Thursday, October 29, 2009


“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)

There’s a story on the front page of Thursday’s (October 29, 2009) MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, MA) entitled, “Group calls Rizoli Holocaust denier”.
You can read that story at:

I’m not surprised it’s in there. I’ve only watched Jim and Joe Rizoli’s television show on Framingham’s public access cable station perhaps a dozen times, but I did catch last week’s and I was appalled at what Jim Rizoli was saying. As the paper reports, Rizoli did defend Iranian President Ahmadinejad in his denials of the holocaust. Rizoli also spoke strongly against “zionism” and encouraged his viewers to check out a website which denies the holocaust.

God bless the local Anti-Defamation League for putting a statement about this on their website and for expressing their outrage. I admit that I halfway thought about writing about it on my blog last week, but I hesitated. The last thing I wanted was to be excoriated on Rizoli’s T.V. program, or have the Rizolis showing up at our church shoving cameras in people’s faces. Ironically, I’ve agreed with the Rizolis on SOME issues. I AM concerned about illegal immigration. I believe we must have immigration enforcement and also we must have some sort of immigration reform. I happen to agree with the Rizolis that on the Sunday in 2002 that Brazil won the World Cup in soccer, the Brazilian community was totally insensitive to their American neighbors. That day was a nightmare for our church. We had a guest speaker trying to get to us only to have every possible route to our building blocked by thronging, ecstatic Brazilian soccer fans. It was rude on the part of the Brazilians that day, and it was wrong.

That said, the Brazilian community has made many positive contributions to our community. I’ve been privileged to speak at Brazilian churches on several occasions, and sometimes to go to a Brazilian church just to worship. The people’s worship is warm, deep, and genuine. Most of the Brazilians are hardworking and family oriented. They seem to be more spiritually minded than are most Americans. I don’t agree with some of my “bleeding heart liberal” friends that the Brazilians are the greatest thing that’s ever happened to Framingham, but I also don’t agree with the Rizolis that they’re the worst thing that’s ever happened to Framingham. As with all groups and all situations, there are good aspects of the Brazilian influx into Framingham and there are some bad aspects of the Brazilian influx into Framingham. I try to focus on the good. I’ve even learned a little Portuguese in the process!

Now to the holocaust. It’s a fact. It’s well documented. Over 6 million Jews, 100,000 Gypsies, and many others died at the hands of the Nazis. Thank God for heroes such as the Ten Boom family of Holland who rescued many Jews and then were sent to a concentration camp, themselves. (Their story is told in the book and film, “The Hiding Place”.) What was done to the Jewish people of eastern and central Europe in the 1930s and 1940s is a great EVIL. Regarding Zionism, it existed as a cause prior to the holocaust, but was deemed a necessity by the civilized world after the holocaust. Frankly, the Bible predicts the Jewish people will return to Jerusalem and the holy land prior to the return of Jesus Christ to this earth, and that’s exactly what’s happening. It’s God’s plan, and God still has a covenant relationship with the Jewish people.

This is a free country, and YES the Rizolis have the right of free speech, but this time, they've gone too far. The ADL also has the right to expose and repudiate the Rizoli's errors.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


“having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:5)

What a delight it was to flip on Jay Severin’s program on Monday afternoon (on “Boston Talks” 96.9 FM) and to hear a very spirited, enlightening, and engaging discussion about the (controversial) October 21 decision of the Roman Catholic hierarchy allowing Anglican (and Episcopalian) clergy and laity to “convert” while keeping their own practices, including married priests and the Book of Common prayer, in tact.

Whether or not the characterization of him has been fair, Jay Severin has developed a reputation as a foul-mouthed, angry, racist “shock jock”. I believe he’s been “suspended” from the airwaves more than once. It’s hard to believe Jay’s friend Pat Buchanan appreciates his libertine views. In fact, I suspect Pat DOESN’T share them! So, it was a pleasant surprise to hear a “kinder, gentler” Jay on Monday afternoon. I don’t think I’ve heard such a classy and thoroughly well presented discussion of a “religious” issue on secular talk radio since David Brudnoy passed away. Initially, Jay made himself very vulnerable on the airwaves, admitting he doesn’t pay much attention to God, and honestly asking callers why God should help him when he’s in a crisis if HE hasn’t been loyal to God. There were some great callers and some great discussion in response to Jay’s questions. Then Jay had a very knowledgeable Episcopalian clergyman from South Carolina on as a guest to discuss the new Vatican policy.

This may shock a lot of my readers, but there is already a long-standing precedent in the Catholic Church for married priests and whole “communities of faith” who differ in their rites and practices from mainstream Roman Catholicism but do submit themselves to papal leadership. For centuries, “Eastern Rite Catholics” (who do NOT call themselves Roman Catholics) have been in good standing with the Vatican and have been considered part of the fold. They have married priests, and their ceremonies and practices are much closer to the Eastern Orthodox Churches than they are to the main Roman Catholic Church. These include the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and the Catholic Assyrian Church of the East. These churches even have PARISHES IN THE U.S with married priests!

A similar arrangement has been proposed for Episcopal and Anglican churches. In some cases, whole parishes may come under the umbrella of the Roman Catholic Church while essentially keeping things at their individual parishes pretty much the way they are. (I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the difference between “Episcopal” and “Anglican”. There is NOT much. The Church of England in the U.S. became known as the Episcopal Church after the American Revolution. It tends to be more culturally and theologically liberal than many of the other Anglican churches around the world. Further complicating this, some American Episcopal churches have pulled themselves out of the U.S. denomination, but have come under the umbrella of theologically conservative African Anglican Bishops and now call their churches “Anglican” rather than “Episcopal”.)

Jay speculated about whether the real goal of the Vatican is to “solidify Christian denominations together” against Islam, and the Episcopalian leader from South Carolina agreed that is possible. I hope this theological and cerebral piece has not caused many readers to fall asleep, because like Jay, I find this topic very interesting. I want to add, however, that what SO many miss is that God’s TRUE Church is not an institution or a denomination. Sadly, there are millions of people around the world who have religion up to their ears but don’t have Christ in their hearts! In my opinion, the majority of Catholics are not “truly saved” and will end up in Hell (although there is a huge minority of genuine Christians within that institution who will be in Heaven). Likewise, it’s my opinion that the majority of Protestants are not “truly saved” and will also end up in Hell (although there is a huge minority of genuine Christians within Protestantism). Listen, I’m not saying the Assemblies of God is perfect, either. It’s not! The important thing is NOT the religion, but whether a person has a true relationship with God! There will be people from a myriad of denominations in Heaven because they’ve put their faith in Christ for salvation.

There are some wonderful Believing Christians within the Episcopal, Anglican, and Catholic churches. And, there are also lots of folks who are culturally or intellectually “Christian” but “don’t have a clue” within those churches. Even so, this story of the Vatican reaching out to Anglicans and Episcopalians “just as they are” (to paraphrase a famous altar call song) is a very interesting development.

And, Jay Severin, let’s have more programs like Monday’s!

