Monday, December 29, 2008


"...weep with them that weep." (from Romans 12:15)

I received an e-mail from a pastor friend from Kentucky just a short time ago. "Martin" (his real name) is going through a difficult time in that a woman he and his church have ministered to has committed suicide. He shared some graphic details that I think I'll leave out. Regarding the family of the deceased, this is the latest in a string of deaths and tragedies for this particular family. Martin has conducted several other funerals for them over the past few years. The woman had made a commitment to Christ about fifteen years ago and had done well for about six months and then fallen away from the Lord.

Situations such as this one are ALWAYS very difficult. People want to know "why?" and most of the time there just isn't a clear cut answer. People want to know "where so-in-so went" (in the afterlife) and depending on your theology, that's not always so clear cut, either.

Martin is going to have his hands full preparing for the funeral and preaching the funeral sermon as well as trying to minister peace and comfort to a completely distraught family. It's not something Martin (or any pastor) can handle on his own. If you know how to pray, Martin needs our prayers, and the family of the deceased needs our prayers, too.


“And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders; and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” (Revelation 14:3)

I know Don Imus is a very controversial guy. Most of you probably know he was fired from his longtime radio and television gig in early 2007 after making some racist remarks. (Truthfully, one of his sidekicks made the remarks, but Imus laughed and agreed with them, and that was bad enough.) Many predicted Imus’ career was over, but Boston’s Jay Severin guaranteed Imus would return, and he DID return with a new radio and television job, and two new African-American sidekicks, in late 2007. The new Don Imus is a kinder and gentler man, albeit frankly more boring and harder to listen to. That said, it’s the Don Imus Show over the past nine years that has given me quite an appreciation for country music.

I would probably never have listened to country music if not for what was played on the Imus’ show. The Imus Show plays all sorts of country music, from Christian and very wholesome stuff to frankly some very raunchy stuff, and pretty much just about everything in-between. I certainly don’t like ALL the music played on the Don Imus Show, but I really do have an affinity for most of it. That’s why I’d been wanting the recently released “Imus Ranch Record” and I was delighted to receive it as a Christmas present from my son Jon. (I’d been looking for it in the stores and it’s really hard to find. You certainly CAN have a store order it for you, and I’m sure you must be able to order it on-line.)

The “Imus Ranch Record” is (obviously) a C.D. It’s a collection of thirteen songs by thirteen different artists and groups. If you’re what the late Rev. Dr. Carl Stevens of Greater Grace Christian Fellowship would have called a “right wing fundamentalist” or if you’re a person who strongly opposes all secular music (I’m discovering there are more folks like that than you might think) then you won’t want the Imus Ranch Record. However, song number thirteen on the C.D. is one that I’d expect 98% of evangelical Christians to appreciate, and that’s “A Satisfied Mind” by Vince Gill. “A Satisfied Mind” would be suitable as “special music” in most Bible-believing churches and has a great message. Most of my Christian friends would probably LEAST like Big & Rich’s “Fight For Your Right To Party”. I actually get a big chuckle out of it and consider it a fun song. Listen, that song is just like The Three’s crazy and fun and entertaining and NEVER meant to be taken literally! I think Don Imus’ favorite song on the album is Lucinda Williams’ “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”. That’s got all the qualities of a classic country and western song, and it kind of grows on you. Do you like Little Richard? Well, “I Ain’t Never” is VINTAGE Little Richard and it’s Track number 6 on the C.D. I was not familiar with Bekka Bramlett, but I’ve fallen in love with her song “What Happened” and I’ve got that song playing on continuous play as I write this piece.

Don Imus is a very complicated person. Whether you like him or you can’t stand him, you’ve got to respect all he’s done for kids with cancer. That’s what the Imus Ranch for Kids With Cancer in New Mexico is all about. It’s a wonderful philanthropic work, and all the proceeds from the sale of the C.D. go to support the ranch.

On the promotional piece they’ve used on the Don Imus Show, Imus says, “Oh, It’s a Great Record!” It really is. I understand he’s already got Volume 2 in the works. I recommend you purchase and listen to the Imus Ranch Record! Thanks Jon for getting it for me!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A SURPRISE E-MAIL (extra entry)

“But now God hath set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” (I Corinthians 12:18)

I came home today in the late afternoon, sat down at the computer, went on-line, and there was an e-mail from someone I did not know. I opened it and read a short but warm and thoughtful e-mail from a man who’d known Gloria Maw many years ago. Gloria Maw was a woman I call a “character”. She was a very dear sister in Christ who passed away over a year ago. The guy had read a blog piece I’d posted about Gloria Maw in April of 2007. I imagine he’d done a Google search for “Gloria Maw” and it brought up a link to my blog piece. This man SO appreciated my piece about a woman he’d known many years in the past that he wrote me a grateful e-mail.

What a blessing it was to get that man’s e-mail today! And, BOY, how TIMELY it was!

It took me years; well DECADES, to accept the unusual style I have; the unusual way I think and look at life. When I started this blog on AOL Journals in early 2006, I described myself as “eccentric”. Over many months I took so much “heat” for that description from friends, acquaintances, and colleagues that when AOL Journals “folded” on Oct. 31, 2008 and this blog found blogspot as its new home and format, I changed my description from “eccentric” to “unconventional”. Well, whether you want to call me “eccentric”, “unconventional”, “edgy”, “different”, “controversial”, “out there”, or whatever, I’m really a combination of all six of those descriptions. And, to quote a woman who used to attend the church I pastor (and who used to run “Daisy’s Discoveries” consignment shop in downtown Framingham and was very active in “recovery” groups), “THAT’S O.K.!”

During this morning’s sermon, I cited from a posting on my blog from about a year ago which was entitled, “Protocol”. I cited from that blog posting with fear and trembling because that posting got a number of people pretty upset, and I definitely brought some grief upon myself for posting it! This morning, I cited it as a sermon illustration and tried to bring forth the positive message I was really trying to say in that posting. So far there have been absolutely no angry confrontations or e-mails from the sermon, so I hope I got my point across!

Ironically, the piece I posted about Gloria Maw in April 2007 also brought some me some angry words from a few people who were very unhappy with some things I’d written. Ironically, it’s often people who know me the best who have the MOST trouble with what I write. I haven’t quite figured that one out! Each time I get one of those, “How could you write that, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!” kind of comments, I reply saying something like, “You may not have appreciated that piece, and you may not have understood that piece. If it hurt and/or offended you, I’m truly sorry, but TRUST me: there were people who greatly appreciated that piece and who actually were HELPED and BLESSED by that piece.”

Today’s e-mail, on a day I kind of indirectly tackled the “controversial blog postings” issue, has SO blessed and validated me and what I do on this blog.

I learned a big life lesson one time while I was a student at Central Bible College. We had a middle-aged professor there who was SO boring. I’ll call her Dr. Sally Snooze. This woman couldn’t teach her way out of a paper bag. I had her for “Introduction to Christian Education”. She used to essentially read the textbook to us. (One time while she briefly stepped out of the classroom, a student stood up and moved the hands of the analog clock FORWARD 20 minutes!) On one occasion, I was mouthing off to some students about what an awful teacher Dr. Sally Snooze was. One male student got very serious. He said, “Dr. Snooze isn’t here for her teaching. She can’t teach. But Dr. Snooze has counseled a lot of girls through very difficult times. She’s really made a difference for them. Her ministry isn’t teaching but GOD USES HER IN OTHER GREAT WAYS.”

Yeah, it’s easy to try to make everything and everyone fit into the little slots we THINK they should fit into. Sally Snooze was no teacher, but thank God she was at Central Bible College! I NEVER said a bad word about her again. She LATER became a missionary to the Far East, and I was happy to support her mission prayerfully and financially.

