Tuesday, August 23, 2011


“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)


Recently, when I asked a friend of mine if he’d had a chance to read my latest blog posting, he launched into a somewhat angry dismissal and repudiation of my e-mails and writings, saying he doesn’t have time for them. I will say, I was a bit “taken back” by this. This isn’t the first time something like that has happened, however. Several years ago, I got an angry e-mail from a Framingham lawyer whose address I’d included in a few mass e-mails.

“I get 500 e-mails a day!” she wrote, “I don’t have time to read yours!”

OK, fine. She never got any more.

A couple of years ago a friend wrote that he did not want to receive any more e-mails from me unless they were personal e-mails just for him.

“I don’t want to be part of your blogosphere,” he wrote.

Another friend of mine, Dave Milley, says that people get far too upset about receiving unwanted e-mails. “That’s what the DELETE button is for!” Dave says, and I totally agree.

The friend who made the comment THIS week called me the next day and said he was just tired and spoke thoughtlessly. He said he will make more of an effort to read my blog, and he was sorry he upset me.

He may well have done me a favor, however, because I know a lot of people just don’t understand why someone would write a blog or send mass e-mails. So, I’ve decided to write an apology for sending mass e-mails.

First, I must explain what an apology is. I know that MOST modern Americans THINK an apology is someone saying, “I’m sorry”. It has evolved to mean that, but much like the word “gay” never originally meant “homosexual”, “apology” never originally meant saying you’re sorry.

When you look up “apology” in the dictionary, there are several definitions, but the number one definition which is the PREFERRED and FOREMOST definition is “a formal justification - defense”. It comes from the Greek words “apo” meaning “defense” and “logos” meaning “word” or “speech”.

You may or may not agree with me but I want to EXPLAIN why I write some of what I write and why I promote a lot of it on Facebook and by mass e-mails. You may have seen a lot of those “America’s Got Talent” kind of shows on television. It’s great to see so many of these folks getting “their chance” but you really DO begin to understand the words of that old say which talk about the number of potential stars who are “parking cars and pumping gas.” I have been accused of being a totally self-absorbed and egotistical person. In reality I originally started blogging and mass e-mailing hoping to gain publicity and a following which would translate into promoting the church (First Assembly of God of Framingham) and opening doors for public ministry. Sadly, this was often misunderstood. After the church closed, and I once again became a pauper (as I’d been thirty years earlier) I admittedly was trying to use the blog and the mass e-mailing as an avenue to do whatever I could to get my writing, and potential public speaking noticed. Another old acquaintance of mine that I will call “T.H.” calls this “shameless self-promotion”. Ironically, I know of no one who has done more shameless self-promoting than T.H., himself! I admit, sometimes I feel a bit “funny” and a little ashamed when I “DO” shamelessly self-promote me and my talents. Yet, it’s been a way that I’ve tried to get “out there” in the hopes that someday I could earn enough as a speaker and a writer to make my wife and family comfortable and proud.

But, PLEASE GET THIS: It’s NOT all about me! One of the happiest things I do when I blog and send mass e-mails is blessing and promoting OTHERS. Honestly, that’s far more fun and meaningful than promoting myself. My friend Ed Duddy, the rural letter carrier from Texas, has written a couple of powerful pieces about the U.S. Postal Service that I was proud to forward on as mass e-mails. Ed is a very talented and interesting guy who has (in my opinion) gotten some “raw deals” in life. I’ve felt that if I could do anything that would give Ed exposure and respect, I am more than happy to do that! Another person I like to promote is the Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell. This pastor’s wife and young mother from Oklahoma is an outstanding writer (much better than me). She is actively trying to market herself as a retreat speaker and writer. I know how difficult that is. I am only too happy to promote her ministry on my Facebook page and with mass e-mails. If this gives her notoriety; if it helps her to get a speaking engagement or two or get something published, then that makes me feel GREAT! Still another is young Ryan Seler. Ryan is only in his early 20s. He’s working a secular job and serving as worship leader at an inner city “church plant” in Boston. He writes a great blog. That young man and his ministry should be KNOWN and it blesses me to do what I can to promote Ryan and his ministry. Still another I like to promote is his mother, Debby Seler. Debby and her husband Denny serve as missionaries to Jamaica. Debby has written some outstanding stuff on her blog that I’ve been happy to endorse on Facebook and promote using mass e-mailings. Finally, there is my son Jon. Jon is very intelligent. Jon is a great singer, and a great actor. My daughter Rachel and I believe he really should be working as a film critic. Jon writes a blog, and a couple of times when he has written a particularly good piece, I have promoted it.