Monday, October 26, 2009


“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22)

The front page story of today’s MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, MA) is about Framingham resident and longtime educator George Marcus, age 79, whose Hyundai sedan veered off Route 1 South in Walpole and hit a pole. Marcus is dead. His wife, who was riding with him was injured. The story is found at:

Reading about an elderly couple driving along Route 1 South, and their car going off the road and hitting an object leaving the driver dead reminded me of a very similar automobile fatality which took place in October of 1963. I was 9-years-old and in the 4th Grade at the time. Today, fatal automobile accidents are investigated by the State Police Accident Investigation Team, but in those days, the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts was divided up into geographic territories for the purpose of accident investigation. A Registry of Motor Vehicles Inspector (later called “Registry Police” and now merged into the State Police) was responsible to investigate all fatal accidents in the geographic territory to which he’d been assigned. “Investigator” was the first promotion above “Examiner” for Registry Police in those days. My father had given driving tests between 1956 and 1963 as an Examiner, and was promoted to Investigator that summer. One of the first fatal accidents he investigated involved the death of Claude Atkinson of Boston’s Roslindale section. This was the October 1963 accident I thought about this morning.

There were two elderly couples driving along Route 1 South in Norwood on a Sunday in the late afternoon. Suddenly, the car veered off Route 1 and slammed into a large tree. As I recall, Claude Atkinson the driver was the only fatality, and the others were badly injured. As part of his investigation, my father would go to see the wrecked car, take pictures of it, make notes, etc. For some reason, on an October afternoon very similar today, my father asked me to go with him after I got home from school. This was just my Dad and I, and didn’t include my younger brother and sister. We went to the junk car lot where the wrecked maroon 1950 Mercury sedan had been towed. Mr. George Marcus of Framingham who had Friday’s accident in Walpole was driving a Hyundai. I don’t think of them as being particularly sturdy cars. Conversely, a 1950 Mercury was built like a battle ship! Even so, I can still see the grille and hood area of that Mercury badly damaged. Inside the passenger compartment was lots of dried blood (maroon just like the Mercury) on the tan upholstery. In those days, old ladies really dressed like old ladies. There were a couple of “old lady hats” on the back floor, and at least one pair of “old lady eye glasses”. I remember that after we left the wrecked car, my father drove to the Norwood Hospital. He went inside for a few minutes, and I waited in the car. I now realize he must have been checking on the condition of the survivors.

It’s been forty-six years, but as I recall, it was determined that Claude Atkinson didn’t actually die FROM THE CRASH. He likely died instantly of a heart attack or something like that while at the wheel and the car veered into the large tree. It’s similar to the death of State Rep. Debbie Blumer a few years ago when her car suddenly went off a Framingham street and hit a guard rail. She had died at the wheel first. I suspect that was probably the case with 79-year-old George Marcus.

As you can tell, seeing that smashed up 1950 Mercury and the dried blood and the old lady hats, etc. made quite an impression on a 9-year-old boy in 1963. Maybe that was my father’s point: to let me start to see what can happen in an automobile. I didn’t have nightmares about it or anything like that, but it stayed with me vividly that Fall. It took a jarring news report about three weeks later on November 22 to put Claude Atkinson’s accident memory away. But sometimes it comes back. Reading about another elderly man and another car accident on Route 1 South on an October day brought it back to mind today.

Friday, October 23, 2009


“And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:
And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.” (Mark 14:51-52)

The above passage is one of the weirdest in the New Testament. Billy Graham has said that the above passage describes the first streaker. And I think Billy’s probably right about that. I’m aware that some people might not know what a “streaker” is but back around 1974 there were a number of instances of totally naked students running through their colleges (and occasionally high schools). Many Bible scholars believe the young man who fled naked was John Mark, the author of Mark, who would have been a very young man at the time of Jesus’ arrest.

The topic of being naked has been in the news this week. Just a few mornings ago, a Virginia man was arrested and charged with indecent exposure for being totally naked in his own home.

Eric Williamson was making coffee in his kitchen this past Monday morning. He wasn’t wearing any clothing. He believed that since he was in his own home, this was not a problem. Unfortunately, a woman and her 7-year-old son happened to be trespassed through his front yard and saw the 29-year-old having breakfast in the nude through his window. She called police and that was that. This incident provoked many calls on talk radio this week defending nudity in one’s own home.

I think the police in Virginia overreacted and should not have arrested Williamson. I also think the woman and her child should not have been trespassing through the guy’s property. That said, I think you’re crazy to walk around your house naked! I heard a story several years ago about a group of people who stopped in to visit a family out in southern Worcester county. The Dad was taking a shower and walked out of the bathroom completely naked in front of all the company. As the story goes, he announced, “It’s my house and I’ll do what I want!” I’m almost surprised the “company” didn’t have HIM arrested. I think if I was part of the “company” I’d have made a mental note to avoid visiting that home in the future.

A lot of people sleep totally naked. I try to not do that. What if there’s a fire in the middle of the night? Don’t laugh- about nineteen years ago our family DID have a fire in the middle of the night! I don’t think you want to meet the fire department completely naked! (The fire was in our basement. The fire department got there very quickly. The only real damage was that smoke permeated the house and we had to have clothes dry cleaned, etc.)

I will admit I DO sometimes walk around the house in my underwear. My girls used to hate that. “Dad you’re in your UNDERWEAR!” “Dad put some clothes on!” they’d say... and I usually did pretty quickly. Even when I’m walking around in my underwear, I’m nervous that somebody will come to the door and I’ll be in an embarrassing situation. You never know WHO is going to come to the door! One year on New Year’s Day, the door bell rang and rang. I opened it up to find several Town of Framingham employees. The guy ringing the bell kept saying, “Permian water!” I had to keep asking him to repeat himself, and he kept saying, “Permian water!” I finally realized he did not speak clearly at all and that he was ACTUALLY saying, “Framingham water.” He then told me they were shutting the water off and doing some work. I think I was in a robe or something at the time, but at least I was not in my underwear or worse!

King David gets a bad rap for his sin with Bathsheba, and he WAS wrong. However, some people have also criticized Bathsheba for being able to be seen naked bathing (kind of like the guy in Virginia) and have even wondered if she was trying to seduce David. I guess only God knows that.

Back to streaking. In the 1970s there was a very funny comedy song entitled, “The Streak”. It was about a hick couple who went to a high school basketball game. The man was mortified when someone streaked the game. Then he looked closely and realized the streaker was his wife, Ethel. Furious and in a loud hillbilly accent he yelled, “You git yer clothes on!!”

That’s my advice: You get yer clothes on! Don’t be walking around the house naked. It will just plain save you a lot of problems. AND, don’t be trespassing through people’s property, either!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 16:25)

Last night on WGBH’s “Greater Boston” program, Harvard Philosophy Professor Michael Sandel, author of “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” discussed several ethical dilemmas and questions with host Emily Rooney. The interview was was fascinating, deep, and quite thought provoking. This piece will not explore the kind of “life or death” issues that Sandel’s book does. Rather, I want to just share a few thoughts about what happens in everyday life when one tries to do things, “the right way.”

