Friday, December 30, 2011


“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (I Corinthians 9:19-22)

My friend the Rev. Mindi Welton -Mitchell posted a link on Facebook to an interesting article. The article, entitled “Generational Road Blocks” is about the results of a Hartford Seminary study. The study revealed that not only is attendance down at so called “mainline denominational churches” but that the average age of attenders and leaders at such churches is well over sixty and that there is a noticeable absence of folks in their twenties and thirties in these churches.
The article also pointed out that such churches tend to be technology phobic. I’ve visited such “liberal Protestant” churches as well as Roman Catholic churches. It IS true than at any Sunday morning service at a liberal Protestant or Roman Catholic church you’re going to see a LOT of white hair, and you’re going to encounter lot of people who were born before 1945. I recall that one time about fifteen years ago I was involved in a joint service at a liberal Protestant church in Framingham, MA. I called the church’s office to ask if they had a sound system that could play a tape cassette soundtrack during the service. The person at the liberal church acted as though I’d asked if they had a launching pad for the Space Shuttle on their property. Fifteen years ago, most liberal Protestant churches and Roman Catholic churches were using the same fairly primitive “P.A. systems” that they were using in the 1960s, and a lot of them are still using those.

If you want to check out that article which Mindi shared the link to, it’s at:

NOW, here is what I find really ironic: The mainline denominational churches are in a time warp, stuck somewhere around 1971. They still use the same hymns and semi-liturgical (or liturgical) formats they were using forty years ago. Their hymnals and corporate prayers are probably “gender inclusive” which they were not forty years ago. (Honestly, I find that “gender inclusive” stuff in worship services DREADFUL!) The pastor at the liberal Protestant church is probably a woman. (I don’t have a problem with that. We have women pastors in the Assemblies of God.) The female pastor is probably fairly young or middle-aged, but she’s dealing with a bunch of senior citizens in church leadership who want everything just the way it was at their church when John F. Kennedy was President. The contrast is that over the past fifteen years or so there’s been a marked change in the “evangelical” and “charismatic” churches. If you go to a fairly typical “evangelical” or “charismatic” church service of today, you’ll find that the pastor is likely dressed as though he’s on his way to go mini-golfing and then out to Dairy Queen (even if it’s February). I say “he” because 90% of the time the pastor is a male and he’s probably in his late forties. He sports a goatee, and he dyes his hair and goatee. He tries very hard to be cool, and frequently uses the words “suck” and “sucks” in the midst of his preaching. The service focal point is PowerPoint on a screen. Everything is PowerPoint. People no longer flip through their Bibles. All the Scripture verses are on the PowerPoint, so in fact, fewer people bring their Bibles to church. There are no hymnals. They began disappearing around 1990 and were gone for good by 2000. Few traditional hymns are sung. In fact, the music is often rock music and LOUD. The services are likely to be long. It is not unusual to see people in the congregation sipping Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts coffee during the service. The crowd is decidedly YOUNGER than you will find at the mainline church down the street. In fact, the bulk of the people are between thirty and fifty. You’ll find some but very few people over sixty-five. Most will say they don’t like the music...that it’s too loud. The pastor is no longer called the “Senior Pastor”. He is the “Lead Pastor”. He’s likely both a salesman and administrator, but he’s “cool” and very much appeals to “Gen X-ers”.

I’m now fifty-seven years old. I was raised Roman Catholic. I received Jesus Christ as my Personal Lord and Savior in 1970 and shortly thereafter began attending Baptist and Presbyterian churches. I visited an Assemblies of God church in 1976, and within a year I was attending the AG’s Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. There is a HUGE difference between the Assemblies of God churches of the late 1970s and today. In 1977, you could walk into any Assemblies of God church in America and predict what hymns they’d be singing and what choruses they’d use. You’d be given a copy of the Pentecostal Evangel magazine. In Sunday School, pretty much every Assemblies of God church in America was using the same material. The format of a service anywhere in the U.S. was almost identical. Today, it’s SO different. The Hartford Seminary study laments the lack of “diversity” in the mainline churches, and that is a very valid point. It’s also a valid point for today’s evangelical and charismatic churches.

