Monday, April 30, 2007


I sent out the following e-mail this afternoon.  For the benefit of those who did not see it:

To those who received the e-mail this morning inviting you to read "Gloria" on the blog:

Thank you for your prayers.  Sometimes we are all (as Paul was in 2 Cor. 1:8 among other places) subject to intense spiritual warfare, pressure, and raw emotions,  where we reach a need to vent that and ask for prayer.  I FEEL THE BEST THAT I'VE FELT IN 24 HRS.  I REALLY BELIEVE IT IS BECAUSE YOU PRAYED FOR ME.  I AM DEEPLY GRATEFUL TO  THE LORD AND TO YOU- THANK YOU.

I know some felt I was unappreciative  of them (feedback from a couple of people) and had problems with the e-mail and blog posting.  Those sentiments have been noted.  Please know that anything that anyone does for me or for First Assembly of God of Framingham, I DO deeply appreciate.

It is very possible that I will do an "e-mail fast" while I'm in Missouri.  ..... that I won't be reading or sending e-mail and won't be posting on the blog.  Thus if you send me something and I don't respond, I trust you will understand.

Thank you, and God bless you,


“Gloria in excelsis deo” - “Glory to God in the highest” (from Luke 2:14)

Last Tuesday I got a call from Gloria.

Gloria is Gloria Maw.  She’s 63-years-old, although (no offense if she ever sees this) I’d have guessed she was older than that.  Gloria Maw lives in the Portland, Maine area.  Gloria attended First Assembly of God of Framingham for many years.  She has one son, Lynwood.  I always thought Gloria and Lynwood were characters.  They weren’t really weirdoes or anything like that.  But they WERE different.  Each had a demeanor such that when they’d tell you something you couldn’t quite tell if they were kidding or not, nor could you guess their mood or intent.  Gloria worked hard as a nurse’s aid at a MetroWest area nursing home.  She lived only a tenth or a mile or so from my residence.  She was never a leader nor was she an “important” (in human terms) person in the church.  She was just kind of there, smiling, making an occasional comment.  Gloria really liked most people, but didn’t like some.  The ones she didn’t like tended to not like her, either, but she DID like most!  Like me, she was very honest, and could be a little blunt!  One time, a woman in our church got a curly haircut which looked really weird, childish, and inappropriate.  Gloria, trying to be diplomatic remarked to that woman, “Your haircut is cute.”

The woman got really mad!  “I’m CUTE!! I’m CUTE!!” she yelled sarcastically.  (For those of you from First Assembly of God, the woman who yelled “I’m CUTE!!” has the initials “C.B.” but that’s as much as I’ll say  about it!

Gloria was close to our church’s “Official Secretary” Claire Grimes.  About 9 years ago, Gloria announced “out of the blue” that she was moving to the Portland, Maine area because “God wants me to”.  She had no place to live and no job waiting for her.  Both Claire Grimes and I thought Gloria was NUTS to do this!  We were convinced it was out of the will of God.  Claire and I were wrong on that one.

Gloria moved to the Portland, Maine area and MIRACULOUSLY every thing worked out.  The best part was that she joined an outstanding Assemblies of God church there where she began faithfully attending.  It’s a much larger church that ours in Framingham, and it’s a place where Gloria has greatly grown spiritually.

Last Tuesday, I’d spend most ofthe day doing yard work.  Tired and sweaty, I came inside and sat down to take a break.  The phone rang, and to my surprise it was Gloria Maw.  I had not spoken to Gloria in probably 5 years.  Gloria sounded VERY happy and upbeat, and very friendly.  In that happy voice she said,

“I’ve got cancer.  It’s in my lymph system, it’s in my lungs, and it’s gone into my liver.  I’m receiving very aggressive treatment.”

I was stunned, and certainly saddened.

Gloria went on to tell me that she continues to go to work at least a half day for every day she can, and that she’s doing all she can to be a good example for Christ to her coworkers AND to those who treat her at the hospital.  

I prayed for Gloria.

Warmly, Gloria told me she often thinks of me and of First Assembly of God of Framingham.  My ministry and the years there meant a great deal to her.  

I was numb after hanging up the phone.  I don’t know what will happen.  I do know God can do anything.  Six years ago, my accountant was very sick with cancer.  God miraculously healed him.  Still, I’ve had other friends with cancer who have died.  I realized Gloria was calling me to let me know (if she passes away soon) that she really appreciates me and the Framingham church.  That call made my day last Tuesday.

Over the past seven years, something like twenty-five  people have left our small church, turning it into a VERY small church.  Many of those people have said some pretty critical things to me as they’ve departed, and BOY have those things STUNG.  Gloria’s call was, well what the Old Testament calls, “a balm in Gilead”.

I’ve got a confession to make:  I got up VERY DEPRESSED today.  Yesterday, we had a low attendance (even for us) at church and we had an insufficient offering.  I’m scheduled to fly to Springfield, Missouri tomorrow - for 12 days.  My wife is scheduled to join me on Wednesday there.  Many of you know, the occasion is our daughter Amy’s graduation from college and nursing school (actually 2 graduations a week apart). I’m leaving the small church in terrible shape.  Elderly Claire Grimes, the volunteer secretary, is essentially being handed a “baptism of fire” of potential shutoff notices and cancellation notices with little or no way to handle it.  I know she’s not happy about me leaving, and it makes me feel terrible to do that to her.  

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the parking lot of the Lincoln Medical building that overlooks Learned Pond.  I may have looked like an idiot, but I actually knelt on the seat of a picnic table there and “had it out with God”.  I told God it was unfair to put me in a position where I have a choice of hurting and disappointing my daughter Amy (if I cancel the trip) or of hurting and disappointing Claire Grimes (if I leave her in a hopeless mess and sarcastically say “good luck!”).   Amy and I corresponded by e-mail later on Sunday.  Amy is hurt and angry with the church in Framingham - can you BLAME her?  

So, I got out of bed really depressed today.  I wasn’t planning to post anything on the blog this morning, nor was I planning to send out any e-mails.  As I ate a (frankly delicious) Thomas’ English Muffin and drank a cup of Folger’s coffee that I’d deliberately made too strong, I thought about Gloria Maw’s phone call.  It was hard to continue to be depressed thinking of Gloria.  Gloria’s a thoughtful and brave woman.  Gloria’s everything you’d want a Christian in her shoes to be like- AND THEN SOME!  I decided to tell about Gloria’s phone call on this blog.  

My old boss Dave Milley used to say, “Don’t send me flowers when I’m DEAD! Send them when I’m ALIVE!”  He’s right!  (Ironically I read a story this morning about someone at Hudson High School who DID give Governor Patrick some flowers and was hurt because he quickly and insensitively gave them away!)  Gloria kind of sent me a “phone bouquet” last week that was a real blessing.  So, whether literally or figuratively, send some flowers this week!

Some of you know, I’ve got a crazy and 5th grade level sense of humor.  Sometimes at Christmastime when I sing the chorus of “Angels We Have Heard on High” I comically change it to “Glllooorrriiiiaa , and her name is MAW,   Glllooorrriiiiaa , and her name is MAW ! “

Well, I honestly don’t know how to end this posting so that’s as good a way as any...

