Tuesday, July 29, 2014


"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

"This says I'm to put my energy and attention into my Divine purpose and destiny;
How do I know what my Divine purpose and destiny is?!"

Wow.  From my point of view, what a "loaded" question!  The answer to it is quite paradoxical, for the answer is both very simple and very profound.  One of my co-workers vocalized that question today.  I'm not sure if she was looking for specific answers; if she was really addressing it to anyone, or if it was more like she was thinking aloud.  I know there are those zealous Christians who would say I should have stood up and answered it right then and there; ignoring the job and responsibilities of the moment.  That, however, would have been completely outside of God's will and would in fact (by my very inappropriate behavior) have given the wrong answer to the question.

I don't know if the woman had any idea what a profound question she was asking.  Someone could easily write a twelve-hundred page book in an attempt to answer that question.  I'm not quite up to a twelve-hundred page book, but I was so impacted by her question that I felt I had to attempt to write an answer to it. 

Simply put, the answer is found in what Jesus says (from the Sermon on the Mount) in the sixth chapter of Matthew's Gospel:

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."  (Matthew 6:33)

Yeah, it's that simple- and that profound.  We've got to be thinking and acting and living in accord with what God wants and desires for us, and not according to our own selfish plans and motives.  On our own, our whole pattern of living is, well, wrong!   That's the point of the verses from Isaiah that I opened with.  On our own, we don't think like God thinks, we don't act like God acts, and we don't live like God wants us to live.  Now, someone might well object to what I'm writing here, saying, "Hey, this is not about God's holiness; this is about a cool, meaningful, enjoyable, fulfilling, happy lifestyle for each of us!  It is about what we want!"  No.  It's when we do what we want to do that we get into trouble!   To find God's destiny and plan and purpose for us, we need to tune ourselves out and we need to tune into God!

Psalm 37:4 speaks of a person being given his or her heart's desire.  Boy, we like that one!  That's a great verse!  That's a great promise.  But read it carefully.  It says:

"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart."   (Psalm 37:4)

Yes, we are to delight in the Lord- in Him- in His ways and purposes.  And, it doesn't mean we'll then get all kinds of selfish, foolish junk that we're secretly craving.  It means that ultimately His desires will become our desires. 

If I'm coming across as some sort of "holier than thou" person, that's not my intention.  The fact is, truly yielding to the Lord and His will can be very difficult.  Now, it's not really supposed to be difficult, but it can be.  We make it difficult.  Have you ever seen how a little kid will stall and stall about picking up his toys or cleaning his room, even when promised a reward for doing so?   It becomes absurd.  The child makes the whole situation a hundred times harder than it needs to be; only because he's trying to exert his own selfish and lazy will!  We all do the same thing- too often.

I don't want to go into great detail, but I've not actively pastored a church for over four years.  A lot of professional doors have been closed to me.  I've experienced a number of other losses that are far too personal to write about.  The fact is, a lot of this came about in my own life because like too many pastors, I thought that the church I pastored was mine and that the life I was living and planning was mine.  I made the mistake that too many pastors make- of thinking I had everything under control and nothing could interfere with it.  And, it all toppled.  As painful as the losses have been, in many respects I forgot about Matthew 6:33 and Psalm 37:4.  And, I guess I forgot about Isaiah 55:8-9, too.  Now, don't get me wrong, I believe God has good things in store for me and a good future ahead for me, but I'm just saying no one is immune to messing up in this area- not even pastors!

My answer to that woman and anyone else who would ask that question about God's purpose and destiny is to take inventory of your life.  Is there "stuff" that is not in line with God's purpose and destiny?  Well, that's got to go!  Well, really the first thing that's got to go is the whole, "I'm as good as the next person- God doesn't expect the impossible from me!"  attitude.  Yes, He does!  That's why we need Jesus!  None of us could ever please God on our own- ever!  We need Jesus, and not just in some superficial way.  We need Jesus one-hundred percent!   Every one of us deserves to go to Hell.  I do.  Jesus Christ came to die for our sins and pay the eternal penalty for our sins, so we don't ever have to go to Hell.  But (see John 1:12) we must receive Him.  We must be born again, as it says in John chapter three.  Each person must admit he or she is a sinner, must admit her or she hasn't got it all together, and must ask Jesus to come into his or her heart to one-hundred percent be their Personal Savior.   That's called being "born again".  That's the beginning.