I don’t want to say that EVERY liberal church in America is like those that the article described, or that EVERY evangelical and charismatic church in America fits the description I’ve given. In fact, one of the many reasons I attend Bread of Life Assembly of God in Westminster, MA is that they DON’T fall into lockstep with the kind of thing I’ve written about here. At Bread of Life, we DO have announcements on PowerPoint before the service, and we occasionally have video clips during the sermon. But the pastor does NOT depend upon PowerPoint. Most of the time, the PowerPoint is not on during sermons, and I like that. Pastor Gary recently commented that he’s sort of bucking the trend of pastors “dressing down” and that he’s tending to dress up more. Honestly, I like that and I hope he will continue to be his own person and not feel he has to conform to the casual dress trend. Most of Bread of Life’s music is contemporary, but almost none of it is “blastin’ and rockin’”! It’s up-to-date and beautiful but never too loud. The nice thing is that Bread of Life draws people from a wide age spectrum. There are quite a number of folks at the church who are over sixty, and there is one woman that turned one hundred in September. Yet, there is a huge number of people in their forties and a good sized number of children and young people.

In our sphere (Pentecostals and charismatics) there’s quite a belief that if you’re not “up to date” in everything and if you don’t have predominately young people you will not grow and you will not touch your community. I visited a church in Springfield, Missouri in early 2009 that has completely disproven that stuff. Incidentally, another trend I forget to mention earlier is that today’s evangelical and Pentecostal churches are afraid to use the name “Baptist” or “Assemblies of God” in their church name. THIS church in Springfield, Missouri is less than ten years old, and it uses the name “Grace Assembly of God”. The church meets in a converted (small) food store in downtown Springfield, Missouri. It’s a neighborhood where you will find a lot of prostitutes and addicts. Yet, the people in the church come from all over the city of Springfield. The church’s co-pastor is Owen Carr who is in his late eighties but has the energy of a forty-five year old. Many of the church’s constituents ARE over sixty. This church still sings a lot of the hymns and choruses from thirty years ago. I sat next to Sam Balius, a retired Assemblies of God missionary who was in fact one of my Professors at Central Bible College.

“This is the OLD TIME AG!” Sam told me excitedly.

And it IS, but not exactly. They DO use PowerPoint, but they never over use it. The music is certainly not “loud” nor is it “rockin’”. Not EVERYONE at church is over sixty. I scanned the room where about 120 people had gathered for worship. There were several childrean and teenagers and a number of adults in their thirties and forties. Amazingly, the pastors at this church have been active in the neighborhood reaching out to prostitutes, addicts, and very needy people and have seem a number of lives totally transformed.

I don’t think Mindi would ever have imagined how that article she posted would cause me to reflect and to write this piece. I think the whole thing of churches breakinig down by demographics and lacking “diversity” IS a big mistake. I ask,”Why can’t we sing some of the old traditional hymns and some of the older choruses along with the newest stuff?” I also ask, “Why must EVERYTHING be on PowerPoint?”, AND, for my friends at the liberal mainline churches, “Why can’t you incorporate some newer music and worship styles and get a little less stiff?".

Church attendance in America IS, in fact, declining. These are matters we really need to seriously consider.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness." (2 Timothy 2:16)

I hope this does not fall under the category of "profane and vain babblings" (I don't really think it does!) but I have learned two facts of trivia during the past few days that I want to share with you!

ONE is about the name "Marian". Of course, Marian is a woman's name. It's also the name of the Catholic high school where my wife works and from which all of my kids have graduated: Marian High School in Framingham, MA. I notice that Marian High is OFTEN misspelled as "Marion". People spell it "mariOn" and not "mariAn". At the telephone answering service where I work, I often take the names of women named "Marian". MOST of them are over fifty. Well, honestly, most "Marians" are over seventy. It was not a popular name for anyone born after 1945. Now, I have noticed that about 70% of the women spell the name "Marion" and about 30% spell it "Marian". A few days ago, I took a phone message from a very elderly woman named "Marian" and she spelled it just like the high school. I asked her, "So you spell DON'T spell it 'mariOn'?"

"Of COURSE not!" she flatly replied. Then she added, "What MOST people DON'T know is that Marion is a man's name and Marian is a woman's name. For a woman, it should always be spelled, M-A-R-I-A-N."

Maybe I was just asking for trouble, but I then honestly asked her, "Why, then, do so many women spell it Marion?"

She quickly and curtly replied,
"Because their mothers were STUPID!"

I know you may be thinking you don't know too many men named Marion. In fact, the famous T.V. evangelist Pat Robertson's REAL name is Marion Gordon Robertson.

