Friday, June 28, 2013


"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16)

It's just a few weeks ago on a Thursday night that I was privileged to sit in as a guest on Dan Rea's "Nightside" program on WBZ Radio 1030 AM out of Boston. That night, we were discussing whether atheists who remain atheists will get into Heaven. A variety of opinions came forth from various listeners. Last night, also a Thursday, Dan had a fascinating guest on: Nicco Mele who teaches at Harvard. He has written a recently published book entitled, "The End of Big". Mele was very interesting. He's very much a "computer nerd" although he also has an engaging personality. He believes the world of thirty-five years from now will be completely different from the world of today, largely due to advances in technology and the internet. It was a riveting two hours of radio, but at times I thought Mele contradicted himself. Mele strongly desires everything to become extremely local rather than big and impersonal. Yet, he advocates a totally paperless world brought about by big technology. Dan challenged him (I thought very effectively) on a number of his ideas and speculations.

Dan Rea and I may disagree about who gets to go to Heaven, but we very much agree on being slow to just throw out society's traditions. Last Fall, Dan advocated not shopping on Thanksgiving Day or early on the morning of Black Friday, and I wrote a blog piece at the time heartily agreeing with him. I learned last night that Dan Rea and I have something else in common: We each prefer receiving actual hard copy paychecks and taking them to the bank to deposit to a live teller. We also prefer to pay bills using checks and mail just as everybody did back in 1980. When Dan told Nicco that, Nicco was astounded! That flies in the face of the absolutely paperless world Nicco advocates and sees as a good thing. Dan also said he enjoys reading actual hard copy newspapers, and I do, too. Mr. Rea acknowledged there is a "generation gap" between him and Nicco Mele. There is. I am also part of Dan's generation- just about three or four years younger than he is. Like Dan, I have actual paper files of all kinds of "stuff" and am very reluctant to just "go paperless" and have everything in cyberspace.

In addition, Dan pointed out that he has now adopted a practice of buying the "American flag" stamps to use in mailing his letters. Dan feels things in this country are "in distress" and headed in a direction that is, for the most part, not good. I heartily agree. For this reason, he puts the stamps on the letters with the flag upside down to indicate "distress".

I know Nicco's generation (especially) will laugh and us and our ways, but I honestly think it would be the best thing in the world if more people shifted away from all this paperless, high tech stuff and did things the old fashioned way. For one thing, it would honestly save the United States Postal Service! Nicco pointed out that Dan is depending on computers to put out the radio broadcast, and that is true. I'm sure he'd also point out that I'm using technology with this blog that was totally unknown twenty years ago. That's true. The whole computer/cyberspace thing is not all bad. But I do think racing madly into this "brave new world" and throwing a lot of sacred traditions of one kind or another essentially into the toilet it not a good thing. If we continue down this path, I think the world of thirty-five years from now will be a lot worse, and I'm kind of glad that considering my age and the actuarial tables, I will probably be in Heaven at that time rather than here!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12)

Many of you know that in March I was diagnosed as having Crohn's Disease. It's the Crohn's Disease issue that could almost keep me from posting this, because there are very few items on the menu at McDonald's that a person with Crohn's Disease should be partaking of! Well, I'm careful, but Crohn's has not made me totally give up McDonald's! I had an experience (actually, two experiences) at the same McDonald's restaurant today which were, to use a word that I admittedly overuse: unbelievable! In some parts of Massachusetts, you can drive for many miles without seeing a McDonald's. In one portion of northern Worcester County, however, (in the Leominster/Fitchburg area) there are three McDonald's restaurants which are very close to each other- about as close to each other as are Assemblies of God churches in Springfield, Missouri! I was in the Leominster/Fitchburg area at breakfast time and decided to stop at a McDonald's for a breakfast. I could have chosen any one of the three, but I picked the one that comes "in the middle" as you drive along Route 2. (None of the restaurants is actually on Route 2, but each is just off the highway, and easily accessed by one of three exits.)

