Thursday, February 25, 2010


“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:58)

There are so many "unknown heroes" in our communities that get passed over.

Today, I met one of them.

I stopped at Stop & Shop at Old Connecticut Path in Framingham just to pick up a few things in the late afternoon. I noticed a guy outside the door collecting signatures. Often you can run into "nuts" there trying to get you to sign a petition to "save the whales" (wouldn't THAT be ironic on a day like today) or something like that. When I was coming out of the store, the man approached me. He did NOT look nutty. He was neatly groomed and pleasant, but NOT phony. I thought maybe he was running for some position in the Town of Framingham. It turned out he was collecting signatures for Mary Z. Connington who is a Republican running for State Auditor. I don’t think I ever met “Mary Z” but I know who she is. She’s a very bright and articulate woman who has run for public office in the past.

The man collecting the signatures explained I’d have to be a Republican or Independent in order to sign. (I knew that, but I let him give me his spiel!)
I told him I was a Republican and that I would sign. He was surprised and deemed delighted.

He told me that yesterday he'd gotten only 9 people to sign and today only 5. Of course, Democrats CAN'T sign, and I guess a few of them had some sharp remarks for him. But he told me the most frustrating was the number of Independents who said things like "they're all crooks" and would not sign. He asked one woman, "Don't you care about your taxes going up?" and she replied, "I DON'T PAY TAXES!!" (Sadly, plenty of Framingham residents DON’T pay taxes!)

I asked his name and he told me "Bob" which of course is my name.

He told me he was 70! I was somewhat taken back because he absolutely did NOT look 70! Bob then told me his brother died of cancer very recently. His eyes filled up with tears and he told me he wants to make his life count for something and make a difference. I tried to give him a few encouraging words.

We can all become cynical. Listen, I’ve inherited the tendency of each of my parents to “see the glass half empty rather than half full” , to focus on the faults of people, and to focus on people who have bad behavior and bad habits.

It’s easy to forget that there are many wonderful and unselfish people in our community- decent people who are trying to make Framingham and Massachusetts a better place.

I met one of them today- “Bob”. With a great attitude like he has and a great name like he has, well, he’s inspiring and he’s a hero.

Monday, February 22, 2010

FOLLOW UP about God Encounter

"And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (I Corinthians 2)

Sue Metcalf posted a nice comment at my "God Encounter" posting saying she'd like to hear about how the "God Encounter" service went. Someone DID leave a nice comment there about the service. I ended up having a horrendously stressful week and even a horrendously stressful afternoon on Sunday. In spite of that, God did mightily anoint me to preach and did meet people in a sweet and definite way as they prayed during the latter part of the service. Pastor Rob Woods of New Hope Church in Marlboro was there. We spoke on the phone today. He said he loved the service and was thoroughly refreshed and ministered to. I did not know Rob loves Johnny Cash music. My son played a couple of Johnny Cash's Christian recordings including "In the Garden" during the prayer time and that really made Pastor Rob's night!

Friday, February 19, 2010

"DRUNKen Donuts!"

“And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:” (Luke 10:8)

Some of my readers feel very strongly that I should only write about topics which are “Christian”, “spiritual”, or “religious”, and so I know those folks will be disappointed with my topic and even with my title. In any event, I’m a complex and diverse person, as are MOST people, and I have a very silly side and a side that very much enjoys life. Much of my silly and enjoying life sides are coming out today!

I think it was my father who used to call Dunkin’ Donuts “DRUNKen Donuts” so I’ve developed that same habit. I don’t think any institution is more “New England” than Dunkin’ Donuts. Interestingly enough, Dunkin’ Donuts’ world headquarters is located in the town where I grew up and graduated from high school- Canton, Massachusetts. Canton is a Boston suburb- it actually touches Boston’s Hyde Park section at its northernmost point.