The problem is that a lot of Christians have this "fire insurance";  but they have not gone much further with God. They still have their plans and their ways and their (well) everything.  They plan out their lives and run their lives and just ask God to stamp His blessing on it.  That's not at all what God wants of us.  He wants us to seek Him.  He want us to get out of the way and listen to Him.   (Perhaps the best way to listen to Him is to spend time in His Word, the Bible.)  When we do that stuff, He will lead and guide us into paths that most of us would probably not have taken on our own, but that will lead to the very best and most fulfilling lives we could ever imagine.  Right now, I'm very earnestly endeavoring to do this- to try to get Bob Baril out of the way and the Lord front and center.  Honestly, I have not mastered this!  It's a daily walk. 

But here's a great illustration:   I've written a lot of fluff and foolishness on my blog over the years.  My blog is just something I've mostly fooled around with as a hobby.  But writing a piece like this makes a person very vulnerable.  You can come across as judgmental or "holier than thou" as I wrote above.  You can make people uncomfortable.  You can risk being thought of as some sort of a radical, Bible-thumping nut, totally out-of-step with the twenty-first century.  As I pondered this, I absolutely considered not writing this piece.   Bob Baril wants to be popular, funny, and liked.  I don't want to be thought of as an Old Testament prophet like Jeremiah who had few friends and faced a lot of rejection.  Today, I had the choice to take the risk and write this piece, or just be "cool" and forget about it.  Well, I chose to obey the Lord and I wrote it.  

Do you want to follow God's destiny and purpose for your life?  Then you've got to become a Matthew 6:33 person.  You've got to be willing to allow God to make radical changes in your life.  You've got to be willing to risk losing friends and even family in some cases.  But there are riches in the Lord that are worth more than all of Bill Gates' money.  The most Godly woman I ever knew was the late Opal Reddin.   She taught at Central Bible College.  Her husband became very ill with heart disease and died.  It was hard for her, but she absolutely walked and lived in and through the Holy Spirit.  You could just feel the presence of the Lord around her, and she was very humble.  The most Godly man I eve knew was the late Norman Milley, Sr.  He worked construction in the Boston area for decades.  He worked with guys who used the foulest language and lived like the Devil.  Yet, this man was a giant of the faith.  Believe me, those guys who worked with him trembled when he walked by, the power of God was so evident in his life!  I also remember that I could just feel the presence of God around him.  He was tall and had a head of thick white hair.  I think he must have looked like the prophet Samuel.  Listen, I want to be a person like Opal Reddin was and like Norman Milley, Sr. was.  That's living in God's purpose and God's destiny!

Friday, July 25, 2014


"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24 New King James Version)

One of the biggest items in the news on local Boston area radio and television stations during the past ten days has been the controversy and labor problems at the Market Basket supermarket chain.  It's a big story because it's so unusual!   Many of the employees are on strike, but there's no Union at Market Basket stores!  The strike is in support of recently fired Market Basket C.E.O. Mr. Arthur T. DeMoulas.  Many Market Basket employees are willing to lose their jobs if necessary to support this man and to try to bring him back.  (A number of so-called business experts, however,  believe the well-meaning efforts of the employees to bring back Arthur T. DeMoulas are actually a lost cause.)  Yes, it's complicated!

When I was a kid growing up in suburban Boston, Massachusetts, I'd never seen a DeMoulas or Market Basket supermarket.  In the 1960s, the "big" supermarkets in the Boston area were A & P, Star Market, First National Stores, and Stop & Shop.  I do remember hearing advertisements on radio and television in which the announcer would proclaim, "Available at DeMoulas and Market Basket stores."  At that time, all of the DeMoulas and Market Basket stores were in the north eastern and north central parts of Massachusetts- I think the chain started around seventy years ago.  I saw my first DeMoulas supermarket one time in the 1980s when I was visiting a shopping area in Leominster.  It was not until the early 1990s that I actually began shopping at a Market Basket store.