Have you ever considered the power of the internet? I don’t think there has ever previously been a tool quite like it. Say you send an e-mail to 10 people and each of them sends it on to 10 people and each of THEM sends it on to 10 people and so on and so on...in a months time, it can have been seen and read by MILLIONS of people! Now back to my own stuff. Yeah, just about everything I write...well, I think it’s very good. The test for me is when I look back at my writing from 18 to 24 months ago. What I typically discover is that about a fourth of them are outstanding- well written, well thought out, interesting, important and really SHOULD be read by millions of people. Another fourth are pretty good, but certainly not THAT good. Another fourth are, well, kind of lousy. Finally, the last 25% are just DRIVEL...so pathetically bad that I’m ashamed I ever wrote it and I wonder, “WHAT WAS I THINKING?!” Well, if and when I send you a drivel e-mail or kind of lousy mass e-mail or even a pretty good one, feel free to delete it. But IF it’s really good, I ask that you forward it on. And, EVEN MORE SO: When I send something from Ed Duddy or Debby Seler or Ryan Seler or Mindi Welton-Mitchell or someone like that, you can “take it to the bank:” that it’s good! Listen, if you read that and forward it on, you CAN have had a role in TREMENDOUSLY blessing that person! Someday that person may even be famous...maybe what they wrote will be transformational for thousands of people and YOU helped make it possible. If everyone I send something to hits the delete button, well, it dies right there....

So that’s my apology for blog postings and mass e-mails. I hope you understand.

Monday, August 22, 2011


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

Yesterday morning at Bread of Life Church in Westminster, MA, I heard the finest sermon I have heard so far in 2011. (And, that includes some sermons preached my ME!) The guest speaker was the Rev. Paul Conway, a Professor at Zion Bible College. His text was Isaiah chapter 40. His presentation was PHENOMINAL. I'm like my son Jon in that I usually DON'T care for all the modern powerpoint stuff that is done during sermons in evangelical and charismatic churches. I think it tends to be overdone, and can actually be distracting. I will say, Rev. Conway used powerpoint VERY effectively. It opened with a big photo of the two "Mythbuster" guys from the show on Discovery Channel. Listen, Mythbusters is a GREAT show. (Unfortunately I don't have cable or satellite T.V. right now, so I have not seen it since March.)

Conway spoke about sayings that people THINK are in the Bible, but ARE NOT. He listed five, but he emphasized TWO for his sermon: "God helps those who help themselves" and "You made your bed, now lie in it". In fact, God helps those who CAN'T help themselves and who KNOW they can't help themselves. IF we could do everything for ourselves, WHY would we need God? And, the message of the New Testament is change, forgiveness, and transformation, NOT "You made your bed, now lie in it."

As far as the secular world, you hear those two sayings all the time. But Rev. Conway stressed that surveys indicate that THE MAJORITY OF EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS ALSO BELIEVE THOSE TWO SAYINGS ARE CORRECT AND BIBLICAL! Probably nothing has depressed and angered me more than Christians who have essentially said to me, "God helps those who help themselves," and/or "You made your bed, now lie in it." They may not use those EXACT words. More often, such Christians rephrase them in what they think is a more acceptable fashion for evangelicals. But you know the line about "if it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck..." Yeah, no matter how they're rephrased, it's still "God helps those who help themselves," and "You made your bed, now lie in it."

At times I've gotten very angry and thought, "If THAT'S what God says, then I want nothing to do with God!"

