Saturday, November 12, 2022

A MISUNDERSTANDING

 "For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand." (Acts 7:25)

"A Misunderstanding".  I'm sure we've all experienced that.  In fact, I'm sure we've all experienced many misunderstandings in the course of our lives.  Just a few days ago, a good friend misinterpreted something I'd said to him.  He texted something to me and I texted something to him. Things became just a bit tense in our relationship.  As I thought about it, I realized the whole thing was a misunderstanding.  Within twenty-four hours he got in touch with me.  We had a really good talk.  In the end, all was resolved.  "It was a misunderstanding," he concluded, and I affirmed this: "Yes, it was a misunderstanding".

I wish it was always that simple!  About eight years ago I experienced what I still consider to be a very painful and traumatic misunderstanding.  I learned some things from it, but it's still upsetting to think about.

I had a friend that I will call "Gilbert" who was over ten years older than me.  Gilbert died after experiencing a number of health issues.  I had visited him just a few weeks prior to his death.  At that time, we had a great visit.  He urged me to come back and see him again soon.  I did call him once or twice after that and asked if I could visit but he told me he was much too sick and just not up to having visitors.  It was not long after that when I heard the news of his passing.

Gilbert was one of the most complicated people I've ever known.  He had a brash and intense personality.  Very few people were neutral or indifferent about Gilbert.  People either absolutely loved him or just couldn't stand him.  Gilbert had been a public figure, but on a small scale.  (The kind of guy that just about everyone in a certain Boston suburb was very familiar with, but who was pretty much an unknown more than a couple hundred miles from home.)  I'd known and had dealings with Gilbert in many different circles and situations.  He did some great things in his life.  He raised money for the needy.  He inspired a number of people to do things they never thought they could do.  Some of these folks went on to do truly great things.

In the early 1990s, Gilbert's life completely fell apart.  He and his wife divorced and he married a younger woman.  He moved far away from New England.  He got involved with some business he never should have gotten involved with.  He committed a serious crime and ultimately was incarcerated.  In time, he was released from prison.  He divorced his second wife.  He found work.  After a number of years he moved back to New England.  I mentioned that people either loved him or couldn't stand him.  Now, after his return to New England there were a number of individuals who had deeply loved Gilbert at one time and who now couldn't stand him.

It's not easy to talk about the period in my own life in which everything fell apart and during which I was suicidal.  During that time, Gilbert truly became one of my closest friends.  Gilbert was a passionate kind of guy and he passionately wanted to help me.  He passionately wanted to see me become mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy again and to ultimately become a successful person in life.  That's why I took his decline in health and his death so hard.  

I wrote what I consider one of the most powerful posts I ever put on my blog.  It was about Gilbert, just hours after I'd learned he died.  I knew there were a number of people who could see nothing good about Gilbert.  In my post I wrote very frankly about his failures and his imprisonment.  But I also wrote about how he had saved my life.  (I truly believe he saved my life during that suicidal time.)  I wanted folks to know he should not be defined by the failures in his past but by the wonderful person he became during his final years.

That post brought a tremendously positive response!  People emailed me saying my post completely changed their feelings about Gilbert.  People thanked me, saying my words had helped them to see Gilbert very differently; to forgive him, to truly love and esteem him again.  I felt so good about this!  I felt this tribute to Gilbert was one of the finest things I'd ever done in my life!  I began to ponder it all.  I mused that Gilbert's family would probably contact me, thanking me for what I'd written.  I figured they'd probably ask me to speak at Gilbert's funeral - perhaps to read my blog post during the funeral service.

A few hours later I was driving along and a call came in on my cell phone.  It was from Gilbert's son.  I was ecstatic!

"I understand you wrote and posted a frank piece on your blog about my father." he said.

Enthusiastically I affirmed I'd written it.

"I want you to take that piece down!"  he said bluntly.  "We're getting all kinds of questions and comments about my father's past.  It's very upsetting.  Take it down!"

I could barely get a few feeble words out of my mouth.   "Well ...  yes ...  I will ...  I will remove it".

I did.

I have no words for how distraught that call made me.  I did remove the post.  I seriously considered keeping a copy just for me, but I did not.  Ironically, that weekend I was scheduled to be the "M.C." at a special public prayer gathering for the MetroWest area.  I should have backed out of that commitment. I did a terrible job running that prayer service.  I was fumbling, distracted, incoherent, not helpful, and I made a total fool of myself.  In forty years of ministry that's by far the poorest job I ever did in a public speaking situation.  I was so upset about what happened, I just couldn't function.