My family lived in Framingham, Massachusetts from 1987 to 2011.  At the time we moved into Framingham, the most popular supermarkets were the Big D stores (part of a Worcester chain).  Big D later became "Price Chopper".  We typically shopped at Big D in Framingham and occasionally at Shaw's in Ashland.  There was a big ugly empty former department store building on Route 126 in Ashland (just over the line from Framingham) when we moved into that area.  There were all sorts of rumors that plans were in place to tear down that eyesore and build a beautiful new Market Basket store and adjacent shopping center.  Sometime in the early 1990s, that transformation took place.  I remember that it was so nice to shop at the Ashland Market Basket in those days!  The store was "brand new" and its staff was very friendly.  The prices were amazingly low.  It wasn't long before we became regulars at Market Basket.  Over the years, the Ashland store became more and more and more crowded.  Honestly, that was a bit of a drawback in shopping there.  It tended to be too crowded.  It was hard to find a parking space.  At least half of the shoppers seemed to be foreign born- many Hispanics, many Brazilians, and many Indians and others.  Frankly, I did hear some traditional white American type people say they switched back to Shaw's or Stop & Shop because the Ashland store was not as clean as it was in the beginning (and it wasn't ), it was just too crowded, and they felt uncomfortable with all the people who "did not speak English".  I wished the Ashland store would have been a bit cleaner, but these factors did not deter the Baril family from shopping there at all.  We tended to try to shop at less popular hours such as very early Saturday mornings.  I found the customer service at Market Basket to be good.  One time, I bought a bag of Market Basket shredded cheddar cheese.  When I mixed it into some macaroni elbows I'd cooked on the stovetop, it was "stringy" and did not taste like cheddar at all!  I realized it was not cheddar cheese, but rather mozzarella in a cheddar cheese bag!  I took it back to the store.  They were very nice about it and I was able to get a bag of cheddar with no problem.  I also had a Market Basket check cashing card (and I still do).  What I loved about that is that Market Basket does not treat a check as a debit card transaction in a different form- immediately taking the money out of one's checking account (the way that Stop & Shop does).  It can take three or four days for that check to clear through your bank account!  If money's a problem and you need food (and believe me I've been there on many occasions) being able to write that check that won't clear for three days is just so nice and so convenient!

In early 2011, my wife and I moved to Webster, Massachusetts for a fifteen month period.  There was a very new (big!) Market Basket store located right off Interstate 395 in Oxford.  We switched to shopping regularly at the Oxford store and loved it.  Oxford is an amazingly clean store; and I'd guess it's about a third bigger than the Ashland store.  The "bigness" makes a big difference (pun intended)!  I can't stress enough how friendly the employees were and what a positive shopping experience we had each time we went there.

At the moment, we're back in the immediate Boston area (southwest suburbs) and there is not a Market Basket close by.  However, I do work a secular job in Framingham and I've still regularly stopped into the Ashland store for non-perishable items.  My daughter Rachel lives in Framingham and has been a regular Market Basket customer, as well.

Most consumers, including me, were initially very puzzled by the recent troubles at the Market Basket stores and the labor agitation.  A couple of weeks ago, posters of fired Arthur T. DeMoulas appeared all over the Ashland store with the slogan "Believe!" plastered on them.  One employee had "In A.T.D. We Trust!" sprayed onto his (or her) car.  (As a committed Christian who takes seriously the slogan "In God We Trust" I have to say I thought that was a bit much!)  I will add, I've been following the story on talk radio very carefully over the past week or so and I think I've got a pretty good handle on what's going on:    Mr. Arther T. DeMoulas was a C.E.O. who was continuing in the tradition he'd been taught by his father and grandfather.  He was almost idealistically pro-employee and pro-customer.  Making money was certainly one reason for running his business, but honestly not the biggest reason.  DeMoulas was amazingly a friend and a father-figure to employees.  He gave employees battling cancer or having serious family problems months off with pay!  When somebody was in crisis- he was there for them, literally.   For employees of over three years, they receive profit sharing as a benefit.  The stores are all company owned.  None are leased.  In no cases are mortgages being paid.  Prices are kept rock bottom.  Excellent customer service is stressed.  Now, there are other family members who hold key positions on the company's board who do not necessarily subscribe to the values and philosophy of the company.  It's reported that several would like to sell Market Basket to some big multi-faceted corporation.  They'd "make a killing" and Market Basket stores would continue on, albeit functioning much more like all other supermarkets- with higher prices, less customer-friendly, and less sympathetic to and supportive of employees. 