And, I stand by that. But I've NEVER really believed it's what God says. It's just when so many "Christians" fire that stuff at you, it can kind of shake your moorings.
I needed Paul Conway's sermon yesterday. I can't TELL you how much I needed it. AND, there were two "tongues and interpretations" BEFORE he spoke from those in the congregation which essentially said the same thing before he even preached it!
Yesterday was one of those sermons where I thought, "If he gives an altar call, I'll be one of the first ones up there!" and I WAS!

Thank you, Rev. Paul Conway! Right on!

For you Christians who believe "God helps those who help themselves" and "You made your bed, now lie in it," I suggest you do an internet search for the website of Bread of Life Church, Westminster, MA. There you will find how you can download that sermon and listen to it. In fact, I'd recommend that EVERYBODY do that!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (Romans 12:18)

My mother's uncle "Duke" MacDonald (who was obviously my great-uncle) used to love to spend the days of his retirement just going to some busy place like a subway station. He would sit and WATCH PEOPLE. He called this activity "people watching" and he said it was amazingly interesting to do. After working for sixteen months at a telephone answering service, I've probably taken 40,000 phone calls. No kidding! In talking to THAT many callers, I have noticed a LOT of patterns of human behavior.

Some time ago, I wrote a piece about the word "perfect". I'd noticed in taking phone calls, that women use the word "perfect" frequently, and men almost NEVER use that word. (I still stand by that!) In taking 40,000 calls I have also noticed other habitual vocal patterns. In telling a personal story, especially in describing a child's medical issue, many, many women start out using the word "SO". Calls go something like this:

"SO she came in from playing and I noticed a tick on her leg."

"SO he tripped on the steps and sprained his ankle."

"SO it started raining, and all my joints started to hurt."

It works for non-medical calls, too:

"SO the wind started blowing and I noticed shingles blowing around our front yard."

"SO I got a summons to go to court and I need a lawyer."

SO. Why "SO"?! Rarely, a man will use "SO" like that, but I'd say the ratio of women "SO" users to men "SO" users is easily 30 to 1.

Another thing about female callers: They have far less patience with the foibles of medical offices than do men. It's VERY common for medical offices to open up late, close for the day early, and take very long lunch periods. It just IS. When an office is supposed to have opened at 8 a.m. and in fact still has not opened by 8:20 a.m., that's frustrating to patients. Most men will deal with this situation somewhat good-naturedly , saying something like, "Hey, I guess they stayed up late watchin' the Red Sox! I'll call back later!" Women will much more commonly say in a somewhat sharp and annoyed tone, "I THOUGHT they opened at EIGHT!!" In all fairness, though, women are LESS likely to "totally lose it" over the phone than are men. Men take most frustrations and disappointments with medical offices pretty well, BUT there's that one in fifty who has absolutely no patience. They'll yell, swear, and threaten, and NOTHING will calm them down! That one in fifty type man is VERY scary! Such a guy is the type who may smash the windows of a doctor's car with a tire iron!

Imagine that a five-year-old child has a fever and is vomiting. It's 7:45 a.m. The pediatrician's office opens at 8. The call comes in at 7:45 a.m. I explain the options to the caller: I can page an on-call doctor; I can take a message and FAX it to the office; or the caller can call back in fifteen or twenty minutes and most likely reach the office. What do you think women will tend to do? What will men tend to do? Men will tend to say, "I'll call back." A lot of women will have me page the doctor, and some will have me take a message for the office.

I sincerely hope this will not come across as racist, and I DON'T mean it that way, but a person's ethnicity DOES make a definite difference in how they handle medical situations on the telephone. What I have written about a man calling about a sick child, for instance, does NOT apply to men who are originally from India. Typically, NO ethnic group is more concerned about the health of one of their children than those from India. People from India frankly SEEM like they expect all of society to stop and pay attention because they have a sick child. Seriously. Chinese parents, and others from the Far East are ALMOST as intense as parents from India, but not quite.