I almost did not attend Gilbert's funeral.  I thought maybe his family would hate me and maybe I would not be welcome.  But I did attend.  I actually had mourners at the funeral home coming up to me and asking, "Did the family ask you to take that blog post down?!"  I said they did, but I downplayed it.

I thought about that this week for some reason.  

A misunderstanding.

Wow.  That was the greatest situation of a "Misunderstanding" I've ever experienced!

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

WHAT I WISH I'D DONE WHEN I PASTORED

 "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."  (I Corinthians 15:58)

It was over twelve years ago that the little church I'd pastored for over twenty years was closed and I stepped out of full-time ministry and into what some people call "the real world".  During my first two years in "the real world" I struggled with anger, defensiveness, and self-pity.  

That was then, and this is now.  I've hated much about my life during these years, but I must admit I've changed.  I also must admit that much about my exile from full-time ministry has been very healthy and enriching for me.  I got to thinking recently about things I wish I'd done differently when I was a pastor.  I don't know if I will ever pastor again.  It seems unlikely.  But if I ever do pastor again, it's likely I'd be very different from what I was in the past.  Here are some examples:

1.  I'd be more of a "People Person".  My dental hygienist complimented me a few weeks ago, telling me as I sat in the dental chair that I'm a People Person.  I'm really not!  And I guess you can't force yourself to be a People Person.  I'm not saying I'd become this extroverted, warm, super engaging guy.  But, I would make an effort at it.  I think people need to know they're valued by their pastor.

2.  I very much "Played Favorites" as a pastor.  I'm not sure I could totally eliminate that, but I would focus much more on "The Least of These".  I didn't focus on "The Least of These" when I was pastoring.  What a terrible mistake!  In fact, disabled and special needs people are very close to the heart of God.  A pastor ought to be one who genuinely loves, affirms, encourages, and ministers to all people.  I guarantee that were I pastoring now - that would be me!

3.  A pastor should be vulnerable and compassionate.  Honestly,  as a pastor I think I did pretty well in the vulnerability area.  Many ministers will never admit their weaknesses and struggles.  I did.  I would continue to be willing to be vulnerable.  Now, when it came to being compassionate, I wasn't always the best.  My experience of exile and humiliation has greatly helped in this area.  I was the kind of pastor who acted compassionate because "that's what pastors are supposed to do".  Today, I've surprised myself about how compassionate I am.  If anybody from Bread of Life Church where I attend now has experienced me praying over you, listening to you, and exhorting and encouraging you, please know I did not do that "because I was supposed to".  Several months ago I brought a word of prayer and encouragement to a couple going through a difficult trial.  I broke down crying as I ministered to them.  I was embarrassed.  But that was genuine.  I think and pray about others often.  It's much deeper and more heartfelt than it was in the past.

4.  I'd have more friendships and relationships with other ministers.  When I pastored I did have a number of liberal clergy friends.  I also had a number of minister friends from other evangelical organizations.  I had very few close relationships with other Assemblies of God ministers.  I tended to feel uncomfortable around them and that I was in competition with them.  I don't feel that way now at all.  Honestly,  I have more Assemblies of God minister friends today than I've ever had.  When things go well for them I rejoice.  When they are having difficulties I stand with them and support them.

5.  I was very poor regarding the "Business End" of pastoring.  And over half of the work you do in ministry involves the "Business End".  I guess I was embarrassed that I was so weak in this area.  Were I pastoring again,  I'd seek help from those who are gifted in this area.

6.  It's tragic that so many Assemblies of God people are embarrassed about our Pentecostal heritage and about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  I did preach on the Holy Spirit Baptism every Pentecost Sunday.  And I do pray in tongues in private pretty much every day.  But I was one of those pastors who "soft peddled" the Holy Spirit Baptism.   My missionary daughter Amy received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit two weeks into her years as an Evangel University student.  Why didn't she get the Baptism years earlier?  Did I genuinely encourage the people of our church about the importance of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?  Well, somewhat.  But not like I should have!  Were I pastoring today, I'd be one of those "Old Fashioned Holy Ghost Preachers"!  And I'd never "soft peddle" my Pentecostalism.