The young lady at the "in the middle" McDonald's was someone I'd never seen before. She may have been a new employee. She was confusing. I ordered something from the "dollar" menu, and she insisted it cost $3.39. I had to explain carefully what I wanted and that it was from the dollar menu. I ordered a couple of other things, also. I waited and waited for the items to be put on my tray. It seemed I was having to wait way too long. Finally, a male employee came up to me and said, "Everything is on your tray, it's ready!" At my answering service job, I absolutely hate when a caller speaks to be in a perturbed and condescending manner. So, I was embarrassed that I spoke to him in a perturbed and condescending manner. "No, it is not ready!" I explained, and proceeded to tell him what I'd actually ordered. The order listed on the receipt slip was in fact not what I'd ordered. The young lady who took my order had sort of a carefree "sorry I must've got it wrong" attitude, and he got the correct order for me, which incidentally cost me about one more dollar. I apologized to the guy who seemed to take things in stride.

If the breakfast scenario was all there was to my experience at that "in the middle" McDonald's today, I probably would have quickly forgotten about it and I'd never be writing a piece on my blog about it! No, there was a second experience at the same McDonald's restaurant a few hours later! I stopped at the "in the middle" McDonald's to use the bathroom and to grab an iced coffee to go. I don't usually stop there in the middle of the day to buy food but I found myself to be so hungry, I decided to buy a snack to "take the edge off" my hunger. The same cast of characters was at the counter. The young lady who took my breakfast order took this order. After I handed her some money, her cash register (correctly) indicated she owed me 55 cents change. She looked dumbfounded, and verbally protested, "No. My register shows me I owe you fifty-five cents but that's wrong! I owe you fifteen cents!" She then handed me a dime and a nickel. I so wanted to say to her, "After what happened with my breakfast order a few hours ago, are you serious?!" I didn't. I kept my composure and just stared at the dime and nickel. She was moving around behind the counter doing various things. I said to her, "I'm confused. This change is not correct." She insisted that it was correct. "I'm still confused," I added, "and it's not correct."

An older coworker quickly appeared and asked her what the problem was. She told the coworker the amount of money I'd handed her, what the register indicated she should give me back, and what she actually gave me back. She insisted to her coworker that she was right and the register was wrong! The coworker gave her a very quick math lesson, similar to what you'd say to a third grader having trouble with her arithmetic homework. The young lady still insisted she was correct in giving me fifteen cents! The older worker instructed her to give me another forty cents. She paused. She took back my fifteen cents. She had to get the male employee to open the register drawer with a special key, and then she handed me fifty-five cents. I got my drink and snack and walked out to my car.

I admit I'm very poor at math. I've got two Bachelor's degrees, but I'm very poor at math. Honestly, I don't do well with handling money in fast or stressful situations when you have to make change. I've resisted applying for jobs where you have to handle money and make change. I'd rather shovel horse manure than have to handle money and make change in fast, stressful situations. (And, listen, many years ago I did shovel horse manure!) Thus, I don't want to be too harsh in my criticism. But, you've got to admit; in those "non cents and nonsense" situations at McDonald's today, something was seriously wrong!

Friday, June 21, 2013


"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." (Romans 13:1)

Tuesday, June 25 is the date in Massachusetts for the special election for U.S. Senator.

News reports indicate that this is not on many people's "radar" this month. The media is saying that the Bruins being in the Stanley Cup Finals and the Whitey Bulger trial, as well as the recent news stories about Aaron Hernandez are taking up everybody's attention and nobody seems to know or care that there's a special election for U.S. Senate next Tuesday. Turnout is expected to be very, very low. Seemingly, "nobody cares". I think that's sad.

Now, some of you know I tend to be quite a "news junkie" and in my past I've been quite a "political junkie". I admit that I'm much less interested in politics than I used to be. I think evangelical Christians frankly got too involved in politics during the past twenty years and a lot of our priorities have become quite skewed. Nevertheless, if you're a registered voter, it's very important for you to do your civic duty and get out and vote on Tuesday!

Now, there are some people you can't vote for on Tuesday! You can't vote for Democrat Stephen Lynch, for instance. He was beaten by Ed Markey in the Democrat primary a few weeks ago. It's too bad. Stephen Lynch is an outstanding man. He was probably the best qualified and most desirable candidate for Senate in this "go round". More people should have gotten out and voted for Stephen Lynch in the primary. They didn't, so (sadly) he is not available. You also can't vote for Republican Scott Brown. I think it's both a tragedy and a travesty that he only was able to serve as U.S. Senator for a couple of years. Scott Brown got a lot of votes and a lot of support last time, but alas, not enough people got out and voted for Scott Brown so he lost to Elizabeth Warren. Scott Brown could have run for Senator this time, but he and his wonderful family are kind of "spent" from all their hard work and campaigning over the past few years. They decided to just "sit this one out" and I'm disappointed but I can't blame them. Not enough people "stepped up" when Scott and his family really needed them to.

