Saturday, July 30, 2011


"...time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son." (from Luke 1:57)

Today is our son Jon's 28th birthday. His legal name is Jonathan David Baril, but for many years he has been "Jon" or as he signs his name Jon Baril tk. As far as what "tk" means, you'll have to ask him! I'm in kind of a reflective mood this morning because this year Jon's birthday falls on a Saturday and he was actually born on a Saturday in 1983. That year, it was a very hot and very humid day. My wife was several days overdue and her labor was induced. It was a long, slow day at the Norwood Hospital, and I know it was especially grueling for her. Around 6 p.m., I went home, had an English muffin with peanut butter and a mug of coffee, and called a few friends asking them to pray that Mary Ann's labor would speed up. When I got back to the hospital, her labor was indeed progressing. At almost 10 p.m. Mary Ann was taken into the delivery room where she gave birth. Yeah, I was present for it all. I'm not the most macho guy, but no, I didn't pass out or anything like that. Our daughters were born in the much "cooler" and "more contemporary" birthing room, but Jon was born into that very clinical and sterile delivery room.

In those days, we did not know what the sex was going to be ahead of time. It was an overwhelming experience to know I was a father and had a son. In those days, there was also a "fathers' waiting room". It wasn't being used as much in that era, but was leftover from the pre-1970 days when NO man was ever present when his children were being born. Even so, at that time, fathers wrote on a green chalkboard in there the name of their child, the birthday, and the weight, and I did that for Jon. I went home, went to sleep, and got up and taught Adult Sunday School the next day.

The whole thing of parenthood is an adventure that we try hard at and where most of us have our great successes and our catastrophic disasters, and I have been no different. I was 28, myself, when Jon was born and he is now 28. Twenty-eight years from now, IF I am still living, I will be 84! That's incredible to me! We don't have a lot of say about our genetics. My own parents had many wonderful qualities, but each of them had two or three glaring flaws. While I've inherited my Dad's strong public speaking ability and somewhat charismatic personality, and my Mom's deep sensitivity, I also was the only one of their kids who inherited ALL of their faults seemingly without measure! I've STRUGGLED with that!

I say that because Jon got many positives...great musical ability, high intelligence, great communication ability, and especially that he is a gifted writer. But he also got my temper, my tendency to look on the dark side of life, and my great resistance to change. As I inherited some of the worst qualities of my parents, I'd say that was true for Jon among our children.

I feel kind of guilty about that. Yet, it's no more my fault than it is my parents' fault that I inherited their "lousy points"! I believe God gives us our talents and abilities, but He also allows certain people (like Jon and like me) to inherit some of the worst traits of their parents. This gives us the chance and opportunity to need to draw much closer to Him than some other people seem to need to do, and to have to learn to surrender to Him, and yield to Him, sometimes with tears streaming down our face, much more than other people seem to need to do. You know, the Bible says in Luke 12:48, "...for unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required..." That kind of "cuts both ways".

In life, I held onto a lot of the bad points and character flaws much longer than I should have or needed to. (Not that I'm free of 'em all, 'cause I'm sure's all a process.) The positive in all this, is you can be a real help to another Believer who is struggling with forgiveness or undesirable circumstances or unfairness or a host of other things, because you understand and have "been there". I've had the experiencing of many times being able to minister to someone who is really hurting... who is really "crushed", so to speak; in a way that others have not been able to.

Jon is much farther back in this life journey than I am. My hope and prayer for him is that he will allow God's process and pruning in his life to progress at a much faster pace than I allowed it in my own life, DESPITE the pain and seeming unfairness of it.

Well, that's all my reflecting and philosophizing for now. Happy Birthday, Jon!

Monday, July 25, 2011


“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)

“Never assume.” If I had a dollar bill for every time I heard that phrase said by my father, I could probably retire! I hear it MOST often when I was learning to drive. Dad believed it was drivers who carelessly ASSUMED things that ended up getting KILLED. He DID have a valid frame of reference for this viewpoint. Dad investigated scores of fatal accidents during his career at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Last week, on the day the news broke about the horrific killings in Norway, Boston radio talk host Michael Graham confidently stated the investigation would show the killings were done by a radical Muslim. When a Muslim listener called in to challenge Graham, Michael offered the Muslim a bet. Graham was willing to put up $100. that he was right. The Muslim refused to take Michael Graham up on his offer, but if he had, he’d be $100. richer today. I admit I suspected a radical Muslim, too, BUT I also remembered what talk show host Howie Carr said the day of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, bombing in 1995. Carr said, “It was certainly done by a ‘towel head’.” Well, Howie had to eat his words.

