Thursday, April 28, 2011


"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." (Psalm 166:15)

Early this morning I learned that the Reverend David Wilkerson of "The Cross and the Switchblade" fame had been killed in a car wreck in east Texas. It seems his car collided head-on with an eighteen wheeler. Wilkerson's wife Gwen was in the car and has been hospitalized with injuries. My good friend Ed, who coincidentally lives in east Texas, e-mailed me that he was "shocked" by the news. I must say, I was shocked also. Another friend named Ed, the Rev. Ed Delacoeur from Cape Cod posted on Facebook that one of God's choice servants has gone home to Heaven. He's right.

While many ordinary, everyday people in the secular world may be asking, "WHO?!" about David Wilkerson, his name is very much a household word among evangelical and charismatic Christians. In fact, most evangelical and charismatic Christians would probably have included David Wilkerson in a list of something like, "The Ten Most Important Christians Alive Today". David Wilkerson was only in his mid-twenties and pastoring a small Assemblies of God church in rural Pennsylvania in 1958 when God called him to go to New York City and evangelize mostly Hispanic teenage street gangs. Many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, considered Wilkerson sensational and at best misguided and at worst crazy. Amazingly, in several trips to New York, which included David sleeping in his car on the street, God absolutely worked supernatural miracles. One such miracle was the conversion of Nicky Cruz, one of the toughest Puerto Rican teen gang leaders in New York at the time. Wilkersons early evangelism led to the founding of Teen Challenge, a Gospel preaching and Christian discipling drug rehab program. In its early days ninety percent of the residents of Teen Challenge centers were in their late teens or early twenties. Today, it is not unusual for Teen Challenge centers to be populated by young people in rehab ranging from as young as 18 to as old as 45.

It's not only Teen Challenge that David Wilkerson is known for, however. In 1974, he published a ontroversial book entitled, "The Vision". Wilkerson claimed to have received a dramatic vision from God of what the coming thirty to forty years would hold for America and the world. I have a copy of "The Vision". I have read it a few times, and first read the book in 1974. Some of the prophecies in the book seemed really "wild" at the time, but virtually all of what's prophesied in the book has come to pass. He followed up "The Vision" a couple of years later with a similar but less popular book entitled, "Racing Toward Judgment".

Around twenty years ago, Wilkerson founded the nondenominational Times Square Church in New York. The church reaches out to both "down and outers" and "up and outers". For many years I was on David Wilkerson's mailing list and I'd read his newsletters with great interest. Beginning in the late 1990s, Wilkerson began forecasting the total economic collapse of the United States of America. He has made dire predictions of a depression coming which will be far worse than the early 1930s. Wilkerson believes God will take care of His faithful children, but that those who are not walking very close to God will suffer greatly. Although the economy has sort of "tanked" since 2008, Wilkerson's prediction of a total economic collapse has obviously not yet happened. Considering his previous track record, however, it does seem one would do well to take seriously what he had to say.

Life does not always turn out as we'd think it would. This is not Hollywood. If the life of David Wilkerson had been a Hollywood fantasy, we'd probably have imagined his passing would be of heart failure as he lay in a comfortable bed in a Norman Rockwell type setting surrounded by his family and close friends. I could imagine his face being illuminated as he'd say something like, "Look, I see an angel!" Then he'd breath his last breath, and beautiful music would begin playing.

Yes, like my friend in Texas, I'm shocked. I never thought David Wilkerson would be killed instantly in a car wreck at age 79. It's just not the script those who love him would have written. Many of us DO tend to put people like David Wilkerson on pedestals. They're human. I happen to know David Wilkerson was very afraid of flying and that he virtually never flew. He either drove everyplace or took the train. It's ironic that the man who was afraid to fly died in a car wreck. It's also ironic that this giant of faith was afraid to fly. Incidentally, I have some "connections" to David Wilkerson. My friend Dave Milley knew him personally and was the first Boston Teen Challege Director in the 1960s. David Wilkerson was a alumnus of my alma mater, Central Bible College. His son Gary and daughter Bonnie were there as students at the same time I was.

