL I am. And, I DEFINITELY don’t feel 54-years-old! I truly FEEL that I’m around 36. Why can’t it be O.K. for me to list my age as list my date of birth as September 19, 1972? Why not?

The truth is the M.F.I. is RIGHT about this and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is FOOLISH and crazy! Dad would turn over in his grave at the thought of this. Come to think of it, I wonder if the ground IS disturbed at Knollwood Memorial Park in Canton?!

Monday, February 2, 2009

"PRAY FRAMINGHAM" (extra entry)

The following is the word-for-word text of an e-mail I sent out to over 50 people- each of whom is either a "friend" of our church, First Assembly of God of Framingham, a personal friend, or both. I also want to remind YOU of the Wednesday night event with Dennis Cole:

<< Over ten years ago, Harvey Meppelink, a (now retired) Assemblies of God minister (who had a VERY important and powerful ministry in New England and nationally) launched a ministry which he named "PRAY BOSTON". He traveled around the Boston metro area enlisting individuals and groups to pray for revival in the Boston area.

Well, I'm entitling this mailing "PRAY FRAMINGHAM" - sort of inspired by Harvey's title from the mid-1990s.

Specifially, we need to pray re. this week's weather!

The Dennis Cole special event at our church is only about 48 hours away!
I am encouraging you as strongly as I can to be present at our church on Wednesday night at 7:30. (I'd recommend arriving around 7:15).

We are facing a "challenging" weather forecast for tomorrow. Even though it is all supposed to be over before mid-day Wednesday, bad weather COULD put a "damper" on the Wednesday night service. The snow predictions are "all over the place" from a dusting to over 6 inches. I am "coming against" this snowstorm in prayer. I ask you to join me in praying against this snowstorm, and I ask you to PLEASE be present on Wednesday night. If you could BRING someone with you on Wednesday night, that would be great!

God bless you.... any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me!