Saturday, July 31, 2010


I'm pleased that the MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, MA) printed my response to the desire of the Framingham Board of Selectmen that the Salvation Army move out of downtown Framingham in the Saturday, July 31, 2010 issue of the MetroWest Daily News. (The story that the Salvation Army may NOT be welcome anymore in Downtown Framingham was also covered on Boston's CBS station WBZ channel 4 on July 29.) I'm sure many could have written more eloquently about the issue than I have, but I'm glad I had to oppportunity to make my voice heard! You can read the column by going to and clicking the link for OPINION; or you can essentially read what it has to say below:

Front page, Thursday, July 29,Metro West Daily News featured an article about the Framingham Board of Selectmen urging the Salvation Army to move out of its present location. In the past 15 years that issue has been raised almost as much as the issue of the downtown traffic congestion due to the railroad crossing.

The online version of the article brought over 50 comments. A couple of very pertinent points were brought up among the comments. One is that the Salvation Army property is private property and they should (within the limits of the law, of course) be able to do what they want on and with that property. The other is that the many poor and needy people the Salvation Army serves on a daily basis are not going to move with the Salvation Army if they were to move.

Admittedly, the fact that I'm an ordained minister probably gives me a bias here, but I've never seen the Salvation Army and its ministry downtown as being a bad thing. I've frankly been glad the Salvation Army was there.

I'm no "bleeding heart liberal" and I'm no "tax and spend liberal." I'm actually quite Republican and conservative. When former President George W. Bush talked about "faith based initiatives," I think organizations like the Salvation Army were a part of what he was talking about.

There was a powerful program on NBC's Dateline a few nights ago featuring a feeding program for the poor in a very economically disadvantaged town in southeast Ohio. One point brought out on that program is that it has become fashionable to hate the poor and to blame them for their own problems. In some cases, it may in fact, be their own fault for the plight they're in, but we're supposed to be a people that doesn't allow our neighbors to just "fall through the cracks" in times of crisis.

Jesus said, "For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always." (Mark 14:7)

In commenting on that portion a number of years ago, talk show host Gene Burns said that Jesus' statement was more of an indictment than a prophecy, and I think Burns was right.

I agree there are some logistical problems with the Salvation Army and its operation downtown. I've driven by there on Friday nights when A.A. is letting out. It's not uncommon for people to be pouring out into Howard Street and even Concord Street, and for there to be an atmosphere that could make visitors and passersby uncomfortable.

I know there have also been complaints about all the people congregating on the sidewalk waiting for the miracle kitchen to open or for the Salvation Army to open up in the morning.

There are probably ways to address these situations, but I don't think we need to throw the baby out with the bath water and turn our backs on the Salvation Army.

I think Charles Sheldon's classic book, "In His Steps" ought to be required reading for every one of our Framingham town officials and really for any Framingham resident perplexed about the issue of what do we do about the poor and needy in our midst. Warning: that book will challenge you and make you uncomfortable.

Indeed, it will be interesting to see what the recommendations of The Timothy Consulting Group from Michigan will be when they complete their four month study. I suspect Lt. Rebecca Kirk's comment that, "The program study may say we're exactly where we need to be," will in fact be what they will conclude.

Friday, July 30, 2010


“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44)

Matthew 5:44 can be a tough verse for even the most devout Christians to follow. We don’t naturally want to pray for those who hurt us and do bad things to us, although the Bible DOES teach the power and effectiveness of such prayers. I think most of us are more like little “Jeffy” in “The Family Circus” cartoon. One cartoon shows Jeffy praying the Lord’s prayer in THIS manner: “and forgive us our trespasses, as we GIVE IT TO THOSE who trespass against us”! No, we don’t want to pray for them, we want to “give it” to them!

That’s my struggle about the senseless vandalism to downtown buildings I’ve witnessed in the past two weeks. Late last week, I went into the downtown post office to check my post office box and was shocked to see that a large window there had been smashed. My boss from VIP Answering Service happened to walk in at the same time. I commented to him about the damage, and he added, “That’s the SECOND time that window has been smashed this week! They repaired it, and now it’s smashed again!”

The post office has just boarded up that space, not bothering to put glass in it again. This morning, I stopped by the post office again, and ANOTHER window had been smashed!

Across the street, I walked by the Armenian Church of the Holy Translators where my good friend Fr. Krikor Sabonjian is the pastor. To my shock, a window at THEIR building had been smashed! I walked inside, and there was Krikor with a shop vac trying to clean up shards of glass which were all over the place! The worst part is, Krikor told me this is the second time it’s happened in two weeks! As with the post office, they smashed that window, the church replaced it, and they smashed it again!