You do have the opportunity to vote for either Democrat Ed Markey or Republican Gabriel Gomez on Tuesday. I know. Neither candidate is perfect. In fact, each candidate has some drawbacks, and I think that's a lot of why this election does not have people fired up. Even so, I think Gabriel Gomez is the better of the two, and despite the fact that he is considered quite a "long shot", I fully intend to vote for Gabriel Gomez on Tuesday. Gomez endorsed President Obama and voted for him in 2008; that has a lot of Republicans upset about him. He is a big supporter of the Second Amendment,and that has a lot of Democrats upset about him. Despite these matters, Gomez has brings a lot of impressive "stuff" to the table! His parents are immigrants from Colombia. Gabriel Gomez speaks fluent Spanish and fluent English and is absolutely "in touch" with the feelings and needs of Hispanic voters and immigrants from all countries. Gomez has an outstanding military record. He is both a former U.S. Navy Seal and a former U.S. Navy Pilot. He's well educated, and a very successful businessman.

You can't vote for Stephen Lynch or Scott Brown on Tuesday, but you can do your civic duty and come out and vote on Tuesday! I'd love to see the Massachusetts voters prove the "experts" wrong and come out to vote in large numbers on Tuesday! Won't you join me?

Friday, June 14, 2013


"But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (I John 3:17)

What I'm sharing with you today is a situation that should NEVER happen. It involves an e-mail I received from a missionary to Costa Rica. His name is John Musacchio, and his wife who ministers at his side is Dina Musacchio. The Musacchios are Assemblies of God missionaries to a poor community in Costa Rica. I don't personally know John or Dina. I don't believe I have ever met them. When our church was "up and running" we gave something like $600 a month to various missionaries- which was a LOT for us. I rarely ever said NO to a missionary who wanted to come and have a service at our church. I rarely ever said NO to a missionary who needed our church's financial support, even though we were a tiny and struggling church. In the final 2 years of our church, finances got so bad that many months we did not meet our missions giving commitment, and that just about devastated my family and me. Anyway, I am not sure how I got on John and Dina's e-mail list, but it's probably because I am still an Ordained Assemblies of God minister. A friend of mine, Ron S., who is a very active layman in a Congregational church says there is no reason for any ministry supported from Christians in the U.S.A. to fail- EVER. Ron says there is plenty of money out there, and we should be supporting our ministries and missionaries. Ron is absolutely right. To be very blunt, I started out this day very depressed. I am facing some catastrophic problems this morning, including but not limited to financial problems. I was feeling sorry for myself, to say the least. God used two things to speak to me today. One was a very inspiring piece on Facebook by a friend named Steve Balerna who has gone through terrible problems in his life. The other was this e-mail I received from John and Dina Musacchio. Immediately upon reading this, I thought about what my friend Ron says. Honestly, I had a very dramatic spiritual dream in late December in which God told me I have been gifted and called to be a spokesman for others and their ministries. It was a very exciting dream, but I did not know how to apply its message or quite what to do with it. Today, that has all come back to me. I want to be a spokesman for John and Dina and their ministry to the poor in Costa Rica. I do not have their permission to republish this, and I hope they would not mind. I DO have their e-mail address, their "snail mail" address, and information on how funds can be given on-line to their missionary work. If anyone is interested in helping them, my own e-mail address is given here on my blog. Just send me an e-mail. Due to the fact that I am not allowed to be on-line at my secular job, I only check in "here and there" for my e-mail, but I promise I will respond to you in the next few days. Will you seriously consider helping this fine missionary couple? Here is the text of their letter:


"Tell me what you are dreaming for 'Los Cuadros' neighborhood, because I want to make your dream a reality!" This moment was HUGE, as the Administrator of the Latin American Child Care schools of Costa Rica invited us to open our hearts. Over tamales and coffee, we shared our burden for the 120 teens we are currently ministering to, and God moved in a special way. Today's was by far most significant meeting we've been part of since we arrived eleven months ago. For certain, the school is working through some difficult challenges and is in need of transformational change. This meeting was the beginning of that change. God wants to do something powerful in the lives of teens that live in the core of this barrio, and we now find ourselves in the middle of it. Pray with us for God's wisdom, power, clarity, and favor! Dream with us!!!