I guess any women named Marion who read this will be upset with me, but I thought this was worth sharing.

THE SECOND fact of trivia I learned is about the control buttons inside an elevator. Are you like me? Do you tend to push the "door close" button when it doesn't seem to be closing fast enough for you. This morning I attended a class at a training center in Marlboro, MA. There's a nice guy named Dave who was in the class and who has been a fellow student in several other classes I've taken there, as well. We were together in the elevator as we left the building today. He pointed at the buttons and asked me if I knew the "door close" button is NEVER hooked up to ANYTHING in any elevator! Dave knew a guy who worked for Otis Elevator and told him that. It just makes people feel good to push the button and think they caused the door to close. In fact, it's just a trick. It's not wired. The button does absolutely nothing!

Have you learned some things today? Well, I thought these facts of trivia were pretty interesting and I thought I would share them with you!

Saturday, December 24, 2011


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

This may seem like a very strange thing to write on the blog on Christmas Eve but today I heard someone in conversation say they can't make good French toast. I'm no gourmet cook, and probably not even all that great of a cook, but I think I make pretty good French toast. I don't know if anybody is thinking of making a nice Christmas morning breakfast, or maybe a "Boxing Day" breakfast. (For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Boxing Day is Dec. 26 and is a holiday in many countries. Its origins are that on the day after Christmas many years ago, people would box up gifts for the poor and go out and donate them.) I like French toast. I used to make it A LOT. Lately, I've been lazy and have not made it as much, but I HAVE made French toast a couple of times just in the past couple of weeks.

I'm NOT one of those "exacting" type cooks who follows a recipe. I'm more like those who throw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that. (Some other time, I will tell you about how I make meat loaf!) Anyway, for French toast you need a loaf of bread, some milk, some eggs, some maple syrup, some margarine or butter, and maybe even some vanilla extract. (I know some people like cinnamon French toast. I like cinnamon ROLLS but I'm not really fond of cinnamon French toast. I think the cinnamon tends to just overpower the meal, but that's my opinion.)

HOW much bread you'll use, and how much milk and how many eggs really depends on how many people you're cooking for. At least a half hour before you start making the French toast, take a number of slices from the loaf of bread and just lay them on a table. If the bread is just SLIGHTLY stale, it makes better French toast. Laying the bread out on a table for an hour or so will help with that. If you're making a small batch just pour a couple of cups (roughly) of milk into a bowl. Of course, if you're making a big batch, you'll want more than that. If you're making a small batch, use two eggs, for a big one use three. It's ideal to use an eggbeater to "mix up" the milk and eggs. If you don't have an eggbeater, and believe it or not, I don't, then you can use one of those wire whip things which is what I do. Just mix it up really good. A key ingredient is putting maple syrup INTO the milk and egg mix. I just give it a good squirt of maple syrup from the container.

You can make French toast on a griddle and I have done that many times. However, my favorite way to make it is to fry it in a pan or skillet on the stovetop. Try not to get the pan TOO hot, as the French toast can burn pretty easily. I put butter or margarine liberally into the pan or skillet. Yeah, you've gotta turn that stove exhaust fan on, and plan on giving the stove top and nearby counter top a good scrub down after the meal! French toast that's really DRY, well, just isn't that appetizing. It's best when it's kind of buttery and gooey. Now I don't mean SICKENINGLY gooey...and sometimes I've gotten it TOO gooey...just kind of a little gooey.

If you're worried about the French toast cooling off too fast and being kind of cold when you serve it, then put it on a plate and put that plate in the oven on low heat.
Another thing I like to do is HEAT UP a small bowl of syrup in the microwave. HOT maple syrup on the gooey French toast...well, it's a meal to die for! (Yeah, I know, if you keep eating meals like that you WILL die, but this is particularly for special occasions and not necessarily for all the time!)

Of course, bacon or sausage will add to the meal. You CAN fry that stuff in another pan. But it is just as easy to heat it up in the microwave...especially the brown and serve sausages and microwave bacon.