Well, that's it.  I will never be asked to speak in a chapel service in one of our Assemblies of God colleges or universities.   But if I ever did receive such an invitation,  this is what I'd tell them.


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

"NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED!"

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."  (Micah 6:8)

The title of this piece, "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"  is something that's frequently proclaimed by radio talk show host Howie Carr.  I'm not sure if Howie originated that saying. but when I was trying to think of a title this seemed like the perfect fit.

Some days at my customer service call center job I receive a few memorable calls.  Today there were a couple of them.  One woman called late in the morning.  She matter-of-factly told me of some items she'd found that had obviously been lost by one of our customers.  Whoever had lost the items could be quite anxious to get them back.  But the office she'd reached was not the correct place to handle this matter.  I knew of an office which would be much more appropriate.  I was certain that office could help her.  I launched into a twenty second blurb, announcing exactly that to the caller.  The end of my blurb would be me saying something such as,

"I can transfer you right over to that department if you'd like!"

I never got that far!  I never got beyond ten seconds before the caller began angrily demanding:  "MOVE IT ALONG, BOB; MOVE IT ALONG!"

I was stunned. 

I admit I started trying to talk over her.  I was trying to finish my twenty second presentation.  Again, and sounding even angrier, she demanded, "MOVE IT ALONG!"

Next she protested, "I'm trying to do a good deed!  I don't need to be needlessly delayed by you!"

Nervously,  I asked if she would like me to transfer the call. 

"WELL, WHAT DO YOU THINK I WANT?!"

I could just feel her disgust and hatred toward me.  I struggled to sound pleasant and nice.  I'm not supposed to say something like this on my job, but I told her,

"I will transfer the call but you don't need to speak to me as if I were a piece of furniture."

In a split second, she was gone.  

If I could have done so, I would have signed myself off the telephone and computer and just gone for a ride for an hour - or more.

There's SO much I'd love to say to that caller. In Luke 14:28, Jesus gives a teaching about Counting the Cost.  The late Billy Graham preached quite a bit about Counting the Cost.  And listen - that doesn't only apply to the whole message about committing your life to Christ.  It applies to EVERYTHING.  That woman wanted to do a good deed ON HER TERMS.  She did not want to be inconvenienced!  If I were pastoring or counseling someone like that, I'd take them to the tenth chapter of Luke.  There we find the story of The Good Samaritan.  If you take a close look at that story,  The Good Samaritan didn't just sacrifice a half hour of his day.  Rather, in many respects he "killed the whole day" as it were.  He voluntarily Counted the Cost.  He was inconvenienced and he sacrificed much.  But as you read the story it doesn't seem as though this bothered him at all!  Quite a far cry from, "MOVE IT ALONG,  BOB!" - isn't it?

I can't do this piece justice without mentioning a call that came in about an hour before the one I just wrote about.  That call was from a woman who suffers somewhat frequent Grand Mal seizures.  One time recently while she was seizing, a person robbed her of her identification cards, credit cards, and so forth.  She was trying to replace the missing items.  She was dumbfounded about how a person could take advantage of her while she was experiencing a seizure.  She explained that she was raised in Judaism.

"I was raised in the Jewish way."  she said.  "I was taught to be kind, and to do good."

"It sounds to me like you were raised to practice Micah 6:8," I told her.

Micah 6:8 says, "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee,  but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."

Yes, that's what I opened with and I'll close with it.  Of course, if I were Howie Carr I'd probably add, "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"!

Saturday, June 4, 2022

THE DREAM

 "... your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:" (from Acts 2:17)

Some people testify that they dream all the time; they pretty much dream every night.  Others say they almost never dream.  Scientists tell us that most people in fact do dream every night, although many of the dreams are not remembered.  Most nights I experience dreaming.  The overwhelming majority of my dreams are completely bizarre and don't seem to have any rhyme or reason to them.  Last night I dreamed the right front tire on my car was not only flat but completely shredded.  I awoke feeling anxious; then I felt immediate relief that the flat tire was not real.  There is one dream that I had in 1993 which I have never forgotten.  Specifically it was in September or October of 1993.  I awoke from it on a Tuesday morning a little after 4 a.m.  Tuesday was my day off in those days.  I was glad I had the day off because the dream was so real and so upsetting that I needed a day just to try to process what I'd dreamed.  The man who pastored the church where I was serving prior to me was named Tom Gurney.  He lived far from Massachusetts but that very Tuesday he called me saying he was in the local area and wanted to come and see me.  We had lunch that day and I told him all about the dream.  He thought my dream was indeed very significant. 