I've heard a number cynical people say things like, "That's the way of the world," and,  "That's business".   Maybe.  But many of the Market Basket employees are just crazy enough to think they can bring Arthur T. DeMoulas back.  It's being reported in today's news that a big meeting of the Market Basket leadership is in progress today.  Arthur T. DeMoulas has reportedly offered to buy out his rivals on the board and take back control of the business.  It remains to be seen what will happen.

I think of a famous line from a very well known Christmastime movie;  it's from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  Remember that classic?   Do you remember the scene of "Cousin Eddie" kidnapping Clark Griswold's boss and bringing him to the family living room?  Clark and family tell the boss how lousy and unfair it was that the he had cut out Christmas bonuses without telling anyone.  Amazingly, the boss says that sometimes policies are made in board rooms which seem good at the time but which fail to take into consideration the contributions of the "little guys" that are the backbone of the business.  He reinstates the bonuses, and in fact, adds twenty percent to the previous year's bonus, which causes Clark Griswold to faint!

That little speech from that twenty-five year old Grade B picture is really what the Market Basket employee protesting is all about.  The recent corporate decisions at Market Business may make perfect sense as far as the people at the top of the company making a lot of money, but they fail to consider the plight of their regular daily employees and consumers.

There are also a number of "Christmas miracle" movies on television each year.  I realize Christmas is still five months away.  Will there be a real "Christmas miracle" type of thing happening for Market Basket?  Are the cynics correct in saying there's no chance of that taking place in the real world?  It remains to be seen.  In any case, I will not set foot inside a Market Basket supermarket again unless and until these issues are made right by the Market Basket leadership!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good."  (Psalm 14:1)

"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good."  (Psalm 53:1)

My title is one of the longest and most unusual titles I've ever come up with, but it expresses well how I felt inside after coming across a memorable telecast and a memorable radio broadcast over the past weekend.  They were ironically very different yet very similar:  

The telecast was on "public television".   I had never heard of something relatively new that's happening in the United Kingdom.  It's called "Sunday Gathering".  Believe it or not (and a pun was not intended here), "Sunday Gathering" is public gatherings of atheists in various locations and meeting places.  My understanding it that "Sunday Gathering" has also spread to several major cities on the western European continent.  In some respects, it looks a lot like a Christian worship service- especially a "contemporary" Christian worship service.  There's up-tempo secular music, and lots of singing to the music and just kind of enjoying it.   There's also the aspect of community - of people getting to know each other socially, and of taking on practical projects to make one's local community (as well as the whole world) a better place.  Honestly, there's a lot that looked enjoyable about "Sunday Gathering"; but there's the stark reality that Somebody's missing from it and Somebody's not welcome there.  (Now, considering the orthodox Christian theology which says, "God is everywhere", He certainly is there in a sense, but of course God is not acknowledged, prayed to, honored or anything remotely resembling any of those activities.)  Some of the "Sunday Gathering" meetings take place in former church buildings.  I was struck with the fact that the church in Britain is in great decline but that atheism in the U.K. is growing.  

The radio broadcast was also from a "public broadcasting" outlet.  There's an hour of people telling true stories (which I love listening to) that's featured every weekend on public radio.  This week's third story featured one of the world's most brilliant scientists who told a story of why he came to the final conclusion that God is just a product of "superstition" to be appropriately discarded and rejected by our twenty-first century world.  The guy was originally from Germany and raised as a "liberal Roman Catholic" (his term).  He spoke of struggling with the whole divided experience of worshiping God at the Catholic mass on Sundays and believing in a very humanistic and non-supernatural order of things during the rest of the week.  Finally, at a big social event on Cape Cod about fifteen years ago, after having had too much to drink, he walked out of the gathering and onto a beach.  It was late at night.  It was dark and breezy.  He began to yell at God in German, demanding a sign from God, demanding that if God is real that He show himself in a very dramatic way.  Suddenly, he saw a light and an apparition...the figure of a man.  The encounter was not what it first appeared to be, however.  The figure of a man was an angry camper who'd been disturbed by this guy yelling in German and disturbing the peace.  The camper yelled an obscenity at the German scientist;  he had his own demand, that the scientist shut up and get off the beach!  The scientist walked away from that experience a cynical and committed atheist.