Right now, Dunkin’ Donuts is celebrating their 60th anniversary. They’ve got special 60th anniversary stryofoam coffee cups displaying all of their logos of the past 60 years. I feel really old because I remember EVERY one of the logos! The original is the words Dunkin’ Donuts written out in script in neon lighting. It’s got a very “fifties” look ‘cause that’s exactly the era it’s from. The FIRST Dunkin’ Donuts was in Quincy, MA. I don’t remember that one, but ONE of the earliest D.D.’s was Dedham, MA at what USED to be known as “Dedham Rotary Circle”. That’s the first D.D.’s I remember. Somewhere around the late ‘60s they reconfigured Dedham Rotary Circle so that it’s no longer a rotary (in Massachusetts, we call “roundabouts” or “traffic circles” “ROTARIES”!). That D.D’s is still there after all these years. When I was a kid, my father would work holiday road enforcement with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. They’d get coffee and doughnuts at that Dunkin’s. In those days, the doughuts were BIG and heavy and filling. (About 6-7 years ago, the Dunkin’ Donuts got small and light. I wish they’d bring back the old doughnuts.) My favorite were vanilla cremes. In the old days, they were covered with granulated sugar like jelley doughnuts and had a huge gob of vanilla creme filling stuffed into the doughnut and bursting out of the doughnut. In the early ‘70s, they changed the vanilla creme doughnuts and started putting confectionary sugar on them, making them a little smaller, and putting a little less creme in them. They were still good but not quite as good. As much as my father could be very strict and authoritarian, he knew I loved Dunkin’ Donuts, and at times would drive to Route 28 in Randolph to get them. I was thrilled when a D.D. opened up on Route 138 in Stoughton, and when I was around 17, the first one opened in Canton!

Of course today, any Mass. community with 10,000 or more residents typically has at least 3 Dunkin’ Donut shops in it! Dunkin’ Donuts is very rare in Missouri. There are only 2 there. (Well, I think there may be one at the St. Louis airport, but I’m not counting that one.) One is in northern Missouri in St. Joseph, and one is in Branson. Everytime we go to Springfield, MO, we HAVE to drive to Branson to go to Dunkin’ Donuts. The locals out there DON’T go to D.D.! You’ll see a lot of license plates from the northeast in the Dunkin’ parking lot. Last time I was there, I saw a Monte Carlo with New Hampshire plates. The older couple in the car had that happy, “We FINALLY found a Dunkin’ Donuts!” look that only true New Englanders get. (Yes, the Branson D.D. is pretty much strictly for tourists from the northeast.)

If you look carefully at the Dunkin’ Donuts anniversary cup, there IS a Mister Donut logo. Dunkin’ bought out Mister Donut some years ago. When I first lived in Framingham, we had one Mister Donut on Route 9 which is now a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise. And, we DID have a Mister Donut shop in Springfield, Missouri when I was there in Bible College in the 1970s. I guess it just couldn’t make a go of it. Locals in the Ozarks would much rather have “biscuits and gravy” or “grits” for breakfast than coffee and doughnuts. Even so, there are a couple of Krispy Kreme’s there. I think Krispy Kreme has very good doughnuts, but their coffee tastes to me like MUD!

I’m one of those who thinks the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is not quite as good as it was 20 years ago. My friend Ed Delacoeur who pastors a Baptist church in Bourne on Cape Cod tells me their coffee has NOT gone down in quality, but that in the shops they DO make it a little bit more watery than they used to. Ed’s a real coffee purist and so he brews his own Dunkin’ Donuts coffee at home.

Yes, I remember EVERY Dunkin’ Donuts logo. I think I like the one from the ‘70 with the coffee mug and the block/circular lettering the best.

And, if you’re unhappy that this is strictly a secular posting, well, grab a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (or decaf or hot chocolate) and just relax and enjoy it!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13 New King James Version)

This coming Sunday night (February 21) our church is holding a “God Encounter” service. I confess I stole the title “God Encounter”. I was privileged to attend an all day seminar by Southern Baptist Bible teacher Henry Blackaby several weeks ago. Henry and his wife mentioned that their son (who pastors a large church in Georgia) has very popular “God Encounter” services where people come to pray and REALLY meet with God in a special way, and that wonderful things happen in these services! I did a Google search for “God Encounter” and found that there are a number of churches and ministries now using that title.

I used to advertise services using terms such as “healing service” or “special service” and I have found that most people, be they Christian, non-Christian, or “whatever” just kind of yawn and have a “so what?” attitude about it.

I like the idea of a “God Encounter” service much better! Blackaby is controversial in Southern Baptist circles. In a lot of very “doctrinal” and “cerebral” mainline evangelical circles he has pressed for people to EXPERIENCE GOD. That revolutionary thought has freaked a lot of people out. But he’s right!