Well, I hope you will like my French toast and bon appetite!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


“And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,
And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.” (Mark 5:22-28)

It’s unusual for me to quote more than a verse or two at the beginning of one of my blog entries, but I had to use AT LEAST this much to do the story justice. In this passage from the fifth chapter of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is asked to go and heal the twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue. She is very sick and near death. In fact, by the time Jesus gets there, she IS dead, and He raises her from the dead. But I want to focus on the woman with the issue of blood. She did something many of us just can’t imagine. Right smack in the middle of Jesus being on His way to work a great miracle, she barges into the story and INTERRUPTS Him! I wonder if this really bothered Jairus. Did Jairus think, “LOOK lady; I know you’ve been sick for years and all that but my little girl is gonna DIE if we don’t get there so can ya just get outta here right now and see Jesus ANOTHER time?!”?

Had I been Jairus, that’s what I would have been thinking. In fact, I think if most people will be honest, they’ll admit that’s what they would have been thinking. It amazes me that in this story, and other times in Jesus’ ministry, He is interrupted and He is inconvenienced, and He just goes with the flow. Jesus was SO in tune with His Heavenly Father. Jesus SO walked in the LOVE of God and with love and compassion for humanity. AND with God’s purpose and will at the heart of His life. He really didn’t seen an interruption as an interruption or an inconvenience as an inconvenience. He saw all this as the plan of God and “went with it.” Jesus never became harried or flustered or rude in such situations. In this case, Jesus heals the woman with the issue of blood and ministers to her, THEN he proceeds on to Jarius’ home. Although the daughter has died and there were all kinds of nay sayers in the picture, Jesus raised the little girl from the dead.

Another such passage that always causes me to pause and think is when Jesus and His disciples learn of the beheading of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was not only Jesus’ “forerunner” and baptizer, but John was Jesus’ cousin. Jesus and His disciples were grief-stricken. They went to a remote spot on the Sea of Galilee to just rest, process the whole thing, and pretty much get away from it all. Yet, the crowds followed Jesus and the disciples there. The crowds showed up essentially saying, “Hey, here we are. We want you to minister to us!”

This was at a very difficult time for Jesus and His disciples. They were tired. They were grief-stricken. They needed to be by themselves. What would I have done in such a situation? Honestly, I would probably have “flipped out”! I would have gone out, yelled at the people, told them we were on a private retreat, told them this was not the time for ministry, and told them to go away. Jesus did not do that. Jesus was moved with compassion and with total unselfishness, ministered to them.

I don’t think I’ve ever written or even spoken about this, but early in my pastorate at Framingham, one Board member of the church told me his wife’s impression of me was that I could get very preoccupied and self absorbed and very much give off a vibe of “don’t interrupt me!”. There was not much I could say to that critique, because sadly it was true. This is an area of great weakness for me. I don’t like to be interrupted and I don’t like to be inconvenienced. Oh, listen, I have come a long way and while I’m not QUITE as bad as I used to be about interruptions and inconveniences, I still really don’t like them, and I have to admit I still don’t “totally have the victory” in this area. It’s something I’m very much ashamed of. What will be the test that I’ve come to true experiential sanctification? Probably that interruptions and inconveniences will not really bother me at all.

I have written several times about lessons I have learned while working at my job as a telephone answering service operator. Yesterday, I was reminded of another. Due to confidentiality and legality/privacy issues I have to try to keep the details general, but I took a call from a woman who had a sick child. The pediatrics office she was calling was closed. It listed another practice as covering. In fact, the information I had on my computer screen was incorrect. Was that the fault of one of these pediatric practices, of the answering service staff, or of all of the above? That really doesn't matter at this point. But it told me a certain pediatric practice which I’ll call “Joe’s Pediatrics” was covering. I called Joe’s Pediatrics and spoke to the secretary.

“Well, we’re JUST CLOSING,” the secretary said. She sounded a little annoyed. When I told her the information I had was that their practice was covering for the one the woman’s call had some in on, she disputed that but then told me she would put one of the nurses on the phone.

The nurse came on the phone with the demeanor of a state trooper who’d stopped a driver for driving at 85 M.P.H. in a school zone.

“WHO is it you have on the phone...WHO ??!!” she angrily barked.
“And WHY are you calling us?! WHAT is her problem?! WHAT ??!!
Oh, PUT HER ON!!” she yelled with complete disgust in her voice.

As soon as I’d patched the call through, I heard that same nurse try to say, “This is nurse so-in-so.” She was trying to sound nice, but she really sounded phony.
Of course, at that time, I disconnected my part of the call. (I did inform my supervisor of the discrepancy regarding who was on-call and that all got straightened out.) I couldn’t help but think that if I knew someone who moved into the geographic area where Joe’s Pediatrics is located and they asked me if that would be a good place for them to take their children for medical care, how might I advise them?