Never assume.

I can’t even begin to tell you how MANY times I’ve assumed things about people and been TOTALLY WRONG about them. A few months ago, the first time I heard David Stein’s “Celebration of Life” program, I assumed David Stein was a liberal secular Jewish do-gooder. In fact, David Stein turned out ot be a “born-again Christian” with a life philosophy vert similar to my own! (In fact, he IS an ex-secular Jew.)

When friends presented “Melaleuca” to me in 1995, I eagerly enrolled. I love most of the products, and I was sure that when I told people I knew about Melaleuca, they’d sign right up. In fact, I was never able to sign anyone up for Melaleuca. They ASSUMED it was a lousy deal to get involved in, and that only saps signed up. I actually dropped out of Melaleuca just a year ago ONLY due to my serious drop in personal income. IN fact, Melaleuca is a good company and does not deserve the negative attitudes people express toward them.

One summer afternoon around five years ago, I pulled up to our church’s parking lot only to find that a paving company had parked all sorts of trucks and heavy equipment in our church lot. They were paving a driveway down the street. It bothered me that they’d just ASSUMED they could part there. I jotted down the telephone number which was displayed on their trucks. On their voice mail I stated that I’d wished they’d have ASKED before they parked all that equipment there. That night, I showed up for the church’s prayer meeting. I was surprised to find one strip of new asphalt on our lot just off the street. Shortly thereafter, the phone rang. It was the owner of the paving company.

“I put down a strip of asphalt over a rough portion of your parking lot and THIS IS THE THANKS I GET??!!” he yelled with a few profanities thrown in. I told him I did appreciate that he’d done that. I also pointed out that if they’d have made an attempt to contact us first, we’d probably have given permission to use the lot. I told him it bothered me they’d done that without asking first.

"You’re a PASTOR?! You COULDN’T have much of a following!!!” he yelled and hung up the phone.

Well, we’re supposed to follow GOD and not so much individual pastors, but honestly, his words still sting five years later. He made some assumptions about me and I made some assumptions about him. We were probably both wrong.

Honestly, I don’t understand why people frequently assume the very worst about me; and it bothers me- but HOW IRONIC that is because I DO THE SAME THING TOO OFTEN ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE! I can think of a lot of other examples of assuming. Yes, I assume too much, and I’m wrong; and others do the same thing to and about me. Why do we do this? In Acts 21:38, a Roman Centurion accused St. Paul of being an Egyptian who led 4000 murderers!

So for some reason I’m thinking about this today, and yes I’m assuming it may be helpful to you! Yes, Dad was right. Never assume!

Lord, how we need your help with this!

Friday, July 15, 2011


"...if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them..." (from Mark 16:18)

Back in 1989 when we had a church and even had a youth group at the church in Framingham, we had a young Licensed Minister come into our church and come on board as youth pastor. (He worked a secular job, but we gave him love offerings.) Mike was a great youth pastor, but I was always kidding this 23-year-old guy because his diet was that of a 7-year-old! Well, I suppose I could be teased, myself, because although I am 56, I still tend to eat like a 27-year-old...lots of high fat food and junk food. I don't generally worry about cholesterol and that sort of stuff. I have tended to reason that since I don't smoke and don't drink alcohol, it can't be THAT bad for me. And, I guess I don't want to admit I'm only a few years away from being a "Senior Citizen".

My biggest area of indulging like a 27-year-old is drinking soda! (For those of you in Missouri, Texas, and other places, I'm talking about "pop"!) I drink lots of soda, especially cola. I guess I could excuse it by claiming the above Scripture verse, but since it's out of context, I don't think the Lord would honor that! Listen, soda is TERRIBLE for you. There's nothing good about it. And, diet soda is WORSE. You'll get fatter on diet soda than you will on regular soda, because the artificial sweeteners actually have a chemical effect on your cells that make you GET FAT QUICK. No matter what kind of soda you drink, if you consume a lot of it, and I have, you'll automatically gain at least three pounds every year.