I know through the years I’ve given many sermons from which some people left and said, “That was the WORST sermon I’ve ever heard in my LIFE; and they PAY this guy for that??!!” while someone else sat and listened to the SAME sermon, and was very grateful, for the sermon caused them to change their plans to cheat on their spouse, or to embezzle money at their job, or something like that.
To use a line from the late Kathryn Kuhlman, “And it’s just LIKE that”.

I’m reading a brand new book by William F. Buckley, Jr. He finished writing it JUST before he died in February of 2008 and his son Christopher edited it and put the finishing touches on it. The book is about Buckley’s friendship and experiences with Ronald Reagan. One interesting part of the book I’ve just read is that these two ultra-conservatives and friends absolutely disagreed about the Panama Canal treaty of the late 1970s. Buckley supported the treaty and thought we should let the Canal go. Reagan absolutely thought the U.S. should keep the Canal and NEVER let it go. These two strongly debated each other about this on “Firing Line”, and yet they remained the best of friends. Who was right? NOT both of ‘em, but they respected each other and agreed to disagree.

I actually ended up writing much more on this posting than I expected to. There’s a lot we can learn from the Buckley/Reagan relationship. Sometimes we have to “agree to disagree”. And, when in one way or another you read a blog posting from me and I’m kind of a Sally Snooze to you, or kind of a “Mr. No-Grace Inyourface” to you, please remember that some soul who read the same piece; got an admittedly unconventional word that was EXACTLY what he or she needed, and THAT person actually left their computer - a little bit closer to God...

Thursday, December 25, 2008


"...and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh." (from Matthew 2:11)

I'm a person who frequently says things like, "Christmas is not about the gifts you get", so I guess this piece may seem somewhere between hypocritical and inconsistent. Even so, in a material sense, I did get some nice gifts. It's always risky to start naming gifts you received that you liked, because if you forget to name someone's gift, they may be unhappy or upset, but I guess I'll take that risk. (Pretty much EVERY gift I received so far for Christmas was very good so I hope that statement helps remove the risk!) Back in the very early "AOL Journals" days of this blog I wrote a piece about analog television broadcasting ending in February of 2009. At that time (almost three years ago) that date seemed far off, but now it's quite close and we have all heard probably more than we'd care to about traditional over-the-air analog television broadcasting being about to come to an end. In fact, if you're reading this in the Boston area, you probably know that Channel 25 which is the Boston area's FOX station has ALREADY stopped all analog broadcasting.

We've got cable T.V. (actually "Verizon FiOS") on our living room set and my son has had a digital converter box on the set in his room for a couple of months. I've been feeling the deadline looming about my bedroom set, and so I was DELIGHTED to receive an RCA digital converter box as a present from my daughter Amy and son-in-law David! I'm also glad that my electronically and technically inclined son Jon set it all up for me and showed me how to use it.
When I DO watch TV in the bedroom, it's mostly on Channel 2, Boston's PBS station, and on FOX channel 25, so it is great to have the digital T.V. working in the bedroom!

Speaking of television, one game show we occasionally catch on the living room set is "Cash Cab" where people riding in an taxi cab in New York City are asked questions and win money. My daughter Rachel actually bought me a yellow toy Corvette, labeled it "TAXI", stuffed it with $45 worth of bills, and attached a sign which stated, "You Found The Cash Cab!" When I opened a medium-sized cardboard box and THAT was inside, I was pretty pleased! My wife Mary Ann bought me a lot of nice clothes. My son bought me the "Imus Ranch Record" which I'd been looking for in stores since September. There were many other nice presents, as well.

It's now 2:35 and I'm sitting here at the computer smelling a delicious turkey cooking. (For those who think I'm one of those guys who doesn't do any domestic stuff around the house, I've taken care of quite a bit of dishwashing; thank you!) Mary Ann made the traditional French Canadian meat stuffing that my parents made each Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that's always been my favorite part of the meal!

As great as these material gifts were, last night's church service was SUPER! My son Jon is an amazingly talented writer. I fool around with writing, but he's got twenty times the writing talent that I do. This past week, Jon wrote a slightly humorous, but very deep and thought-provoking five-page poem about Christmas. It ABSOLUTELY should be published! I really think it's something a lot of churches would enjoy having done as a reading at Christmas services. Jon's poem was the highlight of the service and got quite a round of applause! In addition, my daughters sang a duet and did a super job. And, Mary Ann lit the Advent candles AND the "Christmas candle" and shared a devotional about Christmas. (I gave a short Christmas sermon, as well.) One man who was a "second time visitor" to our church recommitted his life to Christ last night.

Yup, many of you know I don't tend to be a big Christmas person, but so far this is turning out to be the best Christmas I've had in a long, long time!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


“And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years (NOTE: that’s 84 years), which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” (Luke 2:37)

This week, most of us will hear the EARLIER part of Luke chapter 2 read as we celebrate Christmas. I will, in fact, be reading from the early part of Luke 2 at our church’s Christmas Eve service tonight. Later in the chapter, it speaks of Jesus’ circumcision, and Mary’s purification (after giving birth) AND of two elderly people that Mary, Joseph, (and baby Jesus!) encountered at the temple in Jerusalem. The above verse is about one of those two elderly people: Anna the prophetess who was 84-years-old.

It’s kind of ironic that in the last posting (about visiting the “Natick Collection”) I wrote that although I’m 54, the experience of going to a big confusing mall was somewhat overwhelming and I was following Rachel around like an 84-year-old! I guess the image I have of an 84-year-old is some really elderly person collapsed in a chair in a nursing home and ready to die. That image, like any stereotype, can be quite unfair.

This week, I went to the local hospital to visit the husband of one of our church members. SHE is in her late sixties. I did not remember meeting her husband (I guess I DID at one time but I can’t remember it) but I knew he was MUCH older than she is. Upon entering his room, I expected to see something like I described in the above paragraph. Boy, WAS I WRONG?! This guy, despite his recent health problems, looked like he was MAYBE 72. In fact, he told me he is 84. I would NEVER have believed it. I frankly told him I thought he looked more like 72 than 84, and that I thought despite the fact that he’d been ill, that he really looked good. I think that brightened his day. (It would certainly have brightened mine if I were elderly and ill!) We had a nice visit. I shared some Scripture with him and prayed for him, for which he was grateful. We also exchanged small talk. My own father at 77 (the age of his passing) looked SO MUCH OLDER than this guy.

The patient has actually had a lot of health issues in his life, but it was obvious that he’s a guy who loves life and lives it to the fullest. He’s also a guy who did blue collar work all his life. I’d guess he thinks of himself as about 55 and that’s how he acts. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that. I have a friend who is only about sixty who tends to think of himself as very old and tends to ACT very old. (It’s NOT someone from my church, nor is it someone most of my readers would know!) THAT 60-year-old is a great guy, but I think he THINKS like a 75-year-old.

Many of you know that (naturally speaking) I can really struggle with depression and irritability. I am aware of how UNHEALTHY that kind of thinking is! For me, that “stinkin’ thinkin’” can be every bit as much of a battle as whiskey can be for an alcoholic. Today, on “Christmas Eve Day” I took a long afternoon walk. My feel got SOAKED! My sneakers and socks are on one of our old house’s heating system registers drying! The walk was GOOD for me, though! It was a great time of thinking and praying! And, it tripped off this posting.

Often on hospital visits, I get far more from the patient I see than he or she gets from me. That was the case this week! This 84-year-old guy really kind of inspired me. Here he was in the hospital on Christmas week, but he was quite friendly and cheerful...and YOUNG in his thinking! This guy really gave me a gift on Christmas week!

I’m sure some of you are programmed (like I am) to “see the glass half empty”. Well, this guy was really used by God to kind of give me a kick in the posterior and “see the glass as half full” - and see light instead of darkness.

Didn’t Jesus come to bring LIGHT into DARKNESS? (Well, according to John’s Gospel, yes he DID!)

