Friday, July 31, 2009


“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” (Matthew 5:13)

My wife Mary Ann and I spent a few days in central upstate New York earlier this week. In a lot of respects, upstate New York gets a bad rap. I have friends from Buffalo, for instance, who are bothered that Buffalo is often trashed in cruel jokes. Virtually all of upstate New York has very long and very difficult and snowy winters, and parts of the cities are industrial and unattractive. But, back to Buffalo, once you get outside of the city, itself, the suburbs are quite attractive and (just north of Buffalo) the Niagara Falls area of both New York and Canada is spectacular and beautiful. Now, I’m not much for snow, but if you’re into winter sports, upstate New York is the place for you!

I love the immediate Niagara Falls area, and I love the Adirondacks, but this week we were in the central part of the state. I would guess that many people from outside the Northeast think of New York City when they think of New York. It IS surprising how much of upstate New York is rural and agricultural, in addition to the millions of forested acres.

Someone encouraged us to visit Onondaga Lake Park, in Liverpool, immediately north of Syracuse, and I’m glad we did. The lake itself is beautiful, although quite polluted. Even so, there’s a lot of boating on the lake. The park features a walking path, and a separate path for biking and rollerblading. There’s also a concrete “skateboarding park” there.

If you’re ever in that area, the place is definitely worth checking out. Mary Ann and I walked a mile of the walking path. At that point we were both a little tired, so we turned and walked back, but it did go on further. After the path, we checked out the free Salt Museum. I had NO IDEA that Syracuse was known as the “Salt City”, nor did I know that at one time most of the salt used in the northeastern U.S. and in eastern Canada came from the shores of Lake Onondaga. The Iroquois Indians had discovered the salt...well the brine springs...and introduced the European settlers to them. In the 1790s, the first salt works were set up there. In fact, salt from the Onondaga Lake brine springs was harvested until the last salt company closed up their works in the mid-1920s. The peak of the salt business there was the 1860s. Today, we think of salt as a seasoning for food. While much of the salt was used for that purpose, probably at least half of it was used as a food PRESERVATIVE. Modern Americans and Canadians rely on refrigeration, but up until seventy or eighty years ago, SALT was used as the most important preservative in the meat industry. The salt harvesting took place over 8-9 months of the year. In the earliest days, the brine was boiled. The fires were kept going by wood. Virtually all of the trees around the lake were chopped down for this purpose. When the wood ran out, the salt companies brought in coal from Pennsylvania to fuel the fires. When the coal got too expensive in the 1880s, the whole process was changed to solar processing of salt. The brine was put in large vats and the sun caused the water to evaporate. This process was a lot easier for the workers, but was tricky, because the vats had to be covered up in bad weather or the process of harvesting the salt would be futile. During much of the salt industry days, people worked 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week!

So, as far as “What did you learn on your summer vacation?” I learned about Lake Onondaga and the salt manufacturing process and I thought I’d share it here.

You may want to check out:

Saturday, July 25, 2009


“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” (Revelation 7:9)

The major topic of discussion on news and public affairs shows for the past few days has been the controversial arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and the remarks about it made by President Obama. (For my “take” on that, go to the posting below this one and go to the link to the MetroWest Daily News.)

One of the things I’ve heard a number of affluent black people talk about is the number of times they’ve been unnecessarily stopped by white police officers and treated in a demeaning matter. Many black people suspect white police officers are out to get them. I've heart the expression "driving while black"; that is, the idea that blacks are stopped and harassed by white police officers for silly reasons just because they're black. What blacks don't realize is, whites are also sometimes stopped and harassed by both white and black police officers for seemingly silly and inappropriate reasons. I'll share two cases from my own life:

Exactly twenty years ago, I was driving in Framingham on my way to pick up my wife and two of my children. My youngest (age 3 at the time) was with me, seat belted in a child car seat in the back. I came upon a construction site. The detail police officer was a 40ish black man. He just stood there. He didn't indicate I should stop or go. Nothing. He just stood there like he was in another world. I stopped and waited for some direction from him. I waited and I waited. It was all very frustrating. Finally, I gave up! I started proceeding ahead. It took him probably at lest ten seconds to realize I was driving forward. "Hey!" he yelled and ran up to the driver's window. He proceeded to give me a big chewing out and tell me he could write me out a $100 ticket. Very calmly and very distinctively I stated the facts and I've stated them here. "I was waiting for some direction from you and I did not get any, so I finally proceeded ahead." He looked at my little girl. He looked at me. I think he felt very foolish. He yelled, "Aw...GET OUTTA HERE!!" And I did!

In another incident, I was driving along in Ashland when a white police officer put on his car's flashing lights and pulled me over. In an intimidating manner, he said, "Do you know I can write you a ticket for having your door open?!"

I was puzzled. "I have a door open?" I asked.

He then showed me the driver's door was not fully closed. I closed it, and he went back to the squad car and that was that. I'd just left one of those drive-through car washes, and I guess the force of the dryer had pulled my door partially open. Now, why couldn't that officer have come up to me in a friendly manner and said, "Sir, you've done nothing wrong, but I just noticed your door was partially open."? Had I been black, I would absolutely have assumed that was a "driving while black" incident.

This also reminds me of something that happened in my life about fifteen years ago. At that time I was being very badly and unfairly treated by a Town of Framingham Official. During this period, I was interested to read in the paper of a woman who was planning to bring that Town of Framingham Official to Court to charge him with discrimination against her. She had been very badly and unfairly treated by him and assumed it was because she was a female. The Official was quoted in the paper as saying that he did not discriminate against the woman and that he treated her the way he treated everyone else. I remember remarking to my wife that I’d be willing to testify IN HIS BEHALF in Court, because that was TRUE!

So to my African-American friends, I don’t doubt that SOME “driving while black” incidents take place, but regarding being stopped by police for silly reasons and being treated in a condescending manner: you’re not alone!

Friday, July 24, 2009


I'm pleased that the MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, MA) has run my column "Gates, Crowely Had a Bad Day"in today's (Friday, July 24) paper. You can read it at:

If you live in the Framingham/Natick area, you might want to help out the paper by purchasing a copy at a newsstand or vending machine.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

I’ve written once or twice before on the blog about why the date “July 21” is very special to me. It marks the day I was “born again”; the day that I received Jesus Christ as my Personal Savior and Lord. To evangelical Christians, the day you were “born again”, what others would call “the day you got saved” is very important. The specific date was July 21, 1970. I was fifteen years old at the time. As I tell people, I grew up Catholic and “I had religion up to my ears but I didn’t have Christ in my heart”. If possible, I like to mark July 21 in some special way. And, yesterday was also special because like July 21, 1970, it fell on a TUESDAY. No kidding, since 1970 I think there have only been four or five July 21s that also fell on Tuesdays!