As much as I love soda, I have found that no matter HOW much of it you drink it just DOESN'T quench your thirst! For some reason, a few weeks ago, I decided to buy a couple of bottles of plain, unflavored seltzer at Market Basket. One might think it would taste awful. In one movie, Eddie Murphy said, for example, that if anyone accidentally served him Club Soda, he would throw up! Actually, the seltzer tasted GREAT to me, was very refreshing, and QUENCHED MY THIRST! I have since been buying it each week.

Now, I DID buy club soda rather than seltzer one week, and I discovered that did NOT quench my thirst! The reason is that club soda contains sodium (salt) and seltzer has no additives. Seltzer has NO calories and NOTHING in it that will cause you ANY harm. It's FINE! It's actually GOOD for you! I realize that the more I drink seltzer and the less I drink soda, the more I'll feel better and healthier. I won't be putting all kinds of junk into my body, and I will lose a little weight!

Although I had been buying bottles of seltzer to drink at home, I had still been packing cans of soda for my lunch. TODAY I went grocery shopping. I had dropped a container of cans of cola into my cart, when I noticed some lemon-flavored seltzer available! I put the soda back and bought the seltzer!

Now, don't get me wrong! I will still buy soda on occasion, and I'll still have soda when I go out to eat, BUT I AM DRASTICALLY REDUCING MY SODA CONSUMPTION. This is my first step in eating and/or drinking like a 56-year-old.

Incidentally, when I was visiting in Missouri I noticed that seltzer was DIFFICULT to find in supermarkets...unlike Massachusetts. HOWEVER, in that part of the country, if you look closely, you CAN find it at Wal-Mart.

Monday, July 11, 2011


“Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.” (Galatians 6:11)

A few days ago while perusing the internet, I came across a Facebook page dedicated to promoting and preserving the Canadian postal service (known as “Canada Post”) . It’s found at:

The page strongly encourages anyone in Canada who wants to keep Canada Post alive to mail a letter on the 15th of each month. (That might not sound like much, but if virtually every Canadian adult mailed a letter on the 15th of each month, it WOULD, in fact, make quite a difference!)

Canada Post is facing the same problem as is the United States Postal Service. During the past fifteen years, the volume of mail has greatly declined as not only are most of us (including me) opting to send our letters as e-mails rather than traditional letters, AND as many pay their bills on-line rather than mailing in payments the old-fashioned way,

PLEASE DON’T MISUNDERSTAND! I’m not suggesting we put a halt to progress! Without a doubt, the volume of letters handled by Canada Post and the United States Postal Service is probably never going to to again reach the mail volume of say, 1994. But the potential for Canada Post and for the United States Postal Service to continue decline and then to TOTALLY CEASE within the next few years is very real and even likely. I know, I know: There are all the jokes about “snail mail”, overpaid postal workers, and inefficiency. However, when these postal services are gone, we’ll miss them.

Coincidentally, I read recently that the State of Indiana is about to become the first state to no longer require that cursive handwriting be taught in their schools. Most of us don’t use cursive writing anymore, but that’s also quite a loss. I’m an avid writer, including being an avid letter writer. Twenty or more years ago, it was not unusual for me to write and mail twenty or more letters each month including many handwritten letters. Admittedly, NOW it’s rare for me to send even one handwritten letter a month.

THINK OF THIS: We’ve all become really lazy. It’s so easy to just type something on the computer and instantly send it. One hundred years ago, in 1911, the typical American MAN worked twelve hours a day, six days a week- many times doing difficult factory work. Yet, it was not unusual in 1911 for a blue-collar MAN to sit down on a Sunday afternoon or evening and write a two or three page letter to a relative or friend in “perfect” cursive handwriting. Even as “recently” as the 1950s and 1960s, it was not THAT unusual for Americans (including MEN) to write such letters, though usually not as long or as neat as the letters of circa 1911. It was a big thrill to get a letter. I can remember as a kid that when a relative sent our family a letter, my father would happily read it aloud during our evening meal and we’d all talk about the letter as a family. Today, you couldn’t PAY most Americans to sit down, HAND WRITE a letter to a friend or relative, and MAIL it the old-fashioned way.