This is not a traditional Christmas kind of piece, but I hope it somehow blessed you!

Monday, December 22, 2008


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

The extreme makeover of the Natick Mall, which was renamed the “Natick Collection:” took place over two years ago, but I did not set foot on the Natick Collection property until tonight. I was dead against the extreme makeover of the Natick Mall. As it is, the Natick Mall of the late 1990s and early 2000s WAS an extreme makeover of the circa late 1960s Natick Mall which was there when I first moved into the MetroWest area. THAT Natick Mall was torn down in the mid-1990s and replaced by a brand-new state-of-the-art Natick Mall. The late 1990s/early 2000s Natick Mall WAS a great mall. Everything was well laid out and well done; even the parking garages weren’t too bad. THAT Natick Mall had something for everybody.

Some time ago, Emily Rooney of Channel 2’s “Greater Boston” public affairs show bluntly called the Natick Collection “a disaster”. I’d heard so many horror stories that I vowed to stay away from it. I also had (sort of) vowed that I was not doing any Christmas shopping this year, but I broke down tonight and went out shopping with my daughter Rachel to Framingham Shoppers World and the Natick Collection. We started at the Natick Collection. We left our home in Framingham (near the Natick line) at 6:20 and did not get to the Natick Collection until almost 7:00. Rachel recommended I park in the first garage you encounter from Speen Street, which is the Sears garage. I put on my left signal and tried to turn in, but a mall cop stopped me and would not allow me in because the garage was full. He recommended I go back and head toward the other (larger) garage. The only problem was some OTHER mall cops had put up orange cones and would not allow me to go right. I could not go left. I could not go right. It was an AWFUL introduction to the Natick Collection. IF Rachel had not been with me, I would have somehow figured out how to get out of there, and I would never have returned. Finally one cop talked to the other cop and they allowed me to go right. I had to very carefully execute that maneuver as another vehicle nearly collided with us!

The new garage was big, confusing, and (hate to admit it) kind of scary. We parked on Level 5. The concrete floor was SO slippery from snow and slush that I had difficulty walking and nearly “wiped out” a couple of times! I’m glad Rachel was there to lead me around the mall. I know, I sound like I’m 84 instead of 54, but she pretty much DID lead me around the mall. It reminded me of the huge malls in Paramus, New Jersey. Well, it was “interesting” but I didn’t care for it. I’d take the old Natick Mall ANY DAY over this “disaster”. Will I ever return? Well, probably. But I definitely would not make a habit of shopping at this place.

My fellow blogger Michelle who writes “This Is Framingham” ( very much dislikes the new (circa late-1990s) Shoppers World and regrets the destruction of the classic (circa 1951) Shopper’s World. I also miss the original Shopper’s World, but I DON’T think the new Shoppers World is a horrible place. I think they COULD have done a little better job in how they laid out the parking lot and the stores (so they weren’t SO far apart) but I kind of like Shoppers World. It’s MUCH better than the Natick Collection. Rachel and I hit Best Buy and Barnes & Noble bookstore. Both were good picks for us and we each bought several items.

SO, I finally went to the Natick Collection and I did buy a few Christmas presents after all. Well, it DID give me something to write about on the blog so I guess that’s a good thing.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

CHURCH TODAY (12/21/08)- (extra entry)

"Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?..." (from Job 38:22)

We managed to have church today! It snowed 11 inches in Framingham on Friday and Saturday. Then by 6 a.m. another half inch had fallen.

I made the decision to HAVE church today.

We had a very small attendance.... only 12 people total showed up. (We did have one first-time visitor, and I was glad about that!)

Of course today's offering was low, and that's a bit of a concern, although we frankly took in more money than I'd have expected to.

We actually had a good Adult Sunday School Class and a good service. When we got out of church 3 more inches of snow had fallen and it was snowing hard. The main roads were not too bad. Our street and driveway were horrible, but we got in safely! I have been home for about 45 minutes.

Well, the Patriots are playing in the snow, so that's good!

For you "locals", you are welcome to attend our church's Christmas Eve service on Wed. at 7:30 p.m. My daughter Amy and son-in-law David from Missouri will be there! I will be delighted to see any of you on Wednesday night. For more information, please send me an e-mail.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Hebrews 12:11)

My December 14, 2008 posting entitled "What Do You Think I Should Do?" was essentially a "re-run" of my December 7, 2006 posting entitled, "Where's Miss Ennis?". I mentioned that after doing on-line searches many times, I had located Ellen Ennis Kane's husband's business address. I did sent off a letter a few days ago.

When you attempt to contact someone with whom you've had absolutely no contact in over forty-three years, you do wonder if that person will even remember you. Will they think you're some kind of weirdo? Will they respond? Will it be a positive response? I'm pleased to say I got a very positive response last night. I received a phone call from "Miss Ennis" and we had a great talk on the phone for over an hour. Her voice is a lot lower than it was in 1965, but she's as jovial and opinionated and perceptive as I remembered. She DID remember me well, and she remembered writing the letter to my father. She said I had a horrified look when she handed me the letter to take home (well I CERTAINLY believe that...I'm amazed I didn't outright COLLAPSE!), and that because I'd had SUCH a horrified look, she didn't later push it when I did not give a good response about what I'd done with the letter.

"Miss Ennis" is not a "computer person" at all, but her husband and grown kids are, and this contact has helped inspire her to take the plunge regarding the whole world of "going on-line". She said this (my contact with her after all those years) was a great Christmas present for her; and it kind of was for me, too!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

You may notice that a new “follower” of my blog is listed at the right, and I also have a “live link” to that new “follower’s” blog. He is a pastor friend of mine, Vinnie Cappetta, who is an Associate Pastor in charge of Family Life at Crossroads Community Church on Edgell Road in Framingham at the Sudbury line (formerly Village Bible Chapel). You can click on the live link to go right to his blog or enter his URL address-

You may want to check out Vinnie’s blog entitled, “Check Your Compass”. Pastor Vinnie Cappetta belongs to the “John 17:23 Fellowship” which is a fellowship of evangelical pastors who are in covenant with one another. I also belong to the "John 17:23 Fellowship", although we happen to be in different small groups. I believe Vinnie holds a Masters' Degree in Counseling. His blog is pretty deep and "not for the faint of heart" but believe me, he is a VERY solid and mature evangelical Christian and has a LOT for readers to think about.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” (I Peter 2:17)

I think in the past few days I’ve posted more pieces on my blog within a short period of time than ever before! Usually, I like to post three times a week- sometime around Tuesday, sometime around Thursday, and sometime around Saturday. I know I’m now way off my schedule and there have just been a whole bunch of postings, but it seemed most fitting to post this tonight:

You may have heard that police in South Florida have revealed the identity of the man they positively believe killed little Adam Walsh back in 1981. His name was Ottis Toole. Toole was a vicious serial killer who is now deceased. The story was posted on America OnLine today and can be read at:

About a week ago, I posted a piece about famous people I’d like to meet. I’m sorry I did not include John Walsh in that piece because he is definitely a famous person I would like to meet. I guess my daughter Rachel must get her interest in law enforcement and criminal justice from the genes of my late father Eugene A. Baril because Rachel’s favorite T.V. show is “America’s Most Wanted” and I know she highly respects John Walsh. If anybody had a “right” to be bitter it’s John Walsh (and his family). At this time of year when we talk of “peace on Earth, good will toward men”, it’s difficult to think about an incident as horrible as the murder of Adam Walsh. I wonder how I would have handled such an event. Would I have remained as a committed Christian or would it have shattered my faith? Would I have become consumed with cynicism and self-pity? Would I have been overcome by fear? Would I have (foolishly) turned to drugs and alcohol for solace? Would my wife and I have blamed each other for our child’s murder (also foolishly) and gotten divorced? Only God knows.