My son Jon is a HUGE Bob Dylan fan. Several weeks ago he got tickets for the two of us to go see Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, and Willie Nelson in concert at the Paw Sox McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. What a great night it was!

We left Framingham around 3 and arrived at the Stadium parking lot around 4. We got into line waiting for the gates to open at 5. It had poured rain all morning, and I was concerned about getting soaked at the concert. The tickets specifically stated that no umbrellas would be allowed, and security folks were walking the length of the line warning those with umbrellas or cameras that these items would be confiscated if they tried to bring them in. We were very blessed in that there was no rain at all until after 9 and there was no heavy rain until after 11:15.

I’d say half the crowd was like me, over 50. Many looked like “rednecks” but quite a number of people also looked like aging ‘60s flower children. There were also a number of families...elementary school aged kids accompanied by what I’d assume were parents or grandparents. This was very much a well behaved family type crowd. There was a band who played opening music from 5:30 to around 6:15, then Willie Nelson and his band went on for an hour and a half. After that we had a twenty minute break, and John Mellencamp and his band went on for an hour and a half. After that we had another twenty minute break, and Bob Dylan and his band went on for two hours. After 10, I noticed a number of families with young kids AND a number of fellow aging baby boomers slipping out, but Jon and I stayed to the end.

My favorite was Willie Nelson. He sang most of the songs we all know him for such as, “On the Road Again”, and “You Were Always On My Mind”. But, he also sang two country gospel (old-fashioned campmeeting) songs: “I’ll Fly Away” and “I Saw the Light”. That’s the kind of music that was still commonly being sung in Assemblies of God churches in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. I LOVED IT! At one point during “I’ll Fly Away” he had only the band play and encouraged the audience to sing it. Jon and I know the verses by heart and sung with all our might, but in Catholic New England, I don’t think most people knew the song and they weren’t singing. On “I Saw the Light” I thought of the day I “got saved” thirty-nine years ago, and I had happy tears in my eyes.

I’m not a huge John Mellencamp fan. He sings that song about growing up in a small town and that “Ain’t that America?” song. His band was very loud! Like the older woman sitting a couple of seats from me, I had to make ear plugs out of tissues to feel comfortable. Even so, Mellencamp sang a brand new song of his that greatly inspired me and also brought tears to my eyes. It’s called, “Save Time to Dream”. The song was SO inspiring that it touched me very deeply. I honestly hope it will be a big hit for him. In a review of one of the concerts from earlier this week, Mark Bialczak in The (Syracuse, NY) Post-Standard writes:

“As it turned out, Mellencamp's still got something to say.

That new song sandwiched between, ‘Save Some Time to Dream,’ was quite pretty and plenty relevant. Mellencamp wrote it six months ago, then recorded it in a Savanah, Ga., church. It's a poignant blueprint on what a young person might want to prioritize in life, with Mellencamp singing, ‘save some time to dream, it might just save us all.’


Bob Dylan was Bob Dylan! Where does he get that ENERGY at 60-something?! Jon pretty much knows all Dylan’s songs by heart. I like a lot of Dylan’s stuff, but I didn’t know over half the songs he did. He’s got that nasal voice that’s hard to understand, but he’s got passion like few other singers, and his current band is GREAT!

Thank God it didn’t start POURING rain till shortly after we got into the car! I’m tired today, but I had a great night.

As Willie sang, “Praise the Lord, I saw the light!”

Monday, July 20, 2009


"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)

This may be a first on The Blog of Bob Baril. I don't think I've ever posted THREE items in one day, and this makes three. If you haven't already read them, I hope you will continue on and read:


Each of those postings is far more important than this one.

Even so, I wanted to say something briefly about "Just the three of us". (The inspiration is a pop song that keeps repeating the line "Just the two of us".) I even thought about entitling this "The Three Stooges" but I thought the good Christian friends I'm about to mention might find that quite insulting!

A few days ago, I put out a mass e-mailing to slightly over 60 people who live in Framingham and vicinity. I invited them to join me on this past Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Framingham Registry of Motor Vehicles parking lot to spend a maximum of 30 minutes praying that God would give our Town and State officials wisdom about the planned closing of the Framingham R.M.V. branch office. There was also prayer about pedestrian and traffic safety in Framingham and also prayer for the prosperity of the downtown Framingham area. I guess sometimes I'm very idealistic. No, I didn't think 60 people would show up, but I thought there might be, maybe ten.

I walked over to the Framingham Registry on Sunday afternoon and arrived at ten minutes before 4. I stood leaning against the building wondering if anybody would really show up and thinking maybe I'd just be praying by myself for fifteen minutes or so and then I'd sheepishly leave. I kept reminding myself that sometimes Old Testament prophets stood alone, but somehow that wasn't very reassuring!

I was very gratified that two others showed up. One was John Gibbons, a very bright retired guy with an interesting past. (Among other things, he's a graduate of The Citadel, and he served his country in military service.) The other was well-known conservative political activist Jennie Maroney. The three of us "huddled" in the R.M.V. parking lot and prayed aloud earnestly about the issues I've mentioned above for about 20 minutes or so.

Will our prayers make a difference? According to James 5:16, prayer does make a difference. The three of us are just simple, fallible, struggling Christians, but God is on His Throne, and it will be interesting to see how He answers those prayers.

John has mentioned he may also pray outside the Framingham Memorial Building sometime on Wednesday morning about the same issues we prayed about on Sunday. God bless him!


“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (I Timothy 2:12)

That verse and the verses which follow are admittedly from one of the most difficult New Testament passages to interpret, especially in a society which wants to be inclusive of women. I do not intend to turn this posting into a Bible Study, nor do I intend to get into complicated hermeneutics (textual interpretation) which would put most of my readers to sleep. It IS true that the Apostle Paul here (also known as Saint Paul) is really “coming down” on women in leadership. Yet in other passages such as Romans chapter 16, Paul praises some of the churches FEMALE leaders! And, during the New Testament era, there absolutely WERE women who were prophetesses and evangelists. I guess the whole issue of “Ordination of women” has probably been a “hot button issue” for the past 2000 years of church history!

