Thursday, March 24, 2011


"...he that ruleth, with diligence;" (from Romans 12:8)

What a disappointment it was to pick up the MetroWest Daily News one morning this week only to read that Framingham Town Manager Julian Suso's contract has not been renewed by the Framingham Board of Selectmen. I'm no longer a Framingham resident, but I lived in Framingham for twenty-four years. During that period of time Framingham employed several Town Managers. Some were better than others, but it's my opinion that Suso has been a particularly fine Town Manager.

The Selectmen (with the exception of Ginger Esty who voted to keep Suso) praised Mr. Suso for his high integrity and managerial skills, but cirtizized his seeming lack of vision and ability to move Framingham forward to (what I'm calling) the next level. My friend John Carroll spent over twenty years as Norwood's Town Manager, but John Carroll is one in a million. Cities and Towns seem to change Managers about as often as Mrs. Marcos of the Philippines used to change her shoes. Typically, there's a big nationwide search, then several finalists, and finally a Manager is hired with great fanfare. The Manager gets a "honeymoon" period, but once reality hits the Town is disappointed. He (or she) is good, but not perfect; hard working, but never quite achieving what the Town's movers and shakers desire. And the contract is not renewed and the search begins all over again.

I'm familiar with a similar pattern: the expectations evangelical Protestant churches members have for their pastors. Today's pastor is supposed to be an outstanding preacher, a warm "people person", a Bible scholar, a top notch business manager with strong administrative skills, a supurb counselor, a motivator, one who knows exactly what to say to a grieving family in a hospital waiting room, an expert in real estate and property matters, and actively involved in the community at large. Only about one in a million pastors have the overwhelming majority of these skills. None have all of them. But the churches still expect it. The pastors can't live up to those expectations. And the frustration and disappointment continues for pastors and congregations alike.

Yes, it's apparently the quite similar for modern Town Managers. They've got to be outstanding- no almost perfect- in every possible area. If they're anything less than that, unless they're incredibly blessed like John Carroll, that day will come when the contract is not renewed.

And the nationwide search begins, again.

I care very much about Framingham. My wife and I still work in Framingham. Were I voting in a few days, I'd vote for Dennis Giombetti and Laurie Lee. But they got this one wrong.

Back in the '80s and '90s, Boston's channel 38 featured a Sunday night staple: "Ask the Manager". The station manager would answer questions viewers wrote in. The real "show" was the banter between the manager and the announcer. It was a chance to sort of sit down in the manager's office and hear what was on his heart.

What's it REALLY like to be a Town Manager- to try to please and achieve for the community each day? Do what these viewers did: Ask the Manager!

Thought: The Framingham Selectmen should reconsider their decision. Give Julian Suso another chance. Framingham is a unique and great community, which can "think outside the box" when it wants to. Selectmen: think outside the box. You'll never find the perfect Town Manager. This is not the time to lose Mr. Suso.

Monday, March 21, 2011


"...Behold, I make all things new..." (from Revelation 21:5)

It has now been over two weeks since the move to Webster. Many of you know that after living in Framingham for twenty-four years and being involved in the Framingham community, this was a difficult move for me. We're still working in Framingham. The drive is over forty miles one way so "it's a trip". But I'm beginning to see there ARE good aspects to this. Now, when I am home, I really feel like I'm in a different world and I can relax.

I went with a friend to a Webster restaurant on Sunday evening. In fact, Lic's Restaurant is only three doors down from where I live. Lic's is very much a "family" type place. It's a typical middle-class independent restaurant- the type that was very common fifty years ago and is almost extinct today. The food was homestyle and very good. The service was good. The prices were AMAZING! Let's put it this way- 1985 prices! I don't know how they can make any money that way but the value was great.

I loved the way Framingham was a rural community, an urban community, and a suburban community. You don't find that combination very often. Amazingly, Webster is the same way. Parts of Webster are quite urban- reminds me of Woonsocket, RI. Parts are suburban (like where I live). Parts are very rural, like where my friend Tony lives. I took a long walk on Sunday afternoon. I live only a stone's throw from the entrance of Webster Lake. It's a beautiful park and recreation area. I enjoyed walking there on Sunday. Incidentally, the REAL name of Webster Lake is Lake Chargoggaggmanchauggagoggchacbunagungamaugg. It's the longest place name in the U.S.A.!

Bottom line: I'm starting to warm up to Webster.