After speaking to Krikor, I couldn’t help but think of the episode of The Three Stooges where they play three bizarre physicians. Througout that “short” The Three Stooges run into the office of the president of the hospital, smashing the door’s glass window as they do. A repairman keeps replacing the window, and The Three Stooges keep smashing it. Finally, when the repairman sees The Three Stooges coming, he just smashes the window for them! Now, that’s slapstick, and it’s supposed to be funny, but there’s nothing funny about the smashed windows in downtown Framingham. For those of us who care about downtown Framingham revitalization, such vandalism is sickening and disgusting! Yes, we SHOULD pray as the above verse says...let’s pray the culprit or culprits are found, brought to justice, and have to make restitution for what they’ve done, and let’s pray they learn to never perpetrate such vandalism again; let’s pray the Lord brings them to true repentance!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

The late Rev. Dr. Carl H. Stevens, founder and president of Greater Grace Christian Fellowship, used to say that, “The Bible is the highest form of education”. I quite agree with Stevens’ statement. Unfortunately, probably 95% of the students and faculty at Massachusetts’ State Colleges would NOT agree with me, but they HAVE taken what many believe is a big step forward: Governor Patrick has signed into Law the changing of the names of most of Massachusetts State Colleges to be “Universities”. My understanding is this does not affect ALL of them. Mass. College of Art and Design in Boston will keep their name as will Mass. College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. Many schools, however, such as Framingham State, and my daughter Rachel’s alma mater Westfield State will now be known as “University”.

There’s been quite a move of changing the names of “colleges” to “universities” over the past fifteen years. One case in point is my other daughter Amy’s alma mater “Evangel University” which was known as “Evangel College” until the late 1990s. Many of the other Assemblies of God schools have made the same change. It has NOT affected my alma mater Central Bible College, however, nor has it affected my OTHER alma mater, Stonehill College.

It’s become the sort of rule of thumb that an institution of higher education which issues EARNED Masters’ Degrees (and in some cases, Earned Doctorates) AND which offers a wide variety of majors of both arts and sciences is REALLY a university, and thus many are making the change. Evangel, for instance, DOES offer several Masters’ Degrees and offers a wide variety of majors in the arts and sciences. Central Bible College, however, may confer honorary Doctorates, but offers only earned Bachelor’s degrees and most fall somewhere in the categories of either Bible & Theology, Christian Education, or Music. It’s just to narrow a focus to TRULY be a “university”. Likewise, Stonehill College of North Easton, Mass. which has been called one of the best small colleges in the country, does not offer any earned Graduate degrees, although they DO offer a very wide variety of majors in both the arts and sciences.

This DOES become somewhat confusing, however, to schools such as Boston College and Emerson College. Each of these schools, ESPECIALLY B.C., is truly a “university”. Well, why doesn’t Boston College change its name to Boston University? Well, duh, I think you know why... there already IS a Boston University! I guess the Methodists who founded B.U. were a bit more forward thinking than the Catholics who founded B.C.! Now, B.C. COULD change its name to something like “Chestnut Hill University”, but it would be throwing around a hundred years of tradition out the window. And, what would B.C. High School in Dorchester THEN be called?! Emerson has become known as a very “artsy” school and a very prestigious “artsy” school, at that. Some of the finest talents in entertainment and communications have graduated from Emerson, including my son, although the school was ORIGINALLY famous for training speech therapists and audiologists, which it STILL does. They DO offer Graduate Degrees. I think TECHNICALLY they’re a university, whether or not they change their name.

One of the other reasons Massachusetts changed the names is that we, along with Nebraska, were one of the ONLY states still using the moniker “state college” rather than “state university”. Most other states made that change over twenty years ago. I mean, we’ve all heard of Ohio’s Kent State University, for instance.
So, get used to it, it’s now Framingham State University, Westfield State University, etc.!


“Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.” (Luke 8:22)

The above passage speaks of the Sea of Galilee. Contrary to what many believe, the Sea of Galilee is really not a “sea” at all. It’s a large, fresh water lake. The Sea of Galilee has also been known as Lake Genneseret and as Lake Tiberias. In some respects, the Sea of Galilee is similar to Lake Champlain, which is what I’m writing about in my 5th “Places to Remember” posting. Like the Sea of Galilee, there are mountains nearby Lake Champlain, and sudden violent squalls can quickly arise on Lake Champlain. New England is NOT known for tornadoes, BUT it’s my understanding that (along with Worcester County, Massachusetts) the Lake Champlain area of Vermont is the most “tornado prone” part of New England.