Friday, April 27, 2007


“Let all things be done decently and in order.”  (I Corinthians 14:40)

I absolutely LOVE that verse.  Specifically, it deals with the use of the Gifts of the Spirit in a public service.  (And, nowadays it’s only Pentecostal and Charismatic churches that even ALLOW the use of the Gifts of the Spirit in a public service, anyway!)  But I like to apply that verse out of context and more broadly to everything in life because I just plain like things to be done “decently and in order”.  For you fans of, “The Odd Couple”, people have called me “Felix Unger”.  I’m actually less formal than Felix Unger and I’m just a tad messier than Felix Unger, but I AM much more of a “Felix Unger” than an “Oscar Madison”!  

About eighteen years ago, I watched a documentary about modern Japan.  The documentary focused on the Japanese work ethic. It showed how the Japanese are fastidious about being on time and doing an outstanding job.  It showed how they strive for excellence and conformity.  A young man who was watching the documentary with me said, “Ugh.  They can have it.  I would HATE to live like that!”  I was thinking, “What a WONDERFUL PLACE!  Too bad I wasn’t Japanese!”

I’m very systematic.  I operate off of “To Do Lists” and I USUALLY get the stuff done no matter what.  I have  a regular routine that I stick to “religiously”; and that has nothing to do with me being a minister.  I’m using “religiously” like the guy in the late 1960s Rolaids commercial who said, “I take Rolaids, religiously!”

My wife and I are going away to Missouri for the first couple of weeks of May.  (For anyone who is thinking about breaking into our residence while we’re gone, FORGET IT.  There will be adults living in the house the entire time we’re gone and it will probably be watched more carefully than it usually is!)  Our daughter Amy has TWO graduations in May.  She is in a joint Nursing training program with Evangel University and Cox College of Nursing- both schools are in Springfield, Missouri.  On May 4, Amy receives a B.S. in Health Science from Evangel, and on May 11, Amy receives a B.S. in Nursing from Cox College of Nursing.  Amy is graduating Summa Cum Laude!   (In my day, I graduated from college Cum Laude, and I though THAT was a big deal!)

Amy has an apartment in Springfield, Missouri with a friend and has a serious boyfriend there.  She’s been hired as a Pediatric Nurse at the local medical center.  I enjoy visiting Springfield because I graduated from Central Bible College on Springfield’s northside in 1979.  I actually get a little emotional every time I hit the Springfield city limits...kind of like the Beatles’ song, “There are places I remember all my life,  though some have changed...”  In fact, I’m seriously thinking of my wife and I retiring out there in about fifteen years.  

BUT, right now I’m “running around like a nut” and I HATE IT!

Between now and leaving for Rhode Island’s T.F. Green Airport on Tuesday morning, I have to literally do the equivalent of at least seven days worth of work and activity.  Yesterday, I prepared my sermon for this coming Sunday.  It was a “from scratch” sermon on Genesis 42.  Sometimes I do “pull an old sermon out of the files” which is what I’m doing for Sunday, May 13 (although you’ve got to PRETEND you didn’t read that or know that).  This morning, I made service appointments for all three of our cars for after I get home.  I also prepared tonight’s Bible study on “What the Bible Says About the Church” which is drawn from the Books of Ephesians and Colossians.  This afternoon, I will be working on preparing this Sunday’s Adult Sunday School class.  Back to the morning, I got handouts and “stuff” ready for my 23-year-old son that he will need as he teaches the Adult Sunday School class on May 6. Yesterday I got the tapes and tape labels ready for this Sunday, next Sunday, and the following Sunday. Sometime I have to prepare the May 13 Adult Sunday School class, also.  At some point, I have to write an instructional/reminder letter to the church leadership just reminding them of certain things that have to be done while I’m gone- like picking up the night deposit bag from the bank, for instance.  I also have to get attendance sheets ready for the midweek prayer meetings.  Tomorrow (Saturday) morning, I’m hosting and leading Men’s Fellowship.  I need to make sure I pick up doughnuts, have the coffee made, have enough cream and sugar, etc.  AND, we’re having a special day of prayer at our church tomorrow.  Although that will be going on for most of the day in the church’s main sanctuary, I doubt I’ll be in there for more than an hour.

Oh, did I tell you I have to get a bunch of my laundry done, and I have a bunch of stuff to bring Amy like her car title and other stuff.  I’m honored that at her “pinning ceremony” I am leading a Prayer of “Blessing of the Nurse’s Hands”. I found a great prayer in one of my “little black books” and I need to remember to bring that.  I need to pack everything I will need for the trip.  I’m flying NorthWest.  You may recall, I had a bad experience on NorthWest last August so I’m frankly nervous about that.  AND, I’m saying “I’M” because Mary Ann is flying out on May 2 and I’m flying alone on May 1.  We fly back together on May 12 which also happens to be Amy’s 22nd birthday.

Tomorrow night I have to drive my son to a play performance in Worcester; and I’ve got to hang around out there for about three hours.  He doesn’t drive and that’s a topic for another blog.  (My wife’s brother did not get his license until ge 37 so that not driving stuff kind of runs in the family!)  

The church’s finances have “stunk”.  Right now the church is under enormous financial pressure and that’s making it a little hard to feel comfortable about going away.  I was also supposed to get a double paycheck to go away on, which probably won’t happen, so that’s a tad dicey, too.  But by far the worst stress is this time stuff!  

I know, I know, I’ve got to trust God and put all this in His hands.  That’s exactly what I would tell someone else if they told me everything I’ve just written on this blog.  And IT’S TRUE.  And I know I GOTTA DO THAT.  I just kind of had to sit and let this out!

Obviously, there will be a couple of weeks in which there will be no entries on this blog .... I hope you’ll pray for me while I’m gone and I hope you’ll check the blog again after May 13.  (I may have another entry or two before I go away!)

I’ve actually been eating my lunch while I’ve been writing this.  Oh well, back to running around like a nut... !

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

SOUNDS TOO GOOD (Thursday's entry)

“ ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”  (from Matthew 10:16)

“If it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

This piece will be short and sweet but it’s aimed at anyone who is either elderly or will someday be elderly.  I’m not the “brightest bulb” when it comes to financial matters; far from it.  But, be skeptical about the advertising that says, “We can protect your assets so that if you’re in a nursing home YOU get to keep your house and what you’ve worked so hard to save.”

There’s a trick to that one.

My parents each died in 2000, and my father spent the final eight months of his life in a nursing home.  A friend strongly encouraged me to call one of those outfits that advertises on the radio so I could “save my parents’ assets”.  I did call them, and I did receive a mailing from them.  After thoroughly reading the mailing, I realized the trick.  If my parents (or someone legally responsible for them) signed up for this “service”, as long as my parents lived they could keep their house and assets.  HOWEVER, as soon as they died, it would pretty much be GONE...between the nursing home, the government, and that “service agency”.  In all fairness, Howie Carr advertises a lawyer who DOES seem to say he will arrange things so that “you can pass your assets on to your children”- so I’ll give that lawyer a pass, but BE CAREFUL.