On Monday, July 20, “Politics Daily” reported that former President Jimmy Carter has left the Southern Baptist denomination over the issue of how they treat women. You can read about that at:|main|dl1|link3|

The issue of female pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention has been a big and divisive one for many years. It’s NOT that the S.B.C. won’t ordain women, but my understanding is they don’t allow women to be Senior Pastors or solo Pastors (the only pastor in a small church). This is not to be confused with the American Baptist Churches (formerly known as Northern Baptists) who DO ordain women and have had female Senior Pastors for a number of years. (And, as a side note, there are at least 26 separate and distinct Baptist organizations in the U.S.A. including the Baptist General Conference, the Conservative Baptist Churches of America, and the Baptist Bible Fellowship, not to mention that a number of Baptist churches are Baptist in DOCTRINE but are in fact totally independent and belong to NO hierarchical Baptist organization.) Back to the “women pastors” issue, a lot of people are surprised that the Assemblies of God has women pastors, including Senior Pastors and solo Pastors, and has had women pastors for many decades. In fact, back before 1960, a woman, the Rev. Janet “Nettie” Rowe, was pastor of the church I currently pastor (First Assembly of God of Framingham) for over twenty years!

I will admit I’ve wrestled with the whole “women pastors” thing and I have a very different view from the opinion I had twenty years ago. I used to take Bible passages such as the one I quoted above very literally and very rigidly, and I’d isolate such passages and apply them to any and all situations. In early 1989, I was interviewed on WBZ’s “David Brudnoy Show”. Asked about my view of woman pastors, I stated that the Assemblies of God has women pastors who are completely equal to men but that I didn’t agree with the Assemblies of God on that practice. (I will say that later one of our female pastors here in Massachusetts took strong issue with me about what I said on the radio!) That was twenty years ago. Today, there are a lot more women pastors in the Assemblies of God and in the Protestant churches in general, even in many of the most “conservative” denominations. I count several female pastors as good friends of mine. I still think having a male pastor is an “ideal”; well actually, having a married couple who are each Ordained ministers pastor a church together is perhaps the most desirable situation, but I can see where a woman can be very effective as a pastor, even as a Senior Pastor or solo Pastor.

Having a woman pastor is admittedly not without potential problems. I remember a number of years ago hearing of a study of children who were raised in Pentecostal homes where their mother was the pastor and their father was just a guy in the church. Kids had a hard time figuring out who the real leader of their home was and who had the ultimate authority. I can see where that might be problematic.

I will admit that I’m still traditional enough that I want all of the four executives (General Superintendent, Assistant General Superintendent, Secretary, and Treasurer) at the head of the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Missouri to be men. And, I want my District Superintendent (like a local Bishop in most denominations) to be a man. But outside of that, I’ve gotten used to working with a number of female pastors and I’m essentially fine with that. Thank God for ladies like the Rev. Monsita Rodriguez (now over 90 and retired) who pastored small Hispanic churches in Texas, winning many souls, discipling many converts, helping the needy, and doing great work!

Where will Jimmy Carter go to church now? I have friends who pastor in Georgia. Perhaps they should be looking for him to show up some Sunday morning!


“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24)

Last night I watched the one hour T.V. special CBS ran about the life of Walter Cronkite. Along with so many others, I found myself feeling nostalgic and sad when I learned of his death a couple of days ago. I was one of those “baby boomers” who trusted “Uncle Walter” and grew up watching his newscasts. Just about everyone agrees there will never be another Walter Cronkite, and that’s too bad.

Cronkite’s passing is not the only news that’s put me in a sober mood. Yesterday afternoon, our family had lunch at Olive Garden in Framingham with an old friend, Anneli McCulley of Marlboro. (The McCulleys attended our church in the ‘80s and ‘90s.) Somewhere in the midst of conversation during the meal, Anneli informed us of the closing of New Covenant Christian School. I haven’t experienced such sadness about the closing of a local ministry since Christian Life Center church in Walpole went bankrupt in the late ‘90s. They lost a fantastic property and facilities on Route 27 in Walpole. Evangelical Christian ministry in New England tends to be very difficult. Learning of the demise of any fine Christian organization here, especially one that’s had a great past and to which many volunteers donated countless hours of labor, well it’s just very sad.

New Covenant Christian School was founded in 1983. A friend of ours, Alice Lund who lived in Medway at the time, was on the school’s original planning committee. The vision was to establish a quality Christian elementary school (possibly later expanding to higher grades) in the Framingham area. NCCS opened its doors in 1985, originally renting space from what’s now known as MetroWest Worship Center on Pleasant Street in Ashland. NCCS adopted a very challenging and potentially difficult philosophy for operating a Christian school. Unlike most other Christian schools, NCCS had no church or denominational affiliation. The school was completely independent. The vision of NCCS was for many evangelical churches in the MetroWest area to support the school financially and to encourage their families to send their kids to the school. The school’s Board consisted of a diverse group of Christians of various ages and backgrounds. There was always a conscious decision to make sure “charismatics” and “non-charismatics” were each serving on the Board. In addition, NCCS had a Pastoral Advisory Council who met monthly and then gave their input to the Board.

In my early years in Framingham, our church was one of the most involved with NCCS. We financially supported the school as one of our “missions” and I served on the Pastoral Advisory Council. All of my children went through New Covenant Christian School and for several years my wife taught Kindergarten and First Grade there. The locations changed from MetroWest Worship Center to Federated Church of Ashland to Framingham Vineyard Christian Fellowship and ultimately NCCS leased a desirable school building from the City of Marlboro.

The history of NCCS, its years of success, and then its ultimate decline and closing would make an interesting topic for someone working on either a Master’s thesis or Doctoral dissertation in Education. The schools early pioneering families included the Gabriellis, Scerras, Connells, and others who poured their “blood, sweat, and tears” to make it happen. In the early years, if you sent your kids to NCCS, it occupied a huge part of your time and energy and everybody involved with the school was like a big family. We shared a camaraderie not only in working together and playing together to make the school happen, but in dreaming of what it would be one day. The original NCCS philosophy was of a “three legged stool”, that is family, church, and school, all working together. NCCS deliberately chose to only accept students from evangelical Christian homes where the family was active in a local evangelical church.

By the late 1990s, NCCS had hired an Administrator with a very different philosophy. The school began accepting kids with “unsaved parents”. The idea of parents and pastors “running the school” was “deep sixed”, and the Pastoral Advisory Council was dissolved. The school did very well during those years, adding a middle school and growing.