Lake Champlain is located in three major geographical areas: Quebec, New York, and Vermont. MOST of the lake is found in Vermont and New York. At its widest, the lake is 12 miles wide, although it also gets VERY narrow in some spots. Lake Champlain is 110 miles long. At its DEEPEST point, it’s 400 feet deep. Vermont has the distinction of being the ONLY New England state with no ocean coastline. It kind of makes up for that, however, with its beautiful Lake Champlain coastline. Like Prince Edward Island and Niagara Falls, it’s no place to visit in the WINTER. (Well, unless you want to go to someplace like nearby Stowe, Vermont and ski!) But its a great place to visit in the summer, and great for the late spring and early fall, too! Have you been to the city of Burlington, VT? What a beautiful place!

Now, my understanding is once or twice a year the college kids all go crazy and tear up the place (Burlington and vicinity is a HUGE college town), but other than that, the Burlington area is very beautiful and very safe. Mary Ann and I have stayed there several times...once in the city itself, and several times in the “suburbs” of South Burlington and Williston- neither is much more than 10-15 minutes from downtown Burlington. The downtown area is very “walker friendly” and the views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondack Mountains and the Green Mountains are spectacular.

Even many Bostonians may not understand that there’s a HUGE difference between Vermont and New Hampshire. Wheras New Hampshire tends to be very conservative and very Republican, Vermont tends to be very liberal and Socialist. Burlington elected a Socialist mayor, Bernie Sanders. Sanders is NOW a Socialist U.S. Senator from Vermont. (On the ballot, his name appears as an Independent and he usually caucuses and works with the Democrats in the Senate.) No kidding- most of the very liberal professors at Hanover, New Hampshire’s Dartmouth University live just over Connecticut River in Vermont! There are NO billboards allowed in Vermont. All signs are very strictly controlled. It’s very “green” literally and environmentally. Most of my readers know I’m a registered Republican and conservative on most issues, but I truly enjoy visiting in the socialist paradise of Vermont.

When Mary Ann and I went to Burlington in 1982, we stopped and had ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s original homemade ice cream shop in a converted gas station in downtown Burlington- BEFORE they were famous. Ben & Jerry’s is one of Vermont’s biggest success stories. Today, the headquarters and plant is located in Waterbury, Vermont, near Stowe, and roughly an hour’s drive from downtown Burlington. They have company tours, and it’s definitely worth going! Visitors watch a film of Ben & Jerry being presented with some sort of entrepreneurial award from President Ronald Reagan. Some burst into laughter when they see that, but in fact, Ben & Jerry represent the very BEST of capitalism! One of their purposes is to HELP and PRESERVE family dairy farms in Vermont, and that’s who they buy their cream from to make the ice cream! They use huge chunks of the profits to help liberal causes such as saving the rain forest. They DON’T expect the government to do this stuff, THEY do it with their successful business. SO, are Ben & Jerry flaming liberals or Reagan conservatives? They’d be shocked to read this, but they’re actually a little of both!

Among places to visit near the shores of Lake Champlain is the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT located on Route 7 in Shelburne and just a few miles south of downtown Burlington. For you Massachusetts readers, it’s very much a “Sturbridge Village” kind of a place, and an enjoyable place to spend a few hours, especially on a nice weather day.

There are several places where you can catch a ferry across Lake Champlain to New York. Mary Ann and I have gone across on the ferry (LOTS of fun, and we had a great weather day for our trip) and have driven down to Fort Ticonderoga, New York. Fort Ticonderoga is on a HUGE piece of property and if you’re at all a history geek (like I am) it’s a COOL place to visit. There are various reenactments of soldiers from the colonial period, and all kinds of tales of Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen, and others. There’s all kinds of stuff on display including (supposedly) the “original Betsy Ross flag”. Fort Ticonderoga is located at the southern tip of Lake Champlain and the northern tip of Lake George. It’s also about an hour (maybe slightly more) from downtown Burlington.

If you’ve got your passports and have practiced up on your high school French, you may want to cross the border and spend a day visiting Montreal, or the Granby Zoo in Granby, Quebec which is in the “Eastern townships” about an hour east of Montreal and about thirty-five minutes north of the U.S. border in the Richford, VT area. Granby is a pretty good zoo. Most of the guides, ticket takers, etc. speak excellent English.