Well, I’ve decided to take a suggestion from the Canada Post Facebook page! On the 15th of each month, I’m going to mail a letter. BUT I’m going to take things a step further. Mailing a bill payment or something like that is NOT going to count. On the 15th of each month, I’m going to HAND WRITE a letter to a friend or relative mail mail it by U.S. mail. It probably won’t be REAL long, but I’ll make it positive, encouraging, and affirming.

I wanted to share this idea with you. I truly hope people WON’T just roll their eyes and “blow off” this suggestion. Rather, I hope and pray that many, many people will develop the habit of writing and mailing a handwritten on the 15th day of each month. It would be interesting to see what sort of impact such a practice could make!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


“For Paul has determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.” (Acts 20:16)

The above verse comes from the narrative of the Apostle Paul’s Third Missionary Journey. At that point in Acts chapter twenty, Paul was en route from Greece to Jerusalem and he was HURRYING to get to Jerusalem by the day of Pentecost. WHen you’re on a long journey and you’re also in a hurry there’s a certain DYNAMIC to that experience!

Many of you know we just completed a week’s vacation to Springfield, Missouri which included “straight through” car trips between Massachusetts and Missouri. As a Bible College student in the 1970s as well as an Evangel University parent in the 2000s, I’ve made that trip a number of times. When you’ve made the same long trip like that many, many times, there can be certain traditions that develop. We’ve developed a few such traditions for the Massachusetts-Missouri drive. Somewhere around 2005, my daughter Amy and I saw one of those highway “FOOD” signs in western Ohio advertising a Dairy Queen at the next exit. It was just what we were in the mood for! We got off there at Arlington Road in Brookville, Ohio and drive the three-quarters of a mile or so to the Dairy Queen. Brookville is one of those really cool small midwestern communities: clean, middle-class; a “baseball, the flag, and motherhood” kind of a place. On our first Brookville Dairy Queen visit, their building had recently been reconstructed. There were impressive photos in the dining area of local people working on the remodeling project. There was understandable pride in the Dairy Queen’s refurbishment. At Dairy Queen, I usually get a soft serve vanilla cone with a chocolate dip. They’re admittedly very messy to eat, but lots of fun and delicious! On some trips, it was Amy and I who stopped there. ON others it was my other daughter Rachel and I who stopped. On St. Patrick’s Dat 2008, my wife Mary Ann and son Jon and I stopped on the way home from Amy and David’s wedding. That day, they served GREEN soft serve ice cream.

On this year’s trip to Missouri, like Paul, I was in a hurry. At Brookville, I was VERY tempted to stop at Dairy QUeen, but decided to forego the treat. Last Saturday, on the way home, I was determined to have us stop at Brookville Dairy Queen. I’d been imagining eating that chocolate dipped vanilla cone for over a hundred miles. I was so excited to drive down Arlington road and see that Dairy Queen sign. But something didn’t seem right. There were NO cars in the parking lot! I turned in. THere was nobody inside the restaurant. It was closed. The drive thru sign was bare.

What a let down!

As I drove away, I wondered why the sign was still up in front of the building and even on the highway “FOOD” sign. WHY did it close? Was the economy THAT bad? Were we the ONLY family who enjoyed making stops at Brookville Dairy Queen during long trips? I stopped at a Brookville gas station and filled the car’s tank. Later I thought about that- I mean, the effect on the local economy. I would never have stopped at that gas station if I hadn’t pulled off the highway for Dairy Queen. When one business closes, there’s a ripple effect that hurts other businesses, too.

I don’t know “the story behind the story” of why the Brookville, Ohio Dairy Queen closed, but I’m sad about it. That’s the end of that special tradition for us.

Yes, I’ve got to admit it: I don’t like change. But change is constant. Now, the LORD doesn’t change, but this world sure does! I was reminded of that last Saturday afternoon.