A few years ago, that Administrator left and the NCCS Board decided to return to its roots of the “three legged stool” philosophy. The typical parent of the 2000s turned out to be quite different from the pioneering parents of the 1980s. One NCCS employee confided in me that discipline of today’s parents was very lax and that parents did not support the teachers in matters of disciplining their kids. Many of today’s parents also did not have the time and energy to pour into the school as in the past. (I need to be careful about generalizing. This was certainly not true of ALL NCCS parents of the 2000s. Some were very hardworking volunteers and very supportive of the faculty. Even so, things were NOT the same as the 1980s.) A couple of years ago, the City of Marlboro raised the cost on the Bigelow School building. New Covenant was outbid by another organization and they lost their very desirable facility. NCCS moved to much smaller quarters in a church’s facility on a main street. It just didn’t work, and a month ago, New Covenant Christian School died.

“But I was planning to send my kids to New Covenant Christian School someday!” was my daughter Rachel’s sad response to Anneli McCulley’s news.
At one time, NCCS was very much at the center of our family’s world. There were years when all three of my kids were attending school there, my wife was working there full-time, and I was on the Pastoral Advisory Council. There were all sorts of evenings spent at the school, and like most of the schools other families, we were always “talking up” the school to our extended family and friends. Yes, the news of NCCS’s closing was difficult to hear.

Where did NCCS go wrong?
Was the school’s vision too idealistic?
Is the blame with local churches who did not give the school enough support?
Were the changes in the school’s philosophy too confusing?
Was the move to Marlboro a mistake?
Is the real reason the school closed the economy?

And, will there every be anything like New Covenant Christian School in MetroWest again?

Friday, July 17, 2009


“And he gave ...pastors...” (from Ephesians 4:11)

In December of 1989, I attended the funeral of Pastor Stanley Washburn of First Baptist Church of Holliston. I’d known Stan for a couple of years as we were each part of a pastors’ small group for support and fellowship. Well, I guess I THOUGHT I knew Stan, but like many other clergy in attendance, I was surprised to learn from one of the eulogies given that Pastor Stan Washburn typically did 1000 “pastoral visits” of church members, shut-ins, and others per YEAR! Stan Washburn died just a few weeks short of his 70th birthday so he’d be almost 90 today. He was definitely the “old school” pastor- like Rev. Alden of T.V’s “Little House on the Prairie”.

Most of today’s pastors are tuned into far more of a business/C.E.O. model of church leadership. Even if they’re not particularly gifted in business matters (and I’m not) it’s something they’re striving for. Pollster and demographer George Barna who tracks all sorts of trends in the evangelical Christian world has concluded that leadership stills are absolutely essential for a pastor. He’s also concluded that a huge percentage of guys (and gals) engaged in full-time ministry do NOT have the proper leadership skills to be pastors and that they really should leave the ministry and make way for those that do have these skills.

I subscribe to a weekly newsletter for pastors which is put out by Dr. James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family” organization. The newsletter, called “The Pastor’s Weekly Briefing” typically laments the political state of our country and the tragedies of abortion and gay marriage, but also tends to include materials helpful to the pastor as a husband and father, and includes a lot of materials about current trends in both the evangelical and theologically liberal Church worlds. The lead article of this week’s newsletter is about the results of a recent survey of “megachurch pastors”. The survey was conducted by Warren Bird for “Leadership Network”. 232 pastors of churches of 2000 or more were surveyed. I would guess a lot of lay people would be shocked to learn that only 1% of the pastors surveyed said they consider “visiting members, the sick and shut-in” to be an area of strength for them. Another statistic that will surprise people is that most of these guys (and gals) see themselves as “preacher-teachers”, “directional leaders” and “visionaries” rather than as pastors.

Focus on the Family STRESSES right-wing politics and political activism. I’m sure they were not happy with the results that few of these pastors saw praying for their political leaders as important. When these pastors do pray for others, it’s primarily for their own families and their church staffs.

If you’d like to see the whole newsletter, just “shoot me an e-mail” at and I will be happy to forward it on to you.

While I found the “1%” statistic a bit surprising, I was not shocked by anything in the survey. True, these were MEGACHURCH pastors, and I’m anything but a megachurch pastor. And, in fact, most Protestant church pastors in the U.S. are pastoring churches of under 300 and many are pastoring churches of under 75. Even so, as I’ve sat in discussion groups and prayer groups with other pastors, I’d say at least 80% have said they DON’T like visiting hospitals and nursing homes, and that they don’t like doing pastoral visitation in general. I will say that I’ve often surprised MYSELF by being very “together” and effective on hospital and nursing home calls, and I credit THAT to the Holy Spirit, because I don’t particularly like them, either! I was also once part of a pastors group where we answered the question of whether pastoring was what we thought it was going to be. EVERYBODY (and it was around 8 guys of various ages and backgrounds) said that it was NOT. I then asked if any of us had grown up in pastor’s homes, and none of us did. I do find that people who grow up in pastor’s homes have much more of an idea of what pastoring is going to be like than do those like me who enter the ministry from a background that’s totally foreign to it.

In the theologically liberal denominations, and now more increasingly in the theologically conservative denominations, more and more of the pastors are female. My experience is that women pastors are far more likely to “like” pastoral visitation and to do more of it. Even so, the women have just as much pressure to “produce” on the “business end” of the church as do men, and probably more so. I’m not sure why we don’t have too many Pastor Stan Washburn types any more. They represent another era. The younger guys going into ministry are even more into the whole business C.E.O. thing than are guys (and gals) my age. The youngest pastors tend to dress casual, wear earrings and maybe tattoos, have churches with blaring rock music, and want to “take on the world”. Frankly, in many cases, they DO so, and quite successfully. But most of these guys aren’t holding little old ladies’ hands in nursing homes while reading Psalm 23 to them.

The “Promise Keepers” organization has been warning for well over ten years that the evangelical church world is in crisis and that pastors are leaving the ministry at an alarming rate. My friend, the Rev. Dr. Dick Germanine is sounding the same alarm and that’s part of why he founded Barnabas Ministries Inc. as a resource for pastors and churches. There is definitely a gap in what the laity is expecting of their pastors, and how pastors view themselves. Most pastors I know laugh at the written job descriptions their churches give them because they don’t fulfill them and couldn’t possibly fulfill them. I don’t have any easy answers to what I’m writing here. Right now, I’m just “throwing it all out on the table”.