I mentioned Stowe above. It’s about an hour from Burlington and a BEAUTIFUL place. You may know that the Von Trapp family (from “The Sound of Music” fame) settled there when they came to the U.S., saying Stowe reminded them of Austria. I don’t ski at all, but skiers say Stowe is the best skiing in the EAST. At Stowe is Mt. Mansfield (roughly 4000 feet) the tallest point in Vermont. There’s a gondola lift there that you can ride approx. 3/4 of the way up the mountain. The scenery is spectacular.

So, the Lake Champlain region and really the area within a one hour drive of the Lake Champlain region is definitely a place I remember and recommend visiting!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:
but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)

Yes, a merry heart does good like a medicine and I want to share an anecdote from my life that I hope will put a smile on your face today!

At least fifteen years ago, I was on my way home from a major Assemblies of God pastors’ meeting in western Massachusetts. I can have a tendency to get very hungry, and I was “starving” on this particular day! I just could not wait to sit down and devour a good meal! “Fast food” was not going to do! I was delighted to find a Chinese restaurant in the Springfield, Massachusetts area, and I happily pulled my car into the parking lot.

I hit the restaurant during the lunch period, and as is often the case with Chinese restaurants, this one had “luncheon specials”. I ordered a luncheon special, and boy did that pork fried rice and the various kinds of meats taste GOOD! In looking over the menu, one thing that had kind of stood out to me was the fact that the menu advertised a special dessert the restaurant featured that patrons were encouraged to try: a Chinese coconut ice cream dessert. I was not planning to order dessert, but I must say that dessert sounded interesting.

I wolfed down my Chinese lunch and all too quickly the food, the hot tea, and the cold water were all gone. The server brought me my bill, a fortune cookie, and on a small white plate was a white, tubular thing with some sort of lined texture all over it. For the first second, I wasn’t sure what that was, and then, OF COURSE, I realized it was that Chinese coconut ice cream dessert! It all made sense, the white “desserty” shape, and the lined texture was the coconut flakes. I hadn’t specifically ordered it, but I thought maybe they gave it to everyone who ordered a luncheon special.

I took my fork, and went to carve a chunk out of the Chinese coconut ice cream dessert. To my surprise, I couldn’t make a DENT in it with the fork! I knew that sometimes restaurant ice cream and other frozen desserts COULD be very hard. They kept them in amazingly cold freezers, and sometimes they COULD come out almost rock hard. I took another stab with the fork, and amazingly, I just could NOT break into that frozen hardened ice cream! Boy, was this uncomfortable?!

I knew it might look kind of weird, but I figured I’d need a KNIFE to CUT into the rock hard ice cream. I took the knife and fork and ...and.... I gave it all I had and I could NOT budge it!

“Man!” I thought, “how COLD is this, anyway?!”

I awkwardly reached my hand down and felt it.

What I felt was NOT ice cream.

What I felt was NOT frozen.

No, my Chinese coconut ice cream dessert was not a Chinese coconut ice cream dessert at all.

Instead, what I felt was a moist wash cloth!

So, be careful when trying to eat a Chinese coconut ice cream dessert!

Monday, July 26, 2010


“And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 13:29)

For the fourth “Places I Remember” post, I want to write about Alaska. The furthest NORTH that I have ever been in my life is Glacier Bay, Alaska. That’s also the furthest WEST that I have ever been in my life. (In case you’re wondering, the furthest EAST, is the easternmost point of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and the furthest SOUTH is Haiti’s southern peninsula.)

My daughter Rachel will laugh about this piece! She likes to mimic me talking about our trip to Alaska as “the trip of a lifetime”, but it really WAS! In July of 2002, Mary Ann and I went on a cruise through Alaska’s “Inside Passage”. Alaska is a HUGE state. It’s three times larger than Texas. The "Inside Passage” is a large area, in itself, but is only a small portion of the state of Alaska. When you look at a map of Alaska, the Inside Passage is the part that kind of hangs down at the southeastern most part of the state and almost looks like a “panhandle” of sorts. Much of the Inside Passage is a series of islands and waterways. In the fictional “Northern Exposure” television show, the Tlingit Indian tribe was supposed to be living halfway between Anchorage and Fairbanks (where the fictional town of Cicely was located). In fact, the Tlingit tribe with its “Raven” and “Bear” clans is from the Inside Passage.