When a spiritual giant like David Wilkerson passes on it causes me to pause and wonder...who will take his place?

Monday, April 25, 2011


"Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." (Philippians 4:4)

Two weeks ago tomorrow, I was introduced to a very unique radio talk show: The David Stein Show, better known as "Celebration of Life". Most mornings (now) I'm getting up around 4:15 a.m. That day, I turned on "Boston Talks 96.6 WTKK" a little after 4 and heard an unfamiliar voice asking listeners to give his show a chance. As he described his program, it sounded very sappy, and syrupy, and mushy, and touchy-feely. "Yuch!" I thought! I don't think I'm going to like this program at all. Boy was I wrong! After listening for one hour, I concluded this was one of the most meaningful and inspirational programs I had ever hard.

I had never heard of David Stein, but if you do an on-line search, you'll learn that he was a sports talk show host for a number of years. His relatively new show, celebration of life has very little to do with sports or politics or the stuff usually heard on call-in talk radio. Stein has a very open (and even vulnerable) manner. He's a fantastic story teller. He will freely talk about his own problems and issues, and what he's learned from life experience and from others. It's obvious that David Stein is a highly committed Christian. He casually drops Bible verses and Christian references, but in a mostly subtle non-threatening manner. There's NONE of the "fundamentalist jamming a Bible down your throat" stuff. It's a lot more like Delilah who does her nationally syndicated soft rock evening show.

David Stein broadcasts from the Atlanta, Georgia area. His show is on from 1 to 5 in the morning Eastern time. On that first broadcast he told the story of going to a Srarbucks in late September of last year. David mentioned that he HATES Starbucks coffee. That brought a smile to my face, because I do, too! But he was at Starbucks for a chance to sit in one of their relaxing chairs and use their WI-FI. A woman sat down in the chair next to him. David mentioned that he was tempted to try to start up a of those, "How YOU doin'?!" kind of things. He added that he had not been on a date in over two years and had not spoken to any women he didn't know during that period of time. Three weeks later, David Stein was in line at that same Starbucks. He happened to turn around in the line, and standing directly behind him was that same woman who'd sat next to him three weeks earlier.

"I HATE this coffee!" he jovially exclaimed to her and she smiled. They began a friendship which led to a romance. David Stein married that woman at that Starbucks this past February!

Stein urges listeners to practice random acts of do things like send real handwritten letters to practice an attitude of thanking people, and of being grateful and not complaining. Again, he's NOT sappy and phony, though. He's very masculine, and very real. After listening for a couple of days, you feel like you've known this guy for years.

Forty years ago, if I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep, I'd often turn on Larry Glick on WBZ and listen for an hour or so. There has not been a radio broadcaster who would motivate me to tune in to him in the middle of the night since Larry Glick- until NOW! This morning, for instance, I awoke at 1:15, turned in David Stein for 45 minutes and fell back asleep. When you listen, there's a sense of peace and serenity. I fell into a dream, and woke at 4 refreshed.

David Stein has this expression he uses when he's really happy about something: "Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!"

That's my feeling about this new "Celebration of Life" program: "Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!"

I hope you'll check it out sometime. Incidentally, you don't HAVE to listen to it in the middle of the night. You can tap into previous broadcasts on-line anytime.

Monday, April 18, 2011


"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes..." (from Luke 2:7)

Mary Ann and I are first time grandparents, and what a wonderful feeling it is!

Our daughter Amy gave birth to Benjamin Robert Julian today at around 1 a.m. Central Time.

Amy kept the name totally secret until after the birth.

Our daughter Rachel had predicted for awhile that the baby would be named Benjamin and would be born on Boston Marathon Day. So even though he's an "Ozarkian" he's got that definite Boston connection, too. And the fact that his other grandfather, Mark Julian, is a huge Boston Celtics fan helps, too!

Ironically, I arrived in Springfield, Missouri sight unseen to attend Central Bible College in January of 1977. There I was at the airport hailing a taxi and riding through a city and to a school I'd never seen. Two years later, my friend James Rayburn's wife Debbie gave birth prematurely to twins at the old Cox Medical Center. I remember many a visit to the hallway outside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Had someone told me that thirty-two years later I'd have a daughter who worked as a nurse at the new Cox South Hospital (including sometimes in the NICU) and that I'd have a grandson born there, that would have sounded unbelievable.