This sort of thing is on my mind for two reasons.  ONE, because on 96.9 FMTalk, the same outfit I wrote away to for information is running those ads aimed at the elderly;  telling them they can keep their homes and their assets. TWO, because I talked to an elderly woman a few days ago who was very happy and excited.  The only reason I’m telling her story is that she does not have a computer,  and has no idea how to access e-mail or blogs.  She thought she’d hit the jackpot!

“I found out that when you’re over 70 you DON’T HAVE TO PAY YOUR PROPERTY TAXES ANYMORE!” she told me, “You can just DEFER them!  When you and your husband are both dead, THEN the house can be sold and all the back taxes can be paid to the Town!  Isn’t that GREAT?!”

Well. admittedly, it does have a good point.  Neither she nor her husband will ever have to worry about property taxes again.  BUT...their three adult children will.  Now, I’m not saying kids should be greedy...just WAITING for their elderly parents to “kick the bucket” so they can cash in. NO.  But if after our parents’ death, my sister and I had to sell the family homestead and owe at least $40,000 in taxes to the Town, I can tell you we wouldn’t have been all that thrilled.

Reverse mortgages are also wonderful for the elderly people,ut can be terrible for those who are left behind.

Again, I’m not a C.P.A.  and I’m not a C.F.P. (“certified financial planner”).  But:  just F Y I,  if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Please check this stuff out and be careful.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

AMY UPDATE (extra entry)

“ have not, because ye ask not.” (from James 4:2)

This entry is appropriate for those readers who know me personally, who know my daughter Amy personally, and who are born-again Christians.  If you do not fit into all of those categories, I will not be offended if you just don’t bother reading this.

Now, the story:
Amy graduates from Evangel University with a B.S. in Health Science on May 4 AND graduates from Cox School of Nursing with a B.S. in Nursing on May 11.  Amy has a job as a Pediatric Nurse at Cox South Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri.  Amy is about to turn 22.  She was born in May of 1985 and I was Ordained in May of 1985 so that month means a ot to us.  In fact, Amy was born on Mother’s Day, so it was very special for Mary Ann, too.  Amy was approved by her church (Oak Grove Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri) to join their Haiti Missions team for June 2007.  Amy will be doing medical work on this trip- there’s a whole group from the church going.  (Amy got special permission from Cox South to get time off for this trip.)
Today Amy e-mailed me that Oak Grove has only received a few hundred dollars toward her trip.  She needs QUITE A BIT more or she won’t be going.  As a Dad, that was a tough one to read.  I remember my 2 Haiti Missions trips (1990 and 1991).  I put out solicitation mailings for those and the money just rolled in.  Amy has not been so fortunate.  If I had it, I’d just send $1000 toward the trip.  I don’t.  Mary Ann and I have barely put aside $500 for when we go to Missouri.  Our church has also been running seriously behind financially. The church as an entity has no money to donate toward Amy’s trip, and right now, I personally don’t have anything.  
There MAY have been problems with donations for Amy having been sent to Oak Grove Assembly of God but the money never being properly credited as being for Amy’s trip.  We’re trying to sort that one out.  
If anyone could send ANYTHING for Amy’s trip- even $20 is not too little- make the check out to “Oak Grove Assembly of God” and put “Amy Baril Haiti Trip” in the memo.  I don’t want to list Amy’s address on the blog but if you e-mail me, I’ll give it to you.  I’d rather you mailed the check to Amy and she can turn it in to the church so we make sure it doesn’t get misplaced or misunderstood at the church.
I know this is VERY forward and VERY pushy of me.  I know.  But if you want to do something special for Amy’s graduation, this is what you can do.

God bless!
BOB BARIL - My e-mail is


“That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.  The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;” (Titus 2:1-2)

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve discussed the cancer of a woman about my age (with her concerned husband), I’ve also discussed (with his wife) the illness of a guy who’s not that much older than me and MAY have cancer, AND I’ve visited a guy who is about fifteen years older than me and is having serious heart issues.

I’m thinking about a holiday social my wife and I hosted for a group of 45-60 year olds between Christmas and New Year’s in 2000.  Almost all of them, including my wife, talked about their operations and horrific medical problems.  That meeting was interrupted when we got a phone call informing us someone we knew had just died!  I was SO depressed the next day.  

“When we were in our twenties and had get-togethers, “ I said, “nobody sat around talking about their operations, their heart attacks, their near death experiences, etc.  It was like sitting around with a bunch of, well, ‘over the hill’ people.”  Well, considering I was 46 at the time ... I guess that meant me, too!  I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve had only two operations in my life: a tonsillectomy at age 6 and a vasectomy at age 32.  Overall, I’ve been pretty healthy.  Well, my blood pressure IS up a bit, but is still essentially in the safe zone.  I wonder:  if at some point my health fails, will I want to talk about it all the time?  (I actually hope NOT.)

Kids can’t appreciate how quickly life goes by.  My parents used to talk about it, BUT I was a kid and I couldn’t relate.  In just a few weeks, my daughter Amy graduates from college and nursing school.   I was her age 30 years ago.   Amy will be 22 in May.  I can remember the childbirth classes when my wife was “expecting” Amy- so clearly. The teacher’s name was Julie Boch.  She had married into the big automobile dealership family from Norwood.  It SEEMS like 4 or maybe 5 years ago- not 22!   A couple of weeks ago, in the MetroWest Daily News automotive section was a story about a classic 1959 Chevy Bel-AIr.  I was only around 4 when that was a new car, but I distinctly remember those cars because they have such distinctive fins and tail lights.  In their day, they REALLY stood out.  Even my mother used to call those cars, “The cars with the butterfly backs”.  When I was in high school, cars like that were starting to be considered old, BUT they were  popular with the teenagers.  NOW, that car is 48-years-old and an antique in every way.  And I remember them new....

A guy in our church who is in his 80s always refers to me (and any man under age 70) as “just a YOUNG man”!  Well, compared to him, I AM just a young man.  But I wonder how the past thirty years have all gone by so fast!  Having peers with cancer, and heart attacks, and operations, and DYING, well, that’s not what it was like when I was a kid!

What was it George Burns sang back in the late 1970s? “I wish I was 18 again”?  Maybe I do...

Monday, April 23, 2007


"...for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."  (from Matthew 5:45)

One week ago today, my daughter Rachel and I spent two hours outdoors watching the Boston Marathon.  Part of the time it rained.  ALL of the time, the temperature was below 45 degrees outside; and temperatures in the low 40s feel like the mid 30s when it's overcast and raining lightly.  We were pretty much chilled to the bone by the time we came inside.  It felt much more like February than like April.

Today, Boston hit 87 degrees which broke the previous record of 85 set in 1908.  I'm not sure exactly what the temperature was in Framingham, but high 80s sounds about right.  Today feels much more like June 23 (or even July 23) than it does like April 23.  It's really something to have gone from a high of 43 degrees with off and on rain to a high of 87 degrees with bright  sunshine all within a week's time.  WOW.

I suppose I prefer today's weather to last weeks, but frankly, NEITHER is what I consider April weather.  April weather is a high of 65 at 4 in the afternoon and a low of 39 at 4 in the morning, with low humidity, with the exception of the 1 or 2 days a week that it pours rain.  THAT'S April weather!

April,  where ARE you?!