People who live in poor neighborhoods (who are of all racial and ethnic backgrounds) are usually very concerned about the health of their children but they tend to take disappointments and setbacks (doctors offices being closed; calls not being returned) as just part of life. People from wealthy neighborhoods expect their doctor and his or her office to be open "24/7"! If not, they consider that "UNACCEPTABLE!".

SO what do you think of my observations? If you make a comment, that would be PERFECT!


The piece below was originally posted on the blog on September 27, 2006. At that time Michael Graham of WTKK BostonTalks 96.9 was given a really "raw deal" by the station. No kidding, I like Michael as a person and broadcaster and prayed earnestly for him back in '06 that his original shift would be restored. Well, THIS WEEK, AFTER FIVE YEARS IT WAS! This may not seem like a big deal, but trust me, it IS. In the highly competitive field of radio and television communications, good things like what just happened for Michael Graham almost NEVER happen. Congratulations, Michael Graham! (Michael Graham's Show "The Natural Truth" now airs in what was his original time slot- 3 P.M. to 7 P.M., Monday through Friday.)

Here is my original posting from September 27, 2006

“...for the labourer is worthy of his hire.” (from Luke 10:7)

Over the past few days, Boston’s 96.9 FMTalk has been gleefully promoting the news that Jay Severin is returning to his old Mon.-Fri. 3-7 p.m. time slot. (You can read all about it at www.969fmtalk.com) I’m “not a happy camper” about this.

I listen to a lot of talk radio. My wife would say I listen to too much of it. Frankly, I probably do. I particularly like 680 AM WRKO and 96.9 FMTalk WTKK. WRKO has been a talk station since 1981. In comparison, 96.9 FM Talk is a relatively “new kid on the block” having been around since September of 1999. (Prior to that the station played “Smooth Jazz” and back in the 1980s it was a popular soft-rock station.) When Jay Severin went on 96.9 FMTalk in 1999, I was delighted. I was getting tired of WRKO’s Howie Carr and Severin was a nice alternative. During 1999, 2000, and 2001, I was a regular listener to Jay Severin. By 2003, I was getting tired of Jay Severin. A self-proclaimed “libertine and libertarian” he made Gene Burns sound like Billy Graham, and Jerry Williams sound like Rabbi Howard Kushner! I got tired of hearing about all the women Severin had relations with, about how “pro-choice” Severin was, and about what a jerk President Bush was. I also got tired of hearing Severin strongly imply on a number of occasions that anybody who made less than $200,000 a year and who did not graduate from an Ivy League university was a second-rate failure who should be ashamed of himself or herself.

I was glad when Severin left that time slot to pursue a syndicated show which 96.9 FMTalk picked up in the evening. When Michael Graham went on air in late 2005 I quickly became a huge fan and regular listener. (I admit that I listen to Howie Carr and Max Robbins discuss TV on Mondays during the 5 p.m. hour, but otherwise I’m pretty regular with Michael Graham.) I have e-mailed Michael on several occasions, and have received pleasant and thoughtful e-mail replies. Jay Severin NEVER replied to any of my e-mails. I met Michael Graham in person on a couple of occasions and found him to be very warm and personable. I respect that Michael lives here in the MetroWest area with his family, unlike Jay who did the show from his home on Long Island, New York.

Severin’s syndicated show has gone the way of the Edsel. I have no problem with 96.9 FMTalk hiring him back as a local host, but I have a BIG problem with giving him the Monday thorough Friday afternoon drive slot. THAT slot now belongs to Michael Graham. I think it’s an insult to Michael Graham, and I’m honestly offended for him.

I have no idea if Michael Graham will be continuing on 96.9 FMTalk in another time slot. I certainly hope he will be. Even so, I would have given Jay Severin some less desirable time slot and would have left Michael Graham where he was.

I’ve e-mailed Program Director Paula O’Connor at WTKK to tell her pretty much what I’ve said here. I don’t know if it will do any good, but I think she needs to listen to the listeners! I wasn’t sure what Paula O’Connor’s e-mail address is so I used both paulao’connor@969fmtalk.com and paulaoconnor@969fmtalk.com
I figure one of them will work.