I am deeply grateful I never faced such a horrific event in my life, but John Walsh and his family DID. John Walsh is a huge hero to me because he did not allow that terrible event to destroy him. Rather, he has put his energy...well, his LIFE into seeing that criminals are hunted down and apprehended, AND into trying to comfort and help other families who have been victimized by violent crime and by other forms of evil.

Does this news provide “closure” for the Walsh family or has it brought them more pain? I can’t help but think it’s the latter. To the Walsh family: I am truly sorry for your pain. I know I will never understand what you have gone through. You are very special people. You have done so much to make America and planet Earth a better place. Thank you. I’m not a real “huggy” person at all, but if I could, I’d give you a hug.

I hope this will be a wonderful Christmas for you. I don’t say tritely, God loves you and cares about you. I know there are no easy answers...really NO answers for what happened to your wonderful little boy. For me, this is the hardest part of ministry...wanting to give “answers” to hurting people when there are no answers. But all I can say is Jesus really cares about you.

Mr. Walsh, I’ve seen how much Rachel admires your work, and it blesses me that you’ve touched her life in ways you’ll never know. My father who had a distinguished career in law enforcement (he passed away in 2000) was not a “huggy” guy either, but I know he’d have hugs for the Walsh family, also.

God bless you, John Walsh!


“...Thou couldesr have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: ...” (from John 19:11)

Today was SUPPOSED to be a day of great protest against the proposed toll increases on the Massachusetts Turnpike. (In November, the Massachusetts Turnpike Board voted to increase tolls. The tolls at Weston and Allston would increase by 75 cents and the Sumner and Ted Williams tunnel rates would be boosted from $3.50 to $7.00. Public hearings about the toll increases have been taking place, and in fact a public hearing is scheduled for Framingham’s Memorial Building Wednesday evening at 6:30.) A grass roots organization called Stop the Pike Hike had originally scheduled the “Boston TOLL Party” for today. The original plan was that on “Boston TOLL Party” day as many commuters as possible would NOT use the MassPike but rather take alternate routes. In fact, some estimate that as many as 25% of MassPike commuters WILL opt for alternate routes once the toll hikes are implemented, and this increase in traffic on the alternate routes may cause major congestion and gridlock.

On Sunday, the Mayor of Boston and Boston Police Commissioner had a meeting with the leaders of Stop the Pike Hike, pretty much insisting that they NOT have their “Boston TOLL Party” in the interest of public safety and that IF the “Boston TOLL Party” went off as scheduled and IF there was some public safety disaster, THEY (the leaders of Stop the Pike Hike) would be PERSONALLY held responsible. The leaders of Stop the Pike Hike then called off their original plan and instead urged MassPike commuters to NOT use transponders today, AND to pay with pennies as a protest.

WTTK radio’s Michael Graham was VERY disappointed that the Stop the Pike Hike leadership backed down from their original plan. Michael took Route 9 to the radio station today but saw few join him in staying off the Pike. (It’s NOT illegal to choose to take Route 9 or some other roadway rather than the MassPike. I think the Mayor and Police Commissioner were WAY off in making a big deal about that!)

I have mixed emotions about the MassPike being a toll road. Many argue that the MassPike is no better or worse than any other road and that paying tolls for the Pike is ridiculous. I actually agree with commentator Emily Rooney of WGBH’s “Greater Boston” who argues that the MassPike IS a much better roadway than the other superhighways of Massachusetts. It really is. It’s just SO well maintained, and they do a FABULOUS job with snow removal, etc. I don’t see a big deal about the Pike being a toll road, BUT... Are the tolls too high? In my humble opinion, YES! I’d reduce all of them by around 50%. Do MetroWest commuters pay an unfair burden by having to pay these tolls? Although the western suburbs EASILY have the best commute into Boston, I think it can be argued that yes they do. Are the toll hikes too much? Absolutely. Do toll collectors make too much money? I think they do, but that’s peanuts compared to what a lot of the “political hacks” in Massachusetts make.

Bottom line, I don’t think Michael Graham and I agree 100% about the Pike and whether it should be a toll road, but we DO agree that the hikes are too much, and at the WRONG time! I am so BLESSED that I do not regularly commute into Boston. Typically I only use the MassPike a few times a month. I will say that IF I regularly commuted on the MassPike I’d try to stay off of it at least for the next few weeks to make some kind of protest. I DO think not using the Pike would have a lot more impact than paying the tolls in pennies will.

I am going to try to avoid the Pike for a few weeks, BUT I admit a dilemma I have is that I really don’t know how to get to Logan Airport without using one of the tunnels. I’ve got relatives coming into Boston for Christmas that I’ll have to drive to and from the airport so I kind of think I’ll have to use the Pike and tunnels for that.... :-( sorry!

Anyway, I agree with Michael Graham....try to stay OFF that Pike as much as possible for the next few weeks!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I AM POSTING A PIECE THAT WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON DECEMBER 7, 2006 AS "WHERE'S MISS ENNIS?" This weekend I was doing some searching on the internet and I was able to find out that "Miss Ennis" and her husband Paul Kane live in the Boston area. I was not able to find a residential address, but I WAS able to find the business address for her husband. I'm debating: should I attempt to contact "Miss Ennis" after over 43 years or should I leave it alone?
Please read the "Where's Miss Ennis?" post below and I'd love to get your feedback:

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Miss Ennis was my 5th grade teacher. This was during the 1964-1965 school year. As most of you know, I grew up in Canton, Massachusetts. At that time a new elementary school was under construction, but would not be ready until the Fall of 1965. The elementary schools were overcrowded and the Town had to do something. The “something” was that for the 1964-1965 year, all 5th Grades in the Canton Public Schools were on the lowest level floor of the 1963 addition to Canton High School. “The 5th Grade in the High School” was almost run like a private school (or a charter school) that year. The one male teacher, Mr. Lynch, became the de facto “principal”. I didn’t like Mr. Lynch at all, but his ‘64-’65 teaching assignment did wonders for his career. He ended up becoming a highly respected elementary school principal in Canton (later becoming “Dr. Lynch”) and retiring just a few years ago. None of this has anything to do with Miss Ennis; but it’s background...

Miss Ennis’ name was Ellen Ennis. She was in her early 20s. She actually shared a lot about herself with her class (usually teachers didn’t share much about their personal lives, but she did). She was from Glen Road in the Wellesley Farms section of Wellesley. She was a pretty serious Roman Catholic. I think she had gone to either Boston College or Providence College. She drove a brand new white Ford Mustang. She had very high expectations for her students, particularly the boys. She very much liked me, but it was obvious she feared for my future. It bothered her that I was not athletic enough. Looking back, I think she feared I would become gay.

That was a tough year for me. I hung around with a young man I shouldn’t have gotten involved with (in that class) and it led to a lot of problems. I got into very serious trouble (for a 5th grader) in late September of that year. Maybe I’ll write about that another time. Did you ever watch “Leave it to Beaver”? Well, I will say that as a kid I was a LOT like Beaver. Remember how Richard, and Whitey, and Gilbert would manipulate him into things and he’d get in trouble? In elementary school, that was me.

December 1, 1964 was my father’s birthday. He was 42 that year. That’s interesting because in fact it was 42 years ago, and yes, if he were still living, he’d now be 84. I got in very serious trouble with Miss Ennis that day; instigated by the kid I wrote about. Miss Ennis did the unthinkable: She wrote a long, handwritten letter to my father about it! I had to bring it home and have it signed by him!

I wanted to DIE. Remember the kid that was caned in Singapore about ten years ago? I’d GLADLY have been caned rather than bring that letter home! My father was very strict. I had already been in serious trouble in September. It was his birthday. It was horrible. I didn’t know what to do. Twenty-two years before “Ferris Beuhler’s Day Off”, I put on an Oscar-level performance of faking being sick, and so I got out of going to school the next day. I tried forging my father’s signature onto the letter. It was a terrible job and I knew it. Now, I’d only made matters worse! Looking back, my father NEVER would have just signed a letter like that anyway. He’d have contacted the school and met with the teacher, and I’d have been, well, “dead”...