I know some people may think I’m crazy, but I’ve “experienced God” and I’ve had “God encounters”. There was the night in 1976, for instance, that I was gloriously baptized in the Holy Spirit and as the Scripture says, I “spoke in other tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance”. There was the morning in 2001 that my sister and I laid hands on our accountant right in his office and prayed for him. He was critically ill with bladder cancer. God miraculously healed that accountant. I just saw him for my tax appointment last Saturday and he’s still doing fine! There was the time in 1988 God spoke specific things to me in my spirit as I drove to Cape Cod for a vacation, telling me I’d buy a car on the trip. I thought that was nuts. But I “ran into” a car salesman friend of mine (totally unexpectedly) at the Sandwich Fish Hatchery, and the next day he sold me a great car I ended up driving for years. I can go on and on with these stories...

No, my life is NOT always that easy or simple. Sometimes God DOES seem to be a million miles away. Sometimes there have been very painful happenings in my life that did not make sense, such as my mother dying just 7 weeks after my father during the summer of 2000. It was a horrific, crazy time, but God saw me through. That’s also true of the sudden death of my brother in 1983 just a few weeks before my son (our first child) was born.

Our society is much too busy and much too technical and scientific. Sometimes we need to just STOP and seek the face of God and open ourselves up to the moving of the Holy Spirit.

I’m a compulsive planner. I like to kind of hyper-plan the services I lead. As I’ve been thinking and praying about the special “God Encounter” service to be held at our small church this coming Sunday night, I’m not sure what it will be like. It may be that God will give very little direction about it until I get there on Sunday night. Will it be a very LOUD and WILD type of service...or will it be a very quiet, reverent and still service? Will there be a lot of dramatic manifestations of the Holy Spirit, or will there be the still peaceful presence of God? Will obvious life changing things happen in the service...or will it be the kind of service where it seems like very little happened, but 6 months later people are still coming to you and saying, “God touched me that night”? I don’t know. But I do know that each of us who goes to First Assembly of God of Framingham this coming Sunday night, if there’s 10 or us, or 50 of us, or some number in-between, is going to have a “God Encounter” ...and it’s going to be a service we’ll remember.

If you’re anywhere within driving distance of downtown Framingham, please come and join us for the “God Encounter” service this coming Sunday night at 6:30. We’re located at 32 South Street (South and Taylor Sts.) right off Route 135 and almost directly behind the Chicken Bone Restaurant. Please check out our website at


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

One of this blog's readers, a female apparently from New Hampshire, send me a very encouraging Christian greeting card today. (It was postmarked Manchester, NH) The card was left anonymous, but I very much appreciated receiving it. Statistically only a very small percentage of readers of this or any blog (maybe 3-4%) EVER leave comments on the postings or send the author an e-mail. And, in the 4 years I've had a blog I don't think anyone has ever sent me such an encouraging greeting card. Sometimes when I write this stuff, I wonder: Does anybody read this? Is anybody out there? The feedback and encouragement today was much appreciated.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


“And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.” (Mark 1:12-13)

I don’t know if it’s still on the air, but for a number of years there was a television show on the Spanish Univision network called, “Lente Loco”. My entire Spanish vocabulary is not much more than forty words, but you did not have to watch “Lente Loco” for more than five minutes to realize it was a Spanish version of the show we knew as “Candid Camera”. In fact, “Lente Loco” literally means “Crazy Lens”.

Well, “Lente” makes me think of “Lent”. Today is “Ash Wednesday,” the first day of Lent. If you look up “Lent” on Wikipedia, it contains a pretty good article on the subject. Lent is typically NOT observed in the Assemblies of God, nor is it typically observed in most evangelical or charismatic Protestant churches. Lent IS observed in Roman Catholicism and in the Orthodox traditions. SOME Protestant
churches DO observe Lent including Anglicans and Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Methodists. I’ve found that SOME of the American Baptist Churches observe Lent, although I’d say most Baptist churches don’t.