We don’t realized that we really are “on” at all times, and how we handle interruptions and inconveniences speaks VOLUMES about who and what we are.

Now, about a year ago, a very different situation took place on that answering service job. A man called an Adult Medicine practice. He was experiencing an medical problem. This was during an evening, and he needed a doctor right away. My computer told me (I’ll make up a name) Dr. Bronson was on call. I phoned Dr. Bronson. He told me, “No that’s a mistake, I’m actually not on call.” Sometimes when you call a doctor who is not on call he or she can become very angry, much like that nurse at the pediatrics practice I just wrote about. I told Dr. Bronson an error had been made and that I was very sorry for calling him. To my shock, Dr. Bronson replied calmly and pleasantly,

“We can fix that later. Right now there is a patient who needs my help. Please put the person through to me. I want to make sure I help that patient.”

THAT spoke VOLUMES to me. If someone moved into the community where Dr. Bronson is located and asked me if I knew of any good doctors there, do you think I’d have any problems recommending someone?

This is Christmastime. Some theologians call the Incarnation (that is God becoming Man at that first Christmas) “God’s great INTERRUPTION.” God certainly DID interrupt history, and God will do so again at the Second Coming of Christ, and I’m glad He did.

Do you struggle with interruptions and inconveniences as I do? If so, I hope this piece somehow speaks to you and helps you. Maybe you want to pray along with me:

“Father, God,

I am so sorry and so ashamed of the way that so often I have poorly handled interruptions and inconveniences. This is selfish behavior on my part. May I be mindful of the example of Jesus Christ. May I be mindful of Your plan. May I do Your will. Help me, Lord to be more like You. And thank you for Your Great Interruption with the birth of Your Only Begotten Son.

In Jesus Name, AMEN”.

Friday, December 16, 2011


"A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke." (Proverbs 13:1)

I guess it was about ten years ago that there was that dating book for females entitled, "The Rules". Well, my father had rules; and I suppose you could also call them principles or policies or even convictions. I have written about my father, Eugene A. "Gene" Baril several times on the blog. My Dad was a complicated guy; authoritarian, yet hysterically funny. He was also strict, yet sometimes surprisingly merciful. He was very politically conservative, yet he came to strongly oppose the Vietnam War and voted for George McGovern. Dad was definitely his own person. During the sideburns craze of the early 1970s, he refused to grow them.

"I'm not one of the sheep," he declared about it.

Sometimes I think I should write a book of my father's rules. Honestly, if done correctly, it would be one of those "reads" that would be kind of interesting to a lot of people. It would not be some great work of prose like "War and Peace". Rather, it would be the kind of thing you'd enjoy leafing through in the bathroom.

Today as I saw a young man at a supermarket struggling to push a large cluster of shopping carts (or "carriages" as they're usually called in New England) I thought of another of his rules that I usually DO follow. Dad did 95% of the grocery shopping in the family. Unlike most fathers of his generation, he believed grocery shopping was the MAN'S job and his rule was that he ALWAYS wheeled his shopping cart back into the store when he was done. Dad considered it very lazy and irresponsible to just leave your shopping cart in the parking lot. Now, those "outdoor corrals" of carts that we see today were NOT so popular in the pre-1980 days, but I don't think he'd have thought much of them. You wheeled your cart back into the store; OR if you saw a shopper arrive and get out of their car when you'd just finished up with yours, you offered it to that person. The only time I have ever deviated from my father's rule is when I had very young children. If you've got a two-year-old with you, it can be a pain in the neck to wheel the cart all the way back and then bring your kid back to the car. Otherwise, I always follow my father's rule. And, certainly he'd apply it to DEPARTMENT stores as well as grocery stores.

At this busy shopping season, I don't think following Dad's shopping cart rule would be a bad idea! After all, it's one of those, "random acts of kindness" we often hear we should be doing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


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

I've written a couple of other times about things I've learned on my job as a telephone answering service operator that I never knew before. I've been surprised at what the most common issue is on calls we get "off hours"- that is, on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and evenings - times when most of the regular doctors' offices are closed. Some of my fellow operators may disagree with me, but I'd say the most common call is, "My prescription is not at the pharmacy"; often it's, "My child's prescription is not at the pharmacy". If I had a $5 bill for every time I got one of those calls, I'd have a LOT of money. I never would have dreamed how COMMON this problem is.