Saturday, April 21, 2007


“What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.”  (Matthew 10:27)

I drive my wife and daughters crazy (but not my son) because I’m a talk radio nut!  More appropriately said, I’m a talk radio geek.  It’s not that I NEVER listen to music radio. I do.  On Sunday nights when I can hear it, I like “The Lost 45s” on Oldies 103.3.  In the morning, I wake up to music on WSRS-FM 96.1 out of Worcester.  Sometimes I even like Country 102.5. But my big thing is talk radio.  I think my favorite is Michael Graham on 96.9 FMTalk WTKK.  I also like Jay Severin on the same station.  I went through a period that I couldn’t stand Jay Severin, but he’s back in my good graces, again.  Don’t all smash your computers, but I LIKED “Imus in the Morning” and I’m not happy that it’s gone.  On WRKO, I like Howie Carr, especially the Monday shows when television geek Max Robbins is Howie’s guest.

In order to be a TOTAL talk radio geek, however, you’ve got to venture off the beaten path, or perhaps I should say, “Off the beaten DIAL”.  No, I don’t mean satellite radio or high def. radio.  I’ve never even heard either of those, yet.  I mean obscure AM stations.  You can learn a lot about people and localities just by DXing as radio geeks call it...”dial crossing”.

I think it’s a SHAME that the Framingham/Natick/Marlboro area has NO local radio station aimed JUST at this area.  Well, there IS the Framingham State station at 91.3 which comes in poorly except in the car...and there IS the Framingham High School station at 1680 AM which comes in even MORE poorly...but we have NO real commercial station.  If I were a Donald Trump type, I’d open my own MetroWest radio station.  Now, Woonsocket, Rhode Island has not one but two local stations.  For those who think Woonsocket is so far away it might as well be Brunswick, Georgia, Woonsocket is EXACTLY the same distance from Framingham as downtown Boston is.  The better of the Woonsocket stations is WNRI at 1380 on the dial.  They have a surprisingly good radio talk show host named Dave Cain.  I have trouble figuring his hours, but I THINK they’re around Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to Noon.  He doesn’t seem to on the air on Mondays.  Dave Cain has written some book called “42 Reasons”.  He’s kind of a metaphysical nut who believes his dead son talks to him.  (No, I don’t buy THAT although I do believe Cain IS having some sort of supernatural experiences.)  Cain is pretty hostile to orthodox Christianity and has a very hard time believing in an eternal hell.  As you might guess, I very much disagree with him in the areas of religion and philosophy.  However, Cain is a bright guy and can talk politics, sports, entertainment, and other stuff with the best of ‘em.  Woonsocket also has WOON at 1240 AM.   I don’t know his hours, but from time to time Larry Poitrois shows up on that station.  Larry was on ‘NRI for years, but switched a few years ago.  Larry Poitrois has one of the heaviest Rhode Island accents I’ve ever heard. (The R.I. accent is much more like a Bronx accent than it is like a Boston accent.)  Larry is probably in his early 60s and also used to be a schoolteacher in a Catholic school.  He probably knows more about the Blackstone valley area than just about anybody alive.

If we turn our attention from the south to the west, there’s WCRN at 830 AM in Worcester.  Some days, the Howie Carr Show comes in better in Framingham on ‘CRN than it does on WRKO.  In the morning, the host is Peter Blute who is a former U.S. congressman (Republican), a former MASPPORT official, and a former WRKO morning host.  Blute is conservative, Catholic, and personable.  I think he does a better job than Tom Finneran on WRKO and is head and shoulders above Mike Barnicle from 96.9 FMTalk.  If you’re ever traveling to far western MA on the MassPike, tune in 560 AM which is a pretty good talk station and also carrys the Howie Carr Show in the afternoon.

At night, especially if the conditions are right, you can hear WOR New York at 710 AM, as well as WABC New York at 770 AM.  Depending on conditions, you can hear CKLW from Windsor, Ontario at 800 AM or an English-speaking Montreal talk station also at 800 AM.  Despite my ancestry, I know very little French, but French-speakers will enjoy CKAC at 730 AM which is from Montreal.  Another Canadian (mostly) talk station is CHML at 900 AM from Hamilton, Ontario.  Hamilton’s only a hop, skip and a jump from Niagara Falls, and I’ve actually driven through it several times.

Well, have you figured out why it’s appropriate to call me a talk radio geek?  Happy listening!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


It's been at least ten years, and probably longer, since I've taken one of those "shopping mall" surveys.  You know, the kind where they ask you which box of fabric softener sheets looks the best or which container of tomato juice looks the most appealing.  The last time I took one of those surveys, I got paid $15.  I don't know what they pay today.  I suppose that figuring for inflation, it's more like $20 or even $25.

If I could afford it, and if it were logistically possible, I'd pay everyone I could to read the piece that follows this one, "Idearc and Verizon Need Wolloy Segap!" and to answer the questions at the end of that piece.  I posted that a couple of days ago, and I think between e-mails I've received, posting on the blog itself, and people who've spoken to me, that maybe 6 or 7 people have responded.  Right now, "Don't advertise at all," in Idearc is very much in the lead, but it's not unanimout.

I'm really interested in getting as many opinions as possible, so please read the piece and "take the survey"...either post something on the blog or send me an e-mail.

The Lord willing, the next new posting will be Saturday morning!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’  For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”  (Matthew 5:37 New King James Version)

I guess I’m showing my age of over 50 by mentioning Wolley Segap.  Wolley was a happy and friendly cartoon character/logo who advertised the Telephone Company’s “Yellow Pages” directories back in the early 1960s.  I remember Wolley Segap from my childhood.  When I was a little bit older I figured our that Wolley Segap was just Yellow Pages spelled backwards!  “Find it fast in the yellow pages,” was also a  common slogan of theirs well into the 1970s as I recall.

Today there are all sorts of independent telephone directories in addition to the “real” one, and the “real” one technically isn’t owned by the local telephone company anymore.  I want to be so careful how I write this piece, because in the past when I’ve criticized businesses people have felt it showed no class, was beneath me as a pastor, and was petty.  I disagree.  I think pieces where I express frustration or displeasure with a business just show that I’m human.  You can find several places in Scripture where the Apostle Paul did that- the last few verses of Acts chapter sixteen is just one good example.

I want to also give the following disclaimers and clarifications:
1.  I am a stockholder of both Verizon and Idearc.
2.  I generally like Verizon as a company.  Verizon Wireless overall is a VERY good mobile phone company.  For traditional landline phones, I also think Verizon is typically a better company than most.  I generally prefer the Verizon (and now Idearc) telephone directories to the independent phone books.

Now, I want to tell you a story and I’d LOVE to get your comments:
Today, Tuesday, April 17, I stopped by our church’s post office box to check the mail.  There was only one item in the box.  It was a slip indicating there was a certified letter for “Baril” that had to be picked up.  I was surprised because MOST of the mail that comes to our church post office box is addressed to “First Assembly of God” and not to “Bob Baril”.  I was really curious about who was sending me this letter.  The downtown Framingham post office was very busy.  I waited at least ten minutes in line to get the certified letter.  Finally, I had to fill out several items at the window JUST to get the letter.  I was startled when the paperwork said it was from “Kilbride” because I do not know any “Kilbride”.  The postal employee produced a white business sized envelope addressed to “Pastor Bob Baril”.  It was handwritten in what I call very “girly” handwriting.  The return address was from “Courtney Kilbride”.  I was almost embarrassed.  A personal letter to me from a woman with girly handwriting.  It could almost look as though I were having an affair or something.