For many of the years Mary Ann and I have been married, we’ve barely been able to afford a trip to Horseneck Beach, but in 2002, I had received some inheritance money and we splurged on this wonderful vacation to Alaska. I’d always said I wanted to go to Alaska. (In fact, I’d LOVE to go back in the future and see Anchorage, Fairbanks and other places!) We flew to Vancouver, British Columbia and from “Canada Place” we took our Holland America Cruise aboard the S.S. Zandam. (Interestingly enough, Boston radio personality Michael Graham is currently with a tour group of New Englanders on a similar Holland America cruise in Alaska.)

Vancouver is a beautiful city. I remember that the day we arrived there the natives of B.C. were talking about how “muggy” it was. We Bostonians LAUGHED. They thought THAT was muggy! They’d never make it in New England or in Missouri, for that matter. It wasn’t muggy at all! For the first day or so of the cruise we sailed along the B.C. coast. There was FOREST, FOREST, AND MORE far as the eye could see for hundreds of miles. It was BEAUTIFUL and majestic! Alaska’s southernmost city is Ketchikan, but it was not our first port of call; Juneau the capital was.

What most people from the lower 48 would find to be strange is the ISOLATION in Alaska. You CAN’T, for instance, just get into a car in Juneau and drive to Anchorage or Vancouver, for instance. Well, you can, BUT you have to do it via Alaska’s extensive ferry system. Juneau is surrounded by mountains, forests, and very rugged terrain. The “Juneau region” is about the size of the state of Rhode Island. There are roads throughout the Juneau region, but it’s like living on an island...they all lead back to the same places! Incidentally, directly across from downtown Juneau is Douglas Island. The local high school is J.D.H.S. “Juneau Douglas High School”. The two communities kind of function as one. Juneau is pretty small for a capital city. We did notice the “Governor’s mansion”, and I wonder if Sarah Palin stayed there. From downtown Juneau we went on a half hour bus ride to Mendenhall Glacier. It’s a very impressive glacier and waterfall with a visitor center. Well, I was impressed with Mendenhall Glacier until I went to Glacier Bay!

Glacier Bay is this huge inlet surrounded by glaciers. It’s beautiful and spectacular! It’s absolutely one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. You watch the place change before your very eyes as the huge chunks of ice are falling off the glaciers and into the water, turning the water into a milky color. I was shocked that some folks on the cruise spent the whole time at Glacier Bay inside the ship’s casino or movie theater. I cannot imagine going to Glacier Bay without wanting to see it. It’s a place of WONDERS!

I enjoyed the little town of Skagway. Skagway is famous for the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush. Well, actually the gold was hundreds of miles further north in the Yukon territory, but the prospectors all “landed” at Skagway, and from there journeyed hundreds of miles up the trail to the gold site. Sadly, only about 3% of them actually “struck it rich”. The number of pack animals who were abused and killed is astonishing. When a miner was “through” with an animal, he just threw of off the mountain to die! There’s actually a monument at Skagway dedicated to the pack animals who died, and there’s also a museum about the 1897 Gold Rush. Skagway is famous for the shootout between Frank Rourke and outlaw Soapy Smith. Actors actually reenact their funerals at the local graveyard! And, Skagway is famous for the White Pass and Yukon Narrow Gauge Railroad. You can ride the train twenty miles up the mountain from Skagway to the border at Fraser, B.C. At the border is a display of the U.S., Canadian, Alaska, British Columbia, and Yukon flags. (You’re at northern B.C. here, but only a very short distance from the start of the Yukon territory.) You ride the train up, and you ride it back down. The scenery is SPECTACULAR. Here’s an important hint: DON’T sign up to take the train ride for a morning run. The area tends to be foggy and you can’t see anything! Mary Ann and I took the ride in the early afternoon. It was a nice day and the scenery was great! Skagway’s another one of those, “you can’t get there from here” places in Alaska. Again, except for the ferry system, the only place you can really drive to is 67 miles along the Klondike Highway from Skagway to Whitehorse, Yukon. (As I’ve written in previous posts, don’t forget that you need a passport to travel into Canada.) People from Skagway actually drive to Whitehorse to go the the “mall”. I guess it isn’t much of a mall, but if you’re from Skagway, Alaska, you consider it a MALL!

I also did not mention about Juneau that BEARS are a big issue in more ways than one. At Juneau, a BEAR once walked right into one of the local supermarkets. The residents all have to have special cords to lock their trash cans to discourage bears from opening them up and feeding. A big deal about Juneau is that they have a McDonald’s. In fact, when it opened, a plane flew a bunch of McDonald’s food up to Skagway!