As a kid I wanted to go into broadcasting. My father talked me out of it because he didn’t want me to go into a field where there is very little job security. This situation seems to prove Dad was right.

Friday, August 12, 2011

SEQUEL TO "Letter to a Thief"


Yesterday, I was STUNNED to receive a forwarded letter in my mail at home in Webster. It had originally been sent to my old home address in Framingham. It was from Joan Thomas of Framingham Baking Company (A nice old fashioned bakery at 840 Waverly ST/Route 135 that makes pizza little kids LOVE!). My Bible, journal, and other "stuff" were found in their parking lot the same day it was stolen! I got my belongings back today. Thank you to everyone who prayed! Incidentally, Julia Spitz of the MetroWest Daily News will have something about this in the newspaper this weekend.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain..." (from Proverbs 31:30 New King James Version)

Not long ago, a friend of mine mentioned to me that he'd met a guy I know. In describing the guy, my friend said, "He was charming". Over the next couple of days, I found myself thinking of that description over and over again in my mind: "He was charming". One reason I thought about it is that I virtually never use the word "charming" to describe a person or an object. It's not a conscious choice, but I realize I just don't use that term. Another reason I thought of it is that the guy he was describing really IS "charming". As I pondered all this, I wondered if "charming" is a positive or a negative trait. I'm sure my friend was using "charming" as a positive description of the guy.

You know, I would never want to be described as "charming". To me, there's something in the term "charming" that says, "too good to be true". A term I DO sometimes use to describe people is "syrupy sweet". My son says, "sappy". My maternal grandfather, Joseph Philip Richard died in 1960, so I did not get to know him well, but my mother often talked about him and his "sayings". He had a bunch of sayings even as Benjamin Franklin did. ONE of his folksy sayings, for example, was "You can always BUY but you can't always SELL." Another was, "NEVER co-sign a loan." Now, the one I'm thinking of for THIS piece is, "Beware of anyone who's 'nicey nice'." Yup, old French Canadian Joseph Philip Richard's term for "charming" was "nicey nice". From what I heard about my mother's father is that he was very "real". He smoked a pipe. He loved Smith Brothers wild cherry cough drops. He was a deeply religious Roman Catholic; he went to mass every day and twice on Sundays, and had enough "Sacred Heart of Jesus" pictures in his room for a Catholic church! He worked hard at the post office, and he did his best to keep up the "three decker" house he owned in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood. But one thing Joseph Philip Richard was NOT was "charming".

I'm not charming, either. I can be very funny and very humorous. I can be a very entertaining storyteller. I'm a good teacher and good speaker. I have quite a knowledge of trivia. I like some people and I'm not always crazy about others, although I TRY to "love thy neighbor" as the Good Book says. But I'm not charming.

I looked up "charming" in several on-line dictionaries. Some definitions of the word were quite positive, but especially at the Miriam-Webster on-line dictionary site, they DID include some negative connotations of the word, and they offered a place for comments. Jesn Losanes Leysa of HOTEL RIO posted this very telling comment about "charming":

"All charming people have something to conceal, usually their total dependence on the appreciation of others".

Know what? None of my kids would be described as "charming" and I'm kind of glad about that. I hope my grandson Ben grows up to be a very nice guy and a committed Christian, but I honestly hope he's not "charming".

Monday, August 8, 2011


"...To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." (Hebrews 4:7)

"Hardpan". Actually, until I checked on Google this morning, I thought the term was "hard pan"; and in fact, I wasn't sure if it was a proper geological term, a construction term, or just something my father made up. Maybe it's because I'd be considered a "city slicker" but I'm terribly unfamiliar with most agricultural, geological, and construction terms. My Dad had our house in Canton, MA built by a contractor in 1958. The lot was very small, especially considering the size of many lots in a suburb like Canton. Dad was one of those "children of the Depression" who pretty much never threw anything out. By the early 1970s, the basement of the house was full, and he needed "more storage space". I guess that was before all those storage rental unit things they have today. Dad hired another contractor and had a second building constructed on the property...a 2 car garage with a room for storage above the garage area. I'm not sure why, but when he had the foundation poured for this, he did NOT have a floor done. Maybe it was to save money. Today, my sister owns that property, and several years ago, she had a floor and driveway put in. I remember the days of trying to drive in mud in that "driveway" in the spring. I also remember that the dirt floor led to a lot of dampness in that garage, and that the floor was as hard as a rock.