My father Eugene A. “Gene” Baril was a perfectionist.
“If you’re going to do something, DO IT RIGHT!” he would say.

He was meticulous about almost everything he did. When it was time to put in a backyard fence, he didn’t go to Grossman’s, get a cheap stockade fence and slap it up. (I’m not necessarily knocking that. That’s what WE did at the parsonage 20 years ago, and it worked O.K. for us!) No. He put in METAL posts to hold up the wooden fence. The poles are all in cement holes dug 6 feet into the ground! For the area under the sections of the fence, he dug two and a half foot trenches and filled them with cement, crushed stone, and cobblestones! He also bought pretty high quality lumber and cut the fence pieces out on a jigsaw. The fence was built between 1961 and 1964. Some sections of the wooden fence eventually rotted and deteriorated after over 25 years. My sister currently owns the house and property there. A few years ago, a friend of hers took part of the fence down and “saws-alled” the posts to ground level. Those cement and stone bases? They’ll be around for another 200-300 years!

I didn’t mean to spend so long talking writing about that, and that’s only ONE story of Gene Baril’s perfectionism! Thus, it should certainly come as no surprise to anyone that like my Dad, I prefer to do things “the right way”. Listen, this stuff of trying to do things the right way can get you into some sticky situations! I experienced one such sticky situation on Monday at the downtown Framingham post office. The downtown Framingham post office is a “sub station” of the main Framingham post office. In my opinion, it’s smaller than it should be, and it doesn’t have enough postal employees on duty at any given time. Many of downtown Framingham’s inhabitants are poor, foreign-born, and do not drive. At almost any time, the downtown post office is very crowded and can become a bit chaotic. Our church’s post office box is located there, so I find myself at the downtown post office quite a bit.

It used to be there would be 2 lines streaming up to the counter...well, maybe 2 official lines, and maybe a few people cutting in line to ask questions, etc. About a month ago, the downtown post office adopted a very good policy. There is (and has always been) a big table or counter in the middle of the place. That’s part of why you’d get 2 official on each side of the table moving up to the main “window counter”. The new policy is that there is only ONE line, on the left side of the “middle counter” and the right side is for EXITING after you’ve made a transaction at the window counter. Since the change has been made, things have been much more orderly and it’s worked out quite well- until last Monday.

On Monday I came in to the post office and ONE clerk was on duty. Despite the clear and legible signs, everybody was lined up on the EXIT ONLY side to go up to the window counter. The left, clearly marked, FORM ONE LINE ON THIS SIDE was empty. I went to the left side. I determined to “remember” the order of the other line, and to go to the window when it was my turn. A problem developed, however, when new people came into the post office. They were confused as to which line to get into. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut, but I said, “The sign says to line up on this side.”

“WHAT SIGN?! I DIDN’T SEE ANY SIGN” a guy in the “other” line yelled out, defensively.

“That sign right there.” I answered. Ironically, the person at the head of the wrong line was the female pastor of a Spanish Pentecostal church in town. Even she sort of gave me a dirty look and acted as if I was, well, a little crazy. At one point, one other woman nervously looked at me and said, “You go next,” when it was her turn.

“No,” I said, “It’s not my turn. You go ahead.” and she did.

“Are you a VETERAN?!” the yelling, defensive guy barked at me.

“No,” I answered, trying to keep calm, “I’m an Assemblies of God minister and I’m just trying to follow the rules.”

When it really WAS my turn, I went up to the clerk and bought my stamps.
“I can’t believe all this fuss for just trying to do the right thing,” I said to him.
He had no comment. He looked as if he just wanted to get out of there!

I was glad to finally get out of there, myself.

This also reminds me of the dilemma of what do you do when you’re driving, you come to an intersection, you’re planning to take a right turn, and you encounter a RED LIGHT AND A RED RIGHT ARROW. I used to NOT turn. I’d have people blasting their horns at me. My friend D.K. in Bellingham has told me of similar experiences as he also refused to take a right turn at such intersections. I do wish my father was alive and healthy because I’d love to ask his opinion about that one. Well, I looked into it a few years ago, and I found out that D.K. and I were amazingly WRONG. The Mass. R.M.V. says to just make a normal right turn in such a case!

Why then do they have intersections with RIGHT RED ARROWS as well as standard RED LIGHTS? The R.M.V. doesn’t know!! That won’t surprise Michael Graham very much!

So do things the right way, but prepare to get hassled for it!

Monday, October 19, 2009


“And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29)

“Bible Roulette”. Not “Russian Roulette”. “Bible Roulette.”

Most pastors cannot in good conscience recommend Bible Roulette. Bible Roulette is simply flipping the Bible open at random and believing God will supernaturally speak to you in this way; that He will guide you to a very important Divine message. Pastors don’t recommend Bible Roulette because usually it just involves finding random Bible passages which are exactly that...random Bible passages. And, the Bible is REALLY meant to be read IN CONTEXT. (That is, in most cases the verses that surround a particular verse give it’s intended meaning.) The big joke among Bible scholars is that one poor misguided soul went to his Bible playing Bible Roulette. He first randomly turned to Matthew 27:5, “And he (that is, Judas) cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”. The poor misguided soul then turned to Luke 10:37 “...Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” And that’s exactly what that poor misguided soul did!

Now, that said, I HAVE had two very genuine and moving experiences of God definitely speaking to me through “Bible Roulette”. The first was in 1972. I was 17-years-old and I’d been a born-again Christian for less than 2 years. I was “witnessing” (sharing my faith in Christ) to another kid at Canton High that I’ll call “Ted”. Ted was the best musician at Canton High at the time, and was possibly the most talented musician who ever attended Canton High. Ted and I were pretty good friends. I had witnessed to Ted a few weeks earlier, and he flat out rejected it. Now, in early January of 1972, a couple of kids that Ted thought were his friends had turned on him. I began to feel strongly that God was telling me this was an opportunity to REALLY reach out to Ted; to be a friend to him like the Good Samaritan, as it were. I wondered if God was really “talking” to me or if this was just some crazy scenario I was making up for myself. Like Gideon in the Book of Judges, I just had to be sure. I prayed. “God, if you are REALLY telling me this, when I open up my Bible at random, let me open it right to the story of the Good Samaritan.”

At that time, I knew the story of the Good Samaritan was somewhere in the Gospels but I didn’t know where it was. I really thought it was in Matthew. I opened the Bible at random and it opened to Luke chapter 10. I was disappointed. I “knew” this was not the Good Samaritan passage. “What a stupid jerk I am,” I thought. Then I looked at the heading on the page. It read, “The Great Commandment. The Good Samaritan.” There in black and white was the story of the Good Samaritan! I now know that Luke chapter 10 is the only place in the Bible that records the story of the Good Samaritan. I did witness to Ted. A week or two later, he received Jesus Christ as his Personal Lord and Savior. Today, Ted lives in California. He’s married and has several kids. Ted served as a Minister of Music in several large churches in California. At one time, he was John MacArthur’s organist. At present, Ted is a professor of music at a Christian college in suburban Los Angeles.