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I attended the Framingham Selectmen's meeting last night (as they were discussing a matter about the neighborhood in which our church building is located). During that meeting, I learned that our Town officials are meeting with the Registrar of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday, July 22 about the planned R.M.V. branch closing. (Two of our Selectmen particularly expressed opposition to the planned R.M.V. branch closing at last night's meeting.) I had hoped this July 22 meeting would be opened to the public as I very much wanted to attend, and it was implied that it would be a public meeting. Earlier today, however, in contacting a person I know who works for one of the Town departments, I learned the meeting on July 22 will be strictly PRIVATE.

Even so, I have e-mailed my own concerns that I'd like addressed at the July 22 meeting to the Framingham Selectmen at

If you have concerns about the Framingham R.M.V. closing I strongly recommend you do what I did and contact the Selectmen!

Monday, July 13, 2009


“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

The last posting was about the closing of the Framingham Registry of Motor Vehicles which is something I’m greatly concerned about, but tonight I want to share another Registry story. I thought I’d written about this sometime ago on the blog, but I checked and checked and just can’t find it in the archives. It’s a story about forgiveness, forgetting the past, and moving on.

It’s strange and paradoxical that this story about forgiveness and moving on is from the life of my father. He could be very “hard line” about some issues and was NO “pushover”. But he also had a pragmatic side and was not the kind of guy who was going to allow himself to be eaten up by bitterness and hatred. Most of you know my father was a career Registry of Motor Vehicles employee. After several years as a Boston police officer, my father joined the ranks of the Registry Inspectors (later called Registry Police and later merged into the State Police). His first job, from 1956 to 1963 was giving driving tests. By his retirement in 1982, he was one of the Supervisors at the old 100 Nashua Street, Boston headquarters. My father’s best friend on the RMV was Bill Mitchell who lived in West Roxbury. In the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, both of them worked out of the Quincy branch office.

In his younger years, my father could be pretty idealistic about some things. Some folks think there was no corruption in the Massachusetts State Government in the pre-1970 days. In fact, things were probably MORE corrupt then! There was all kinds of corruption that my Dad and certain “by the book” Registry Inspectors were aware of. In those days, they weren’t allowed to have a “Union” but somewhere around 1960, some of the Registry Inspectors formed a “Registry Inspectors Association” which among other things, attempted to take on corruption at high levels including with the Registrar at the time whose initials ironically spelled out “C.A.R.” Some old timers will know who I’m talking about. “C.A.R.” was what Howie Carr would today call a “very well connected Democratic Party hack” who lived in Norwood. The Registry Inspectors Association sort of took him “head on” regarding a number of issues and situations. I almost forgot to tell you that Bill Mitchell became the President of the Association and my father the Vice-President. So, in a very real sense, my “Mr. Law and Order” father was sort-of like a “Union agitator”.

I will always remember coming home from our two week vacation on Cape Cod in August of 1962. I would have been just under 8-years-old at the time. Shortly after getting home, my father received a phone call from Bill Mitchell informing him that as pay back for their agitation, Bill Mitchell had been transferred to Worcester and my father had been transferred to Lowell. This was devastating to my parents. Our house in Canton was an unfinished “oversized Cape” style house. My Dad was trying to work nights and weekends to finish the second floor, build a fence outdoors, build a stone retaining wall around the exterior property and all sorts of other things. Almost forty years later, there were still a lot of unfinished projects around the Canton property. My mother always blamed “C.A.R.” for causing him to lose interest in a lot of these projects.

In those days, my folks had one car, a manual transmission blue 1951 Plymouth coupe. Each day, Dad now got up to make the long drive to Lowell up Routes 128 and 3. Money was tight. I remember that we were told we would not be getting much for Christmas 1962, and compared to other years, we didn’t. The commute was long and hard on the old car. During the 1962-1963 winter, the car died in the middle of that commute and that was it for the Plymouth. My father was a Civil Air Patrol volunteer. There were several C.A.P. cars at the local C.A.P. facility, and so the C.A.P. let him take a 1955 Ford station wagon, which was one of them, for his personal use. (Believe it or not, as I recall, some neighbors actually complained about that!) My grandmother (my mother’s mother) gave my folks the money to buy a brand new 1963 Dodge Dart station wagon shortly after this. It was one of the few brand new cars the family ever had.

There was a change of Governors around that time. I forget if Volpe gave way to Peabody, or if it was the other way around. In any case, by the early Spring of 1963, the new governor appointed a Judge from the Brockton area, James R. Lawton, to be the new Registrar. Within days of the change of Registrars, my Dad and Bill Mitchell were transferred to the Boston office, and later to Quincy.

Almost twenty years later, a young friend of my father’s was trying to build a new auto body shop in South Norwood. It was one of those kind of situations where a bunch of environmentalists and others were trying to stop the construction. A committee of concerned citizens, who wanted to help the young man named Rick get his shop built, was formed. Among the committee members were my father and the now elderly, retired C.A.R. who had been Registrar twenty years earlier. One night, C.A.R. called my father and they talked about what the strategies would be to help Rick get his shop built. When he hung up, my mother was kind of angry and disgusted.

“How can you talk to that man who so terribly harmed this family?!” she bitterly asked. She had no use for C.A.R.

My father replied that you can’t hold things against people that happened twenty years ago. My father was probably now about the age C.A.R. was when he was Registrar. Dad was now a Supervisor in his late 50s...older, wiser, seasoned. He was no less opposed to corruption, but he was a lot more realistic about how the world works. I think in his own way he realized he was kind of an idealistic guy in his 30s when the transfer happened, who maybe should have realized what the consequences of his agitation would bring. He had no bitterness about C.A.R. He had “moved on”.

I’m actually “wired” much more like my mother, so that story has been very helpful to me. I’ve used it as a sermon illustration several times. Dad, Bill Mitchell, and C.A.R. are all now long dead, but the lesson has stuck with me. We can hold on to things, and we can, frankly, have some very unrealistic expectations of other people. Much of the time, we need to learn to “let go and let God” and “move on”. Yes, there are things worth fighting and dying for (like the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s, for instance). But other stuff will just be other stuff until Jesus Christ returns to set up His Millennial Kingdom.

Today, a guy I know told me, “God is a very PRESENT help in trouble”. That means he wants you to forget the past and focus on the present. It sparked me to go on the blog and share this story. I truly hope you find it helpful!