The most important thing in my own life is my personal relationship with God.  I've written and spoken about my "born again" experience.  In fact, I became a "born again Christian" on the twenty-first of July back in 1970; forty-four years ago this week.  No, my life has not been all easy.  There has been a lot of pain.  There has been a lot of disappointment.  Honestly, there has been a lot of confusion at times.  Much as I hate to admit it, I've had my moments when I was very angry with God and I've had a few moments in which I doubted God.  Yet, I can tell you so many stories of amazing Divine intervention in my own life; stuff that would give you goosebumps and which has no natural explanation.  I honestly wish I'd experience more of that stuff!  During the past five years, there's been very little of it.  But, I can't deny the great things in God that I've experienced.   And, it's certainly not just me who has has such experiences.

I think the most interesting guest that Dan Rea has ever had on his Nightside radio program on Boston's WBZ 1030 A.M. is Dr. Mary Neal, an orthopedic surgeon.  In 1999, she drowned in a kayak accident in southern Chile.   She was dead for thirty minutes!  She saw and experienced Heaven!  This highly accomplished physician is surely a whole lot more intelligent than I am and has much more impressive credentials than I do.  But I know she would completely disagree with the conclusions of the scientist I wrote about here.  True science and academic study requires we hear all sides of an issue;  not just those that make us feel comfortable.   Dr. Neal's story is not unique, either.  There are literally millions of people who've had Divine encounters!

Someone may challenge me and ask, "If God is so great and so powerful, why didn't  God show up on that Cape Cod beach in dramatic fashion?"

I've given that some thought.  So, some hotshot scientist with a bunch of degrees who has had too much to drink gets out on a Cape Cod beach yelling for God to show Himself.  What arrogance!  Bluntly, what a jerk!  If some drunken genius showed up on my front yard yelling in German for me to come out and show myself to him, so you think I would?   Well, I wouldn't!   I wouldn't feel I had any reason to give such a person an audience.

Now, back to "Sunday Gathering".  Part of me is impressed with "Sunday Gathering".  I like the good works they're going, and I like the way they affirm and encourage people.  But when somebody's diagnosed with cancer, there's nobody to pray to.  When somebody's kid is killed in a car accident, there's nobody to pray to; and there are no Scriptures for comfort.  When a miracle is needed, well, there just ain't gonna be one!  When a person is tormented by their past or by one of a vast variety of addictions, there's no "balm in Gilead to make the sin sick whole"!  

I think a whole sermon could be preached or a whole article (or book) could be written examining whether some of our own Christian Sunday services have in fact just become "Sunday Gatherings" with very little difference from the atheistic ones!   There are indeed churches that have a name of being alive, yet are dead as far as the Lord is concerned (see God's message to the Church at Sardis in Revelation chapter three verses one through six).   We're living in a very serious hour.  I always seem to be about two or three years behind the rest of the evangelicals and charismatics in what I'm reading, and right now I'm reading Jonathan Cahn's book, The Harbinger.    We're living perilously close to the Second Coming of Christ, yet many Christians seemingly couldn't care less about this!  We're living in a day when we're called to love the Lord and walk in holiness and wisdom as never before!

Listen, I'm not for censorship.  I'm glad for the radio broadcast and the telecast I saw this past weekend, and for how they challenged me.   I'm more convinced than ever before of this Truth:  People Need the Lord!

Sunday, July 13, 2014


 "And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)"  (2 Peter 2:7-8)

This month marks forty-four years that I've been a "born again Christian".  I was taught from my earliest days as a child of God that it was important for me to read my Bible every day.  I remember my brother Eddie asking me after I'd been "saved" for about five years, "Aren't you done reading that Bible yet?!"  To Eddie, the Bible was a book that you should be able to read and master after a year or so.  He couldn't fathom people reading the Bible over and over again for decades and still learning and "seeing" new things in it.  I certainly understand Eddie's question, but after forty-four years, I'm still learning new things from the Bible;  even from some very familiar chapters and passages. 

This morning, for my "personal devotional reading" I read Genesis chapter nineteen.  This is the chapter which tells the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  I've read it many times, but I noticed some "new stuff" in it today and I found myself really meditating about the life and story of Lot this morning- and considering some matters I've just never thought about before!