Monday, March 14, 2011


"For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work they had to make it, and too much" (Exodus 36:7)

NO, this is not about that Fox television drama "24". My son enjoyed that show and I know it had a lot of fans. I only saw it a few times and frankly had a hard time getting into it.

The twenty-four I'm thinking about today is the cleaning out of a house after you've lived there for twenty-four years. I will say I AM grateful that our family has until April 1 to clean out what we want from that property and to turn our keys in. For a few who don't understand how this worked, that property was owned by the church (First Assembly of God of Framingham). When it was closed, the owndership of that property, and the "church property" at 32 South Street reverted to the leadership of the Southern New England District of the Assemblies of God. Some people somehow thought I OWNED it. That would have been nice, but that was never the case. I kind of lean on my wife Mary Ann and my son Jon for being "pack rats". And they are...especially Mary Ann. But in the cleaning out process, I've discovered an amazing amount of my own "stuff".

I've found things I thought I'd have gotten rid of years ago. I found things I own that I did not even know I had! I must have thrown out at least 9 "large green trash bags" worth of my own "stuff" since February 1...and I have more to go. Mary Ann and I moved on March 5, but I am very thankful we have until March 31 to get any of the rest of our "stuff" out of there, to throw out "junk" and to clean. In fact,the original Assemblies of God "cut off date" to be completely out was March 15 and I am so glad they extended it because we need at least two more weeks!

"Stuff". You know the stuff that you don't want but that it wouldn't be right to throw out?! Boy, I have more of that than I thought. My friend Debby Seler, missionary to Jamaica, says she LIKES to move because it forces you to get rid of stuff, get organized, etc. One of the biggest reasons I was upset about the church closing is that I just did NOT want to go through this process. Maybe it was the eight years my sister and I spent cleaning out my parents' stuff. It was depressing and tedious. I just did NOT want to go through clearing out a cluttered house like that again- NO WAY! And, yet, that is exactly what the Lord has had me doing. I just spent two hours cleaning. I know I could have spend three, but physically and emotionally, two was all I could do today. I'm off on Thursday and I have to "hit it hard" that day; and Mary Ann and I will have a good four or five days after that in which we really have to work hard at this project.

THEN, there is the project of ALL the boxes all over the apartment in Webster! I have done almost nothing on that in over a week. Between now and Memorial Day, all that stuff has to be emptied out and put away. Yeah, stuff.

It's ironic, isn't it? Complaining about sorting through my stuff when tens of thousands of people in Japan have lost EVERYTHING.

Friday, March 11, 2011


"The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.
Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves.
The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.
Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever. (Psalm 93)

I don't usually quote from a WHOLE chapter on the blog, but that's the entirety of Psalm 93. A couple of nights ago, I read that for my personal devotional reading. Rather than just racing through the five verses, I really "soaked" in them. I gave them a LOT of thought.

It's been a hard time lately for a lot of people. I had my teeth cleaned yesterday. The woman cleaning my teeth told me that over the past few months she's had many people come through for cleaning who are going through "impossible" situations and that she's never seen life be like this before. I agreed.

Psalm 93 tells us that as bad as it gets, God is mightier and greater and we need to look to Him. I know that is much easier said than done, but it's a spiritual discipline. As I meditated on the words of this Psalm I was especially struck by the line,
"The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea."

I thought about the power of the tsunami of just a few years ago- the force, the destruction; and how helpless the people must have felt when the tsunami came.

Some of us feel that we've been hit by an emotional or spiritual or financial tsunami; maybe by all three. OR maybe the tsunami is cancer or the murder of a loved one. It's devastating. It's OK to feel devastated and it's OK to go through the process of grief.

But we must remember that no matter how we FEEL God is there. He wants us to spend eternity with Him and not to be so rocked by these "tsunamis" that we turn from Him.

Ironically, I turned on the radio this morning and the newscast reported a strong earthquake AND TSUNAMI which happened in Japan! And as I write, there is a tsunami warning for Hawaii and a tsunami watch for the U.S. Pacific Coast.

Oh God, as the old song says, "I need Thee, O I need Thee, every hour I need thee..."

Monday, March 7, 2011


"David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him." (I Samuel 22:1)

I have to say that overall the move to Webster went well over the weekend. The moving company, Grandma's Attic out of Milford was truly excellent and very professional.