Upon closer examination, there WAS a printed business logo and address below Courtney’s handwritten name.  It was from Idearc Media in Middleton, MA.  (Idearc was recently spun-off by Verizon as a new corporation.  Idearc now handles all the telephone directory publishing that used to be done by Verizon.)  Inside the envelope was a long, formal, detailed, legal letter.  The “bottom line” was that the new local phone directory that’s coming out in July will encompass a larger geographic area.  For that reason, the church’s small ad will be about 20% more expensive than it has been (and believe me, it AIN’T cheap).  I was not particularly happy about the increase.  I was even more unhappy to read that unless I notified Idearc by Friday, April 13, 2007, our church would be committed the the ad.  The letter was POSTMARKED April 16 and I actually received it on April 17.  

I left several messages on Courtney’s voice mail and have yet to hear from her.  Coincidentally, tonight we had our monthly church Board meeting.  I have to be careful because I’m not supposed to take information out of the Board meetings to share in public.  I will say that the Board was quite unimpressed with the letter from Idearc and it’s likely that any future Idearc/Verizon yellow pages ad will either be tiny or nonexistent.

It boggles my mind that the certified letter was addressed in handwriting.  As one Board member said, it looked like it was written by an elementary school student who was saying something like, “Pastor our class is doing a project and we’d like your help with it.”  That’s not an exaggeration.  It really DID look like that!  It should have been typewritten - or somehow computer addressed.  It should have been written to “First Assembly of God” and marked “ATTN:  Pastor Bob Baril”.  Imagine if I had left and the church had a new pastor.  He’d have never even bothered checking at the window of the post office for that letter.

Initially, I was very angry about this letter and how UNPROFESSIONALLY Idearc and Verizon have handled this situation.  It is not surprising if they are losing directory customers.  Our church JUST set up a website as some of my readers know.  (It’s at  Today, most people look for their information on-line.  The yellow pages are becoming less and less important, anyway.  If Idearc and Verizon want to keep yellow pages advertisers, this is not the way to do it.

What do you think Donald Trump would say to them?  I think he’d say with a scowl and a pointed finger, “You’re FIRED!”

I’d be interested in readers opinions about this piece:

Should churches continue to advertise in the yellow pages or is it a waste?

Do you agree with me that Idearc/Verizon have been very unprofessional in how this situation (with me and our church) has been handled?

Do you think our church Board and I have a good reason to be unhappy and disappointed about this situation?

You can post comments here or e-mail me at    or


“...let us lay aside every weight, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” (from Hebrews 12:1).

I’m fortunate that our church facility is literally located a tenth of a mile off the Marathon route in Framingham.   It’s been my pleasure to attend quite a number of Marathons since I’ve lived in Framingham, and that’s particularly true since our church purchased our present church building in 1994.  I’ve lived through some very hot Marathon days which felt much more like late July than mid-April.  I’ve enjoyed some very pleasant Marathon events, such as last year’s, when the temperature was around 55 degrees with low humidity and the sunshine was brilliant.  I HAVE attend some chilly drizzly Marathons, but yesterday’s was the COLDEST Boston Marathon I remember.  I’d say it was probably 42 degrees Fahrenheit outside, but with the rain, it had that “raw/cold” feeling- almost more like 35.

Thank God- as bad as things were, the weather wasn’t HALF as bad as was originally forecast!  Last week we were warned of strong damaging winds and torrential rainfall.  I seriously wondered if I’d attend the race under those conditions, and I frankly doubted it.  By Sunday afternoon, some forecasters were saying the rain and wind COULD let up around 10 or 11 in the morning and things might not be so bad.  There was no way my 20-year-old daughter Rachel was going to miss attending the race, so of course, I purposed to go with her.

Under “normal” conditions, I like to arrive a couple of hours early and stake out a location.  I always enjoy just sitting and reading the Boston Herald while I drink a coffee and totally relax.  Due to the storm, Rachel and I did not go out to Route 135 until the time when the wheelchairs were passing by.  I expected almost no spectators to be present, but there WAS a decent sized crowd.  I heard one guy tell his buddy that the crowd was one-third of what it normally would be, and I heartily agree with that estimate.  Rachel and I were out for two hours.  Rain fell for only about 45 minutes of that total time, and most of the time the rainfall was pretty light.  Monday morning I woke up to the house shaking in high winds, but by the time we were out on the route there was no wind except for a light breeze.  Diane and Larry Pepero from our church joined us.  I know that Diane competed in at least one marathon in the Buffalo, NY area around twenty years ago, so the marathon is a big deal to her.  Diane Pepero and I always do a lot of cheering and yelling and this year was no exception.  The smiles and “thank yous” from the runners are a real blessing.  We were also joined by The Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell, pastor of First Baptist Church of Framingham (located on Route 9 in the Framingham Centre area.)  Mindi’s friend Stephanie was running in the race, and Mindi DID get to see her and give  a split second of cheering and support.  I felt bad for Mindi because she did not wear gloves.  I brought gloves and wore them for about half the time.  I kind of felt guilty wearing them when Mindi was so cold, AND the gloves muffled my clapping, so that’s why I took them off for about half the time.

I think it’s so exciting that the Boston Marathon runs right through downtown Framingham.  Two of my favorite events of each year are the Boston Marathon in April and the Natick Fourth of July parade, so that will be my next big local event to look forward to.  Somehow I DON’T think July 4 will be a cold day, but in New England one never knows!

Monday, April 16, 2007

VA TECH (extra entry)

Along with millions of others I was saddened to learn of the terrible massacre at Virginia Tech today.

My cousin, Dr. Jeanne Baril Howard Roper (I believe professionally she is known as Dr. Howard - not to be confused with a certain 3 Stooges episode) taught at Virginia Tech for a number of years, as did her husband.  They are retired and live in that community of Blacksburg, VA.

My sister called me today asking if Jeanne still taught there and I reminded her that Jeanne is retired.

That theory of "6 Degrees of Separation" is really true, as is the annoying Disney song, "It's a small world after all".  Had Jeanne still been teaching there, pershaps she would have been a shooting victim.

As morbid as this sounds, we all need to be ready to step into the presence of the Lord at ANY time... you never know what will happen!

Friday, April 13, 2007


I'm writing this a little before 9 on Friday night - on Friday the 13th of all nights; but I'm NOT superstitious!

I've got very mixed emotions tonight.

I know that the mood above says "Quiet".  AOL gives you several moods to choose from.  This was the best choice, but it's only about 40% accurate.  I'm VENTING right now.  I'm actually NOT angry.  I AM tired.  And my mood is really reflective and philosophical, and those choices are not available from AOL's list.  