If you carefully check out the whole story from the previous chapters of the Book of Genesis, Lot was Abraham's nephew.  Lot was part of a large group of family and servants (as well as herds and herds of various animals), who went out with Abraham to travel to the land of Canaan after God specifically directed Abraham to make this move.  They lived as nomads in the land, literally living in tents, although Abraham was quite wealthy and Lot wasn't exactly "hurting financially" either!  At one point, the servants of Abraham and the servants of Lot were just not getting along.  It was a very uncomfortable situation.  Abraham told Lot it was better for them to separate than for their servants to hate each other and be fighting with each other.  Abraham gave Lot the choice of whatever part of the land of Canaan he wanted.  The "plain" near Sodom was lush and fertile.  Lot chose to move there.  Abraham was left to take an area which was more hilly and arid and (frankly) just not so great, but his attitude was that it was just fine.  In spite of that, God continued to richly bless Abraham!

When Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed many years later, Lot and his family are living in a house in the city of Sodom!  Now, remember the "deal" was that they were nomads.  They were wealthy owners of many herds, but they were nomads.  They lived in the country.  They lived in tents.  They trusted God.  That was the deal.  It's often been preached that Lot did a bad thing by choosing the lush plain near Sodom.  Yet, consider this:  If he had not chosen it, Abraham would have moved there!  But guess what:  I don't believe Abraham would ever have been living in a house in the city of Sodom!  That's where Lot went wrong somehow!   At one point long before this, the city of Sodom is attacked and pillaged.  Lot's family and belongings are hauled away to Timbuktu!  Well, not literally to Timbuktu, but they were hauled far away!  When Abraham hears about it, he takes a bunch of his men, takes on the kings and armies who attacked Sodom, "does a number" on them, and gets back the captives and belongings that were stolen.  (For you serious Book of Hebrews scholars, this is when Abraham pays tithes to Melchizadek; and for you fans of worship leader Lindell Cooley, this is when he "went to the enemy's camp and took back what he stole from me".)  As I pondered this today, I realized that if Lot was still living in the country as a nomad and still had "his men", this whole episode of orbbery and captivity would never have happened!  It was not wrong for Lot to move to the lush area, but somehow Lot became infatuated with the city of Sodom!  Did he go in there to buy supplies and just fall in love with the place... the nice restaurants... the cool malls... the artsy summer evening shows... the adult entertainment clubs... the crusin' nights with '50s cars (well OK, that they didn't have, but if it was 2014, they'd have had em!)?  Somewhere, somehow, Lot gave up the whole agricultural thing and settled down in the city of Sodom.  I somehow always pictured that Lot just had a wife and a couple of daughters; but a careful reading of Genesis nineteen shows he had several daughters, some sons-in-law, and some sons.  Ultimately, only Lot and two unmarried daughters escaped Sodom just before it was destroyed with "fire and brimstone".   The verses I opened this piece with state that the sins of Sodom really bugged Lot;  but he stayed there anyway!  Listen, there's no question that violent homosexuality was a key sin of Sodom, but it was not their only sin.  Notice what the forty-ninth verse of Ezekiel chapter sixteen tells us (from the New King James Version):

"Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

This place was just plain bad.  Two angels in the form of men came to Sodom to warn Lot to get out of there before it was destroyed.  No kidding, a bunch of guys from Sodom showed up wanting to gang rape them!   (Yes, that's in the Bible!)  Lot offered that they could rape his maiden daughters, instead  (Lot, are you serious?!)  Lot tried to warn his sons-in-law that God was about to destroy the place.  They cracked up laughing and thought he was clowning around with them!  Note: they perished!  Initially, Lot whined like Dr. Zachary Smith of television's Lost in Space that he'd never survive escaping to the mountains so he wanted to move to the little city of Zoar.  (Notice that again he wanted to live in a city.)  Shortly after the destruction of Sodom, Lot became afraid (again, sounding like Dr. Zachary Smith) and in fact did go to the mountains with his two daughters, as the angels originally instructed him to do.   What an awful end is found in Genesis chapter nineteen!  One daughter gets Lot drunk, has sex with him, and gets pregnant.  Later, the other daughter gets him drunk, has sex with him, and gets pregnant.  These girls gave birth to the ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites.  (Yes, it's true that the Godly woman, Ruth was a Moabite; but really, this is awful stuff!)