I used to think a lot about that dream.  I don't think about it too often anymore, but during the past two weeks it's been on my mind a lot.  I decided to put it out there online.  Long ago the Lord revealed to me most of what the dream means.  Perhaps I will share about that at some future time, but now I feel I'm strictly supposed to tell the dream but not say anything about what it means.

My father sometimes talked about a weird experience he had with a medical examiner he knew.  The guy wanted my dad to watch him perform an autopsy.  My father was generally not squeamish, but he wanted no part of watching an autopsy.  He said he made crazy excuses and got out of there!  My dream opens inside some kind of medical facility.  There was a hallway and a sliding wooden door, behind which was a medical examination room.  A doctor was talking to me.  He looked quite a bit like actor Michael Landon, and he talked exactly like Mr. Landon.  He had dark hair and a well trimmed beard.  He wore a white lab coat.  He asked me to come in and view an autopsy. I thought of my father's experience!  Like him, I began to make crazy excuses.  The doctor did not accept any of my excuses.  He calmly urged me to come in and view the autopsy.  A light colored wooden door slid to the left and we walked into the examining room.

On a metal table was the body of a naked blonde boy perhaps in his early teens.  Sitting in a chair was a middle aged woman.  She looked and acted very much like Joanne Lincoln who was a woman that was active in the church I pastored.  I wasn't sure if it was Joanne or someone who looked lot like her.  She was pouring over a photo album.  I just knew she was the boy's mother.  The photos were all of him.  She told me he had been a wonderful son but that at age thirteen he'd become addicted to drugs.  She said he'd blown his brains out.  That was not consistent with the body on the table.  The head was fully in tact.  The doctor had me feel the body just to become comfortable with the situation. 

I briefly looked away.

Suddenly the doctor and the woman were gone.  Just as instantly, a wiry young man about age thirty appeared.  His black hair was very messy.  He wore a blue flannel shirt and black jeans.  He held a large sharp looking knife in his right hand.  He was yelling at me, but I couldn't understand what he was saying.  He was thrusting the knife at me and motioning for me to start walking.  We walked through metal double doors and began walking down a long corridor.  The floor was dark brown linoleum with white specks.  The walls were made of large gold colored bricks with dark mortar.   At the end of the hallway was another set of double metal doors.

We burst through the doors, into what looked like a 1950s business office.   There must have been twelve middle-aged woman sitting at wooden desks in this room.  At each desk was a large manual typewriter and a black rotary dial desk telephone.  The man spoke to me and was now clearly expressing himself.  He said he wanted me to get my car and drive him to a certain location.  I lied to him and told him I did not have my car available.  I told him my wife had borrowed the auto to go buy school clothes for our kids.  He began berating me for being a weak husband.  Then the guy quickly walked to the opposite end of the room and began harassing a couple of the women.  As this was happening, I noticed a confident looking woman at a desk who was probably around age sixty.  I slipped over to her and told her the man was an escaped mental patient and that she should call Security.  She was perfectly calm and confidently declared,

"They've been called."

Just then, two armed men in blue uniforms entered the room.  I don't know how they did it, but in what seemed like no time they confiscated the knife and had the man in handcuffs.  They walked him out of the room.

The dream ended with one of the women walking up to me.  She was weeping and trembling.  She said he had badly frightened her.  I calmly told her everything was fine.  The man was apprehended.  No one was hurt.  There was no reason to be afraid.

Instantly I was awake in my bed!

Like the woman, I was terrified.  I asked the Lord what all this stuff meant.  It's been twenty-eight years.  That dream is still on record as the scariest and most vivid dream I've ever had.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

SO GLAD!

 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

I've been on sort of an emotional and spiritual rollercoaster over the past few weeks!  Many of you know I've experienced serious car trouble, and some unexpected consequences and setbacks because of that.  But right now, it's all good.