The second powerful experience of God speaking to me through Bible Roulette happened YESTERDAY. On Sunday mornings, I typically go to our church facility very early. I make a couple of pots of coffee, turn on the heat, etc. Yesterday, I was having a very tough time “getting going”. I had no energy. It was dark and cold and raining outside. It was one of those Sundays that I didn’t feel like preaching, or teaching, or leading. As a friend of mine says, “I didn’t feel like doin’ nothin’”. And I didn’t. As I was doing my Sunday early morning routine at the church, I prayed a brief prayer. “Lord, I don’t like being in this tired, unmotivated mood. Would you give me some Bible passage to pick me up and be ‘my passage’ for the day?”. I went into my office and took a King James Bible off the shelf. (It was a Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible for all you old time AG people out there!) I flipped the Bible opened and it opened to Galatians 3, 4, and 5. Well, it was all of chapter 4, the last part of chapter 3 and the first part of chapter 5. My eyes specifically fell on the verse I opened this posting with.

I didn’t feel any lightning bolts or see any angels or anything like that. But I did read that verse, and I thought, “Well, O.K. I guess God’s telling me I need to have faith like Abraham.” A few seconds later as I walked down the hall, I glanced and noticed my wife’s N.I.V. Burgundy covered Bible laying in a room. Suddenly, I had the STRONGEST urge to go in and pick it up and open it.

“NO!” I thought, “That’s stupid. what’s the matter with me? I asked God for a verse and I got one and that’s that. Besides, I don’t even like the New International Version!” I started to walk away, but it was like I was drawn by a magnet into that room. I picked up Mary Ann’s Bible and flipped it open at random. It opened to Galatians chapters 3, 4, and 5. It was all of Galatians 4, the last part of Galatians 3 and the first part of Galatians 5. I was stunned. It’s like I felt GOD there in a very special way. This just couldn’t be a coincidence. Two different Bibles. Two different versions. I pick them up, open them at random to the same passage?

I started thinking about the Book of Galatians and specifically about Galatians chapter 4 (even though the actual verse I’d concentrated on in the Dake’s Bible was 3:29). Galatians 4 is about the great faith Abraham had to have to believe God for the child of promise: Isaac. Abraham and Sarah were getting older and older. God had made this great promise to them, but NOTHING happened. Sarah was now much too old to get pregnant. Abraham did what he thought was the smart thing. He had sex with Hagar, the young servant girl. She got pregnant and had a son: Ishmael. Abraham was ecstatic! He had an heir! This was the son! Then God bluntly told him that was NOT the son He was talking about. Over a decade later, SARAH miraculously got pregnant and gave birth to the promised son Isaac.

As I thought about this, I had the strong sense that God was telling me to NOT try to handle things in my own strength and in my own “wisdom” at this point in my life. (No, I’m not planning on having any more kids, thank you, but THAT’S not the meaning for me!) God HAS promised many things to me and to First Assembly of God of Framingham. They have not happened. Have you ever watched that movie, “Field of Dreams”? It happens to be my favorite film. Lately, I’ve been feeling like Kevin Costner looking out at that baseball field filling up with snow. He can’t pay his mortgage. It doesn’t make sense. Everybody thinks he’s crazy. Nobody believes him. In a lot of ways, I’ve been right there with him.

I can’t begin to tell you what my early Sunday morning experience did for me!
I went to the church at 6:15 a lethargic, unmotivated man. I left a half hour later ecstatically happy and “pumped”! Our attendance was very low on Sunday...worse than it usually is. This was also our one Sunday of the month that we have a Sunday evening service. So, I taught a class, preached two sermons, ran two services, and led an early morning prayer meeting. I was “pumped” the whole time. I felt like I was preaching to hundreds of people!

What is the full meaning of what happened yesterday? I don’t know. I’m excited. And, I’m also scared. On one level, I still have a baseball field filling up with snow and I can’t pay my mortgage. But on a deeper level, I know God has his hand on me and on our church.

What will happen next?

Friday, October 16, 2009


“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (Proverbs 13:24)

Spanking or not spanking?

What a controversial topic THAT is! I heard part of Michael Graham’s program on Boston’s 96.9 FMTalk station yesterday morning and that was the topic being discussed. One woman called in who was deeply and passionately opposed to spanking. She was SO opposed to spanking that she wrote a folk song with a message opposing spanking and she sang it on the air! I’ve also heard Oprah talk about parents who spank as though they’re bloodthirsty barbarians; and on those “nanny” shows on television, the worst parenting technique is considered to be spanking. They’ll spend 8 hours walking a defiant 4-year-old back to the naughty chair from which he promptly retreats. All those pointless trips with a 4-year-old screaming! You know, a quick paddling on the rear end will do the trick!

One father called Michael Graham’s program to say that very thing. His wife does all the “time out” and naughty chair stuff (and the counting to 3) while all he has to say is, “remember what happened the last time you did that” and as he said, “it stops right there”.

Now, I DO want to bring some clarifications about spanking. First of all, there’s a HUGE difference between spanking and child abuse. Second, if spanking is done correctly, you’ll hardly ever have to do it (in most cases). Thirdly, spanking works well for 2-7 year olds. When kids are older than that, it’s far better to find more suitable age appropriate punishments. I recall a case of a pastor on Boston’s north shore a few years ago who was on trial for spanking his 13-year-old kid. While I have a problem with putting a parent on trial for spanking their own kid, I also thought .13 was way too old to be spanked! I once heard a pastor from rural Georgia proclaim, “If my kid’s 30-years-old and needs a whoppin’ them I’m gonna give ‘em a whoppin’!” That’s ridiculous! Again, the deal is: be age approproiate! But let me tell you, 90% of the time when kids are not spanked, IT SHOWS! I remember one time in the early 1980s visiting a couple who had a couple of kids around 5 or 6. They came into the living room where I was sitting and whipped their matchbox cars against the wall full force right above my head! The parents passively and nervously thought it was cute and did NOTHING! Listen, those kids needed a SPANKING!

Each of our 3 kids were spanked, but not that often. I don’t recall spanking any of my kids more than 5 times per kid. Once they’d been spanked a few times, all they’d have to hear is, “if you do that again, you’ll get a spanking”, and that was that. I never spanked any of them once they turned 8. At that age, there were other more age appropriate ways of disciplining them. None of my kids have a problem with the fact that they were spanked (they’re all in their 20s now). In fact, Rachel my youngest says I was way too easy as a parent and that she’ll be a stricter parent than I was. Well, that’s fine with me!

My own father was VERY strict. My mother was much more moderate. The last time my father spanked me, I was 10 and a half. He knew I was too old to be spanked and I knew it, too. It was awkward. That’s why I stopped spanking my kids once they hit 8. But I don’t regret that I was spanked. I tended to be much easier on my kids as teenagers than my father was. In fact, I was the stricter parent when the kids were very little, but my wife was the stricter parent when they were teenagers. I tended to feel I set a pattern when they were little kids, and that as teens they’d have to start walking more on their own, and if they fell on their faces, they’d have to face the consequences out in society.