The thing I get a chuckle out of are the callers who call regarding this issue who sound shocked and very upset; as though they are the one person in a MILLION whose prescription was actually NOT at the pharmacy as they expected. In fact, it's SUCH a common problem, I'd say it's EPIDEMIC! I'm no inventor, and I'm not at all "technical". If I were, I'd try to figure out a way to minimize this problem. Listen, if some inventor DOES figure that out, he or she will become a multi-millionaire.

You'd think with the fact that the overwhelming number of prescriptions are FAXed to pharmacies or phoned to them (rather than the old fashioned way of the doctor writing a prescription out that no one can read) that things would have gotten much better, but that's not at all the case. (Now, some doctors still DO hand write out their prescriptions, but very few still do that.) Matters can get really dicey and somewhat comical when pharmacies and doctors get into kind of a war of trying to blame each other about why the prescription was not there. I can't name any names, but there's one particularly nice male doctor we answer for. One of my coworkers called him to inform him a patient had phoned to say he never called in the prescription to the pharmacy. My coworker was shocked that the doctor let some choice language fly about that! Pharmacies say the prescription was never received, and doctors insist they sent it. But, alas, many seem to end up in "never never land". And, many times the prescription COMES but its details are WRONG in one way or another. I take two prescription meds, myself, and I've had that experience.

One of my own doctors told me that pharmacies messing up the prescriptions is amazingly common. Well, he was a doctor, so he blames the pharmacies. But it goes the other way, too.

Now, it's actually GOOD for our answering service. For, the more prescriptions that are not at the pharmacies and the more prescriptions that are incorrect, well, the more calls and messages we take, and that's good for us! But, it really isn't good for medical care. I wonder why this problem is SO common and what can be done to fix it?!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


“Render therefore to all their dues:... honour to whom honour.” (from Romans 13:7)

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Romans 12:15)

At this Christmas season, I am hoping that you have a few minutes for Martin.

If you’re on Facebook, you can view Martin’s facebook page at:

I have never met Wade Martin Hughes in person (to his friends, he’s “Martin”) but we have spoken over the phone several times and have exchanged a number of e-mails.

Several years ago, Martin organized a Christmastime project to encourage a disabled young woman he knew in California. It meant the world to this simple woman to receive Christmas cards. SO, Martin put a request out on-line. He e-mailed her U.S. mail street address, and asked if each of us would mail her a Christmas card, and that we’d encourage others to send her a Christmas card, too. I sent out a Christmas card to the woman and at my encouragement, so did several other folks. She got a LOT of cards, and it absolutely thrilled her. That simple person has since passed away, but kindhearted Martin made sure she had a Happy Christmas that year.

I thought about that last night.

Martin and his wife Linda are now facing the greatest time of crises of their entire lives. Most of what they’re dealing with is deeply personal and cannot be spoken about or written about. Martin HAS shared the details with several good friends, including me. One issue is that he’s had a very serious health problem this month. But that pales into insignificance in comparison to other challenges Martin and Linda are facing. Martin is the pastor of a small church in rural Kentucky: Faith Assembly of God in Smiths Grove, just outside the city of Bowling Green. He is also a “Presbyter”. In the Assemblies of God, a Presbyter is like an “area minister” in Baptist denominations. The position could even be called “bishop” in some churches. It means Martin oversees all of the other Assemblies of God churches in the area, offering counsel to the pastors and support to the pastors and church boards during difficult times. In addition, Martin has touched countless lives with the sermons he posts on-line and the CDs that he mails out. I have several of Martin’s sermon CDs. His preaching and ministry of God’s Word is ANOINTED and very helpful. His sermon, “Pour Yourself Into Others” honestly should be listened to by every Christian in America. Martin is also a great guitar player and a good singer. But I don’t want to give you the wrong idea about Martin. Martin is a VERY humble and ordinary guy. He’s much more comfortable wielding a chain saw or running a snow blower than he is prancing around in clerical garb. During some difficult times in MY life, Martin has spent HOURS in prayer for me. The pastors and churches in his area are SO blessed that he is their Presbyter.