You may not believe this but for the next week I faked sick day after day. I knew I could not continue this forever. Finally, I went back to school. I hoped it would all just blow over.

“Did you show that letter to your father?” Miss Ennis asked me.

“Yes,” I lied.

“What did he say?”

“He was mad.” I said. It was an obvious lie. It was one of those situations for which Bob Dole used to say, “You know it, I know it, everybody knows it.”

To my shock she never brought up the matter again. I think maybe she knew that the letter thing was just more than I could handle with my very strict father. Of course, she did not know it was his birthday. Well, now I’m 52-years-old and have been an Assemblies of God minister for over twenty-five years. My own children are grown. Miss Ennis married a man named Kane in June of 1965 at St. John’s Church in Wellesley. I attended the ceremony. I got my parents to drive me, and that was a “trip” because they considered it very inconvenient and almost refused to take me. Mr. Kane was in the Air Force. I never saw Miss Ennis/Mrs. Kane again.

As silly as it may sound, the scenario I’ve just written about has kind of bothered me for forty-two years. I know God has long ago forgiven me. I’d love to contact Ellen Ennis Kane who would now be about 66-years-old and explain what happened. I know it’s usually easy to locate people on the internet. I’ve located all sorts of people from my past on the internet. I found out that my high school biology teacher, for instance, is now a professor at U.Mass-Amherst. A girl I liked in Bible College is now a missionary to Germany. (It looks like she tripled in weight since the ‘70s ... she’s married with several kids....I’m kind of glad a relationship with her did not work out!) But I can’t find Miss Ennis. December 1 just went by a few days ago, and I’m dealing with those memories all over again...


“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,” (Matthew 17:1)

Last Monday night (December 8) I went to the 2007 Christmas Dinner of the “Central Massachusetts Section” of the Assemblies of God. It was held in Fitchburg at what used to be known as the Fitchburg Assembly of God church. (It’s now “Crossroads Church” or something like that. Right now in the Assemblies of God it’s considered really uncool to have “Assembly of God” or “Assemblies of God” in your church’s name so I guess that makes the name “First Assembly of God of Framingham” QUITE uncool!)

The Assemblies of God in the U.S.A. are divided into “Districts” which would be like a “Diocese” in the Catholic Church. We’re located in the Southern New England District. Then the Districts are divided into “Sections”. Our “Central Massachusetts Section” is one of the largest in the District. Framingham has the distinction of being the easternmost church in the Central Mass. Section and Orange is the westernmost. I like when a Sectional function is in a place like Marlboro because it’s close by, but I really don’t like to drive to Fitchburg. I know commentator Mike Barnacle is originally from Fitchburg. He likes to affectionately refer to the Fitchburg/Leominster area as “The Kingdom”. My own opinion of that area is not so affectionate. It’s geographically isolated and a pain to get to Fitchburg. And when you DO get there it looks like Worcester, only worse.

My wife starts work at Marian High School VERY early in the morning and can be falling asleep at 8:30 p.m. She really didn’t want to go to the Sectional dinner for that reason, and I couldn’t blame her. The dinner was actually pretty good and the evening was pretty good, but afterward the pastor of our church in Marlboro commented to me that he’d gotten lost trying to find the Fitchburg church. I commiserated with him, saying that while I’d found it THIS time, I’ve also been lost in Fitchburg in the past. He said he’d call me on Friday and that maybe we could set up a time to get together for coffee sometime soon, to which I agreed.

I did not hear from him on Friday, and I wasn’t surprised. That was the morning after the ice storm, and he lives in Worcester. Boy, I feel delighted and yet almost guilty that I live and work in Framingham! SO many areas were devastated by last Thursday night’s ice storm. Fitchburg is one of the hardest hit areas with trees down and wires down all over the community. Had that dinner been scheduled for Monday, Dec. 15 or really anytime between Dec. 12 and Dec. 16, it wouldn’t have happened! Many of the towns I drive to on the route to Fitchburg were also devastated. In fact, much of Marlboro was pretty hard hit. Framingham borders Marlboro, and Framingham had no ice, no downed trees and no loss of electricity. WE ARE VERY FORTUNATE.

In 2007, my daughter Amy experienced one of those devastating type ice storms in Springfield, Missouri. The only previous such storm there on record happened in 1954, so everybody was quite unprepared for it. I’ve seen many photos of the January 2007 Springfield, Missouri ice storm, and it the current photos on T.V. of Fitchburg look identical. Parts of Springfield, MO had no electricity for nine days. Amy and several young people went to stay at a friend’s home in Kansas City, KS until things in Springfield were back to normal. I’ve seen a number of people on the T.V. news who similarly report staying with relatives in Boston suburbs such as Newton. Thousands and thousands have no electricity and it doesn’t look like it will be back on any time soon.

I drove through that area just a week ago with no idea what was coming.
MANY churches in that area had services canceled today. I feel for pastors who have frozen and broken pipes in their church buildings and in their homes. There will also be so many consequences for computers and other modern electronic devices of power being off for more than 24 hours straight. We got “Verizon FiOS” last January. One of the BAD points of it is that it runs off of electricity. There’s a battery backup with the FiOS system so that even if you lose electricity for up to 24 hours, you’ll still have telephone service. That system fails after 24 hours and in most cases would necessitate a service call for a new battery after power is restored. That’s also true with church emergency lighting, certain fire alarm system batteries, etc. I am SO glad I don’t have to deal with all that stuff, but those who DO will need our prayers.

Yes, what a difference a week makes!

Friday, December 12, 2008


“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

(As I begin writing, it occurs to me that the story I’m sharing from my childhood today was shared previously on my blog. I believe I shared it way back in the blog’s early “AOL Journals” days in 2006. I think I even titled that posting “None For the Barils!” I’m just too lazy to go back through the “archives” and find it, but I’m stating this as sort of a disclaimer or clarification in case there’s that one lone person with a fascinating memory who remembers that posting.)

I grew up (mainly) in the Boston suburb of Canton, Massachusetts. When I was a kid, we had next door neighbors with whom we were very friendly. This is not their real last name, but I’m going to call them the “Petersons” and the kids who are in my age group I’ll call Josh and Ricky. We went all sorts of places with Josh and Ricky and they went all sorts of places with us. We’re in their parents’ home movies and they’re in some of the home movies my Dad shot back in the 1960s. We were so close to Josh and Ricky that they were like members of our family- it felt like they were relatives.

When the Peterson's REAL relatives came to visit them, however, we understood very quickly that we were not related to Josh and Ricky. It was the strangest thing. Josh and Ricky were the nicest kids and we were so close to them, but when their cousins came over, we felt like Old Testament lepers. Josh and Ricky had cousins from the next town of Sharon who came over at least once a month. Although Josh and Ricky kind of ignored us and treated us like second class citizens when they came over, the Sharon cousins were really nice kids. The cousins treated us well and it KIND OF worked out. The scary thing, however, was when the Peterson's cousins from Connecticut came over. That happened maybe twice a year. I don’t remember the name of the “Aunt” from Connecticut, but I DO remember the Uncle was “Uncle Rip” and that WAS his real name. Josh and Ricky were crazy about Uncle Rip and their cousins from Connecticut. It was MUCH worse than when the relatives from Sharon came over. My brother and sister and I called them, “the Connecticuts”. If one of us would say, “Don’t even bother trying to play with Josh and Ricky today; the Connecticuts are over!” we all knew what that meant.