Towards the end of the cruise, we visited Ketchikan. IT has a Burger King right on the waterfront. The locals said that using the drive thru in the winter is a BRUTALLY cold experience and no native Alaskan would ever have designed this setup. Ketchican is also isolated and like Juneau, like living on an island. The place is HILLY! I don’t know WHAT they do about “handicapped access” laws, because there are stairs, stairs, and more stairs! If you live in Ketchikan, it is NOT unusual to have to climb up 27 stairs (well, in a few cases, 72 stairs!) JUST to get to your front door! At Ketchikan, we were encouraged to try a certain restaurant for their clam chowder. We were told it has the “best clam chowder anywhere”! Well, it was New England STYLE clam chowder, but ANY two-bit fish restaurant on Cape Cod has much better clam chowder than that place did! We are spoiled living in New England when it comes to clam chowder. But, Ketchikan IS the salmon capital of the world and they DO have great salmon! We also took a “duck boat” tour of Ketchikan. No, Boston and Philadelphia are NOT the only places that have duck boat tours!

I can’t even do the trip justice as I try to write about it, but listen, ALASKA is a great place to visit and I hope you get to go there sometime!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Romans 12:10-15)

Sometimes in life you just run across somebody whose kindness, thoughtfulness, and sensitivity just, well, blows you away! That happened to me this week!

I think most pastors would agree with me that when you’re pastoring a church you get lots of phone calls, letters, and e-mails from various missionaries, evangelists, music ministries, and others who want to come and minister at the church where you’re pastoring. (Twenty years ago, it was mostly U.S. mail letters; today it’s mostly e-mails.) Although First Assembly of God of Framingham has been closed for over four months, such e-mail requests continue to come to the church’s old e-mail address. They ARE getting to be fewer, but I still probably get at least one a week. I usually try to NOT just delete them, because the sender may think I just “blew them off” and will probably send more solicitation e-mails. Instead, I usually send back a short e-mail of a couple of sentences which says something like this:

Dear Rev. _______,

First Assembly of God of Framingham was closed by the Southern NE District of the AG on March 7. I’m sorry I cannot book you for a service for that reason. At this time I’m still living in Framingham and working a part-time secular job and just waiting to see what God has for the future. I’d appreciate your prayers, and I wish you well in your ministry.


Sometimes I don’t get any response from that, but usually I’ll get a short reply saying something like, “I’m sorry to hear of the church closing but I believe God has good things in store for you.”

A few days ago, I got an e-mail at the church e-mail address from a guy representing a para-church ministry. (A “para-church ministry” is not run by any church or denomination but exists to support churches and denominations in spiritual growth. Examples would be: The Navigators, Vision New England, InterVarsity, Campus Crusade For Christ, etc.) He was looking to come and ministry at our church. I sent him off my usual blurb. I did NOT know this guy at all. I was familiar with the para-church ministry he’s with, but I had never met or spoken to this man. To my surprise, the next day, I received THIS e-mail from him:

“ I am sorry to hear about the church and your situation. I have sent out a message about your situation to some other pastors in the area to see if any have any means to help out.
In the meantime, rest assured you are in our daily prayers.”

I wrote him back thanking him and telling him I deeply appreciated his words.

No kidding, his e-mail made my day. I was AMAZED. Here is a guy I have NEVER met. We don’t have any mutual friends or acquaintances in common. We’ve had no previous contact. WHY would he “send out a message about [my] situation to some other pastors in the area to see if any have any means to help out”?! It’s kind of like when Jesus was AMAZED at the faith of the Roman centurion who believed Jesus could just “say the word” and his servant would be healed. Jesus told the Jewish crowd that He had NOT found such great faith from all of Israel as he’d found from this Gentile military man! Don’t get me wrong, I have some good friends and some find acquaintances and colleagues, but I have found it’s VERY hard to get someone you KNOW to send out a communication on your behalf such as this guy describes. That sort of thing makes a lot of people very uncomfortable for many reasons.

I spent a good deal of my day on Friday smiling and shaking my head and wondering what makes this wonderful guy that I’ve never even met tick? And then I realized the answer is simple: He loves God, he loves His neighbor, and he the Bible and his faith in God and the Bible in practice.

What an EXAMPLE!

Wow: imagine if we ALL did that!

Friday, July 23, 2010


“Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey , and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.” (Romans 15:24)

In the Apostle Paul’s day, taking a journey to Spain at the western end of the Mediterranean Sea meant a long journey and was a “big deal”. In my past two “Places I Remember” posts I’ve mentioned trips I’ve taken within the past ten years. This time I’m going to write about a trip I went on when I was a 10-year-old in the summer of 1965. That year, my Dad took 3 weeks in a row off (I think that was the longest vacation he’d ever had at that point in his career) and we drove to visit our relatives in Miami, Florida. Have you seen those Chevy Chase “Vacation” movies? Well, it wasn’t quite THAT extreme, but it was probably about halfway there! I’m going to try to mention a few highlights. This may sound like it’s going to be like watching somebody’s home movies, but I really don’t think you’ll be bored!