Well, Martin got that idea of sending encouraging Christmas cards to that disabled lady, and this year I’ve got the idea to send encouraging Christmas cards to Martin and his wife Linda. Today, I picked up a very nice Christmas card at a drugstore, and I wrote Martin and Linda a few encouraging words, and signed it from my wife and me. I also taped a dollar bill inside the card and wrote, “For all you do, this buck’s for you!!”

I am praying for Martin. That’s what he needs MOST of all.

I’m encouraging you to PRAY for Martin, but I’m also encouraging you to send Martin and Linda Hughes an encouraging Christmas card. If you want to throw a buck in there like I did, that would sure be nice, but the most important thing is to send an encouraging card and pray for them.


Please address your cards to:

Rev. & Mrs. Martin Hughes
Faith Assembly of God
P.O. Box 331
Smiths Grove, KY 42171

I did not want to give out Martin’s home address, so the cards are going to the church he pastors. I marked the envelope I sent “PERSONAL” just so it would not be confused with regular church business. You may want to do the same.

Please sent the link to my blog to others you know!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


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

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, today, December 1, 2011, would have been my father's 89th birthday...not his 90th as I had mistakenly thought. Last week, Boston radio talk show host Doug Meehan had people calling in with their favorite turkey recipes and favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal. After many calls, a gentleman caller came on and said he was surprised no one had yet called about "French meat stuffing".

"French meat stuffing?!" Meehan asked, and commented that he'd never heard of it.

Well, actually it's French CANADIAN meat stuffing. I have absolutely heard of it because my father prepared it each year for Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey dinners. It was his mother's recipe. The meat stuffing is very common in homes of French heritage in Quebec. In fact, it's not only used to stuff turkeys, but is also often baked into meat pies. The meat pie is the traditional New Year's Day meal of the French Canadian family.

There are ALL SORTS of variations on French Canadian meat stuffing, but just about however you make it, it is delicious. My father actually had an electric meat grinder, and would "re-grind" the already "ground beef" and sausage meat. Of course, you don't HAVE to do that! It all depends on how much you want to make, but I'd say you've got to get at least two pounds of ground beef. You also need to buy some of that sausage meat that's sold in the refrigerated section in those packages wrapped in plastic wrap. You know, like "Jimmy Dean's pure pork sausage"...stuff like that. You've got to use at least one of those packages. DON'T buy Italian hot sausage or anything like that. I also don't recommend spicy barbecue or even smoked. Just get mild pork sausage meat. My father liked to use Pepperidge Farm stuffing. It doesn't HAVE to be Pepperidge Farm. You can use Stove Top or some other brand. You mix up in a big bowl the ground beef, the sausage meat, and the stuffing mix. My parents also usually added cut up celery pieces. I THINK you can use onion, too, although I'd prefer it without onion. AND, you can make up a small batch of mashed potatoes and mix in some mashed potatoes with it. My parents used to like to do that. But IF you do use the mashed potatoes, don't "go crazy" with them. A little goes a long way. Otherwise, too much mashed potatoes can make it too bland and not meaty enough. ALSO, my father also always added Bells Seasoning to give it more of that "stuffing flavor". I'll tell you what, if you make meat stuffing like that even once, you'll never want to go back to "regular bread stuffing".

Now, to cars, my father owned all sorts of cars during his life. Today, I'm talking about the Volkswagens. He loved Volkswagens and owned a bunch of them. I think his first was a blue 1963. He owned a tan 1966. He owned a red 1968. He owned a light blue 1970 automatic transmission Beetle, which he hated. (Dad was a big stick shift guy!) Then he owned an orange standard shift 1974 Super Beetle for many years. My kids remember that from when they were very little. Ever see those Disney "Herbie" movies. It was his "Herbie" car!

In October of 1989, he bought a brand new 1989 blue 2-door Volkswagen Rabbit. It was an automatic, because my Mom insisted on that, and he gave in. After each of my parents died in the summer of 2000, I inherited that car. I drove it until February of 2010. At that point there was SO much wrong with it that I took it off the road. I sold it to a young man who is really "into" Volkswagens...fixing them up, restoring them, etc. He picked it up with a big flatbed truck and has big plans for it.

I never saw the car around after that, and I have sometimes wondered what happened to it. It's ironic then that TODAY on my father's birthday I saw what appeared to be that Volkswagen (or one just like it) on Route 20 in the Grafton area heading east. I saw the same car again on Route 9 east in the Westboro area. Was it THAT car? I don't know but I know my Dad would have gotten a kick out of seeing it!