Josh and Ricky would get glazed over looks as though they had smoked crack, and I don’t even think crack existed then! Josh and Ricky would take on totally different personalities. As far as they were concerned, royalty was visiting them, and they didn’t even KNOW us. If we saw that black 1961 Chevrolet Bel-Air sedan with the attached dark blue Connecticut licenses plates, we just knew to stay in our yard. My most vivid memory of a visit of the Connecticuts is one pleasant day when they were at the Peterson's. The Peterson kids and their Connecticut cousins had all been given some kind of special candy treats. As they enjoyed their treats, Josh and Ricky danced, yelled, and shrieked, “NONE FOR THE BARILS!! NONE FOR THE BARILS!!”

You may wonder how we ever could have remained friends with these kids. I guess that’s a good question. We knew when the Connecticuts left, it would take about 24 hours for Josh and Ricky to go through withdrawal, and then they’d be back to their old selves again. It was painful for us, but we understood they had a weakness. If there was a 12-Step program for children with cousins from Connecticut, they needed to join. But somehow we loved them and put up with them anyway. Incidentally, Ricky grew up to become a somewhat famous physician. He lives in Pennsylvania and I’ve read about some of his accomplishments on the WEB.

You may have guessed that something tripped off the, “None For the Barils” memory for me. It did. It happened about a month ago. A person I know very well and who is one of the kindest and most generous people I’ve ever known made a statement that kind of floored me. The statement was not anything to do with me, thank God. But this person that I don’t think I’ve ever heard say a bad word about ANYONE or ANYTHING made such an insensitive, inappropriate, selfish remark toward someone else, that I was STARTLED and felt like I’d been hit by a falling boulder or something!

As I thought about this later that day, it “totally tripped off” the memories of the Petersons and the Connecticuts from forty-five years ago.

“Wow,” I thought, “this is the grown up 2008 version of ‘None For the Barils’!”

Now, again, I use that FIGURATIVELY. The person did not say anything nasty to or about me. But you can tell how FLOORED I was to have heard what I did.

For some reason, it has come back to my mind again today. At first, I was kind of disgusted and started to think less of my friend. Then I remembered how many times as a kid that I forgave Josh and Ricky. If I could forgive those kids, then I could forgive that adult who obviously had a moment of total tunnel vision and such an incredible lapse in judgment.

This is a time of year that can bring out the BEST in people and can also bring out the WORST in people. Let’s all remember the “golden rule”! Let’s “get the big picture” and try to avoid having “tunnel vision”. And, YES, let’s try to skip the “None For the Barils!” kind of stuff!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

The Associated Press posted a story on America On Line yesterday afternoon entitled, “Bush Says He Doubts Bible Literally True”. After reading the article I did not know whether to laugh or to cry.

I’m a registered Republican. I voted for George W. Bush ONCE for President, in 2004. No, I didn’t vote for him in 2000. At that time, I thought the only reason he had gotten anywhere politically was because of who his father was. It seemed to me that if his name were Fred Jones or Bob Baril he’d probably have had no chance of ever being elected President of the United States OR of ever being elected Governor of Texas. 2000 was the only time I voted for a third party candidate for President, and that was Pat Buchanan on the Reform party ticket. President Bush surprised me in his first term. I thought he did a pretty good job and I voted for him in 2004. I have been very disappointed in President Bush’s performance in his second term and I don’t think he has done a very good job. I know that I am supposed to respect the President of the United States. I DO respect the Office of President. I think George W. Bush is a nice guy, but after reading the AP article, I’m just shaking my head about this man. Jimmy Carter, another born-again Christian taught many an Adult Sunday School class, but I don’t thing I can imagine President Bush even teaching an Adult Sunday School class!

check this out:

I can’t understand how a man with a graduate degree from Yale could POSSIBLY allow himself to be backed into a corner like that and could possibly give such POOR answers! Cynthia McFadden of ABC ought to interview Charles Colson and ask him many of the same questions. I DOUBT she or any other reporter will do that because Colson would blow her away with his intellect and knowledge of the Bible, and she or any other secular cynical reporter would end up looking pretty foolish.

I’ll go on record saying this: While NO ONE knows for sure the age of the Universe or of Planet Earth, the Bible clearly teaches there was a literal Adam and a literal Eve that all human beings descend from. They sinned and they and their descendants became separated from God. Jesus Christ came as the Second Adam to redeem mankind.

Bush should have been smart enough to clearly and intelligently state that he is not a trained scientist nor a trained theologian but that he believes Jesus Christ came to redeem mankind. Some may read the AP article and argue, “Well he DID say that.” He sort of said it, but not very well. If he made a presentation (such as is reported in the AP story) for me, with a desire to become an Adult Sunday School teacher, I’d tell him he’s not ready for prime time (no pun intended)!

My son Jon had a different take on the Bush interview, saying the questions asked of Bush were completely irrelevant and that he should have refused to answer them for that reason. Jon has a good point.

Sorry if this offended some of you, but it bothers me when the secular press deliberately tries to make Christians look foolish and it bothers me even more when a Christian walks right into their trap.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:” (I Corinthians 1:26)

Sometimes my mind takes me to strange and unusual places! As I was shaving and showering this morning, my mind began wandering all over the place and somehow I began thinking about famous people I’d like to meet. My thoughts ended up being so interesting (at least to ME!) that I decided to write a blog posting about it! If this ends up being very boring to you (like watching some family’s home movies from 1964) I hope you’ll forgive me; but to use the title of an ABBA song, I hope you’ll, “Take a Chance on Me” and read it anyway!

A few weeks ago I wrote that I’d like to meet John McCain and have lunch with him sometime. I really would. And, I’d like to meet Sarah Palin, too. I guess this may SEEM shallow of me, but I am one of those who does become drawn to certain celebrities. One of the greatest thrills of my life was to meet a local Boston area celebrity. That was David Brudnoy who did the evening talk show on WBZ 1030 A.M. for many years. I was privileged to be an in-studio guest of David Brudnoy’s in February of 1989. I was scheduled to be on for one hour, but things went so well that David invited me to spend another hour with him. At that time, David was doing a “Religions in America” series, and I got permission from my District Superintendent (like a Bishop) to go on and represent the Assemblies of God. During the top of the hour news break, David took me out in the hall and bought me a coke from the the vending machine. He was very friendly and personable, and after the second hour, he walked me to the front door of the building. It was at this time of year, early December in 2004, when David Brudnoy was dying of cancer at Mass. General Hospital. I went to the hospital at that time and tried to see him. I did meet David’s cousin in the lobby who assured me he could get me in to see David. But twenty minutes later, the security person in the lobby phoned up to his room and I was told I would not be allowed in. David Brudnoy died less than twenty-four hours later.

There’s another former WBZ broadcaster that I’d like to meet in person, and that’s Larry Glick. Mr. Glick hosted a captivating show that was a mixture of comedy and bizarre information, but once in awhile, he’d have a serious guest. My late Uncle was a personal friend of Larry Glick’s. I’ve spoken to Larry Glick on the phone two or three times, but I have never met him in person. He is now retired and living in south Florida.

There are several 90-year-olds I’d like to meet before they die. One is Andy Rooney. I know he’s a crusty old guy and I understand he’s an atheist, but he’s a great writer and has seen SO much of life from writing for “Stars and Stripes” in the army during World War 2 to being a reporter on virtually all of the big news stories of the past sixty years. Another is his former colleague Mike Wallace. My understanding is that Mike Wallace lives on Martha’s Vineyard, as does Walter Cronkite, and I wouldn’t mind meeting him, either. Another 90-year-old I would love to meet and spend a few hours with is Billy Graham. He lives in western North Carolina and I don’t think he is in the best of health, but in my very early days of being a born-again Christian when I was just a kid in the early 1970s, no one’s writings and teachings had more of an impact on me than Billy Graham’s did. I really wish I could speak to him in person and thank him.