We arrived home from this incredible meeting to find this message:

"Hi John,
I’m afraid that due to our policy procedures, I have to write you this. According to AGWM policy, a missionary’s (00) cannot be more than $6,000 in overdraft. Missionary accounts that have an overdraft of $6,000 for more than three months (or sooner at the direction of the regional office) are placed on As Designations Permit (ADP) status, including salary. This means that you will only receive salary and budget funds each month, as funds allow."

Last month, we saw another $2400 shortfall in our budget, accumulating our current deficit of nearly $6000. Our ministry and personal finances are now decimated. It seems that when the need is greatest, giving continues to dwindle.

Friends, we are in the heat of the battle. The fiery darts are flying. We've raised our shield of faith. We've never backed down from the challenges before us. The Lord has taken us over mountaintops, and we find ourselves standing here in the shadow of the valley. We can see the souls that stand on the horizon waiting to be reached. We can see our Leader out ahead of us, and we will follow Him to the end. We are willing to march into battle. Will you go with us?

- Standing in the gap.

John & Dina

Thursday, June 13, 2013


"Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7:1-2)

The issue of whether police officers are needed in place of traditional highway "flagmen" (or "flag women") at construction sites along the roadways of Massachusetts has been a "hot button" issue for many years. I've heard that it was only Massachusetts which mandated police officers (rather than flagmen) at all of these roadway construction sites, although someone has said Hawaii also requires police officers rather than civilian flagmen. The cops can make big money at these roadside details- many times doubling or more than doubling their base police officer salaries. Until not too long ago, there was no way a construction crew on a Massachusetts roadway could use a civilian flagman. I do know that somehow Governor Deval Patrick got something enacted a couple of years ago which does allow for civilian flagmen in certain specific cases, and once in a great while (such as recently on a back road in Sharon, MA) I will come upon a roadside construction situation that is using a civilian flagman, but probably ninety-eight percent of the time, it's a police officer you'll encounter in those situations. Honestly, I hate coming upon those roadway construction projects with cops directing traffic; I hate this for many reasons. One time, over twenty years ago, I came upon a situation in Framingham where the cop just stood there! He didn't direct me to stop or to go. He just stood there!Finally, frustrated and confused, I just started driving. He "flipped out" and demanded I pull over. He started giving me a big lecture, saying he could write me a $100 ticket. I calmly told him that I was waiting for him to give me some sort of direction, and that when he did not, I gave up and started driving. He got all annoyed and frustrated, but (I think) realized that technically, I was right! "Oh...get out of here!"he yelled, and I did exactly that!

Another time in Framingham, I rounded a corner and immediately encountered a roadside construction site and a police officer. I think he may have been an auxiliary cop. He was a goofy looking guy wearing one of those Russian winter caps. He immediately signaled for me to stop, came over, and speaking to me like I was a disobedient 3-year-old, gave me a talking to about not assuming everything was going to be fine when I made a right turn. I just nervously thanked him, nervously apoligized, and quickly drove off! Still another time I was driving along in Framingham on a side street off Route 135 near Monnick Supply. There was a very confusing roadway construction situation. There were a couple of "saw horses" in the road, a cop or two, and a few construction workers. It was not clear if the roadway was open or closed. It was not clear what was going on or what drivers were to do. There was one car in front of me, a mid-sized American sedan driven by an old lady. A cop stopped her and proceeded to chew her out for not knowing what to do in this situation. I was so glad that poor old lady was in the car in front of me, because I had no idea what to do, either!