Mary Ann and our good friend Suzanne Fay are out there now. I hope to see the baby "in person" before 2011 ends.

To God be the glory, Great things He hath done!

Monday, April 11, 2011


"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:35)

Yesterday, I did something I never thought I'd do. I turned in an application to become a Member of Bread of Life Church in Westminster. Lest anybody think this is a sign that I don't care about the legacy of First Assembly of God of Framingham, or of what the future holds for Holy Spirit anointed evangelism and discipleship in the Framingham area, well think again! I will always have a strong connection to Framingham, and a strong concern about what God is doing in Framingham. But like Robert Duvall's character "Sonny Dewey" in the great film, "The Apostle", I find myself on a journey and adventure with God that I never planned on. I've learned to embrace the Lord and His leading no matter whether that leading fits my personal preferences or not.

I've experienced them all in the past year, and then some. Maybe the church in Framingham was very small, but I loved teaching Adult Sunday School and preaching a sermon every Sunday morning. I loved my status and standing in the Framingham community. I felt important. After the church was closed and my wife and I walked into Bread of Life in Westminster as Sunday morning church visitors, I frankly felt that my professional life was over. Bread of Life is a lot of things the Framingham church wasn't. It's a church of over 200 that's still growing. There's a full pastoral staff, including Senior Pastor Gary Collette and his wife Pastor Janis Collette; Associate Pastor Chuck Zierle, and Youth Pastor Billy Greene. There's a nice building on an amazingly attractive piece of property. Most importantly, there have been wonderful opportinities to be ministered TO- and that was deeply needed in my life over the past year.

The drive to Westminster from Framingham was forty miles one way. Now, from Webster, it's fifty miles. That's ironic. You see, I've often said I'd never travel more than ten miles one way to church. I've said similar things about how far away I'd live from a place of employment. I've considered people who beat their cars to a pulp on long commutes to be very foolish.

Now, granted, you can't get TOO involved in a church when it's fifty miles away. That can be problematic. But I've prayed about it, and for now, it's right.

Some of the old fashioned fundamental Baptist church planters used to say, "The difference is worth the distance". You know, they had a point. You see, to a lot of people church is just a formality to sit through over and over again every week. To a lot of people, church is to be short, sweet, safe, and sappy. It's not about any real life change or any real contact with God.

At Bread of Life, the people are serious about drawing close to God, and then doing their part to touch and impact the world. They've got a missions team going to South Africa for two weeks in June, and they've had missions teams go to Guatemala. At Bread of Life, there's the sense that the church is NOT at some pinnacle of success...rather that it's at the beginning of what will likely be a great revival and move of God. Don't get me wrong. Bread of Life is not the only church like this in New England. There are probably at least ten churches in New England where God is moving, and where there will be great revival and supernatural manifestations of God happening in the near future and Bread of Life is one of those churches. It's an exciting place to be, and for now I am glad to be a part of it.

Incidentally, wherever you live, it's worth visiting a service at Bread of Life. The Sunday morning services are at 10:15. The church is located on Route 2A in Westminster, right off Route 2 and not far from the famous Old Mill restaurant.

I know some of you don't understand this,but over the next few years, our world is going to enter some very difficult times- much worse than what's going on now. But in the midst of those difficult times, God will do a great and mighty work, and will reveal Himself in personal and powerful ways to those who draw close to him. And as the old song says, "I want to be in that number"!

Friday, April 8, 2011


"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, the shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7)

For many years I listened to a LOT of talk radio. This became such a point of contention with several people who are very close to me (a few years ago) that I began cutting back on talk radio. I especially stopped writing on the blog about talk radio. But this bit of news is definitely worth posting. Radio talk show host Jay Severin has recently been "canned" by WTKK. The station management issued a statement citing Severin's repeated lack of civility as being the reason he was let go.