It’s GOTTA be easier to drive to Florida today than it was forty-five years ago!
At that time, much of Interstate 95 in the Carolinas was still under construction. Most cars (including our 1963 Dodge Dart) did NOT have air conditioning. It was a different world.

Probably the most dramatic thing that happened on that trip is that we were victims of a flash flood in Columbia, South Carolina. We had just eaten supper at a fast food place, and it started raining really hard. Driving along a main road, our car was suddenly overwhelmed with rushing water on the street and pushed (or maybe PULLED) off the road and into a drainage ditch. We suddenly realized our feet and legs were WET and that water was rapidly coming into the car! I will never forget all of us dragging ourselves out of the car and SLOSHING our way up a parking lot and into a service station. The gas station attendant was like something out of a redneck comedy, only worse. He made Goober of The Andy Griffith Show seem like a mature, professional gentleman. My father told him the car HAD to be pulled out of that drainage ditch. The attendant fumbled around repeating over and over in a deep southern drawl, “Now, WHERE’D I put that there tow chain?!” This went on for awhile. My father was pretty perturbed.

Dad went outside, got a flashlight out of the car, and managed to flag down a Columbia, SC police cruiser. This was one time that being a fellow law enforcement officer really paid off. He showed the cops his badge and explained he was an officer of the Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles on vacation with his family and that he needed to get that car out of the ditch. The Columbia Police Dept. went into action. It wasn’t long before they had a wrecker on the scene and the car taken to a local garage. A police Captain came and picked us up and took us to a nice hotel. As far as I recall, the City of Columbia, SC paid our repair bill and our hotel bill. I know Howie Carr makes fun of public employees, but the men in blue really DO help out one another in a crisis.

I remember that for about a week, the car’s horn sounded really funny...LOW and waterlogged! I also remember that the interior of one of the rear doors was always a little “buckled” after than incident and never looked quite right. When we got home, my father pulled all the seats out and personally undercoated the bottom of the car...fearful that rusting may have begun due to the flooding. We had that car for over ten more years and junked it in 1975.

That MORNING (the MORNING of the day we were in the flood) had started off in Wilson, North Carolina. We actually went to a tobacco auction and the auctioneer let my father record him. Have you ever heard a tobacco auctioneer doing his thing? It’s absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to decipher! Another thing that surprised me about the South at THAT time is that even though the Civil Rights Act had been passed a year earlier, segregation was still the practice. At gas stations there were 3 rest rooms marked: MEN, WOMEN, COLORED. We saw some run down motels with signs “COLORED” outside. We drove by shacks in the Carolinas with no electricity and black kids outside eating watermelon. This stuff looked like something out of the slavery era. My Dad would blow the horn and all the little black kids would wave.

In Florida we visited Silver Springs. At that time, IT was segregated. The blacks all rode in older, junkier boats, and the whites had the nice new ones. Even so, our DRIVER was a black man. It seemed weird that white people did not want to sit next to black people on the boat ride, but did not mind if a black guy was piloting the boat.

I had never been to New York City until 1965. Going through that area driving down and driving back were stressful and confusing parts of the trip. My parents did not always make a trip easy. My father tended to get agitated and my mother was very nervous...put the two together, and sometimes that could be an interesting combination. To my father, if he took a wrong turn, it was a fate almost worse than death...or spilling milk at the supper table! But we managed to find our way through the New York City area, and everywhere else, for that matter!

We were just outside Cape Kennedy (name since changed back to Cape Canaveral), Florida at the time of the launch of Gemini 5. We were a few miles away, but we listened to the countdown on the radio, and heard the sonic booms and saw the huge vapor trail overhead. It was pretty cool. We also spent a day driving around Washington, DC on the way down. That was when you could still drive right up to the White House lawn. My father took a picture of us standing at the fence with the lawn and White House in the background. I look TERRIBLE in the photo because I had run in front of a car just before it was taken and had been yelled at by my father!

We had a great week in Miami. My Uncle, Aunt, and cousins had no air conditioning but we didn’t care. It WAS very hot there, and there was a thunderstorm EVERY afternoon. I remember visiting the Miami Seaquarium and seeing “Flipper” from the T.V. show. It was NOT advertised that this was Flipper, but locals, including my cousin Marilyn, knew it was Flipper’s tank (Flipper was a female- real name “Susie”.)