I definitely made some mistakes as a parent but my wife and I did the best we could. We spanked our kids, and overall, our kids turned out pretty well.

Decades ago, 99% of the parents in theologically conservative Protestant churches spanked their kids and it was seen as no big deal. Now, I’d say at least half the parents DON’T spank their kids. So if you ever mention spanking from the pulpit, 50% cheer you on, and 50% look at you like you’re Atilla the Hun. Well, Hebrews 12:5-9 says if you don’t spank your kids you don’t love them! No kidding- check that out!

While I don’t believe in spanking “big” people, I might want to make an exception for that family in Colorado with the UFO style balloon that their kids launched into “space” yesterday. Thank God the 6-year-old was O.K.! The parents were VERY FOOLISH to leave that balloon unsecured in a place where curious little kids could get at it. Maybe THOSE PARENTS deserve a spanking!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” (I Corinthians 6:19-20)

Caitlain is a friend of my daughter Rachel’s at Westfield State College. Caitlain is one of those names which has MANY spellings. I don’t know if Rachel’s Caitlain spells it “Caitlain” or “Caitlin” or “Kaitlyn” or what so I’ll just leave it at that. Incidentally, there is a popular evangelical Christian singing group called Caedmon’s Call. I made the title of this posting a “take off” on that name.

This posting may seem like it has nothing to do with God or Christianity, and many of my postings (such as the recent one about Saturn automobile production being discontinued) don’t. I WILL say, however, that based upon the above Scripture verses, this posting actually DOES have something to do with Christianity...that is, care of your body, which is a Christian’s duty.

It’s strange how we (including me) can waste all kinds of money and effort on cosmetic products. One nuisance is acne pimples (or “zits” as some people call ’em!). I just turned 55 but I’ve never really gotten over the whole teenage acne thing. Thank God I was never COVERED with pimples the way some people are, but an acne pimple would always seem to pop up at the worse possible time and in one of the worst possible places. It never fails that if you are meeting an important person for the first time, a GIANT pimple will suddenly appear on your nose. Even worse, is one on the back of your ear, or inside your ear, or dead center on your back, and even in unmentionable places. I’ve just kept up that pimple pattern since I was a teenager and it has never gone away. My daughter Rachel, now in her early 20s, has a similar problem.

This weekend Rachel was home and we were commenting on how CLEAR her complexion was. Her face looked FANTASTIC. “Want to know the secret?” Rachel asked. And then she matter-of-factly followed up with, “Stop washing your face!”

Rachel explained that she’d recently expressed frustration to her friend Caitlain that the more she washed her face and used all kinds of cosmetic products for the skin, the more pimples she had. Caitlain told her to stop washing her face. She told Rachel she’d stopped washing her face years ago, and all pimples on the face ceased.

Now, I don’t mean, don’t CLEAN your face! When we take showers, we all get water splashing on our faces and that’s good and healthy. But frequently scrubbing your face with soap and cosmetic products actually STIMULATES the pores to produce MORE oil and more pimples!

I used to wash my own face carefully with soap, two or three times a day. A couple of years ago, I got out of that habit. Now, I splash WATER on my face a couple of times a day to freshen up, but no SOAP on it. And, until Rachel’s little story over the weekend, I hadn't stopped to think that since I’ve stopped using soap on my face I’ve had a lot fewer pimples and less oil there!

So, save some money, and look and feel better! Stop washing your face!


“I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:” (I Corinthians 14:18)

I recommend all Assemblies of God ministers and laypeople check out Cary McMullen’s article, “Holding Their Tongues -The Assemblies of God asks whether its distinctive teaching is being lost in outreach efforts”. It’s found in the October 2009 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. I read the “hard copy” but, you can also read MOST of the article on-line at:

Incidentally, some of you NON-Assembiles of God people may be curious enough to check this article out, as well!

Monday, October 12, 2009


“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)

A few entries ago, I wrote about attending Pastor Rich Hurst’s celebration marking the 25th anniversary of his Ordination which was held at the church he pastors, the Lutheran Church of Framingham. During the dinner and fellowship time that day, I was sitting with Bonnie Gouveia (active Member of the Lutheran Church and the woman who writes the Religion News column for the MetroWest Daily News) and a few other folks who were talking about the Rev. Don Piper’s book, “90 Minutes in Heaven”. It’s a New York Times Bestseller which has sold more than 35 million copies. Piper is a southern Baptist minister in his late 50s. In January of 1989, he was in a horrific car accident. His Ford Escort hatchback was demolished and the EMTs found him dead- no pulse. Amazingly, Piper was brought back to life through the earnest prayer of faith of a committed Christian who came upon the accident.

They asked me if I’d read the book. I’d heard a LITTLE about it, but I hadn’t read it, and initially did not have much interest in reading it. There were two famous evangelical Christian books from the late ‘70s about people who’d supposedly died and gone to Heaven and come back from the dead. One is the story of a man and one is the story of a woman. Both are very sensational stories which DO frankly seem unbelievable. I’ve tended to think we make too much of this stuff. Even so, Bonnie Gouveia urged me to read “90 Minutes in Heaven”. She dropped off a copy at my church a few days ago asking me to read it and then return it it her. I read the entire book yesterday, and BOY AM I GLAD I READ IT!

The book was not at all what I’d expected. I’d say no more than a fifth of the book specifically talks about Don Piper’s visit to Heaven. And, Piper’s account is quite believable- much more so than the other books I’d read about “visits to Heaven” in the past. What I most liked about the book, however, is that Pastor Piper writes in great detail about his LONG and difficult physical and emotional recovery (which involved over a year), and about the constant physical pain he is STILL in, AND about the disabilities and physical issues he continues to have. I appreciated his humility, vulnerability and frankness. Piper shares quite candidly of how he’s a guy who has struggled with depression, anger, irritability, and stubbornness before his accident, and especially AFTER his accident. He shares how God has helped him with these issues, and he tells of how he has been able to minister to others going through intense, long, and painful physical ordeals.

There are those who believe pastors should never be irritable, angry, stubborn or depressed. I’ve shared several times on this blog that these have been areas of struggle for me, so I very much related to Pastor Piper. Hey, if God could bless, use and teach HIM, then He can and do the same for me, right?! (I certainly hope the process God wants to use in my life won’t include a terrible car accident, followed by 34 surgeries, and constant pain! But, God is God, and He has every right to do what is ultimately best for His children.)

This is a book that’s an easy read and it very interesting. I recommend it for ANYBODY- Christian or non-Christian...skeptic or believer.

You can learn more about it at:

And, Bonnie, if you’re reading this, I’ll be getting the book back to you soon.
And, Pastor Rich Hurst, if you’re reading this, you need to borrow the book from Bonnie!