I grew up with Lent in the Roman Catholic Church. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me at that time. On Ash Wednesday, you went to the Catholic Church, and in a brief ceremony, the priest dabbed some ashes on your forehead and announced, “Thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return”. Forty or more years ago, I’d say, 75% of Catholics went to church for Ash Wednesday and “got their ashes”. Today it’s probably more like 20%. Most Catholics “gave up” something for Lent. A common thing was giving up smoking. Then on Easter Sunday, everybody that gave up smoking happily lit up their Marlboros, kind of glad it was all over! Some gave up candy. Some gave up chewing gum. Some gave up going to the movies. Some even gave up beer or other alcoholic beverages. Maybe somebody would give up swearing. Then on Easter they’d be so happy to be able to start swearing again! Something about all that seemed kind of crazy. ..... Lente Loco ..... Crazy Lent......

SO, after I “got saved” and joined up with the evangelicals, I was only too happy to give up Lent forever assuming it was a religious but quite unbiblical practice! Back in the ‘90s I became friendly with an American Baptist pastor, and I was amazed that although he was a good evangelical, he observed Lent. By the early 2000s, I was coming into contact with a lot of friends and colleagues who in one way or another observed Lent. Incidentally, in the liturgical tradition, Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter. (It actually works out to be about 46 days, but for some reason the Sundays don’t count as “Lent”.) It’s drawn from the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness at the very beginning of His earthly ministry.

Several years ago, I decided to do something very unusual for an Assemblies of God minister: I decided to observe Lent. We didn’t have Lent in the church or Ash Wednesday or anything like that, but I cut way back on caffeine for Lent...then like Catholics, as soon as Easter came, I dove headfirst back into all sorts of heavy coffee and cola drinking. The next year, I cut way back on caffeine for Lent, but I decided to keep it that way when Lent was over. Don’t get me wrong, I did NOT give up caffeine entirely. I have at least one cup of caffeinated coffee a day, sometimes more than that, and although I try to buy Caffeine Free Coke, I’ll drink the regular stuff if Caffeine Free is not available...but I DID break that ADDICTION to caffeine, and that felt great!
In 2008, I decided to try to do something POSITIVE instead of “giving up something” for Lent. That year, I sent out affirming e-mails to 40 people and I called it “Bob Baril’s Top Forty”. Frankly, last year, I reverted back to my “low church Protestant” habits and did nothing for Lent.

This year, we’re having a special prayer service at our church tonight at 7. I’m not calling it an Ash Wednesday service and I’m not giving out ashes or anything like’s going to be a service of praise and worship, and then some intense prayer for several key situations. In an e-mail promo. I put out for the service, I mentioned it was going to be held on the First Day of Lent. A friend sent me an e-mail with the simple and inquisitive line, “Why are you writing about LENT?”

I guess they came from the same sort of dead-letter liturgical background I did!
I sent back a brief explanation. That explanation was largely the inspiration for this posting.

Oh, THIS is what I’m doing for Lent:

I HATE interruptions. HATE THEM! I’m very task oriented. “Wanna help me? Go away and leave me alone!” is typical Bob Baril thinking. “Please will you LET me GET THIS WORK DONE?!”

Now, what part of Jesus does that sound like? You’re right. It DOESN’T sound anything like Jesus. When you read about Jesus, He was frequently interrupted and He just FLOWED with it. I was recently reading John chapter 4. In that chapter, Jesus is INTERRUPTED in Samaria on His way to Galilee and he stays there two days ministering to people! And, can we ever forget how the woman with the issue of blood interrupted Jesus on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter? Or how when Jesus and the disciples went across the Sea of Galilee to “get away from it all” the crowds followed Him there, and He patiently and lovingly and sacrificially ministered to those crowds?!

No, Jesus was not like Bob Baril at all.

So, my “Lenten thing” is to embrace interruptions as ministry opportunities. And if I don’t receive a “ministry opportunity interruption” well, you have my permission to thrown this posting in my face!

Finally, what are YOU doing for Lent?

Monday, February 15, 2010


“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7)

A front page story in yesterday’s MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, MA) entitled, “Pastors Have Evolution and Creation on the Pulpit,” told about local congregations that were joining “about 850 in the United States and 11 other countries” in observing the fifth annual Evolution Weekend. The article states:

“Paired with Darwin's birthday on Feb. 12, the event grew out of the Clergy Letter Project, in which some 13,000 religious leaders have signed or written statements saying scientific and holy truths can coexist without conflict.”