THAT is where "hardpan" comes in. Years later, my father weighed the benefits of putting in a concrete floor there. He was concerned about the "hardpan" that would have to be taken up. You see we may have gotten mud in the driveway in the spring, but the floor of the garage, though dirt, was hard. It was as hard as iron. No kidding. Now, it was terribly UNEVEN, but it was HARD. I honestly thought maybe Dad had made up the term "hardpan" but this morning I learned he hadn't.

I guess it can take jackhammers to "dig up" the hardpan and prepare a space like that for gravel and concrete to make a proper modern garage floor. Sadly, I suspect that hardpan must be easier to move than a heart that has become hardened. I think unforgiveness has crippled and defeated many Christians...perhaps more so than anything else. For the sake of time and space I won't quote it, but please look up and read Matthew chapter 18, especially the last part of the chapter. If you read that and take it seriously, you'll know you CANNOT allow unforgiveness in your heart for it can and will DESTROY you!

Listen, please don't think I'm some kind of a "holy joe" in this area. Yes, I'm a born-again Christian and I love the Lord, but at times I have struggled greatly with unforgiveness. I thank God He did save me, because if He hadn't, I'd probably be one of the most unforgiving people in the world! I heard a sermon by a radio preacher about unforgiveness when I was 19. In my heart, the Lord showed me that I harbored unforgiveness toward my father. It was affecting my attitude toward him and my relationship with him. When I was 4, I was punished for something I did not do. Listen, my father punished the old fashioned way...the pre-World War 2 way if some of you know what I mean. I was severely punished for something I had not done. I had shoved that memory and unforgiveness into my soul and it was hindering me spiritually and in other ways, as well. You know, as I thought of that it was HARD to forgive him. I struggled with it. Finally I prayed and to the best of my ability, I forgave him and asked the Lord to help me to forgive him and let go of that thing. It did not happen overnight, but within a few weeks, honestly, that was GONE and I was free of it!

I have had to repeat that process regarding other people and other situations scores and scores of times since then. It's never easy. Listen, I'm loaded with faults, myself, and on my own, I don't forgive easily. But it's not worth developing a root of bitterness (see Hebrews 12:15). Now, I'm no bleeding heart liberal. You may ask, "What about a rape victim, is she supposed to forgive the guy?" Ultimately, yes, BUT I believe that guy should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. That's the balance.

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. There are a lot of Christians harboring unforgiveness. It's killing and crippling the church and it's killing and crippling them.

Listen, TAKE THIS TO GOD! Forgive! Put God's jackhammer to that HARDPAN in your heart!

Monday, August 1, 2011


"...be sure your sin will find you out." (from Numbers 32:23)

Dear Person who stole items from my automobile on Saturday, July 30:

I doubt you'll actually read this, but I write with the hope that it will make some sort of a different and positive impact for many persons who WILL read it. I worked a few hours at my Framingham telephone answering service job on Saturday. It felt great to get into my old but reliable 1995 Subaru Impreza sedan at 8 p.m. and head for home in south central Massachusetts. I happily tuned in to a favorite show of mine on Boston's NPR station.

As I drove along the MASSPIKE, something just didn't seem quite right. Some folks would call me, "sort of O.C.D." I believe in, "a place for everything and everything in its place." I KNEW I'd had my clip-on sunglasses with me. These were no cheap department store pair! They came from the optical store along with the premium pair of eyeglasses. I'd laid them in their little case on the passenger seat earlier. As I drove, I fumbled and looked for that clip-on sunglasses case. To my frustration and confusion, it was NOWHERE. That wasn't normal!