My present car is a silver 2001 Toyota Corolla sedan.  Ironically, the car I owned just prior to this one was also a silver 2001 Toyota Corolla sedan.  Yeah, sometimes that gets confusing even for me!  The first 2001 Toyota Corolla was purchased used in late May of 2015.  It ran and functioned great for thirteen months, then I began having many problems with it - all engine related.  That car died in April of 2018.  I am going to change the names of people in this piece as I don't have their permission to use their names. So I will say that "Terry" a mechanic friend of my sister's helped me in finding and purchasing my present Toyota Corolla a couple weeks after the original '01 Corolla died.  His friend "Neil" has a used car business in the Brockton, Massachusetts area.  Neil told Terry he had an old Toyota Corolla which was for sale.  Neil said it was "nothing to look at" but was actually good mechanically.  When Terry and I went to look at it, I was disappointed.  Somebody had done some amateur body work to it at one point.  Several areas of the body, to use an expression of the late Don Imus, "look awful"!  They really do.  When my wife Mary Ann was looking for a car a couple of years ago she told people, "I don't want a car that looks like Bob's!"  I can't blame her for telling them that.  Yet from the beginning Terry told me the engine sounded excellent- much better than the engine on the other Toyota ever did.  His verdict was the car was a good car.  I paid $800 for it.  Neil said he would have charged anyone else $1500 for it.

The second Toyota Corolla ran well for over three years.  But lately, it just hasn't sounded right.  Unlike my late father and brother, I'm not mechanically inclined at all.  When there are weird sounds and weird behavior, I'm no better than a "valley girl" in telling what's wrong with a car.  "There's like really weird sounds and like a really weird feeling and like a really weird like vibe when you like drive the car."  That's about the level I'm on!  (I'm ashamed to admit that!)  And that was essentially the case with my  present Toyota since we began the calendar year 2022.

Three weeks ago today, my car sounded terrible!  It was making all kinds of scraping noises, some banging noises, and even a woo-woo-woo sound like Curly of The Three Stooges!  There is a small shop I've been going to for oil changes and minor repairs for several years.  I'll call it "Mel's".  I drove the car to Mel's on Saturday, March 5 and left it there.  My sister Dianne picked me up there.  Incidentally, Mary Ann has been in Missouri helping my daughter Amy after surgery, for a month.  I had committed to be at Bread of Life Church in Westminster (over fifty miles from where I live) to oversee the security/attendance procedure for checking in and checking out children from Children's Church (more complicated than you'd ever imagine) for five Sundays in a row.  Thus far, I have missed  two of them, which makes me feel, again to sound like Don Imus, awful.  The car was in the shop at Mel's for over five days.  They determined the problem was struts and sway bars.  Almost $700 and over five days later, I got the car back.  During the next few days it was better.  But in my heart I just knew it wasn't perfectly right.  Again, to sound like the valley girl, there were like really weird sounds and like a really weird feeling and like a really weird vibe when I drove the car.  I did make it to Bread of Life Church on Sunday, March 13.  Now, let's fast-forward to Saturday, March 19.  The car sounded and felt terrible.  Terrible.  It sounded like someone was scraping a piece of heavy metal across a driveway when I drove it.  And it just didn't feel right, either.  As we New Englanders say, "I was wicked depressed".  I had a bunch of errands to do last Saturday and I'm glad my daughter Rachel came and chauffeured me all over the place.  I contacted Dianne's mechanic friend Terry.  On Sunday, March 20, Terry came and checked out the car.  He discovered the rear brakes were terrible.  They truly were not functioning at all and that's where the metal dragging sounds were coming from.

On Monday, March 21, Terry took the car to his good friend and outstanding mechanic friend "Zach's" small shop just outside Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  Zach replaced the rear brakes.  He checked the front brakes and found out they really were not good, although not as bad as the rear brakes.  He replaced the front brake pads, and feels the front brakes will be good for quite a few months.  But the big thing was the front axles.  Zach and Terry cannot understand how I drove that car without being killed.  They said the front driver's axle was so bad that when when they began checking it, it just totally fell apart!  Zach replaced the front axles.  Zach told Terry that if he did this repair job for anyone else the cost would be a minimum of $1000.  He charged Terry $300 and I reimbursed Terry the $300.  Terry feels the car should be very good for many months from this point.

And that leads me to why I chose Romans 8:28 for my opening Scripture verse and why I call this piece SO GLAD!  A week ago, I was very mad at Mel's Auto Shop.  I felt they ripped me off, and that they were so incompetent that they did not find the brake and axle problems.  But let's think about that for a moment.  If they had found all that stuff, they probably would have given me an estimate of over $2500. to repair it all (including the struts).  I would have said NO.  I would have junked the car.  And, I probably would have been without a car for awhile.  Instead, I paid a total of around $1000. for all of that work, and the car should be good for many months.  And, the axle did not fail on Interstate 95 leaving me dead!