I know this will get some laughs but I’d like to meet Oprah Winfrey. There’s a female minister named Ellen who used to pastor in Framingham. Ellen has a grown daughter who works for Oprah’s “Harpo Productions” fairly high up. I used to wish Ellen would get me some sort of “in” with Oprah, but I never asked her as it would have felt very foolish to do so.

This will sound even more foolish, but I enjoy watching the sitcom “The Office” and I’d love to meet the show’s cast sometime. I know television acting is mostly a “seedy” business full of shallow and superficial people who use the “F” word more often than most sailors do. I know I’d never want to be in that atmosphere all the time, but a fantasy of mine is to have a one time walk-on role on “The Office”. I know that just to walk in and say three or four lines would probably involve a few hours of shooting and I just think it would be a blast!

Many Patriots fans would like to meet Tom Brady, and that would be nice, but I’d rather meet Matt Cassel. He’s become an inspiration to me this year. I felt so bad for him when so many people predicted he’d do a terrible job as the Pats’ Quarterback while Brady is out for the season. No, Matt is not Tom Brady, and he readily admits it, but Matt Cassel has really “stepped up” and I think overall that he has done a great job.

I would like to meet Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. I know he’s a liberal’s liberal, and I disagree with him politically about 80% of the time, but I also think he’s a nice guy with a great personality, and if I got to meet him, maybe I could have just some teeny-tiny bit of influence and impact upon him.

I’ve exchanged e-mails with three current radio talk show hosts on WTKK and I’ve shaken hands with one (Michael Graham) at a couple of his personal appearances, but I’ve never met these people one-on-one in person, and I’d really enjoy that. I think the one I’d most like to meet is Michelle McPhee. I cannot give the details, but there is someone I know of who is a potentially dangerous person who was (unknown to Michelle) essentially beginning to stalk her. I e-mailed her and warned her about this. Since Michelle McPhee is a big advocate of police officers and firefighters, I mentioned a little about my father and his career in law enforcement. Michelle McPhee sent me back a very nice and appreciative e-mail, and wrote one of the most special lines anyone has ever written to me. She wrote, “You’re a hero, just like your Dad”. I got really choked up right there in front of the computer. No one had EVER called me a hero before, and certainly not a hero like my father. My father truly was a very macho hero type...the type that would have run into the World Trade Center to get people out. I really DON’T think I’m a hero like my father, but that was one of the most meaningful things anyone ever wrote to me.

I’d like to meet singer Vonda Shepard. She was the one who played the club singer on “Ally McBeal”. She has such a pleasant and yet soulful voice and sings with such heart. I have a number of her songs loaded on my iTunes on the computer. Yes, I’d truly ike to meet her. And although Avril Lavigne is my kids’ age, I’d like to meet her, too. Her songs appeal to teenagers and twenty-somethings, but I guess I’m just a big kid because I like a lot of her music.

I watch “Greater Boston” each weeknight that I’m HOME. It has been my privilege to exchange e-mails with Dan Kennedy who is on their Friday “Beat the Press” segment. I would really love to meet Emily Rooney, the main host of “Greater Boston”, who happens to be the daughter of Andy Rooney. I’d also LOVE to be a guest on “Greater Boston” but first I’d have to DO some great, famous thing, myself, and I haven’t managed to do any great, famous things yet!

At the beginning of this piece, I wrote about trying to get into David Brudnoy’s hospital room to see him. In closing, I want to tell about a visit to a sick patient in a nursing home about five years ago. That was Mr. Dean MacIntyre who was NOT a famous person, but who deserved to be. My wife knew Dean from the time she was a little girl, and later he was a Board Member at the old Christian Life Center church in Walpole where I was an Assistant Pastor in the 1980s. Dean was a WONDERFUL person, one of the finest people I’ve ever known. He was on his death bed at a nursing home in Medway. We had a wonderful visit. I’ve never said anything like this before, but as I was about to leave, I said to Dean, “Dean, you’re going to be in Heaven seeing the Lord very shortly. Will you tell Him I was asking for Him?!” With a chuckle and a smile, Dean told me, “I’ll do that!” Dean died just a few days later. This may sound foolish, but I honestly believe Dean DID do that for me! And it’s pretty cool!

When all is said and done, the one famous person you definitely want to be in a right relationship with is the Lord Jesus Christ!

Friday, December 5, 2008


"A time to be born, and a time to die..." (from Ecclesiastes 3:2)

Check out the following article which states that several automobile makes are likely to soon disappear:

The article notes that the Hummer is likely history for a number of obvious reasons (huge, fuel inefficient, ridiculously expensive). Also on the danger list is the Saturn, Dodge, Mercury, and even Volvo. For you Volvo lovers who are about to go into a panic, Volvo was purchased by Ford in the 1990s. Ford wants to get rid of it, but the make MAY be sold to another car manufacturer rather than being completely eliminated. The others, though, are likely "toast".

It's ironic that my friend D.C.M. today forwarded me an e-mail photolog (I may have made up that word) of a 1940 Dodge sedan which had been stored in a barn for over fifty years. It's got well under 50,000 miles on it and is in the condition of a typical four-year-old car. For the person who doesn't care about air conditioning or automatic transmission (or FM radio, for that matter) it would be a "cool" car. I'm sure it will sell for a fortune.

No, they don't make 'em like they used to, and that's why these makes are in danger. In fact, I'm sure you all know that virtually ALL traditional American makes are in danger at this point.

I owned a couple of Oldsmobiles. That's one make thats already gone. I think GM canned it after 2004, because Oldsmobiles were SO similar to Buicks. We also now own a Saturn. I'm actually NOT a big "General Motors" person, but Saturns are great cars. I guess GM doesn't sell enough of them, however. Mercury has always had the problem that it's just a Ford with another name. That's the same problem with Dodge. Dodge and Plymouth used to be IDENTICAL. They even EACH offered the compact "Neon" car. You could buy it as a Plymouth Neon or as a Dodge Neon. Dodge outsold Plymouth by something like three to one, so Chrysler dropped Plymouth after 2001, and now Dodge and Chrysler cars are so much alike that it looks like Dodge will go. Yes, we also own a Dodge- a 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan.

I'm old enough to remember Studebakers, as well as Rambler and its successor, AMC. I owned an AMC Concord station wagon. I also remember Edsel. My Dad knew an Edsel dealer and my brother and I actually had toy Edsels (promotional toys for the dealers) in the late 1950s. Can you imagine what those toys would be worth today? I vaguely remember DeSotos. They were built by Chrysler and were often confused with Dodges.

Some serious automotive historians (and I admit I'm a semi-serious one) refer to such makes as "orphan makes". It looks like there will be some more orphan makes very soon!

Don't anybody worry about Toyota or Honda! They're not going away any time soon!


“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” (John 2:11)

I picked out that verse because it’s about a “beginning”...a FIRST.

I’m just wondering when we’ll receive our FIRST Christmas card this year. I know this is still pretty early, but one year we received out first Christmas card on November 30. Another year, we received our first card on December 1. Several years, the first card has come on December 2 or 3. It’s December 5, and so far, no cards.

I wrote a lengthy piece about Christmas cards on the blog a year or two ago. I’ve noticed that each year, the number of cards we receive decreases. I think one reason for that is that more and more people send e-cards. But I think another reason is that while Christmas cards were a BIG part of my parents’ generation, I think the custom of sending them is slowly dying out. I heard one clerk at a post office this week say that the post offices are NOT busy like they were in past Decembers, and so far I HAVEN’T seen any overwhelming lines at the post offices I’ve done business with.