WTKK bagan as a Boston talk radio station in September of 1999 and Severin was doing the afternoon drive show (THEN called "Extreme Games") right from the beginning. Not SO much a "conservative" but rather a self-described "libertarian" and "libertine", Severin was a captivating host who built a large audience. Jay Severin's knowledge of and understanding of American politics is extraordinarily good and interesting. His bragging about the number of attractive, college-age females he's known in the Biblical sense, however, became tiring to listen to. Severin's been married for over twelve years and has had kids for the past five years. Despite that, for the show's first incarnation (1999-2005) he maintained that he was a swinging bachelor. It was also implied he lived in the Boston area. In fact, he was doing his show from his residence on Long Island, New York.

Jay Severin left WTKK in mid-2005 to do a national show. Initial reports indicated WBZ would likely be his Boston-area affiliate, but Severin inked a deal to put the nationally syndicated show on WTKK in a 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. time slot. WTKK then hired Michael Graham who had just been fired by a Washington, DC station. Graham never got quite the ratings that Severin had, but he did do a pretty fine afternoon drive talk show.

After one year, the plug was pulled on Severin's national show. Severin approached WTKK about coming back on board. I didn't mind that 'TKK rehired him, but a lot of Michael Graham's listeners (including me) resented that Michael Graham got bumped from the afternoon drive slot to make room for Severin. Graham was treated like Shemp of The Three Stooges and Severin was treated like King Farouk! Severin was paid an unbelievably high salary. He bought a large house in Manchester-By-The-Sea, Massachusetts, and now came clean about being married with children. The Jay Severin who returned was a somewhat kindler, gentler Jay Severin, who would occasionally slip and make cruel, off-the-wall, and/or inappropriate comments. In all fairness, Jay Severin DID do some great programs. I exchanged a few complimentary e-mails with him. But Severin was suspended in 2009 for making vicious and inappropriate remarks about Mexicans. The Jay Severin who returned to the airwaves a few weeks later was even kinder and gentler. He now had lots of guests on the show which was a radical departure from the old solo "Extreme Games" format. His latest on-air blunder was bragging that years ago as the boss of his own company he used to have intimate physical relations with the women who worked for him, just because he could do so.

One big winner in all this COULD be Michael Graham. I think it's time WTKK realized what a loyal "company man" Graham has been at 'TKK in comparison to Severin. I wish Michael Graham well. And "Bower" (or however you spell it) is an "OK" replacement on afternoon drive. Whether he will be a permanent replacement is anybody's guess.

Now: here is what I'd like to say to WTKK-

Hiring Jay back in 2006, paying him an exhorbitant salary, and then bumping Michael Graham from afternoon drive, was WAY out of line! I think many people could have told you that. You really brought all this trouble upon yourselves!

And: here is what I'd like to say to Jay Severin-

Jay, your knowledge of national politics is probably second to none. When you want to be so, you can be a very charming gentleman. But at other times, you're an arrogant, egotistical, foul-mouthed jerk. You COULD have become the most respected talk show host in New England, but you blew it, much as Tom Leykis did over fifteen years ago. It's time YOU started behaving like one of the "best and brightest"!

Well, that's my two cents on the subject. Think now WTKK will give ME my own show? Well, I'm not holding my breath...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


"...old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (from 2 Corinthians 5:17)

The moving process for the Baril family was a long and stressful one. One month ago today, Mary Ann and I moved to Webster. We needed to spend the following four weeks cleaning up and cleaning out the Harrison Street Framingham residence. Honestly, it was a mostly unpleasant experience. I really didn't want to move out of Framingham. I really loved Framingham and still do. But by the time this past weekend came around, I was so glad to get DONE with the Framingham property and turn in the keys to the Assemblies of God hierarchy.

Over thirty years ago, the Bill Gaither people sang a cute song about "the list of won't be-s in Heaven". I'm now thinking about what I WILL miss about living at 40 Harrison Street in Framingham and what I WON'T miss about it.