As I write, I'm sitting at the "old homestead" in Framingham at the computer. (I have access to the Framingham residence through March 15, and I have today off.) As an "internet junkie" this feels great because I needed my "fix"! Right now at the Webster residence there's no T.V. and no internet, and for me, that's quite a withdrawal! (Thank God, I do have radio out there!)

I stopped at Market Basket in Oxford on Saturday evening. Wow. It was at least twice the size of the Ashland store, and I have to say both the customers and staff were much more pleasant and helpful than I was used to at Ashland.

There are a lot of changes and a lot will take getting used to.
I will say that since I did not have T.V. and internet last night, I listened to 3 CDs from Bishop T.D. Jakes in which he drew powerful life applications from the Book of Ruth.

I'm a creature of habit, and I like "a place for everything and everything in its place". So, for me a move is probably a bigger adjustment than it is for most people.
It's a time of change, being stretched, and seeking God for direction.

Most of you know my grown kids Jon and Rachel will not be living with us. They have less than two weeks to find a place and get out of 40 Harrison St. I know Rachel is actively looking. I'm very proud of the wonderful new job she has at John Hancock Insurance in Boston but I know she is "out straight" and carrying quite a load, so pray for God's leading and direction for her.

I will be going to the library, and/or to friends' computers when I can to check e-mail, post stuff on the blog and Facebook, etc. Thanks!

Friday, March 4, 2011


“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Just FYI:
Moving to Webster, MA tomorrow after 24 years as a Framingham resident.

Lots of mixed emotions. MAY be on internet somewhat less during the next month.

Will be trying to notify personal friends over the next month with my new address information. Will be commuting to Framingham for work.

The cell phone number stays the same.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


“And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.” (2 Chronicles 18:7)

It was from my friend Dave Milley that I learned that “old time Pentecostal” camp meeting song, “Meeting in the Air”. We often opened Sunday night services with that song at the old Christian Life Center in Walpole in the 1980s. I know it may not fit the contemporary worship mode of the 21st Century, but I still love that old song. I’ve been longing lately for a “Meeting in the Air”. NO, not specifically for the “Rapture of the Church at the Lord’s coming” which that song is actually about. (Well, it isn’t that I’m NOT longing for’s just that it’s not what I’m talking about here.) The Bible also speaks of a “cloud of witnesses” in the Book of Hebrews. There are several people who have “passed on” that I’d love to sit at a conference room table and have a meeting with. This is very personal, but some nights I just wish that in a dream the Lord would come to me and somehow transport me to heaven where I’d sit down with these people around a table with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself presiding. I’d share a number of personal issues and pressing problems...just laying them on the table as it were, and the redeemed around the table would “speak into my life”.

An old secular song says, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone?” True enough. Who are some of the people I’d love to kibbutz with? One is Norman Milley, Senior. “Old Brother Milley” would be 109 if he were still with us. He had a heavy Newfoundland accent, and some very strong convictions. Yes, some of it was old time Pentecostal legalism that we’re better off without, but Norman Milley walked and talked with God. No kidding. He worked construction all his life. He never went to college, but in 1936, he became a Licensed Minister of the Assemblies of God. Brother Milley served as a Deacon in the old Everett church. In his “spare time” he went out starting new churches. The slick television evangelists may TALK about living my faith, but Norman Milley really DID it. Listen, I know we’re not supposed to elevate people. One night I was at a home Bible study back in the 1980s. Several people there said that Norman Milley reminded them most of Jesus. He leaped to his feet, somewhat upset, and in that Newfoundland accent he cautioned, “Please folks, DON’T do this! Don’t say these things!” I think that only made us admire him more. When he You knew he was “touching heaven”. Yeah, I’d want Norman Milley at that table.