At our house, Mary Ann does 99% of the Christmas shopping, 100% of the Christmas cooking, and 90% of the Christmas decorating. I am fortunate, because outside of the Advent and Christmas sermons I prepare, I have only two jobs to do for Christmas. One is to pick up the Christmas tree. We always get a real tree, usually from Higgins’ Christmas trees on Route 126 in Ashland. (I haven’t done that yet, but it will probably happen within the next week.) The other is that I take care of writing out and mailing the Christmas cards, AND I hang up all the cards that come and check them off on a list I have. Over the past 24 hours, I wrote out all of our Christmas cards. I now cheat, because I use all computerized address labels, but I do SIGN each card. I’ve only mailed one card so far because it’s going out of state and because it’s for a disabled person. A friend of theirs is trying to get that person to receive a record number of cards this year, so I was glad to help out in sending one.

I was just thinking about it and I thought I would write about it. I wonder with the economy and all how that will affect Christmas cards this year. My guess is the number we receive will be down again.

And, for those who think I’m a total Ebineezer Scrooge or Grinch (I kind of have that reputation, and I ACTUALLY HAVE A STUFFED GREEN GRINCH!) there ARE some parts of the season I DO like, and one of ‘em is the Christmas cards!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


The following statements are about a historical religious figure:


1. Initially I flatly refused to help a foreign woman (who had a demon possessed daughter) because she was a foreigner.

2. My friends and family publicly stated that I was out of my mind.

3. As a middle school aged kid I wandered away from my parents while on a long trip and was rebuked by them for doing so.

4. I once physically drove some people from a house of worship, knocking over some tables in the process.

5. In public, I referred to my mother as “woman”.

6. Although I was originally a blue collar worker, my itinerant ministry was supported by the financial gifts of wealthy women.

7. I waited until roughly age 30 to be baptized.

8. In a story that I told to help illustrate spiritual truth, I spoke positively about the shrewd actions of a white collar criminal.

9. After making seemingly cannibalistic statements, multitudes of people wanted nothing to do with me.

10. I attended parties and drank wine.



The answer is that these statements are all about JESUS CHRIST!

1. Initially I flatly refused to help a foreign woman (who had a demon possessed daughter) because she was a foreigner.[see MARK 7:24-30]

2. My friends and family publicly stated that I was out of my mind. [see MARK 3:21]

3. As a middle school aged kid I wandered away from my parents while on a long trip and was rebuked by them for doing so. [see LUKE 2:41-50]

4. I once physically drove some people from a house of worship, knocking over some tables in the process.[see JOHN 2:13-17]

5. In public, I referred to my mother as “woman”.[see JOHN 2:1-4]

6. Although I was originally a blue collar worker, my itinerant ministry was supported by the financial gifts of wealthy women. [see LUKE 8:3]

7. I waited until roughly age 30 to be baptized. [see LUKE 3:21-23]

8. In a story that I told to help illustrate spiritual truth, I spoke positively about the shrewd actions of a white collar criminal. [see LUKE 16:1-12]

9. After making seemingly cannibalistic statements, multitudes of people wanted nothing to do with me. [see JOHN 6:47-69]

10. I attended parties and drank wine. [see MATTHEW 9:9-12; and LUKE 7:33-35]

If you’d like to find out where you can learn more about the Jesus of the Bible, please contact me at


“...a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted...” (from Ecclesiastes 3:2)

Today I tied a record! The LATEST in the season that I’ve ever mowed my lawn is December 2, 2001. That day was very warm. In fact the high temperature in the Boston area on December 2, 2001 was 72 degrees. I never thought I’d cut the lawn THAT late in the season again. Today, December 2, 2008, I did! No, it was not 72 degrees outside. In fact, it was probably more like 47 degrees, but it WAS “partly sunny”.

For anyone living in San Deigo, California, or Miami, Florida or someplace like that, I know that cutting your lawn on December 2 is no big deal. But in suburban Boston, Massachusetts it is a VERY big deal! We’ve had no accumulating snow yet here in Framingham. Usually the first flurries fall around November 7 and the first accumulating snow can be anywhere from November 14 to November 30. My final mow of the lawn for the season is usually around November 11 or 12. I last cut the lawn right around October 31. Of course, I’ve filled 30 big green trash bags with leaves since that time. (I take them over and dump them in a brushy, woodsy area of the periphery of the church property.)

I don’t think my first mowing of the lawn for the season has ever been before March 17, and usually it’s more like April 2, so it will probably be awhile before I cut the grass again. Even so, cutting a lawn beat shoveling snow any day!

Monday, December 1, 2008


“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:6)

In most Protestant Bibles, that’s the last verse of the Old Testament. It’s appropriate to use for this posting because today is his 86th birthday. “His” is Eugene Armand Baril - my father.

I’ve written about my father quite a number of times on this blog. My relationship with him was very complicated. I did not have a close relationship with him. He was an extreme perfectionist, and one of the problems of perfectionism (which I also suffer with) is that nothing and no one EVER measures up. So, I felt like I could never measure up to him. My late brother Eddie also had the same problem, and it was a big part of why Eddie abused alcohol. I don’t want to make my father sound awful. He WASN’T awful. This will sound self-depricating, but (on some level) maybe he DID deserve better kids.

I’ve often said that my father was retired after a “distinguished” career with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. That’s no exaggeration. He was distinguished in many fields. Dad not only had a pilot’s license, and not only was certified to fly quite a few different types of aircraft, but he was a highly respected flight instructor. He reached the level of Major in the Civil Air Patrol and taught many young people to fly. Although he was not a particularly large man physically, he was quite athletic and played several sports in high school. He was particularly accomplished as a baseball player. My father was a very good mechanic. In fact, he graduated from both Mechanic Arts High School in Boston (later known as “Boston Tech.”) and Boston Trade School as an aircraft mechanic.
Dad enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and served until 1945. Contrary to what some people believe about soldiers and sailors in World War 2, not ALL of them were sent overseas, and he spent the entire war on various bases around the U.S. (mostly in the South).

It was quite by accident that my father became a Boston Police officer. He had been working for the City of Boston as a surveyor, when a friend who desperately wanted to get on the force asked my father to study and train with him. My father later recognized the irony that his friend did NOT make it onto the police force, but he did! He spent 5 years as a Boston cop, mostly in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood. During those years, he was active on his precinct’s softball team.

In 1955, Dad took the Registry of Motor Vehicles exam and was appointed as a “Registry Inspector” in 1956. As a mechanic friend has told me, “In those days, Registry Inspectors were looked at with fear and respect, even more so than state troopers”. My father was a PERFECT driver. When I was a kid, each night he’d park a Volkswagen Beetle AND a compact American sedan in the same one car garage with only about a half inch to spare between them. You have to be INCREDIBLY SKILLED to do that!

Dad was very strict and very authoritarian. But I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about him. He had a fabulous sense of humor and was quite the prankster and practical joker. He also was an incredibly good storyteller, and was a sought after public speaker. Dad was not a clergyman, but he was actually asked to conduct two funeral services, and he DID, and did a good job each time!

Many of you know, Eugene A. Baril’s final days were very sad. It was devastating to watch him failing mentally in the 1990s. One night he came home hysterically telling my sister he did not know how to turn the car off or how to turn the wipers off. My mom would fight back the tears when they’d go to a self-service gas station and he’d be unable to work the gas pump. In 1996 we took his license away from him. Dad entered the Alzheimer’s unit of a nursing home in October of 1999 and died in June of 2000. He really should have been in that nursing home at least a year earlier. It was on that Alzheimer’s unit, with him on the level of a one-year-old kid that my father prayed with me to receive Jesus Christ as his own personal Savior and Lord.

Today is his 86th birthday. I’m kind of tearing up as I write. As I get older, I understand my father a LOT better than I did when I was a kid. Over the past few months I’ve gone through quite a bit of emotional stress in my life. I’ve wished SO MUCH that I could go and speak to my father and get his advice. No, NOT the senile guy in the nursing home, but the healthy, vibrant Eugene A. Baril as he was around thirty years ago. Yes, today is his 86th birthday, and I miss my father...