Then came a quick flash of apprehension: My devotional books- WHERE WERE THEY?! You may not understand the term "devotional books" so let me explain. First, a five year old gray canvas Bible cover with a cool logo on the front intended for a middle schooler's Bible. I bought that cheap at a Christian bookstore. Inside the canvas container, a thin hardcover journal, and a very inexpensive New King James Version Bible. In addition, various notes and papers with material written down which would only mean something to me.

You won't believe this but NO possession on earth meant more to me than that gray canvas Bible cover and its contents! True, the zipper was broken and the gray Bible cover has held together by two large rubber bands. It didn't LOOK like anything special. But if my residence were found to be on fire, that's the one item I'd have tried to carry away with me. If my residence was destroyed by a tornado, I'd be walking through the rubble looking for my devotional books. I'd gladly have preferred to part with my cell phone, or EVEN MY WALLET!

Yes, you're probably laughing and asking why the Subaru was unlocked. There's only one key to the Subaru. It's on my key ring. It's badly worn, and recently got bent. The key will barely work in the ignition. It WON'T work in any of the door locks, hence I have to leave the Subaru unlocked. I never thought anyone would want to steal my devotional books!

The past couple of years have been a season of great losses for me, including the closing of the church I pastored. This is the latest loss. Over twenty years ago, it was the Rev. David Dean, then pastor of First Baptist Church of Sudbury, who encouraged me to begin keeping a devotional journal. He'd kept and saved his devotional journals for years. David told me, "You can look back and see what you were going through and what you were feeling fiver or ten years earlier, and be reminded of the the Lord has done in your life." So I began that practice around 1989. I have all my past devotional journals saved in a file drawer at home; One for every year. In December, I plot out what my Bible readings will be for each day of the coming year. When I do my readings, I write down anything that "spoke to me" from that passage or something new I've learned from it. I also list prayer requests. In addition, I write down what the weather was for the day, and what my mood was like. Granted, there are a lot of abbreviations and very personal things written that others might not understand. But I intend that after I "pass on", those journals will be a legacy for my children and grandchildren to browse through. I want to leave that legacy that despite my faults and failures, I was a man of prayer, and a man who studied and meditated upon God's Word.

Now 2011 will be missing from that collection. It will be like the year there was no World Series! It will be sort of a hole in the devotional life of Bob Baril- like a large jigsaw puzzle missing a piece.

I know we should not let unfortunate events like that theft from my Subaru "throw" us- but I must admit that for a short time, it did. I came home very sad and thinking I just wouldn't bother keeping devotional anymore. I was angry at whoever stole my devotional books and sunglasses; I was angry with God for allowing them to be stolen; and I was angry with the devil just in case he had anything to do with it. After a big plate of pasta and cheese, and a mug of coffee, I calmed down. I reasoned I'll still read the Bible and pray each day- just no more journaling for the rest of the year. I'll start again with January 1, 2012. In place of the 2011 Devotional Journal in my files will be a copy of this written piece.

Ironically, during my thirty minute break on Saturday afternoon, I'd sat in the car and read Galatians chapter three. I "saw" something in that chapter that had never "stood out" to me before, and I wrote about that in the journal; wrapped the canvas cover with the rubber bands and laid it on the seat.

I hope you'll stop and think next time you want to "life" something from someone's car. My best advice is: DON'T! But if you INSIST upon it, please don't take something that's so sacred and irreplaceable. How do you KNOW if it's "sacred and irreplaceable"? Well, if there's any doubt about that, DON'T TAKE IT!

I'm supposed to love you and forgive you and pray for you, according to the Bible. Honestly, it's hard! Whitey Bulger may be accused of having murdered 19 people, but somehow I don't think he'd have stolen a person's devotional books off of their car's front seat. I think he'd have a little more class than that. I pray you do come to know the Lord in a personal way, that you come to repentance, and that someday you'll be keeping your own devotional journals.