You may have guessed this is all leading up to something, and it is. Yes, I had another one of those "detail police officer roadway situations" recently. This time, it was not in Framingham, but it was in Sherborn, less than a mile from the Framingham town line. On a fairly rural roadway, a bright orange "Utility Work Ahead" sign had been placed at the side of the road. I did not encounter the utility work for almost a half mile. Suddenly, there was a big white truck stopped in the roadway. I mean it was a big white truck. I mean it was a huge white truck! I was surprised there was no cop right there telling me what to do. Obviously, this was a huge construction vehicle and I had come upon the site. Again, I just wondered, "Where is the cop?" I pulled around the truck and began proceeding forward. Suddenly, I heard the truck's horn blasting.Then, I noticed a car was coming right toward me and the cop was a distance ahead of me! It turns out that the huge white truck had nothing to do with the construction work. It was just stopped by the cop doing the detail. But, the truck was so long and so big that it completely obstructed both the construction site and the police officer! I quickly threw the old Subaru's transmission into reverse and proceeded to back up! By this time, two or three cars had stopped behind the big truck. So, I had to back past the truck and the cars, and manage to maneuver into line. Honestly, I was scared. I did not want to be stopped by the cop and get a ticket or another lecture! I was actually tempted to just do a three point turn, go the other way, and find another route into Framingham! Alas, I stayed in the line of traffic. When I came to the police officer, I experienced one of the most humiliating events of my life in the past few years, and for those of you who know how many very difficult and humiliating things that have happened to me in the past three or four years, you know that's really saying something! The cop looked like he just came right out of central casting for "arrogant, macho, confident, small town police officer". He had what we New Englanders call a "wicked short haircut", and intimidating demeanor. As I drove by, he slowly but disgustedly and condescendingly shook his head back and forth as if to say, "You are the most stupid, pathetic, and incompetent loser I've encountered in a long time. They should immediately take your license away." I guess being a somewhat nerdy looking guy who is almost age sixty and driving an unimpressive 1995 small compact car which ironically sports a very desirable "low number" Massachusetts plate only added to his contempt.

Boy, there is so much I really wanted to say to him! You know, when you're stopped behind one of those huge trucks, you really don't know what's going on. It was an honest mistake. But something tells me he would not have understood or cared. My father was "career law enforcement". He would never have become confused or disoriented in such a driving situation. Well, maybe he would have during his final year of driving when he was becoming senile, but "in his day" he never would have! Now, my mother was a different story. Honestly, she had her own list of embarrassing situations that happened on the road with detail police officers. My father had a very macho and sensible way of looking at life and tackling life's challenges, and my mother kind of went by feelings and intuition and just kind of expected things in life to be fair and make sense and miraculously work out. Her thinking process was usually anything but practical, although she was a very, very responsible person. Well, I've inherited my father's powerful speaking voice and "stage presence" but I've also inherited my mother's tendency to be "not sensible" and to be "feelings oriented". And, no, that doesn't work well for you in those "detail police officer roadway situations"!

If my story about the embarrassing roadway situation a few weeks ago in Sherborn were in a sermon and I were using it as a sermon illustration, I would stress the importance of giving others the benefit of the doubt in life, and not laying a bunch of judgment and condemnation on them when you really have no idea what they may be going through or what life is throwing at them. And, just because you may have the demeanor and make-up of my father when it comes to this kind of stuff doesn't mean there shouldn't be equal room and respect for the people who go through life seeing the world as my mother did, or as I do!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

The last time I wrote a piece on my blog about Dan Rea (pronounced "Ray"), and his "Nightside" radio program was last Fall. Dan was advocating that shoppers boycott the big box stores on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday and take the time to celebrate an old fashioned Thanksgiving. I agreed with Dan completely and wanted to give his idea my endorsement and some positive publicity. Dan hosts an interesting and informative live radio talk show on Boston's WBZ radio (located at 1030 on the AM dial). WBZ is a 50,000 watt blowtorch that can be heard at night in parts of 38 states as well as 6 Canadian provinces. Of course, you can listen anywhere to WBZ on-line, as well. Dan spent decades as a popular television news reporter in the Boston market. In addition, he's a law school graduate. The station promotes Dan Rea as "the smartest guy in radio". I'm not sure if he really is "the smartest guy in radio", but Dan is a bright and articulate guy. I've seldom disagreed with Dan Rea, much less gotten "mad" at him, but last night in the car I was yelling at the radio and a bit heated! The topic for the first hour of Monday evening's program (which I listened to while driving from Framingham to Canton) was the Pope's recent declaration that atheists who are good will surely go to Heaven.