Amy Grant recorded a great song about forty years ago.  The title is So Glad.  In that song, she talks about all the plans she had made and how God intervened and messed them all up.  We all get pretty perturbed when God steps in and messes up our plans.  I sure do!  For a couple of weeks there, I was in a rotten mood about the car and about not being able to get to Bread of Life Church - and about a lot of other things, too.  Now, it's all in perspective.  Incidentally, it's worth doing an online search for Amy Grant's song So Glad and listening to it. In some respects, I feel ashamed and I feel rather stupid.  But beyond that, really I'm SO GLAD!

Friday, February 25, 2022

WAS FRAMINGHAM BETTER IN 1987?

 "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee..." (from Deuteronomy 8:2)

Recently "out of the blue" I found myself thinking about what Framingham was like when my family and I were new residents in 1987.  (I moved out of Framingham in 2011 but I still miss the community.)  In many respects Framingham was a lot different in 1987.  If you're young, or if you did not live or work in Framingham prior to the twenty-first century, you just might find this interesting. 

Framingham was and is probably the most diverse community in Massachusetts.  Not only is it ethnically and racially diverse, but it's diverse in other ways, too.  There are some very rural parts of Framingham, especially in the area known as the "northwest corner".  Parts of the "northwest corner" look like some of New England's most rural areas.  Yet, parts of the Southside look and feel like Boston's blue-collar Hyde Park neighborhood.  They're pretty urban, congested and (sort of) "affordable".  There are really wealthy areas and poor areas.  That hasn't changed in thirty-five years.

Framingham was still a "Town" in 1987.  There were several votes taken through the years about whether Framingham should be a City.  I always voted for "City" but the change didn't happen till just a few years ago. 

There were a couple large employers in 1987 which are long gone:  General Motors and Dennison.  GM's plant was on Western Ave. near the Sherborn line.  I once owned an Oldsmobile which was built there.  After over forty years, GM left in 1989.  Dennison was located in several buildings on Howard Street and Bishop St.  What was their biggest building was converted to luxury apartments around fifteen years ago.

If you're familiar with the layout of Concord Street/Route 126 between downtown Framingham and Route 9, you'll be surprised that it was once very different.  Believe it or not it was two-lane in each direction!  The lanes were really narrow.  People drove it in a fast and furious manner!  During the fall of 1987, it was reconfigured to the way it is currently.  At the time everybody hated the change.  After awhile, drivers reluctantly adjusted to it.

I came as pastor of the small First Assembly of God church which was located at Hartford and C Streets. We sold that building in 1990.  I met some very interesting clergy men and women during my early days in Framingham.  Mason Wilson was the rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal.  He had been in Town for twenty-five years and had vivid memories of pastoring in Framingham during the days of the Kennedy assassination.  John Ambler was pastor at First Methodist.  He had spent a lot of time following Martin Luther King Jr. during the fifties and sixties.  Andrew Finger was pastor at Lutheran Church of Framingham, and Protestant chaplain at Framingham Union Hospital.  He'd been in Framingham since I was a toddler!

Duca's nightclub on Route 9 (where Walgreens is today) was a hopping place in 1987.  Among the most popular supermarkets were Big D on Waverly Street and another one on Franklin Street.  I also sometimes shopped at Purity Supreme in Saxonville.  A popular restaurant was Finally Michael's at Route 9 and Temple Street.

There was still a Framingham South High School and a Framingham North High School in 1987.  And of course there was Marian (Catholic) High School.  They merged North and South in the early nineties. 

The "old" Shoppers World was very much alive in that era, as was the original Natick Mall.  Shoppers World was a state-of-the-art 1951 shopping center.  It was one of the first of its kind in America.

I didn't use a computer until 1993 nor a cell phone until 1999.  The internet barely existed at all in 1987.  You should have seen the first cable box that Framingham Cable TV provided us with in 1987.  There was no remote!  There was an analog channel tuner on the box which you had to manually turn.  It offered a total of twenty-three channels.

Was Framingham better in 1987?  I'm not sure.  But I have great memories of that Framingham.  It was a very cool place!