Some of you know the church I pastor is very small.  If my wife did not have a decent full-time job with family plan health insurance, I'd HAVE to be a "bi-vocational" pastor.  Ironically, experts have found that pastors of churches of 50 or fewer people generally work much harder than do pastors of churches of 300 or more people, but that's a topic for another day.  Some of you know that our little church's attendance is down 30% in comparison to a year ago and our financial income is down about 40% compared to a year ago.  In addition, the losses of those "30%" people create other problems such as the one I faced tonight.  "Tammy" a 35ish woman at our church has many problems- most which are not of her doing.  She's overcome many difficulties and many unfair situations.  Tammy got some devastating news this week.  In comparison to how she'd have handled it a year or two ago, she's doing very well, but Tammy has few CLOSE friends and has only a minumal support system outside of the church.  Friday night is our Bible Study.  The Friday night Bible Study is the poorest attended event at our church, although it means a LOT to several people.  One of those "several" is Tammy.  Up until three months ago, there was a married couple who attended our church that attended Friday night Bible Study every week  ALMOST NO MATTER WHAT.  Occasionally the wife would have back trouble and would miss the study, but her husband, (a frankly well-meaning but very loud and very talkative guy) was always present.  Since that couple left the church in early January, I've had a problem on Friday nights.  IF my wife is unable to attend due to another commitment, and IF the only person who shows up for Bible Study is a woman, well, ethically and morally (and everything else) it's a very bad idea for me to meet with that woman alone.  I've had to cancel several Bible Studies for that reason.

My wife and adult son have a commitment in Worcester this Friday night, next Friday night, and the following Friday night.  

Tonight Tammy showed up in a very needy condition. No, she wasn't hysterical or anything like that, but she needed the study.  I actually tried to reach one woman from the church just to ask her to come and be at the study for Tammy's sake, but when I called that woman, all I got was her answering machine.

"Please, people," Tammy said aloud several times.  "Please come.  Please come.  Please come BACK."

Tammy actually covered her face and looked pained.

"Are you OK?" I asked.

"It's just that my sinuses are really bothering me," she replied.  "You know, I REALLY made an EFFORT to be here tonight."

I did the best I could to encourage her.  Actually, I was feeling just a tad resentful because I'd taken time to prepare the study, run off handouts, etc.

At 7:40 p.m. (ten minutes after the official start) I sent a disappointed Tammy home.

Some folks from OUTSIDE of our church may be thinking, "What's the matter with your Board and your Leaders?  What are they, a bunch of jerks?!"

Well. actually our Board is now down to five people counting me.  One Board member is 78-years-old and does a lot at the church- probably too much.  One is 64 and has suddenly had an onslaught of all sorts of health problems.  One is my age and healthy but lives over 30 miles from Framingham.  And the other is my wife.

The 78-year-old and the 64-year-old have each been leaders and workers at this church for 25 years and they are tired.  Honestly, they're about ready to be "retired" from leadership and have "new blood" take over--- people who are under 55 and filled with energy and vision AND who have a passion for Jesus Christ and His church.  Our church actually needs PEOPLE LIKE THAT even more than we need money!

98% of those who read this just don't fit the bill of what I'm talking about, but you can pray for our church and for me, and I'd appreicate that.  As I write there's a documentary on PBS about people who just can't lose weight no matter how they try...because of their subconscious mind, etc.  I can relate to that BECAUSE there IS a problem with people who pastor very small churches long term. They become SO into preparing sermons and preparing classes and preparing Board meetings, and repairing photocopiers, and trying to figure out how to pay the bills, and trying to figure out how to minister to the needy people under their care...they become SO caught up in all that stuff that they actually LOSE vision- and they actually turn inward and are almost crippled in their ability to "think outside the box" and reach out to new people.  Just like those fat people in the documentary who are ashamed to admit the mental trap they are in, I'm kind of ashamed to admit I fall right into the statistic of the small church pastor who's trapped in a limited way of thinking and functioning.

I was up VERY late last night.  I did not get much sleep last night.  I had a couple of stressful ministry situations today.  Part of me is glad to be home, in my pajamas, sitting at the computer with the TV in the background instead of teaching a Bible study.  If I were at the church, I'd be wrapping up the teaching right now, and taking prayer requests.  It HAS been a somewhat easier night for me.  But it STUNK for Tammy.

I don't mean to sound like a sensational Southern evangelist, but SOMEONE reading this just got an insight into the needs of churches and people that's blown your mind.  THAT'S the Holy Spirit talking!  Others wonder, "WHAT can I do?"  You can pray.  And,  for that Friday night Bible study, I honestly need a strong mature Christian man and a strong mature Christian woman from the Framingham area (whether or not you're from the church I pastor) who would say, "Unless I'm away on vacation or I'm very sick, I'm going to be at that Friday night Bible Study every week to help Pastor Baril but even moreso to help needy people like Tammy."  Of course, if you're a stranger to me, you don't have to join the church I pastor or anything like that, but I'd HAVE to have a recommendation from a pastor telling me you're a mature, reliable Christian of integrity and stability before I'd let you help me wtih this.

The Bible Study is only one area of need at our church, but right now it's one of our greatest needs.  I need help with vision and outreach.  I need Christians who are willing to pray and work.   There are athletes who train and train and train. It's their life.  There are people in various hobbies who devote unbelievable hours to the hobby.  There are gardeners who spend the warm weather months working their hearts out on the garden.

The large churches of MetroWest are filled with Christians who may not be doing a whole lot but who could come and help a pastor like me and a little church like ours and make all the difference for someone like a Tammy.

That's all, but in the spirit of "Most Wanted" (John Walsh) I will add :  "You CAN make a difference!"

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I'm writing this at around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.  Less than an hour ago it was announced that not only has Don Imus' simulcast on MS-NBC been cancelled, but that CBS radio has fired him.  Thus, it's the end of the "Imus in the Morning" radio show.

Some of my readers may infer from my posting entitled "Take Heed" that I'd support the firing of Don Imus.  I don't.  I DO think the originally proposed two week suspension was reasonable.  

Imus' remarks about the Rutgers players were WAY out of line and offensive to me.   He should have known better, as Bernard McGuirk should have.  All that said, I think that firing Don Imus is a bad precedent.  

One of my church members e-mailed me that he believes James chapter three in the Bible is a Scripture that really fits this situation- about sins of the tongue.  I agree.

My piece "Take Heed" indicates that I've said things in public that are ALMOST as stupid as Don Imus said.  I've done other things like that which I later regretted.  About eight years ago, I mimicked a female member of our church in a somewhat derogatory manner.  I had no idea how much it upset and offended people.  At the time, it seemed cute and funny, but later I realized it was stupid and immature and insensitive and something I just should not have done.  I'm glad nobody fired me!

It's pretty unlikely, but if Don Imus and his family are ever visiting the MetroWest suburbs of Boston, they're welcome to attend our little church's Sunday morning service.  He has said he was sorry and has tried to make things right.  What else can he do?

On a practical and realistic note, this is an opportunity for FMTalk 96.9 to make some very positive changes to their lineup.  I'd like to see either Michael Graham or Jay Severin doing the morning drive slot, AND one of them doing the afternoon drive slot!