Friday, October 9, 2009


“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still,” (Revelation 22:11)

At least ten years ago, a woman named Barb who was an active Member of the church I pastor and who was one of the worship leaders brought what she stated was a word from God to and for each of the people who ministered up front during the service. Those people included me, all the members of the worship team, and all the “orchestra”. In our little church at the time, I think that was at least 7 people. Now, in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, some people are constantly coming forward with “words from God” for various individuals or for the church as a whole. At least half of the time, the so-called words from God are “off the wall”. How did I know Barb’s words were legitimate? She “nailed” the glaring issues and problems of each “up front” person in the church, INCLUDING SHE AND HER HUSBAND. One other woman on the worship team at the time got somewhat shaken by Barb’s word, feeling that she was not worthy to be up front. I remember telling that woman, “NONE of us are worthy to be up front. If it went by our worthiness, we’d all have to step down. But the word from God is that despite our shortcomings, we are called of God to do what we do and we are to trust HIM to flow through us and enable us to minister."

(This next part will sound very conceited and prideful on my part, so PLEASE read this whole posting before you pass judgment on me!) Yesterday, I attended the WEZE Pastors’ Luncheon at Lantana in Randolph. I ran into my old friend Sam Hollo and his wife Esther. Sam pastored Westgate (Evangelical Free) Church in Weston for many years. It’s a fairly large church. We were in the same pastors’ prayer group for many years. Sam now has his Doctorate and runs “The Carpenter’s Shop” ministry. He has a radio program Mondays through Fridays from 6:45 to 7 p.m. on WEZE (590 AM). I hadn’t seen Sam and Esther in awhile. He asked me how things were going and he paid me a great compliment. Sam said, “Bob, of all the MetroWest pastors I’ve heard preach, I’ve always believed you were the BEST preacher!” Boy, coming from someone like Sam Hollo, I could get a really big head after that one. It’s ironic, however, that on Wednesday, I had been reading Revelation chapter 8 and studying it. I wanted to get deeper into my study. I dug out a sermon tape of mine from July of 2000 and played it. I was SO disappointed. It was bad. My Bible exposition was sloppy and weak. I spent so much time digressing and telling jokes and stories and so forth that I couldn't follow the sermon...and what sermon there was, well it was awful. I thought, “Boy, what a terrible sermon! If I ever candidate for the pastorate of another church I’ll certainly NEVER use that as a demo. tape!”

Upon reflection, I realized why the sermon was so bad. That was Sunday, July 16, 2000. My father had died in June of that year. In the same year, my mother was in the final stages of bone cancer. SHE died on August 2 of 2000. I remember that on Saturday, July 15 I’d gone to the bank with my then teenage daughter Amy and helped her open her first checking account. I called my mother when I got back and she was SO THOROUGHLY DEPRESSED. She was very sick. She could hardly get out of bed, was very weak and very depressed. I was heartsick about it. On Monday, July 17 she was admitted to Norwood Hospital, and I was there. She rapidly deteriorated and never went back home. It’s understandable that in the midst of that, my mind was not on doing a study of Revelation 8, nor was my mind even on the church.

Through the years, I’ve been told that I’m a fantastic pastor by some people. I’ve also been told that I’m a terrible pastor by other people. I’ve been told that I’m a great preacher, teacher, and Bible expositor by some people such as Sam Hollo. I’ve also been told I’m a terrible preacher who acts more like a self-absorbed entertainer and has nothing of value to say. I’ve been told I should get an award for being such an outstanding pastor, and I’ve been told I’m not functioning as a pastor at all, and in fact, that I’m a disgrace.

Which positions are true? Well none of them. And all of them.

Wednesday, I heard that sermon tape and thought, “I should be ashamed. I’m in the wrong calling.” Thursday, I heard Sam Hollo’s compliment and I thought, “That’s RIGHT! I need to get back into RADIO ministry!” Both are extremes.
Which is right?

Barb is right. Or more correctly, what God had her say is right! I know pastors WELL. I know MANY pastors. I’ve seen most of the pastors of MetroWest churches behind the scenes. I’ve seen them at their best and I’ve seen them at their worst. What are they like? Great, and stupid. Kind, and jerks. Patient, and impatient. Righteous, and profane. Selfless, and selfish. Godly and ungodly. They’re people. They’re people who God has called (at least most of ‘em, 2 or 3 may have called themselves) who at times let the Holy Spirit flow through them and thus are greatly used of God, and who at other times quench the Spirit and disappoint God and man.

We all, clergy and laity need prayer. We all at times need to repent. We all need forgiveness. We need to respect and love one another, and sometimes we’ve pretty much all blown it. Pastors can have big egos. That CAN be bad. We’re really NOTHING without the Lord. That goes for all of us. Barb’s word from God was a good one. At the time, it did not discourage me. It helped and encouraged me.

My experiences this week have caused me to do a lot of thinking. One of my biggest mistakes in the past has been not showing enough appreciation to lay people in the church. No pastor would be ANYTHING and no church would be much of anything without dedicated, committed laypeople. I miss D.C. who was one of our ushers for many years. He has no idea how much his big smile, optimism, and warm handshakes encouraged me. His wife J.C. has no idea how much her sweetness and ministry to children also encouraged me. I miss D.K. who forced me to learn to use a modern computer and who also first got me on-line. I miss his wife B.K. who was a great singer and a great cook and was the woman who gave that prophetic word I’m writing about today. I miss S.A. who was the worship leader who didn’t feel worthy . She has a very humble spirit, and a LOT of faith! I miss C.B. and G.B. and I often think about their music ministry. I miss B.S. She was very outspoken and opinionated, but not maliciously- she just cared A LOT, especially about children and the “least of these”. I miss M.R. - at the time, he was barely more than a kid and he could drive me crazy, but BOY what a passion for God and for ministry he had! I miss J.A. and N.A. They had a special heart for the Lord and the church. I miss A.McC. She’s a character; her accent could be hard to understand, but she had one of the BIGGEST hearts I’ve ever seen!

It’s always dangerous to start naming people ‘cause you’ll forget somebody. If I didn’t mention you, please don’t be angry! On the one hand, I’m letting you know in this piece that pastors are human. Some of our sermons are great, some are average, and some are terrible. Some of our decisions are outstanding, and some of our decisions are shameful. We’re very consistent about some things, and we’re very inconsistent about other things. We make mistakes. So do you. We ALL need Jesus! We’re all under construction! That’s some of what I’ve been thinking about over the last few days.

When I first got saved, I thought Christians were almost perfect and pastors WERE perfect. Well, there’s the perception, and then there’s the reality.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Yesterday, one of the most disturbing murder stories I can ever remember hearing hit the airwaves. Most of you have heard or read that four New Hampshire teenagers decided to break into a home at random and kill the inhabitants. Armed with a knife and a machete, they picked a Mount Vernon, New Hampshire home, killing the homeowner, 42-year-old Kimberly Cates and badly injuring her 11-year-old daughter. The radio talk shows have been filled with confused and anguished callers, venting their opinions about this terrible crime. Some have blamed the teen’s parents. Some blame video games and computers. Not only have many of the callers who have railed about “these kids today” been in my age group (50s and up), but I’m frankly surprised at the number of callers in their 30s who want to go back to the “safe, good old days” of the 1980s, when kids respected their parents and obeyed their authorities. Are they kidding?