Many of Dan's callers had not heard a thing about this until he brought it up last night. Some callers tried to explain what the Pope surely must have meant, and obviously believed his words were being taken out of context. Dan made it clear that the Pope's words were not being taken out of context and that "atheists who are good people will go to Heaven" is exactly what he said! Dan also added that the Pope had stated that Jesus Christ died for all humanity, including atheists, and that therefore all are redeemed. I will make it clear that Dan was absolutely correct in reporting what the Pope recently had to say about this. In fact, the Pope made his comments about two weeks ago, during a weekday mass there in Rome. That week, it appeared as a news story on AOL. When the story flashed on my screen, my first thought was that the Pope had to have been taken out of context and that the AOL story couldn't possibly be accurate. I was in a hurry at the time, but I decided to check out the story when I had more time. The next day, I did an internet search for the story and I found a number of news accounts about it. Each one I read clearly stated that the Pope publicly said that all good people, even atheists will go to Heaven, and that Jesus Christ did redeem all of humanity. I fully expected this to become a huge story within the next couple of days and figured it would be all over the radio talk shows and the internet. I suspected it would be discussed by priests at a lot of Sunday masses, and that Protestant ministers would be weighing in at their services. To my great surprise, within a couple of days the story was gone and I heard nothing more about it- that is, nothing until last night.

The reason I yelled at the radio last night and got mad at Dan Rea is not that he accurately presented what the Pope had to say about this issue. I got mad because Dan Rea did what so many intelligent modern Americans do when it comes to matters concerning the Christian faith: he threw the New Testament and its contents out the window, and he proceeded to wax eloquent on a subject he frankly does not know much about. Dan was like scores of contestants I've seen on Jeopardy when it comes to answering questions about "The Bible" or "The New Testament" or "Religious history". The contestants can "ace" columns of questions about nuclear physics and 18th Century Russian History. When it comes to the Bible and the Christian faith, these brilliant and highly accomplished people will tell you that Noah was in the Lion's Den, that Ecclesiastes is a book in the New Testament, and that it was Peter who experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity on the Damascus Road! Modern Americans don't know the Bible and they don't know diddily squat about the Christian faith! There were a few really good callers to "Nightside" during the discussion about the Pope's comments. One well-spoken Catholic woman quoted a question and answer from the Baltimore Catechism (the question and answer book of Catholic doctrine) which stated that only those who believe and are baptized will be saved and that those who are not will be condemned. That Catechism was actually quoting directly and accurately from the Gospel of Mark. Dan gave that woman short shrift and said with what I could picture was a smirk, "You can have your Baltimore Catechism but I'm with the Big Guy!" That is what set me off. I yelled, "No, Dan, I'm with the real Big Guy, and the real Big Guy is the Lord Jesus Christ!"

Later in the hour, Dan stated that "when the Pope speaks on matters of faith, he is infallible". Wrong, Dan. In Catholic dogma, the Pope's words are only "infallible" when he speaks "ex cathedra" that is "from the throne". I'm not a Catholic (though I was raised in the Catholic faith) and I don't know all the particulars about this, but I know there are a number of specific requirements and conditions that have to be met for the Pope be speaking "infallible" truth, and offhanded comments in a homily at a mass just do not qualify! Beyond this, the Pope is a man and a bishop and that's it! He's not God! I know Pope Francis cares about the poor and has done wonderful works. Still, he is not God! The statements the Pope made a couple of weeks ago stating all atheists who do good works will go to Heaven and strongly implying that since Jesus Christ died for all humanity then all humanity will go to Heaven are flat out wrong! I would tell the Pope that right to his face!

Billy Graham has pointed out on many occasions that Jesus Christ preached much more about Hell than He did about Heaven. That's absolutely true. There are a number of very uncomfortable passages about this. One is the one I've quoted above, which says that the overwhelming majority of humanity will not go to Heaven. Jesus Christ, Himself, said that. There's a passage from that same chapter (Matthew 7) which says that many will tell Jesus that they were very religious and did many wonderful works. They will call Him "Lord, Lord" (vv. 22-23) but He will tell them to depart from Him and will say, "I never knew you". At our Adult Sunday School class at the church I currently attend, the teacher spent some time discussing that passage a couple of weeks ago. He told the class that frankly it is a sobering passage for him to read and think about. It is for me, too. But it's New Testament and it's Truth. And, it was uttered by The Real Big Guy!