I WON'T MISS snow shoveling or leaf raking. I am not responsible for these things at the Webster rental property. I won't miss the responsibility of mowing the lawn throughout the summer, even though mowing the lawn was good exercise for me and a time I'd spend in peaceful reflection as I mowed. I definitely won't miss navigating the three very difficult stairways at the Framingham house, and I won't miss the dingy old-fashioned basement there.

When a new roof was put on the Framingham house in 2004, the roofers left nails and shingles and black tiny shingle particles spread all over the attic. No matter how much of that stuff I've cleaned up, there's always so much more to do. I won't miss cleaning that stuff up! I won't miss the barking German Shepherd next door. I won't miss no central air conditioning and having to mount window air conditioners each May and pulling them out each November.

I WILL, however, miss the Mason family next door. (They're not the "German Shepherd owners"; they live on the opposite side of the Framingham property.) You couldn't ask for better neighbors than the Masons. I will miss Verizon FiOS. Initially I resented being conned into signing up for Verizon FiOS by a slick salesman at the door at 5 p.m. on a Christmas Eve. I did, however, come to really like Verizon FiOS. I will miss living so close to a commuter rail station and being just a short train ride away from downtown Boston. I will miss having a dishwasher and garbage disposal. I will miss using a gas stove and having gas heat. We now have an electric stove and oil heat- I like neither. I will miss living in the MetroWest Daily News coverage area. I will miss living only a mile and a half from work. I will miss living so close to so many friends. I will miss my involvement in the Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association. I will miss voting in the Framingham Town elections, and I will miss watching Framingham Public Access T.V. (even though Selectman Dennis Giombetti once told me that if I'm watching a lot of that I need to get a life!).

Friday, April 1, 2011


"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

There was a male English teacher at Canton (Mass.) High School for about three decades of the mid to late Twentieth Century. His initials were E.S. I don't know if this story is a Canton High School urban legend, but Mr. E.S. was one of the school's hockey coaches. As the story goes, a school bus carrying the hockey team stopped at the home of Mr. E.S. to pick him up. The teacher was SO excited to get on the team bus that he ran out of his house without his pants on!

Yes, we can become so absent-minded that we'll do some crazy things without realizing it. No, I'm not as bad as "Rain Man", but I'm a creature of habit and routine. The move to Webster and trying to juggle a number of things over the past few weeks IS making me sort of "memory challenged"! We moved to Webster on March 5, but we've spent the month of March (and now the first days of April) cleaning up and cleaning out the old Framingham parsonage. On Monday, we turn in our keys to the Assemblies of God hierarchy and are "done" with that property. At this point, I CAN'T WAIT!

Had I been doing "full time ministry" over the past couple of years and were I moving from one pastorate to another, I"d have taken 3-4 weeks off and spent the bulk of that time doing nothing but cleaning up and cleaning out the house. With Mary Ann working a full-time job, and me working a 2/3 time job, we've been trying to do the parsonage work in our "spare time" which is not at all easy. I had the day off yesterday and I had a pretty full intinerary planned. It included doing my laundry, having lunch with a friend who is visiting from out-of-state, cleaning up and cleaning out the parsonage, and showering changing clothes to go to a doctor appointment in Arlington. I had a whole check list in my head, and I methodically loaded the car early in the morning.

I got to the laundramat in Framingham at 7:45 a.m. and got the washers running. I opened the oversized green trash bag which contained my laundry. SHOCK!!! I'd left 90% of my laundry back in Webster! HOW DID I DO THAT?! I got spoiled living and working in Framingham. I was seldom more than three miles from home. I couldn't justify driving 80 miles round trip just to get the rest of my dirty clothes! So, now I've got very little clean underwear! I brought a clear medium sized plastic box with me containing my hairspray, hairbrush, and some other items. Each day that I finish working at the Framingham house, I load my car up with "stuff", and have to unload when I get home to Webster. I got home last night and YOU GUESSED IT: I'd left the plastic box containing my hairspray and hairbrush in Framingham!

One day I forgot my cell phone. Another day, I forgot my lunch, rememberd it after just three miles, and went back for it. I can't wait to turn in my keys to the Framingham house. I just hope I don't lose them!