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, my father was constantly railing about “these kids today”. He hated the long hair, the psychedelic clothing and colors, the Beatles, the Rolling Sones, all that stuff. We were always joking that he wanted to turn the clock back to the 1940s, but it was no joke. He DID want that!

Secular humanists tell us that “man is essentially good”. Hard line Calvinists tell us that man is “totally depraved” without redemption through Jesus Christ. We in the Assemblies of God do NOT consider ourselves Calvinists; however the Calvinist position is pretty accurate.

A small percentage of deviant teens have committed terrible crimes throughout the centuries.

Take my hometown of Canton, Massachusetts, for instance. In the midst of the “good old 1980s” (1986 to be exact) Canton teenager Rod Matthews took his classmate Sean Ouellette to a wooded area off of Pleasant Street and Sawyer Avenue and bashed his head in with a baseball bat, reportedly because he wanted to see what it was like to kill somebody. And, (pun intended) just a stone’s throw away from that murder site, in 1870, a group of 4 boys STONED THEIR TEACHER TO DEATH outside the tiny wooden Sherman schoolhouse. You can read about that at:

Please don’t misunderstand me. Do I take the New Hampshire murder lightly? Of course not! It’s deeply disturbing! In my humble opinion, these “kids” should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I will shock a number of my friends, but I’d have no problem with them getting the death penalty.

I’m just saying, this kind of thing is not new.
Yes, some will laugh and mock, but both as individuals and as a society, we need Jesus!

Revelation 22:20 says, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly: Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”


Wednesday, October 7, 2009


“And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.” (2 Kings 6:12)

This past Saturday, the duty fell to me to do the family grocery shopping. When that’s the case, I like to go early in the morning, but this past weekend, my schedule did not permit that. I arrived at Market Basket in Ashland at 3:45 p.m.
After I’d grabbed a shopping cart and wheeled it no more than five feet, I couldn’t help but notice what was certainly a father and son directly in front of me. They had their own empty cart and were also just getting started. I’d say the father was probably in his late 40s and the lanky son was probably around 19. I wrote that I “noticed” them, but I also heard them. They were engaged in a passionate conversation- something to do with construction and the best way to build something. They were probably a little bit louder and a little bit more intense than you’d expect while doing grocery shopping. I suppose for me to comment on this is like “the pot calling the kettle black”. I’ve got a very loud, penetrating voice. It can be good for preaching, but the problem is that when I speak at what is for me a normal, comfortable volume, it sounds almost like I’m shouting to everybody else. I’ve had numberous embarrassing situations in restaurants where I’m just sitting at a booth talking, and the person I’m talking to says, “Bob, will you tone it done, EVERYBODY in the restaurant can hear EVERYTHING you’re saying!” I’ll glance around, and feel myself turning red, because it’s obviously true!

Well, back to Saturday. I really didn’t want to be around the chatterbox father and son, but just a short time after I grabbed my number slip at the deli counter, the family duo showed up and grabbed a number slip. They continued in what almost seemed like a father and son bonding ritual that had been given as a homework assignment by a professional counselor. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it just didn’t seem appropriate for a food store. After leaving the deli area, I’d hoped to avoid them, but it seemed I just kept running into them in the aisles. The worst was the cleaning products aisle where I’d gone to pick up laundry detergent. The son was telling his father that he had to get bathroom cleaner because the guys he lived with stunk up the bathroom. I surmised he probably lived in a college dorm. The father, with deep concern, asked, “What do you think the smell is? What do you think is causing it?” Now, I’ve lived in a college dorm a long, long time ago. I’ve certainly experineced the blended smells of older adolescent guys living on the same floor and using the same bathroom. I absolutely did not want to hear this conversation. I wheeled away!

The meetings with this pair were not over, however. At the end of one aisle, they were stopped, and facing each other in a pose that looked like a tear-jerking moment on the Dr. Phil show. The father began talking about “Your mother...” and how she’s wrong and doesn’t understand things, etc. I suspect the young man’s parents may not still be married to each other. Maybe this was the weekend time a divorced Dad was spending with his college age son. But- stopped- in a grocery store- having a Dr. Phil moment?

I’m grateful that was my final encounter with this pair! No, they weren’t in my checkout line. I’ve been thinking about Saturday’s shopping trip. I wonder why God allowed me to keep running into that father and son. Was it to tell me to pray for them? Was it to show me something? I’m not only a very loud person; I also can be a very intense and emotional person. Have I ever had personal conversations in public places that could make strangers uncomfortable? I’m ashamed to admit, I have. It didn’t feel very pleasant being on the other end of such conversations. So, I’m going to be a lot more thoughtful and more careful about that. As Ecclesiastes chapter 3 indicates, there is a (proper) time for everything.

Monday, October 5, 2009


“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. “ (Proverbs 17:22)

Yesterday afternoon, I attended the “Service Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of of the Ordination of Richard Hurst, Sr. into the Holy Ministry” which was held at the church he pastors, which is the Lutheran Church of Framingham. It’s located at 720 Edgell Road. About a year ago, I attended a similar event there, although THAT was the 50th Anniversary of the Lutheran Church of Framingham. Rich Hurst is truly a great guy. He has the privilege of pastoring “next door” to where he grew up in Natick, Massachusetts. (Rich previously pastored churches in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and Gloversville, New York.) I’m pastoring pretty close to where I grew up in Canton, MA, but Rich has me beat on that one!

Once again, I was quite impressed with the Lutheran Church of Framingham! One of their lay leaders referred to the church as “The Little Church that COULD!” and that’s exactly what they are. The meal after the service was wonderful and the service was enjoyable.

If you’re not too familiar with the characteristics of Lutheran worship, I find it quite liturgical and quite similar to Roman Catholicism. Lutherans even use crucifixes, which is unusual for most Protestants. (A “crucifix” depicts a Jesus on the cross, as opposed to plain crosses which are far more common in most Protestant churches.) There are vestments, and candles, and a distinctly Roman Catholic/Episcopal “feel” to the service. That said, the actual THEOLOGY of Lutherans is very Protestant. And, while most Romans Catholic priests are not good speakers, The Rev. Theodore Asta, who gave the sermon was a great speaker (as is Rich Hurst).

Prior to the start of the service, I began leafing through the paperback hymnal which had been handed to me along with a program when I entered the church sanctuary. I did not know about half of these hymns. I noticed the words of one hymn and was STUNNED. I read, “I Was There to Hear Your Boring Cry”.

“What?!” I thought, “How can THAT be? You gotta be kidding!”

Upon closer examination, I realized I’d INCORRECTLY read the title. The actual title is, “I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry”. That’s a pretty unusual word, “Borning”. It means when you were born. The song is about the fact that God notices you, hears, you, and guides you all through life. Then, I kept thinking about “I Was There to Hear Your Boring Cry” and I had to fight to keep from erupting with laughter! As the service went on, my mind would drift from time to time to that song title; both the real one and the funny one. Well, truthfully, I spent more time thinking about the funny one. And I realized maybe it isn’t so funny after all.