Several local clergy are quoted as having signed on the the “Clergy Letter Project”. I had not signed onto the “Clergy Letter Project”. I had never heard of it until yesterday! Even if I HAD heard of it, I can’t imagine that I’d sign on to it.

Perhaps the only issue in “Christian” church and theological circles that’s more controversial and divisive would be “a woman’s right to choose”! I don’t even think gay marriage is as divisive as the whole creation/evolution thing. Frankly, my theologically liberal friends (and I really DO have some theologically liberal friends including some who were named in that article) have things very easy. Whenever something in the Biblical text seems kind of hard to swallow or out-of-step with modern science, they can just call it a “beautiful metaphor” and move on. For those of us who believe the Bible is “God’s Inerrant Holy Word” and attempt to understand and receive it as literally as possible, it’s not so easy. The Bible emphatically states there was a literal historical man called Adam and a literal historical woman called Eve from whom all human beings descend. Jesus Christ absolutely believed in a literal Adam and Eve, and Jesus Christ and all of the earliest Christian leaders absolutely believed Jesus Christ was sent from God to be the Second Adam and redeem mankind. Making it all symbolic and metaphorical and (frankly) Darwinian, really messes up Christianity. You can, then, have sort of a touchy/feely Kumbaya singing “Christianity” but orthodox Christianity just isn’t compatible with the Darwinian position.

Listen, before any readers flip out, I will admit that I’m not comfortable with an extreme fundamentalism which says the universe HAS to have been created in six twenty-four hour days and that (say) Noah’s flood, for instance, happened in 2800 B.C.! And, EXACTLY what does it mean when it says the “serpent” talked to Eve. Was it a literal snake? (That’s not likely; although it COULD have been some sort of reptile or lizard possessed by the devil...we really can’t be sure.) Nobody REALLY knows how old the Universe is. Most reputable modern scientists have concluded after thorough and exhaustive study that the Universe is probably close to 13.7 billion years old. The planet Earth may be as much as 3 Billion years old. As a “new Christian” (that is a recently converted evangelical Christian) back in the early 1970s, I thought I HAD to believe the Universe was no more than a few thousand years old...and any teaching that violated that narrow mindset was disconcerting to me. I now know that IF the Universe is really 13.7 billion years old, there’s NOTHING about that which contradicts the Bible. In fact, something like that just underscores how GREAT God is!

Bill Gothard (a very theologically and politically conservative teacher and writer from the Chicago area) firmly believes the universe IS only a few thousand years old, but that God created it with “built in antiquity” other words, He supernaturally did the work of billions of years in some sort of super colossal fast-forward mode....doing the work of billions of years in just a very short period of time. Is that possible? Well, frankly, YES. That’s possible. Whether God DID that though, we just don’t know. It’s a theory a number of evangelical Christians hold to. Other evangelical Christians believe God did a massive work of RECREATION just a few thousand years ago, although the Universe itself is billions of years old. A VERY CAREFUL study of the Old Testament indicates there was a flood LONG PRIOR to Noah’s flood which wiped out ALL living things...even living things in the oceans. Interestingly enough, scientists have discovered all sorts of evidence of strange beings who lived as much as hundreds of thousands of years ago, but for some reason ALL evidence of these beings ceases around 30,000 years ago. I believe that’s compatible with the teaching that God wiped out all life....allowed a large number of millennia to go by....and then started over on Earth. Genesis 1 describes a world (planet Earth) “without form and void” into which God intervened just a few thousand years ago and did a work of recreation from which all life on the present planet Earth descends.

As you might have guessed, I’m one of those who “buys into” the recreation thing. Forty years ago when I was “born again” NO evangelicals believed in evolution as taught, for instance, in public schools and secular universities. I must honestly tell you, that IS changing. Now, I DON’T “buy into” Evolution, but some evangelicals now DO. One is Dr. Timothy Johnson who has been the Medical Editor on ABC for decades. He wrote a great book several years ago entitled, “Finding God in the Questions”. In that book he defends his position on evolution and says it’s perfectly compatible with being an evangelical. Again, I don’t agree with him, but it’s an interesting read.