“But take ye heed...” (from Mark 13:23)

I’m posting this on Thursday, but I’m actually writing it on Monday night.  As I write, I’m sitting having coffee at a Dunkin Donuts in the Webster Sq. section of Worcester.  A young lady was jut mopping the floor.  It’s not real late- it’s before 8, but I’m sitting here with my feet up so as to not interfere with the mopping.

On Monday morning as I ate at McDonald’s on Route 30 in Framingham, a construction crew was working there right in the middle of the breakfast hour.  They’re completely redoing the dining area at that McDonald’s.  Breakfast eaters were made to feel like unwanted interlopers.  It was weird.  Solid objects were being removed from the wall with power tools, and the wallpaper was being stripped right off the walls as we ate.  One woman, eating across the aisle from me was irritated and swearing.  I don’t condone the swearing, but I did comment to her, “I wonder if it’s LEGAL to do this!” (i.e. to be doing construction amid diners who are just trying to eat).  Everybody there had to “take heed”.

This week’s big media news has been of a vicious, insulting, and racist statement made by radio host Don Imus.  As Imus apologized on Monday’s show, he suddenly seemed old, feeble, and a “has-been”.  I actually listen to Don Imus quite often and I felt sorry for him, although his racist and insulting statement WAS way out of line.  He didn’t “take heed”.

Twenty-two years ago, I “flipped out” and loudly and angrily yelled at a neighborhood kid in the Walpole yard where I lived at the time.   I was loud, and angry, and making a scene, and because of that, neighbors thought I was some kind of a monster.  I lived in that residence for a total of four and a half years, but I think a number of the neighbors remembered nothing of me but those two angry minutes in the yard.  I moved a year and a half later, but my effectiveness in that neighborhood ended that June day in 1985.  

Bottom line:  that “that heed” stuff is really important.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

MARATHON MONDAY (invitation)

"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?" (I Corinthians 9:24)

Next Monday is Patriots Day and the 111th running of the Boston Marathon.
Almost every year since our church purchased the UAW Union Hall property at 32 South Street (right off Route 135) I have watched the Boston Marathon from a wonderful vantage point there at Route 135.   Usually I set up my chair near Dunkin Donuts on 135 for obvious reasons!  Each year, it's been very exciting.

This year, and from now on, the Boston Marathon is being run two hours earlier than in the past.  This year, the wheelchair racers will start at 9:25 a.m. and the elite runners will start at 10:00 a.m.

Flashing information signs in downtown Framingham are already stating that Route 135 will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Marathon Monday.
In the past, I used to be out set-up on the sidewalk with my folding chair, coffee, and Boston Herald around 10:15 a.m.  This year, my daughter Rachel and I will be out there at 8:15.  Our church parking lot is a GREAT place to park to watch the Marathon.  Although I'm usually a  stickler about illegal parking in our church lots, I let Marathon Monday be a free day on a "first come, first served" basis.  (Often I've put tracts on the windshields of the cars...a few have been left laying in the lot, but most people have taken them.)  Our paved lot parks 34 cars, and our dirt/gravel overflow lot parks 12 cars.

You're more than welcome to come and join us to watch the Marathon!  If you do come, I advise you to bring a lawn chair or some sort of portable chair to sit on, and to wear sunblock.  One year, I did not wear sunblock and I got a bad sunburn on half my face...I really looked weird!  Since then, I remember to put sunblock on.  Also, even if it's sunny, it CAN get cold out there when you're outside for hours.  Remember jackets and sweatshirts.

If you'd like more information about Marathon Monday, or to let me know you'll be joining me, or "whatever" then feel free to e-mail me at

Enjoy Marathon Monday!

Friday, April 6, 2007

FASTING... (Saturday's entry EARLY)

“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered” (Matthew 4:2)

The “he” mentioned above is Jesus.  He fasted forty days and forty nights at the start of His ministry.  Fasting is one of those TOUGH topics to talk about because you’re not supposed to tell people you’re fasting (according to Matthew 6) and thus it’s dubious whether you should tell what it’s like to fast, how you do it, whether it’s easy or difficult, etc.  It’s kind of like when you’re proud of the fact that you acted in a humble manner...well, then, you defeated the whole purpose!

I just bought a new Christian book from InterVarsity Press about fasting.  The title is:  “Fasting”!  I skimmed through it quickly on Thursday but I haven’t had time to truly read it yet.  One thing that I DID read in that book is that in interviews with Born-Again Christian men and women:  when MEN fast, they tend to fast from everything but water (some MAY drink juice).  WOMEN often tend to do the kind of fasting where they eat fruits and vegetables and maybe even bread but don’t eat meat or candy or heavy foods and then call THAT a fast.  Well,  it IS a fast, but it’s kind of a junior fast, in my opinion.  Of course, Old Testament scholars will point out to me that Daniel did that sort of fast (water, fruit, vegetables) and so I guess I have to consider that!

I’m saying all this stuff about fasting because (and here I go breaking the Matthew 6 rule!) Saturday, April 7 has been called as a Day of Fasting and Prayer for our church.  Usually, if there’s going to be something like that it’s my decision, but this time my wife called for the Day of Fasting and Prayer (although I fully agreed with her).  This Saturday’s focus is our church’s finances.  Without going into all sorts of detail, they’re really bad.  Well, when attendance is down by 30% from a year ago and financial income is down by 40% from a year ago (and we were just about staying afloat a year ago); well I guess that says it all.  Ironically, we’re having great services and great Bible studies at our church, but creditors, utility companies, etc. just don’t seem to be impressed by great services and great Bible studies.  In the past, I’ve put out desperately pleading letters to our mailing list asking for money for the church...sometimes those mailings have brought in an extra $1000-$2000 !  Mary Ann has been insistent that I NOT do that this time...that we fast and pray and see what God does.  You may think I’m cheating by writing about this on the blog, but I really don’t think I am.  I’m not asking for money...I’m really not.  I AM asking for prayer, though, from any who might feel so inclined.

I don’t fast as much as I’d like to, in all honesty.  I usually fast a few isolated days out of a year.  I think the last one I did was in January or February.  It’s going to be a discipline, but I’m going to TRY to fast all day Saturday except for water.  We’re leaving our church open from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 7.  People will be able to come and pray for as long or as short as they like- during that time.

Mary Ann felt it would be good to do this between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  Our church has really been “to the brink” several times before.  In the 1990s, the Town of Framingham tried to close us down.  At other times in the past the finances got so bad that (even with my hysterical mailings) unless we’d have a major miracle, we’d close.  Somehow, the miracles always came.

Sometimes people ask me, “If you’re SUCH a good speaker, and you’re SUCH a good teacher, and you’re church has SUCH good music, WHY don’t you draw MORE people, and WHY are you frequently on the verge of closing?”

That’s a tough question.  I AM admittedly very eccentric and very unique.  I tend to be a lousy businessman.  All that said, I really AM a phenomenal public speaker and an excellent teacher!  And, our little church has some of the BEST, most upbeat exciting contemporary Christian music around! Friends who visit tell me there are good-sized churches that DON’T have anywhere NEAR the quality of the speaking and music that we have!  Unfortunately, people are “consumers”.  They are attracted to:

crowds; beautiful buildings; places with lots of “programs”; and most of all, places that have outstanding ministry for their teenagers.