We Christians can be real pains. We can feel sorry for ourselves. We can pray the same prayers over and over and over and over... We sometimes complain about the same stupid kinds of things the Israelites complained about during the Exodus. We can be so selfish, self absorbed and insensitive. Sometimes, we must just about get on God’s nerves.

But God still loves us. God still forgives us. God still ministers to us. God is still there to hear my boring cry!

Thanks, Rich, for a pleasant afternoon.

And, God, most of all, I thank You!

Friday, October 2, 2009


“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof:” (from Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Saturn Retailers, employees, owners, and affectionadoes will probably not agree with the above verse regarding the demise of the Saturn make of automobiles. I’d heard yesterday morning that GM’s deal to sell the Saturn brand to Penske fell through and that production was ceasing effective October 1, 2009. Upon closer examination of the issue, I’ve learned that the decision has been made to axe the Saturn brand, but that the retailers and operations will not shut down in Canada until December 2009 and will not shut down in the U.S.A. until October 1, 2010 (not 2009). However, the die is cast and the Saturn is pretty well gone. At least people should be able to buy new 2009 and 2010 Saturns for almost another year (in the U.S.).

Through the years, the Baril family (including the family I grew up in) has owned all sorts of cars. My father even owned a 2-seat 1957 Nash Metropolitan (well, technically it was a Hudson Metropolitan, but that’s a topic for another day) at one time. We’ve had Chevrolets, Fords, Dodges, an AMC, Volkswagens, Oldsmobiles, and one of the three vehicles the Framingham Barils currently own is a 2000 Saturn L sedan.

The Saturn company began in January 1985 and began selling cars in 1990 as 1991 models. Although Saturn was originally marketed as, “A Different Kind of Car; A Different Kind of Company” that everyone THOUGHT was an “independent” like Studebaker or AMC had been, Saturn was actually a product of General Motors. ON PAPER it was a different company, but all of the money behind Saturn was GM money and the entire Board of Directors were GM executives. Saturns were all originally built at Spring Hill, Tennessee. The philosophy behind the Saturn was radically different from the rest of General Motors...and really from the rest of American car companies. The original Saturn plant was non-Union. The emphasis was on quality workmanship and on producing very well built and very reliable compact cars.

Saturns sold well, and people loved them. I’ve honestly never heard a bad word about a Saturn. I believe it was in 2003 that GM decided to end the whole “Different Kind of Company” facade and just make Saturn a regular division of GM like Chevrolet or Pontiac, and that’s exactly what they did. GM shut down the Tennessee plant, and Saturns were built by union workers at GM plants. There was a lot more interchange between Saturns and other makes. Even so, Saturns continued to be quality cars with a loyal following.

We bought our Saturn through a friend a couple of years ago. It’s a great car! It’s absolutely lived up to the Saturn positive reputation. Thus, I was sad to learn of the news. If “money was no object” I’d actually go out and buy a brand new Saturn so I could have it for awhile. (Since Saturn is a GM car, parts and service will continue to be available at other GM dealerships for years to come once Saturn is gone.)

It’s sad. One of Saturn’s original slogan’s (often seen on the license plate frames of early Saturns) was “AMERICA’S BACK!” Well, where does that leave America now?

And, say, DO you remember Studebakers? That’s going back quite away! I do see some of them at the classic car shows I attend. I saw a beautiful Studebaker Avanti in Framingham at Red Line diner a couple of months ago. The Avanti was a sports car. Some were built independently as Avanti II autos after Studebaker folded, but this one was actually a Studebaker. The Avanti was a very cool car, and actually the Studebaker Hawk (a classy 2-door coupe) was a pretty cool car, but most of the Studebakers were boring and dumb looking...especially in the mid-1960s. A little known fact of history is that Studebaker was desperately looking to “pull the plug” on the dying brand and was hoping for some BIG news story to happen so they could pull the plug and nobody would notice. That big story was the JFK assassination. Just 2 weeks after the assassination, Studebaker shut down its South Bend, Indiana headquarters and factory for good. They’d been building 1964 models for a few months, at that time. Rather than TOTALLY kill the make, they decided to keep the Canadian plant at Hamilton, Ontario open and to built cars there using Chevrolet engines. They kept that up until March 1966 until they practically couldn’t give the cars away and they shut down for good.

Saturn deserves a much better end than Studebaker! In fact, Saturn doesn’t deserve an end!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


[I want to say something right at the outset. This is almost word for word the devotional piece I shared at our church’s “Praise & Prayer” meeting last night. I will admit that I have an ego. I like people to praise my writing, my speaking, and my ideas and insights. BUT I REALLY DESERVE NO CREDIT FOR THIS PIECE! This past Sunday afternoon, as I read 2 Chronicles chapter 27, verse 6 practically leaped off the page. I believe it was the Holy Spirit teaching me. IT WAS RICH! I excitedly looked at various Bible versions, and study helps, and wrote down notes. Some weeks I struggle to put a Wednesday night devotional together to share with the people. This week was not like that at all. Honestly, Bob Baril deserves NO credit for this piece. Perhaps my name should not even be attached to it. If you’re blessed by this piece, IT’S FROM GOD. I’m just honored to have you sharing the blessing of this rich verse with me.]

The secret of becoming mighty, great, good, and godly:

2 Chronicles 27:6

So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his

Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.

So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his

And Jotham was strengthened because he had his way directed before the Lord
his God.

Several years ago, Bruce Wilkinson wrote “The Prayer of Jabez” based on a
couple of verses in I Chronicles chapter 4. He found that rich nugget among
a boring list of names. A few days ago in my personal devotions, I found
the above nugget in the story of King Jotham of Judah in 2 Chronicles 27.

Jotham was a son of Uzziah. Uzziah was the king who was struck with
leprosy when he went into the Temple and insisted upon performing the functions of a priest which it was not lawful for him to perform. Jotham began ruling
while Uzziah was still alive (due to the leprosy). Jotham did not die at an
old age...he lived only into his early 40s. But he was a godly king. Verse
6 tells us, “So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before
the Lord his God.”

The late Finis Jennings Dake, in the study notes of his “Dake’s Annotated
Reference Bible” wrote of that verse, “This is the secret of becoming
mighty, great, good, and godly.”

Wow. Again, WHAT is the secret of becoming mighty, great, good, and godly?
It’s preparing your ways before the Lord your God. It’s walking steadfastly before the Lord your God. It’s ordering your ways before the Lord your God. It’s letting the Lord direct your way.

I still like it best in the King James version: “So Jotham became mighty,
because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God.”

Jotham didn’t follow and obey the Lord BY ACCIDENT. He PURPOSED to follow and obey the Lord. He “PREPARED” for it. It was a planned, deliberate,
conscious choice.

That song from “GODSPELL” says, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord”. Of
course, that’s describing the ministry of John the Baptist. But we must also prepare the way of the Lord in our lives. IF WE TRUST IN THE LORD JESUS
CHRIST FOR OUR FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND ETERNAL SALVATION, and if we totally yield ourselves to God’s Word and God’s Will each day, we will indeed become mighty, great, good, and godly.