So, I’m still a Creationist and I guess some of you would call me a “Bible thumping nut” but that doesn’t bother me. I don’t see myself doing an Evolution weekend any time soon, but I’m also not afraid to discuss and ponder difficult scientific topics!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

Regarding my (Monday) story in cyberspace (blog and e-mail) about my car and no brakes: My wife Mary Ann was very disappointed in me, and so it’s fitting I offer an apology and clarification.

Like most people, Mary Ann’s a very private person. (My parents were even more private than she is, so I do understand that.) Sometime ago, Mary Ann asked me to be very careful to never say anything in cyberspace about our personal finances, and I did agree to that.

Mary Ann is very disappointed that I have stated I need a car and especially that my AAA situation on Monday was questionable because I haven’t been able to pay the renewal yet.

I’m not sure if me telling about my car’s “extreme sicknesses” violates my agreement to not say anything about our personal finances... I think it’s kind of “gray” but I can see that it could be viewed and interpreted that way.

The part about the AAA account status added to the intensity of my story on Monday because with all that was going on, I was very close to being denied the tow. Upon further reflection, THAT part of my story definitely violated my agreement with Mary Ann and just should not have been included. I should have been much more careful and thoughtful about what I was writing, and I should have left that out.

I am sorry for hurting and disappointing my wife, and if any readers were confused or offended in any way by any of my recent writing, especially my car stories, I am truly sorry.

I am very grateful for my wife, my friends, and all those who are in my life and who love me enough to help me stay on the “strait and narrow” way.

Monday, February 8, 2010


“But to which of the angels said he at any time,
Sit on my right hand,
until I make thine enemies thy footstool Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:13-14)

There was a contemporary Christian song by Amy Grant back in the 1980s about
”Angels Watchin’ Over Me”. Well, today, I had angels watchin’ over ME!

What a morning it was!

I completely lost brakes on my ‘89 Volkswagen Golf at 8:30 this morning in downtown Framingham. Things could have been a thousand times worse!

As I was braking and rounding the little traffic circle in front of the Memorial Building, I felt and heard a CLUNK and I knew I’d lost most, if not all, of my brakes! Typically downtown Framingham has bumper to bumper traffic at that time, and also can be completely jammed up with cars if a train is going through. There were no trains going through and the traffic was light and flowing right along. I coasted into a right turn from Concord St. to Park St. by the TD Bank. There’s a STOP sign at Park and Franklin Sts. There’s NO WAY this car was going to stop! I coasted into a right turn onto Franklin Street.

Suddenly in front of me on Franklin Street was a CONSTRUCTION SITE, a POLICE OFFICER indicating for me to STOP, and a car on MY side of the road proceeding in my direction as directed by the cop.

What a spot to be in!

Thank God this is an area I’m very familiar with. Coming up on the right was a large parking lot, but it was a little too far forward. However, immediately on the right was a driveway which links to the parking lot. I lurched right into the driveway just missing the cop and car!

I coasted the car across the entire length of the parking lot.

I aimed it into a snow bank and it stopped.

I felt this would be an awkward position for a tow truck, so I put it in reverse, and cut the wheel hard, and backed in into another snow bank.
That was that!

I called AAA. They were not entirely pleased with me, because my AAA Membership expired Feb. 1. I have not sent the renewal fee in yet because I just haven’t had it. Usually AAA DOES give you about 4-5 weeks grace before they cancel you. Due to that grace period, they did service me today. Thank God.

The AAA driver turned out to be a born-again Christian brother, Mark Wilkins who used to play in my friend Duff Kirklewski’s Christian rock group “Harbinger”. I got in the cab of the flatbed. The Volkswagen is now sitting in my driveway.

That’s going to be “it” for the Volkswagen. I thank God as this could have been SO much worse!

Imagine if I’d hit that car on Franklin Street, or hit that cop, or BOTH?!
I’d have probably been the front page story in the MetroWest Daily News!

Friday, February 5, 2010


"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain." (I Corinthians 9:24)

My sermon this coming Sunday is "A Winning Perspective" and in its introduction, I'll be talking about the Super Bowl. In doing a little research about the Super Bowl I learned a few things. Do you know how the Super Bowl got its name? It came from Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. He was trying to come up with a name for this big contest between the AFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL Champion Green Bay Packers. He happened to notice his daughter's SuperBall and thought, "That's IT...Super BOWL!"