Dan Rea, you're a law school graduate. You're a very bright and well informed guy. You're (for the most part) a very good radio talk show host. Why would you be so cavalier about issues of eternal salvation and damnation? And why would you be so foolish as to take the words of one religious leader, no matter how good his works or how high his position and title, over the words of the New Testament? I don't know if you've thoroughly and read and studied the words of the four gospels- I mean thoroughly read them and thoroughly studied them. I suspect you may be more like those Jeopardy champions who can elaborate on 17th Century French history as well as the early history of American football, but who think Gethsemane is a book of the Old Testament. I have a challenge to issue to you: I encourage you to take about 6 months...say from now to just before Christmas, and during that time slowly and thoroughly read through the four gospels. Take it slow. Look up and study any confusing words and passages. Maybe keep a journal and make some notes. Look for things you've never heard of and don't understand. "Dig" into that stuff. See if you're the same person at Christmas time or if your whole attitude and perception about the New Testament and Christianity have changed. Honestly, I will guarantee you that if you take the time out of your busy schedule to do that, your faith, attitude, and perception will have changed, and will never be the same. I could not be more serious about this. Yes, I was "mad" at you for a short time last night, but I'm not mad at you today. You're a great guy, but to be blunt, you needed this kick in the pants. And, I challenge all other readers to do the same. God bless you.

Monday, June 3, 2013


"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

It's funny the inspiration you can get as a writer; sometimes it's something just "right out of the blue". That's the case with what I'm writing today. I had no intention of writing anything for public consumption this morning. I stopped at Market Basket supermarket in Ashland to pick up two items: a packet of cough drops (I like to suck on them throughout the day while I'm on calls at the answering service) and a one liter bottle of seltzer, which I will enjoy with my supper.

Immediately upon exiting the store, there on a bench was "The Fat Guy". My daughter Rachel has given this man that name "The Fat Guy". We don't know his name. He gave me a big smile, but was not able to engage me in conversation because he was already engaged in a conversation with someone else. As I drove away, I thought about "The Fat Guy". He must be about seven years younger than I am, which would put him at about age fifty. This man has been a staple in the Framingham area for decades. I moved into Framingham in early 1987, and even in those days, you'd see "The Fat Guy". I want to make it clear that he is not morbidly obese. I'd say he is probably about sixty pounds overweight. He's not a bad looking guy- not really "handsome" but not bad looking. He's almost always smiling, and frequently engages people in conversation. Most often, he is seen hitchhiking. I think hitchhiking is much less common than it was, say forty years ago. But this man hitchhikes all the time. In the late 1980s, he was probably only about twenty-five pounds overweight. He'd be out on the streets (mostly Concord St./Rte. 126) of Framingham and environs hitchhiking constantly. Most of the time, he'd just stand there with his thumb out. Rarely, you'd see him walking and waving his thumb at cars as he walked. Usually, he just stood and thumbed. It was around twelve years ago that Rachel gave him the monniker, "The Fat Guy". I remember that she said, "If he would just walk instead of hitchhiking, maybe he wouldn't be so fat!"

There was one fireworks show my kids and I went to at the Natick Mall in the 1990s. I vividly remember "The Fat Guy" being there; walking around greeting people, and obviously thrilled to be in the middle of the action. The last time I spoke to him was about five weeks ago as I exited Stop & Shop at Old Connecticut Path, Framingham. He was standing outside of the store with his usual big smile displayed.

"I know this guy!" he exclaimed upon seeing me, "He's the guy with the Firebird!"

I quickly corrected him and explained I was not the person he was thinking of.

"Yes, but I do know you!" he said.

I smiled and nodded. It's been twenty-six years since I first saw "The Fat Guy" in Framingham. To this day, I don't know his name. I don't pick up hitchhikers. Now, I really don't think "The Fat Guy" would be any more dangerous than Bill Murray's "Bob" character in "What About Bob?". I just don't pick up hitchhikers, though. I almost wonder if that was a mistake on my part. Who is this guy, really? What's his name? Is he on disability? Does he have a job? Does he have a family? Is he really as happy and carefree as he appears to be? Is there value in a life that consists of hitchhiking every day, hanging around store parking lots, smiling at people and talking to them? He is a soul. Will God someday tell me that as a pastor in Framingham I "blew it" by not witnessing to "The Fat Guy"? Even now, the next time I see "The Fat Guy" should I ask him some of these questions, or would that be much too personal? No, I never planned to write this today, but "The Fat Guy" hitchhiked into my time and conscience.