I’d also want Opal Reddin at that table. Opal Reddin died in her mid eighties back in 2005. She taught at Central Bible College for many years. Some kids looked down on Opal Reddin because she was kind of mystical and super-spiritual. Some looked down upon her because she wasn’t really a DEEP academician. She DID hold a “D.Min” degree but that’s much more of a “hands on pastoring” degree than a real academic degree like a “Th.D” or “Ph.D.” Opal Reddin was the type who preached women’s retreats and Holy Spirit conferences. She WAS controversial. She very much disliked Rick Warren and Billy Graham, among others. If you weren’t baptized in the Holy Spirit, and thoroughly Pentecostal, she was at least somewhat suspicious of you. I don’t agree with ALL that stuff. But Opal Reddin loved God with all her heart, and Opal Reddin had more guts than almost anyone I’ve ever known. Although she was an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, she was openly critical of a number of leaders in the hierarchy of the Assemblies of God and believed the denomination (well, she’d have said “the fellowship” or “the movement”) was on the WRONG track. Reddin predicted for years that a split is coming in the Assemblies of God and that she’d likely be going with the splinter group when it happened. She wrote and spoke things almost NO ONE else would. It’s amazing the hierarchy didn’t pull her credentials or something like that, but she had many fans and friends and I think they knew there’d be the opposite of heaven to pay if they ever did. I was pleased to exchange several e-mails with Opal Reddin in 2005. She remembered me as a former student. We shared the same opinion regarding some goings on in the Assemblies of God. I was shocked when I learned of her passing in Nov. of 2005. We’d shared e-mails just a few weeks before that!

Another person I’d like at that table is my father, Eugene A. Baril. My father was one of those “I was born a Catholic and I’ll die a Catholic” types, but as an Alzheimer’s patient in 1999 in a nursing home, he prayed with me on the level of a little child to receive Jesus in to his heart and to be ready to go to Heaven when the time came. I was not generally close to my father. He was kind of a bigger than life figure. He was a law enforcement officer. He WAS also a very funny guy with a great sense of humor, but as a law enforcement officer, he was very intimidating. Gene Baril was a very strict father. All three of his kids struggled with self image. He demanded perfection, and we struggled because we were not perfect. That said, there are many positive points Gene Baril had. Like Opal Reddin, he was outspoken and opinionated and didn’t walk on eggshells when it came to telling how he felt about things. My father and his close friend Bill Mitchell led the “Registry Inspectors Association” which was really like a union. They took a strong stand against corruption and inconsistency among State leaders, and especially against then Registrar Clem Riley. Some of you know the story that they were each transferred to far away Registry branches as a punishment for their brazen public criticism of the Registrar and of State leadership corruption. Gene Baril and Bill Mitchell never backed down. What Dad went through in 1962 and 1963 was very hard on the family. We didn’t have much of a Christmas in 1962. Dad’s 1951 Plymouth coupe died. He had to depend on friends to loan him their cars. My grandmother bought the family a brand new 1963 Dodge Dart. Dad was a very proud man and probably did not like her doing that, but he knew he was in a spot where he really needed help. Dad never sought to win popularity contests. It may surprise folks to know he admired George McGovern, Ronald Reagan, and Mike Dukakis. I know that seems very inconsistent, but he admired McGovern’s World War 2 service and taking a strong stand against Nixon who Dad couldn’t stand. He did not agree with Dukakis on capital punishment nor on abortion, but Dad always said Dukakis was a good and honest man and one of the LEAST corrupt Governors Massachusetts ever had. Reagan was a bold leader who did not let himself be pushed around, and Dad loved that. We have a relative who is an ex-Catholic priest. Each year, a memorial mass would be said at the time of year of the passing of Dad’s eldest sister. The ex-priest (her son-in-law) would say the mass at their family home. My mother was mortified because one year they went and Dad said he couldn’t sit through the mass because the Catholic Church had not authorized it, and he got up and went in the other room! My mom stayed! She thought he was really being picky and should not have embarrassed a family member like that; but she said everybody seemed to understand and respect him for stating his convictions.

I have so much weighing on me at this time in my life. The other day I made a lot of dumb mistakes at work and a supervisor asked me if I was OK and if something was bothering me. I just smiled and sloughed it off, but I knew something WAS bothering me. There’s a lot of very personal stuff going on right now. I have never felt such stress...even with the deaths of my parents, the death of my brother, and when my wife was critically ill. My faith has been challenged like I never thought it would be. I came close to totally walking away from God over the past year. But as Peter said in the Gospel of John, “Lord to WHOM shall we go?” when Jesus asked if he would leave Him. Once you’ve come to know and experience the Lord, you know you’d be insane to leave Him. But Job-like stuff can really stretch the faith stuff.

No kidding, I’d rather have that special meeting in heaven with Opal Reddin, and Norman Milley, and Gene Baril, and OF COURSE Jesus, and maybe one or two others! That would mean more to me right now than ANYTHING...and I mean anything. Opal Reddin and Norman Milley and Gene Baril were no chumps. The were nobody’s fools. They had conviction and fortitude and determination.

“What would Eugene do?” as I consider a lot of stressful personal issues, I ask that question and I pray.