Saturday, February 5, 2022

MIKE PENCE'S PROBLEMATIC PUZZLING PREDICAMENT

 "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."  (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Former Vice-President Mike Pence made headlines a few days ago when he made a blistering statement rebuking former President Donald Trump for saying things like, "Mike Pence didn't have to certify the election, making Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the winners.  He could have refused to do that!  The power to change the results was in his hands.  If only Mike Pence had done the right thing; but alas he didn't!"

Trump has said something like that maybe a thousand times since January 6, 2021.  Has Trump "overdone it" with all that complaining about Mike Pence?  In my opinion, yeah he has.  I will admit Pence's statement kind of made me cringe.  But I suppose after listening to a year of Trump essentially calling him a useless, disloyal, unreliable disappointment, Pence had "had it" and needed to vent his own frustration and disappointment with Donald Trump.

I really feel sorry for Mike Pence.  He was put in a terrible position back on the first week of January of 2021.  Honestly, I believe the election was stolen and Biden is an illegitimate president.  It's what I believe and that's my right.  But I don't know what I would have done were I Mike Pence.  It's very possible I would have done exactly what Mike Pence did and certified the election with Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice-President.  As far as I can tell, the Vice-President's role in that whole thing is largely (if not totally) ceremonial.  Back on that first week of January I really felt for Mike Pence.  Again, I thought he was placed in a terrible position.  It was the classic "No Win Situation"!  I didn't know what Pence would do but I knew it was very possible he'd just certify the election.  I also knew it was very possible he'd be hated and rejected by essentially "everybody" and "forever".  And that scenario sure played out!

I voted for Trump both times.  If Trump is the nominee in 2024 I will vote for him again.  (Incidentally,  I seriously doubt Trump will be the nominee in 2024.)  I've been accused in social media of "worshipping Donald Trump" and of "making an idol of Donald Trump".  I'm guilty of neither accusation!  Yes I have written some posts online which were very supportive of Trump.  I've also written some posts which were quite critical of Trump.  He did a number of great things as president.  He also sometimes said and did what could be called "some really stupid things".

In my opinion, Trump's disparaging remarks about what Mike Pence did on January 6 are really out of line and inappropriate.  Mike Pence has often described himself as, "A Christian first, a conservative second, and a Republican third."  I've often described myself exactly the same way.  In my lifetime, no vice-president has been as loyal and supportive of  the POTUS as was Mike Pence.  I frankly hated when liberals described Pence as "a stooge... a sycophant... a lackey... a guy who can't think for himself" and so forth.  Pence acted exactly the way I'd expect a devout evangelical Christian who served as vice-president to act.  I'm not saying I'm presidential material, but I would have handled being Donald Trump's vice-president almost exactly as Mike Pence did.

Recently a listener asked radio talk show host Jesse Kelly if he thought Mike Pence has any political future.  Jesse Kelly responded that Pence has no political future.  Jesse Kelly is right about that.  It's sad.  Mike Pence is still very much loved and praised by Billy Graham's son Franklin Graham.  But when it comes to Mike Pence, I'd say Franklin Graham is probably one in million.

Now, I said earlier that Mike Pence's recent statement made me cringe.  And it did.  I feared it would only stir up a lot of "bad stuff" that probably doesn't need to be stirred up.

This will certainly never happen,  but if I could sit down in a room with Donald Trump and Mike Pence, here's what I'd say to them:

I would tell Donald Trump, "Stop it!  Just stop it!  You've more than said your peace about Mike Pence and certifying that election.  Maybe he was right and maybe he was wrong, but please forgive him.  No one would have been more loyal to you than Mike Pence was.  Appreciate him.  Pray for him.  Don't say another bad word about him."

I would tell Mike Pence, "You were put in a terrible position.  I wouldn't have traded places with you for a million dollars.  There are a lot of people who will always see you as a traitor and a weasel.  But God doesn't see you that way.  I don't know if you were right or wrong to say what you said this week.  But I know Donald Trump badly hurt you and you vented out your feelings.  Now leave it at the altar.  Pray for Donald Trump.  And seek the Lord's direction for the rest of your life."

Mike Pence is human.  He's a fallible and sincere guy who tried to do the right thing as he best understood the right thing to be.  People may never stop arguing about whether Mike Pence was right or wrong, but Mike Pence deserves fair consideration and not firm condemnation!