Lot made some choices throughout his life, over a period of many years.   In many respects he was a "good" man and a "righteous" man, but frankly, he did not finish well.  He did not leave a Godly legacy.

I was left with a Lot to think about today!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


"For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it."  (Hebrews 4:14 New King James Version)

This morning, I awoke at 3:50 a.m. to the sound of a secular overnight talk show host on a major 50,000 watt A.M. radio station.  I will admit I'm generally "not crazy about" the particular radio host who's on at that hour.   (The host's initials are "B.J.")  His personality, world-view, and philosophy of life could be described as pretty much exactly the opposite of mine.  Yet, I was very surprised at the topic:  "The Bible".  B.J.'s guest (by phone) was a brilliant British guy who has written a secular book about the Bible.  Factually, probably ninety percent of what the British guy had to say was correct, but he was not at all looking at the Bible from the point of view of faith in God and reverence toward God.   I found myself feeling both interested and empty as I listened, and that's a weird feeling, indeed!

About twenty minutes later, a suburban Boston priest who regularly calls this program was on the line.  The British guy was now gone, but the host was musing about all the questions he wished he'd had time to ask him about the Bible.  The priest proceeded to briefly touch on some of the B.J.'s questions and comments.  Now, the priest admittedly does come from a faith viewpoint, and I was more comfortable listening to him; but there was still the glaring feeling that something was just plain missing!   The host stated he'd like to spend a huge amount of time just reading the Bible verse by verse, and then immediately have a reference work to read which would explain the history, culture, literature, "relationship to science" and pretty much everything else you could think of relating to a Bible passage.  The priest kind of gave him a pleasant and cerebral "atta boy" and moved on.

I'm a big advocate of reading the Bible on a daily basis; and I'm a big advocate of making every effort to apply the Bible's teachings to real life.  Ironically, a little over a year ago, I was an in-studio guest at that very radio station, speaking to another of their hosts about that.   One might think I'd be delighted  with B.J.s desire to read through the Bible in a very scholarly, inquisitive, and "scientific" manner.  This may sound harsh, but that program this morning actually left me feeling sad and depressed!

Here's why:  While it's, of course, important to study the historical and cultural settings of passages you're reading and it's, of course, helpful to relate Biblical passages to other areas of life, the Bible is truly unique and it's God's Holy Word.  The men who spoke to B.J. this morning correctly stated that God did not dictate the Bible as a word-for-word manual for living.  Rather, God did use each writer's style, background, and personality.  And, the books of the Bible have very different purposes.  Leviticus has a very different purpose from Psalms, which has a very different purpose from the Gospel of John, which has a very different purpose from the Epistle to the Romans, which has a very different purpose from the Book of Revelation.  Yet, it's truly all a whole.   The Holy Spirit oversaw it's production and completion, and you'll never really "get" the Bible without the anointing and revelation of the Holy Spirit.

A person could have three Doctoral degrees, could be fluent in Biblical Greek and Hebrew, and could have scores of chapters of the Bible memorized; and yet really not know the God of the Bible!  There's a comedy film from the 1960s starring Rock Hudson entitled, "Man's Favorite Sport?".   In this film, Rock Hudson plays a fishing expert who has never been fishing in his entire life!  He has worked for years at a sporting goods store.  He listened to the advice of many experienced fisherman.  He came to know more about fishing than perhaps anyone on earth.  He wrote a best-selling book about fishing.  The funny part about the movie is that the man's boss enters him in a big fishing tournament at a lake resort.  The "experts" misadventures and buffoonery are hysterically funny.  That film makes a good point:  A person could be an "expert" with no experience!

As I wrote about B.J., he is nothing like me.  He'd probably "blow off" this piece if he ever read it.  My advice to him would be to indeed begin reading and studying the Bible, but far more importantly, to humbly ask God to speak to Him and reveal Himself to him, and to pray, "Lord, how can I know you?  Lord, what do you want me to do?"   Without that faith approach, I think he'd be better off studying something else- maybe motorcycles, another of his interests!