The first Super Bowl was held on January 15, 1967 in Los Angeles. Yes, it was earlier in the year in those days. It seems to me it was earlier in the day, as well. I seem to remember that game starting around 4 p.m. Eastern Time. (When I was in Bible College, I can remember Super Bowls starting around 3 p.m. Central.) Through the years, as the playoff seasons got longer the date for the Super Bowl got later. I think it's been around seven years now that the Super Bowl has been on the first Sunday of February rather than in January. It's probably been around twenty-five years that the Super Bowl has started around 6:25 p.m. Eastern.

The Assemblies of God is very anti-gambling so maybe I shouldn't tell this part, but I remember that in 1967 my father was in some sort of a Super Bowl pool at work. He had the point spread at 25. Green Bay beat Kansas City 35-10, so he won. I don't know how much money he won, but that was an exciting day for our family. (Just as a disclaimer- I don't gamble!!)

I kind of hope New Orleans wins. Maybe it's because they're the "Saints" but I think it's also because New Orleans has been through SO much with Hurricane Katrina, etc. that it would be nice for them to have this victory. The Saints are the underdogs but maybe they'll pull it off!

I hope nobody thinks my sermon is primarily about the Super Bowl or about football. Over 90% of it is NOT about that at just makes a good jumping off point for my sermon on "A WINNING PERSPECTIVE" from Ecclesiastes 11 and 12. My theme is "The ONLY way to truly be a winner is to know, love, and serve the Lord!".

I hope you'll be at church somewhere on Sunday morning, and I hope you'll enjoy the game later on. My son's also looking forward to watching "The Who" do the halftime show.

Oh, one more thing: the average television ad for the 1967 Super Bowl cost $75,000 a minute. That's a tiny fraction of what Sunday's commercial spots will cost advertisers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2)

Water is something we tend to take for granted. In many of Boston’s suburbs, including Framingham, our water comes from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority system (formerly known as the “Metropolitan District Commission” water supply). The MWRA water and sewer rates are among the highest in the country, but frankly, the MWRA system provides some of the highest quality drinking water in the country. On last night’s “Greater Boston” public affairs television program, a local physician was featured who spends up to eight months a year in RURAL Haiti. He tried to describe conditions in rural Haiti. I’ve been there and I knew exactly what he was talking about, but unless you HAVE been to rural Haiti, you just can’t appreciate how blessed we are! In rural Haiti, the people get their drinking water from the rainwater. The have a whole drainpipe/cistern setup for collecting the water. (We brought in bottled water each time we went to rural Haiti!)

Yesterday afternoon I was running the cold water from the tap in our bathroom I noticed it seemed dirty...brownish. I know that when they flush the hydrants in Framingham the water will look like that for awhile. One time I did a load of my permanent press laundry, NOT realizing they were flushing the hydrants. No joke, I ruined a bunch of my dress clothes! I was surprised the water looked brown because they normally don’t flush hydrants in the winter. More commonly such a problem can come from a water main break. I ran glass after glass of water. On a 0-10 scale, if 0 is perfectly clean and clear water and 10 is the color of brown paint, the water was around a “4”. I picked up the phone and called the Framingham Water Department. “Al” answered the phone. He was a nice guy and told me he’d just started his shift and did not know of any work going on in my part of Town or of any water problems in my part of Town. Al told me to keep running the cold water and that it SHOULD clear up in a few minutes. He also told me that if it doesn’t clear up to please call him and he’d send a crew out. I ran the water for several minutes. After about 5 minutes the color was a “2” on that scale, and after a couple more, it was a”1”. Obviously, it was clearing up. I called Al back and he was grateful for the call. He told me sometimes something will agitate the water in a pipe and dislodge dirt from the bottom of the pipe. For some reason, that had probably happened and it was clearing up. I do thank Al and the Framingham Water Department for their concern.

There’s a LOT about water in the Bible, both literal material about water and symbolic material about water. “Water” is a big theme in the Gospel of John, as well as the theme of “Light and Darkness”. After my dirty water experience, I got to thinking. Our lives are to be PURE before God...pure as crystal clear water. In reality, many times our lives are anything BUT pure! If we’re going to be honest, sometimes our souls are “pretty dirty”. When I had dirty water in the bathroom, I called Al. I followed his directions and eventually things cleared up. When my LIFE is impure, I need to call on the Lord (see I John 1:9). I need to “do what He says” follow His instructions (see James 1:22). If I WILL do that, I will be cleansed and once again pure in His sight.