If you are trying to run a church and you DON’T draw a big crowd (we sure don’t!); and you  DON’T have a beautiful building (we DON’T!);  and you DON’T have lots of “programs” (well, it takes lots of people to run lots of programs, so for the most part, we DON’T!);   and you DON’T have an outstanding ministry for teenagers (actually at one time we did, but right now, we DON’T) .... then most Baby Boomers and Gen Xers don’t care if the speaker is the best speaker in America, nor do they care if the music would make the music at the best concert you can think of sound lousy...if the church DOESN’T have that stuff I just wrote about, MOST Baby Boomers and Gen Xers just WON’T come.

Is that discouraging to me?

Honestly, at times, it’s been absolutely devastating.

BUT, I’m just crazy enough to believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and that God raises the dead!  I believe in miracles!  Call me Don Quixote- but I’m STILL  at First Assembly of God of Framingham preaching and teaching my heart out, and my kids and a few others are still offering some of the best praise and worship music around!  Will God work miracles at First Assembly of God of Framingham?  I believe so, and, well, I’m not going anywhere!

I know this piece may seem almost contradictory and like it has gone all over the place.  I guess in some respects it has.  But life can be hard... fulfilling and deep and meaningful; but hard.  There’s a big role for prayer and fasting in the Christian life.  Anybody wanna fast and pray on Saturday?  Join us!

Anybody wanna attend a very simple but VERY REAL church on Easter Sunday?  I’ll see you Sunday at 32 South Street, (off Route 135) in downtown Framingham!

Thursday, April 5, 2007


“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, 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)

That chapter concludes one of the great Resurrection chapters of the New Testament.  In fact, I’ll be preaching from I Corinthians 15 for my Easter Sunday sermon.  My theme today, however, is more about “labor” or “labour” as the King James Version says, than it is about resurrection...well maybe a little of both.

First the “NEW NEW STORY”.  (Well, if you’re not someone who has been a born-again Christian for over thirty years, you won’t appreciate my play on words with an “old time Gospel song” which is entitled, “Tell Me the Old Old Story”. )  Anyway, back to the “NEW NEW STORY”:  To some I realize this is a yawn, but like my namesake “Bob” in the Bill Murray/Richard Dreyfus film, “What About Bob?”  I took some baby steps this Tuesday.  With help from AG website services technical support, I launched First Assembly of God of Framingham’s first true website at  The first step took place last week when I registered a domain name at for a nominal (annually renewed) sum.  I’m not technically savvy at all.  People THINK I am because I have a blog, but let’s face it, today, “everybody” has a blog!  It took a number of steps but the website got launched.  The national Assemblies of God established “AG website services” which makes available free websites for its churches which can be customized as the church sees fit.  Thus, again like “Bob” in the movie when he said, “I’m a sailor- I sail!” and then added that the boat really did all the work for him...I can claim to be a webmaster or something, but the AG website service really did 90% of the work for me- but it’s still COOL.  Our church website will get much better and much more sophisticated in time, but this fulfills a dream I’ve had for well over a year for our church to have a REAL website.  (For three or four years, we’ve had a free page on which is better than nothing, but it’s just not the same thing.)

Now for the “OLD OLD STORY”.  Well, most of you know that the “Old Old Story” is of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins and rising from the dead. This year, I’ll not only be conducting a Good Friday evening service at our church and an Easter Sunday morning service, but once again I’m participating with the “Christian oriented” clergy of the Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association in their Good Friday service held at Edwards Congregational Church in Framingham’s Saxonville Section.  That service is at 12 Noon and runs until around 1:15.  This year, we’re doing several “tableaux” (still life dramatic presentations as Scripture is being read).  Originally I was just supposed to be playing Pontius Pilate, but today I was asked to be Pontius Pilate, a Roman Guard, and Simon of Cyrene.  I guess I’ll feel a bit like Clark Kent changing into Superman or something!

So whether it’s the “NEW NEW STORY” of a website or the “OLD OLD STORY” of the Gospel, there’s never a dull moment!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:  but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (I Corinthians 13:11)

After over five months, on Saturday I attended my first classic car show/”cruise night” of the 2007 season.  It was at Riley’s Roast Beef at Edgell Road and Water Streets in the Nobscot section of Framingham's northside.  (During the “summer months” those shows are held every Saturday evening at Riley’s “weather permitting”.)

A number of months ago, I wrote about selling classic collectible Massachusetts auto inspection stickers so I won’t retell all of that.  These windshield stickers from the ‘50s ‘60s ‘70s and early ‘80s are very colorful and distinctive.  Some include drawings, photos, catchy slogans, or all of the above.  (In comparison today’s inspection stickers are boring and functional.)  Many “classic car nuts” love to buy these stickers.  During the summer months, it’s a very nice little moneymaker for me.  I was happy to sell some stickers on Saturday!

My classic car experiences on Saturday actually started BEFORE the Riley’s show.  In traffic on Bishop Street Framingham, I noticed a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 sedan.  At a traffic light, I actually got out and spoke to the driver about buying a sticker.  He followed me to our church parking lot and purchased one.  In fact, a friend of his also showed up and bought a 1961 sticker for his classic Buick Special.  To some it must have looked like a drug deal going down, but it was a perfect legal transaction involving collectible auto memorabilia!  

On Saturdays in the late afternoon there USED to be classic car shows at the Gold’s Gym parking lot in Millis.  I went down there on Saturday and hung around for around an hour.  There was no show.  Well, a guy came by in a 1958 Ford, swung through the parking lot, and gave up and left.  I wondered if he stayed if it might spark some interest and others might show up, but he didn’t wait.  He reminded people who get discouraged when they visit a small church such as the one I pastor...instead of giving the church a chance,  they’re GONE!

After the fruitless trip to Millis I was glad to go to the Riley’s show.  I’m not very mechanically inclined at all but I know enough car stuff that I can talk about 429 Ford engines and 350 Chevy engines and actually  know something about what I’m talking about.  The thing I like about the cars of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and very early 1980s is that they are so distinct looking and so easy to identify.  I knew the car on Saturday afternoon was a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 just by taking one quick look at it.  (Incidentally, those ‘63 full-sized Fords were HUGE.  They were much bigger than a modern Ford Crown Victoria.)  Speaking of Fords, perhaps the prettiest car I saw was a two-tone black and white 1955 Ford Fairlane sedan.  Just eight years older than the ‘63 Galaxie 500 it’s a much smaller and simpler car, but it’s just a very smartly designed, attractive vehicle.  There was a very good looking 1958 Pontiac at the Riley’s show.  There was a two-tone yellow and white 1955 Chevy Bel-Air...the car wasn’t completely “stock” but it WAS in very good condition.  I sold a sticker to a guy with a white ‘66 Lincoln- another HUGE car.  

When I was a very little kid, my father knew an Edsel dealer and he used to bring home toy Edsels for me to play with.  They were all two-tone turquoise and white.  Like most little boys I would crash them into walls, etc.  Those toy Edsels (in good condition) would probably be highly valued on the “Antiques Roadshow”.  I guess I began to fall in love with the look of cars of that period DURING THAT PERIOD and that love has never left me.  If I were “loaded” I might own a classic car instead of selling inspection stickers to guys who do own them!