Friday, July 10, 2009


“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:10)

I first read about the closing of the Framingham Branch of the Registry of Motor Vehicles in last Saturday’s (July 4, 2009) MetroWest Daily News. Initially, I did not want to write about it on the blog. I thought it was too much of a “parochial” issue which would not interest many readers. Instead, I chose to send in a “Letter to the Editor” which I was delighted to find published as a column in the Tuesday, July 7 MetroWest Daily News.

The initial story said that the Framingham RMV branch would be closed, BUT that road tests would continue to be given from that location. Due to my father’s RMV career, I know it was a common practice in the past to have road test locations which were not necessarily at “full” Registry of Motor Vehicles offices. My father used to give road tests from the Quincy RMV at the Franklin Field section of Dorchester as well as at the Norwood Armory back in the late 1950s. In fact, my own 1972 road test was at the Quincy Armory which was a “sub location” of the Quincy RMV at that time. I was not “crazy about” the Framingham RMV closing, nor was I pleased with ten other RMV offices closing, but keeping the road test location and offering a license express and registration express location on the MassPike in Natick didn’t seem like a terrible idea.

Unfortunately, in the middle of this week, the RMV story again hit the press. This time we learned that although Framingham is the 9th busiest RMV in the state, it was being closed anyway, AND that Framingham would NOT be kept as a driving test location. AND, the article strongly implied that although you’ll be able to renew your licenses and registrations at the Natick location, they MAY not be a full service location and thus MAY not issue actual license plates for new registrations. In any event, kids would have to start going to Worcester or Watertown for their road tests.

One person placed a comment under my on-line column about the RMV closing saying that I don’t understand that the RMV is out of money. Talk radio host Michael Graham has correctly pointed out that the RMV has PLENTY of money. It has been budgeted $75 million even though it actually only needs about $50 million to operate. Graham agrees that the closings, especially Framingham and North Attleboro make NO sense.

There’s another aspect of this that our Town leaders in Framingham have not thought about. We have at least one driving school located in Framingham, and I THINK we have two. (One did close about a year ago, but I believe a new one opened recently.) Driving schools strongly prefer to locate near the Registry’s road test locations. Thus it’s not a surprise that we have driving schools in Framingham. They like to take the kids on the actual test routes for practice, and I think a lot of kids and parents like this as well. It’s definitely a selling feature for auto schools. If there is no RMV in Framingham, will the auto schools stay here or will they leave?

Also, Michael Graham has made an excellent observation that the already crowded Watertown RMV will become a total nightmare when 75% of the Framingham RMV clientele and maybe a few of the North Attleboro clientele start doing business there. Will people need to camp outdoors for hours like they’re going to a 4th of July Concert on the Esplanade? Maybe!

I am disappointed that our State Reps., State Senator, and Town Officials seem to have a mostly “ho-hum” attitude about the RMV closing. They should be very vocal and outraged about it. At least Michael Graham is letting his voice be heard!

Incidentally, Michelle McElroy has an excellent piece about the Framingham RMV closing at

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


“He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” (Proverbs 18:9)

I think you all know the line, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I’m USUALLY not one for picking through trash. In fact, I’m usually what could be called a “thrower-outer”. My parents through almost nothing away. I guess that was common for “children of the Great Depression”. The problem was the YEARS it took to sort through their “stuff” after they died! I grew up with clutter and “stuff” EVERYPLACE. I loved my parents, but I hated the clutter. It’s made me a “thrower-outer”. My kids laugh because I’ll be walking their dishes, cups, and glasses into the sink (from they living room) and they’ll say, “Hey, I’m not done with that, yet!” With me, if a dish sits unused and unattended to for over twenty minutes, it’s into the dishwasher! With the exception of National Geographics, I don’t tend to save magazines, and EVEN National Geographics have their limits. I discarded my 1988 and 1989 copies this week. I figured having all the “Geographics” back to 1990 was good enough. So, for ME to talk about and encourage taking somebody’s trash and making something useful from it is, well, sort of a MIRACLE!

I don’t want to bore you with a really long story, but our church leased a new photocopier a few months ago. The new copier is larger and more “high tech” than any photocopier we’ve previously used. For the twenty-two years that I have been at First Assembly of God of Framingham, we’ve put all of our photocopiers on a metal stand that’s about two and a half feet high, by two and a half feet wide, and two and a half feet long. The stand is gray, and enclosed. A large door in the front gives access to the inside where we kept paper, transparencies, and other copier “goodies”.

Our new copier does not need a stand- the stand, and the paper shelves and the paper drawers, and the machine are all ONE UNIT. In a way that’s a good thing and in a way that’s a bad thing. It was a bad thing because we had to move the gray metal stand out of our front office. It was in a little room down the corridor. I know most of you are not familiar with our church building. It was not originally a church building. It was originally a Union meeting hall downstairs and the Union’s offices and credit union upstairs. The key words and phrases for the upstairs are “small” and “no room”. Some of our leaders wanted to get rid of the gray stand. Granted, there was no room for it, but I was arguing, “What about all the stuff that’s in it? Where will that go?” It was argued that it could go in a closet (that’s already pretty full and hasn’t got much room to work with). It was a dilemma. And, then, even if I found a place for the “stuff” in the old copier stand, what would I DO with the old copier stand?

“Lord, I don’t have any solution to this problem,” I privately prayed, “But if there’s a solution, I pray you’d show me what it is!”

I love to take long walks, and this past Sunday afternoon, I did exactly that. At Webster and Concord Sts. (that’s the sort of “funny” intersection where Webster actually ends JUST before it would actually connect with Concord, for you “Framingham-ites”) someone had placed a small, wooden stand/shelving unit on the sidewalk with a “FREE” sign. I don’t know if it was originally a T.V. stand or a stereo stand (maybe for a 1970s type system) or what. It WAS kind of an odd piece of furniture, BUT it looked to be around 25% smaller than the old copier stand. (The problem with the old copier stand is that it was just TOO big to fit in the church’s front office next to the new copier. People would have been climbing and tripping over it. It would have looked ridiculous.) But THIS wooden thing...25% smaller...I thought “It just might WORK in there”.