Anytime I have a water purity problem, I need to call Al, or whoever the person is on duty at the Framingham Water Department. Anytime I have a life purity problem, I need to call on the Lord, and receive His forgiveness and cleansing.

Monday, February 1, 2010


“I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?” (Jeremiah 2:21 New International Version)

“Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?” (Jeremiah 2:21 King James Version)

“Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality.
How then have you turned before Me
Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?” (Jeremiah 2:21 New King James Version)

The word I’m highlighting in the above passage is “reliable” and I had to go to the New International Version to find “reliable” used rather than “right seed” or “of highest quality”. God used that term about Israel, and I’m taking it totally out of context here in talking about cars!

The North American auto buying public has been shaken over the past week or so. The company that has the reputation for producing the most “reliable” cars is Toyota. You probably know that a large number of late model Toyotas of various years and models have been recalled due to a gas pedal problem. It seems that on these particular models, when the cars have high mileage (I’m not sure what they consider “high” certainly they’d mean well over 50,000 miles) the gas pedals can have a tendency to stick and to cause the cars to essentially take off like rockets and become extremely dangerous. There’s a massive recall going on and Toyota is fixing the problem.

In doing a little bit of research for this post, I tried to find out the meaning of the Japanese word, “Toyota”. I’m still not sure of the meaning, but I learned that the car was named after family name of the founding family of the company. THAT name is not “Toyota” but rather “Toyoda”. The family called the car “Toyota” because in Japanese writing the characters for “Toyota” are made with eight is a lucky number in Japan and so they felt this would be “lucky” for the Toyota automobile make. Well, after this gas pedal thing, so much for luck!!

Lest anybody think I’m “dissing” Toyotas, I’m not. In fact, they’re excellent cars. I’ve never owned one, but I would not be at all opposed to owning one someday. I’ve heard that “traffic” into the Toyota showrooms has slowed down and that Ford and General Motors dealers are trying to capitalize on that. Well, that’s capitalism, and one can’t blame Ford and G.M. for trying to get customers into their showrooms. In fact, it’s a huge myth that “all” cars of certain makes are junk and “all” cars of other makes are wonderful. Almost every major car company has built some outstanding makes and models and some horrible makes and models. Pontiac gave us the dreadfully ugly Aztec and gave us the amazingly cool GTO. Ford Motor Company designed and produced the Mustang, one of the most popular cars in history, and the Edsel, one of the least popular. Chrysler’s Eagle Premier was a first-rate dud, but their Dodge Caravans have continued to be huge sellers.

The 1989 Volkswagen Golf I’ve been driving for almost ten years is very sick and may not be around much longer so I may soon be driving something different. My father didn’t consider the make all that important. In his day, he owned a Pontiac, a Dodge, several Volkswagens, a Chrysler convertible, and several Chevrolets.

Back to Toyotas. They have a reputation for being very reliable. In fact, they ARE. I have a retired mechanic friend named Bill. According to Bill, the very best late model cars are made by Toyota, and that includes Scion and Lexus which are also built by Toyota. In a very close second place is Honda who also makes Acura. My sister is a loyal Honda customer. She drives a Honda Civic and LOVES it. Bill the mechanic says the best “traditionally American” cars are made by Ford Motor Company, although they’re not as good as Toyotas or Hondas. You probably know Ford includes Mercury and Lincoln. Chrysler and G.M. both get a bad rap right now, and both are technically (well not technically, actually) owned by the U.S. Government. I know a lot of people won’t touch anything from Chrysler of G.M. with a ten foot pole. However, I’ve got a soft spot for the Chrysler minivans. I know- minivans are extremely uncool. They ARE very uncool, but they are also pretty practical. Chrysler (and that includes Dodge) invented the minivan. I still think they do a great job with them. We have an old (2000) Dodge Grand Caravan. They newer ones (from around 2006 and up) are MUCH better engineered. The seats that fold right into the floor are a great idea.

So, if you’re looking to buy a car, check out Consumer Reports and talk to friends, but don’t fear buying a Toyota...they really ARE reliable!