I wished I was NOT on foot. The thing WAS on wheels. Yes, I could have wheeled it the eight/tenths of a mile home, but I would have looked ridiculous, and I probably would have hurt my back bending over and rolling it for twenty minutes. I came back to the spot in my ‘89 Volkswagen Golf on Monday morning. I did not see the stand. I sadly thought, “Somebody must have taken it.” Suddenly, I spotted it! The family had put it back in their yard, but it still had the “FREE” sign taped to it. Thank God the VW’s rear seat folds down, because I had to fold it down and do some convoluted maneuvers to get the wooden stand into the car, but I did it. It felt great to get it to the church building and get it inside. I cleaned it all up with Pledge. I rolled it into the front office. It fit PERFECTLY beside the new copier and looks great there!

Now, for the second challenge. I had to empty out the old metal stand and move the stuff to the new stand. SOME of it, I put in a closet. Just about anybody who would look at that metal copier stand with weird, awkward dimensions (circa 1970) would have thought what I was thinking, “WHO would ever want this?!”

By faith, I taped two large “FREE” signs to it and with some difficulty, carried it out to the sidewalk in front of the church building. I was not out there twenty seconds, when a middle-aged Hispanic man driving an SUV stopped. He was very excited. He smiled, pointed to the stand, and announced, “I want that!” It seems a friend of his was looking for something to use for a T.V. stand. They had gone to several stores over the weekend, and couldn’t find anything. The guy told me this was actually perfect! So he took it away!

Yes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and once again, God shows me His faithfulness!


I am quite honored to have had a column of mine published in the MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, MA) on Tuesday, July 7, 2009. In the column, I strongly disagree with the decision to close eleven branch offices of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. There ARE a few “typos” in the article. I am not sure if these “typos” were my fault or the paper’s (probably a little of both). They make the reading a little awkward in a couple of places, but I think you’ll be able to follow what I’m trying to say at:

Monday, July 6, 2009


“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

“Sarah, Sarah” was a pop song by Jonathan Butler which was on the charts a little over twenty years ago. I chose that song’s title for my own title for this posting which is about Sarah Palin.

This is a tough one for me to write, and as I do, I’m trying to be very mindful of the above Scripture portion. The words from still ANOTHER song which say that, “no one knows what goes on behind closed doors” are also very true. It’s not often that I become a true FAN of a famous person. When I DO become that sort of a fan, I become pretty loyal and can be quite defensive of someone that I greatly admire. When Sarah Palin was chosen as John McCain’s running mate in the late summer of 2008, I admit that I knew very little about her. I was having lunch at a Chinese restaurant when the announcement was made. I got a look at her and a quick encapsulation of her politics. Man, I was SOLD! Throughout the primary process, I’d been a huge John McCain fan and I’d taken a lot of “hits” from my conservative friends who were almost all backing either Romney or Huckabee. But, once I got a load of Sarah Palin, I wanted her for PRESIDENT. It was almost like... “John McWHO??!!” There was the whole pro-life thing including having a child with Down Syndrome. There was the strong evangelical Christian background, mostly in the Assemblies of God. There was the whole “hockey mom” thing, the husband working on the oil rigs, and even her charismatic yet hokey way of speaking,. The New York elitists ridiculed the way she spoke, but I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! Yes, last Fall I think (within reason and Biblical standards, of course!) I would have done just about anything for Sarah Palin.

My pragmatic friend D.C.M. warned me. A blunt guy, he sent me an e-mail saying McCain had made a huge mistake choosing Sarah Palin and that she was not qualified to be President. WRKO’s Howie Carr asked, “Could she possibly be worse than George W. Bush?” I didn’t think she could be, but I suppose that’s not the most impressive item you want on your resume for President or Vice-President, now is it? Sarah Palin’s speech to the G.O.P. convention WAS electrifying and inspiring. Unfortunately, her interviews with media types in which she couldn’t remember what newspapers she reads (if any) and in which she didn’t seem to have much more insight about international relations than Paris Hilton or Nicole Ricci have- well, they WERE a bit disconcerting. I still liked Sarah, though. Frankly, I’m an outstanding public speaker when I can just take the podium and GO and in which I know what I’m talking about. But I don’t like to be interviewed if I’m going to be asked unsolicited questions. When that happens, I can freeze and come across like, well, Sarah Palin!

After the Republican loss in November, I was one of those who was looking forward to a Sarah Palin candidacy in 2012 and who could already see myself voting for her in the G.O.P. primary. That was until Friday afternoon. Yes, this is a difficult piece to write about a woman I greatly admire and about a woman I consider to be a sister in Christ. Her announcement about stepping down was ---there’s no way to say this nicely---very poorly done. It sounded like something she wrote on the back of an envelope in fifteen minutes. Yes, I know Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was something he scribbled on the back of an envelope. But, just as Dan Quayle was chided by Lloyd Bentsen for being “no Jack Kennedy”, Sarah Palin’s little speech on Friday was no Gettysburg Address. It was fumbling, rambling, silly, and bad.

She’s through politically.

Sarah Palin has no great achievement as Governor of Alaska. She was elected to do that job, and she lasted two and a half years, and quit. Now, nobody knows the stress the Palin family is under. And, it may be true that the ethics probe, etc., may have so “dogged” her that it would have made governing difficult. But, this is the time a real leader “steps up to the plate” and shows what they’re made of. You know, I have no doubt that if Hillary Clinton had become President and had actually RECEIVED that difficult phone call at 3 in the morning about a terrorist attack or a nuclear attack or something, that Hillary would be up to the task. I know I wouldn’t be up to the task, and, neither would Sarah Palin.

That said, I have no doubt of Sarah Palin’s commitment to Christ and to Christian values. This may sound ridiculous, but I’m serious: maybe she’d be of far more value as an evangelist and a motivational speaker than as President, Vice-President, or Governor. Sarah IS a great speaker when she wants to be. She does have some great convictions. Her family is not perfect, but who’s is? I believe she’s probably a good wife and mother.

I’m disappointed in Sarah Palin’s performance on Friday, and it’s hard to admit that my friend D.C.M. was right about her (as far as POLITICS goes). But, I hope she finds her niche and I hope she makes a useful and positive impact on this generation. It’s been said that Jimmy Carter was a lousy President, but with his “Habitat For Humanity” work and other causes has been one of our best ex-Presidents. Well, I hope down the road Sarah Palin will be similarly admired, as people say, “I’m glad she left politics, because she’s far more suited to....”

Yes, this was a difficult piece to write, but I hope I haven’t given the wrong impression. I still respect Sarah Palin as a person, and I wish her the very best as she leaves the world of politics.

Friday, July 3, 2009


“...and hath determined the times before appointed...” (from Acts 17:26)

Some of you may remember my entry last year about the embarrassing situation my daughter Rachel and I had when we went to watch the 2008 Natick 4th of July parade. (It’s in the blog archives if you really want to “dig” for it!) Well, we plan to attend the parade THIS year, and we’re playing it safe! We’re sitting across the street from where we usually sit, in a very public area! It’s hard for me to believe this is “4th of July weekend”. I can vividly remember watching the Channel 38 “Three Stooges New Year’s Eve Marathon” as though that was a mere three weeks ago. Yes, as my father frequently asked, “Where does the time GO?!” Many of you know that my favorite two holidays are Thanksgiving Day and Independence Day. This is very selfish, but they typically DON’T involve a lot of extra church work and they typically don’t involve spending an exorbitant amount of money (the way, say, Christmas does). There’s something so “Norman Rockwell” about a 4th of July parade. Natick’s is a very good one. And, the Boston Pops concert (which I watch on television!) on 4th of July evening is, well, very touching and very special. 4th of July weekend is always “different” at our church.

The following is the text of both an e-mail and a U.S. mail letter that many of you received. I would LOVE to have some of you “locals” come out and visit our church this Sunday, July 5. You don’t have to be scared. “We don’t bite!” No matter what your religious or spiritual convictions (or lack thereof) I honestly think most of you would really enjoy our 4th of July weekend service. So here’s my 4th of July weekend letter. Our church is located at 32 South Street (South and Taylor Streets) near the Chicken Bone Restaurant, right off Route 135 in downtown Framingham.

You are invited to be with us on Sunday, July 5 at 9:30 a.m.

INDEPENDENCE DAY weekend is always a special time at FIRST ASSEMBLY OF GOD OF FRAMINGHAM! For one thing, we “dress casual” - even me! I don’t wear a suit or tie- rather I put on jeans, sneakers, and a tee-shirt! For another thing, we don’t have Sunday School and we hold the service at 9:30 rather than 10:30. (We end around 11, and that gives people plenty of time for whatever festivities they’ve got planned for the day.) Most of all, there is always a very meaningful time of music, prayer, and preaching of the Word.

All of the above will be the case this year. However, in addition to that, I will be giving each person who attends this Sunday’s service an 8 and a half by 11 copy of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. I personally have worked to prepare, photocopy and staple these as my gifts to each person who will attend this Sunday. It’s been a fair amount of work, but I’m concerned that while we all hear about and talk about these documents, many of us have never actually READ them.

This has been kind of a “George Bailey” season for me. Who is George Bailey? Well, if you remember the Christmas film, “It’s a wonderful life,” he’s the one who after a lifetime of “giving his all” in “Bedford Falls” at the “Building & Loan” found himself in a time of great crisis. An angel allowed him to see what the world would have been like if he’d never have been born- then the film ends positively as most of the community turns out to help him in a time of crisis.

You may be thinking, “Hasn’t he got the wrong holiday?! This is the Fourth of July?!” No, I haven’t! While this is summer, it’s now the “best of times and the worst of times” for me and for our church, to paraphrase the line from Charles Dickens.

I experienced a wonderful time on my “sabbatical month” in Missouri this past spring. As nutty as it may sound to some, God really “talked to me” in Missouri. No, not in an audible voice, but in a deep time of revelation and impressions. He showed me much about His plan for First Assembly of God of Framingham and for me in the near future. I came back with renewed vision. Yet, I also came back to a time of the church in crisis.

We’ve had “first-time visitors” at our church for the first time in awhile, and we’ve just had a man come forward in one of our services to receive Christ as his Personal Lord and Savior (and he’s come back!). Mary Ann is doing a tremendous job ministering to the children. A couple of us went out on South Street last Saturday with trash bags picking up trash and litter and talking to people as we did, letting our light shine on South Street and letting people know we care. I have a heart for ministry here that I have not had for awhile.

On the other hand, our overall attendance is way down compared to 2008 and 2007, and our finances are the poorest they’ve ever been.

In 1776, people “stepped up” and you all know what happened.

I know that many receiving this mailing are not regular members of our church, nor will they ever regularly attend our church, and that’s fine. But I’m asking you to do something very special on Sunday, July 5. I’m asking you to mark in on your calendar and to be present at First Assembly of God of Framingham from 9:30 through 11:00 a.m.

Yes, you will receive the copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States that I’ve worked to prepare for you. But, more importantly, you’ll be part of a “George Bailey” moment of blessing and encouragement for our church. AND, I’m believing God will meet you and bless you in a very special way when you come out and join us this Sunday!

In His service,

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;” (2 Corinthians 4:8)

There was a soft rock/gospel/spiritual/rhythm & blues song (yes, I’d say it fit all those categories) in the 1970s which kept repeating its chorus of, “Tell It All, Brother”. That’s my inspiration for this short post. This post is an update to my June 19 post entitled, “Impossible?”

The “Impossible” post (you’re certainly welcome to read it) tells the story of the plumbing problem with our kitchen faucet- specifically, the hot water dripping over a period of months, and as of sometime in early June just a steady stream of water that you could not turn off.

I wrote the “Impossible” post, because a seeming miracle happened on June 19. Although on that very day, I was all set to call the plumbing company to come out and repair it, on THAT day I was able to turn the water off and it turned off and worked fine! I don’t think I’d ever experienced a “plumbing miracle” like that before.

Now, I know some skeptics may have a big laugh here, but I felt I needed to be honest and give you a follow up report: The faucet set worked fine for 7-8 days. I felt like my namesake “Bob Wiley” in “What About Bob?” who “took a vacation from his problems” in that hilarious film. Regarding that awful dripping and pouring faucet, for 7-8 days, I took A VACATION FROM MY PROBLEM! Then, the problem came back. For a day or two, it was just a drip...not really too bad, but for at least 24 hours it has been a steady solid trickle and sometimes a stronger stream, and I can’t turn it off. Yesterday I called Paul Flaherty Plumbing and Heating in Framingham. The church has an account with them. Honestly, they’re a GREAT outfit that I’d recommend to anyone. The guy from Flaherty Plumbing is coming out on Thursday morning. They actually wanted to come sooner, but that was the soonest I was comfortable fitting them into my schedule.

Situations like the “plumbing miracle story” are admittedly perplexing to me. It WAS wonderful to take that 7-8 day “vacation from the problem”. It did “buy us a little time”. WAS it a miracle or just a plumbing fluke? For sure, I don’t know. But even though telling the second part of the story makes me feel a little “sheepish” I felt I had to “tell it all”.