I remember a lot more about the trip such as the motel room in Jesup, Georgia that was FULL of earwigs! We also stopped by a base in Camden, South Carolina where my father had been stationed for a year or so during World War 2. During our week in Miami, we drove out to Key Biscayne and went to the beach there several times. Years later, President Nixon often spent time on Key Biscayne, and I could picture it with fond memories. In Miami, we often had breakfast at a cute little breakfast place called the “Huddle House”. I DO think it was part of a chain, as I have seen a few “Huddle House” restaurants in the midwest as an adult. My brother Eddie wore a certain baseball hat ALL the time that year. It was very special to him...almost like Linus’ blanket. On our way home, we drove from Miami up to Lake Okeechobee and into central Florida. About an hour and half away from Miami, Eddie began crying hysterically. He’d left his hat at the Huddle House! It was one of those moments with children like you’d see in “The Family Circus” cartoon. Unfortunately, Eddie had to accept the hard reality that his had was gone.

In the final leg of the trip home, my father actually blew right through a toll booth without stopping! You’d think we’d have gotten some ticket in the mail or some threatening letter or something- but we never did. Sure, it’s nice to fly, but if you can make the time and have the patience, an old fashioned American road trip is quite an educational experience!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.” (Psalm 42:7 New King James Version)

In my first “Places I Remember” posting, I wrote about Prince Edward Island, Canada. For my second, I want to write about another Canadian location: Niagara Falls, Ontario. Ironically, Mary Ann and I spent one Canadian Thanksgiving Day in Prince Edward Island, and we spent part of another in Niagara Falls, Ontario! I’ve been to Niagara Falls several times. I know some may think it’s pricey and overrated, but I really love it.

Of course, Niagara Falls is partly in New York and partly in Ontario. You CAN go to Niagara Falls without crossing the border, but the best scenery is on the Canadian side. I know a lot of Americans may feel kind of miffed about that, but here’s the deal: the PRETTIEST side of Niagara Falls is the American side and in order to SEE and enjoy the American side, you really need to BE on the Canadian side! (As I wrote about P.E.I., keep in mind that you’ll need a current passport to travel back and forth between the U.S. and Canada.) There are really several falls there at the Niagara river...the American Falls, and adjacent to the American Falls, the Bridal Veil falls...and just a short distance away, the spectacular Horseshoe Falls.

We’ve stayed at the Horseshoe Falls Motor Inn on the Canadian side which was a pretty reasonable place. There are all sorts of restaurants there. You’ll get a chuckle that Applebee’s in Canada spells it as “neighbourhood” on their sign. My kids wanted to buy the no trans fat Oreo cookies at a convenience store in Canada...and YES they taste like cardboard! I’m so glad for good old U.S.A. Oreos! And, incidentally, if you worry about all the caffeine in Mountain Dew, you’ll love it in Canada, where Mountain Dew contains NO caffeine!

There’s so much to see and do at Niagara Falls. I could just walk by the Horseshoe Falls for hours and not get bored! No kidding! The Canadian government has a very interesting visitor centre near the falls, too. There’s the SHORTEST railroad in the WORLD at Niagara Falls, Canada. You ride it down a hill from where most of the hotels and restaurants are down to the falls area. I guess it’s not much more than a tenth of a mile down the hill, and later UP the hill when you return! Mary Ann and I went with our daughter Amy on the Maid of the Mist boat ride on another trip to Niagara Falls. (Yeah, Jon and Rachel are kind of jealous that we DIDN’T go on the Maid of the Midst ride our our Niagara Falls trip with them, but that’s the way it goes...) Of course, there’s not just ONE Maid of the Midst boat, there are several of them...some flying Canadian flags and some flying American flags. On the episode of “The Office” where Jim and Pam get married, you may recall they got married on the Maid of the Midst by the ship’s captain. They give you rain ponchos to wear during the ride and you need them! You go very close to the Horseshoe Falls and you can get soaked! The boat ride is a lot of fun. Just a short drive from the immediate Horseshoe Falls area in Ontario are a lot of places to stop and visit.

One is the Floral Clock located at 14004 Niagara Parkway, Queenston, Ontario; (behind the Sir Adam Beck Power Plant and near the Lewiston-Queenston International Bridge). The large timepiece is covered with up to 16,000 carpet bedding plants. The floral design is changed twice each year. It may sound boring, but it’s kind of a cool place to visit. We also stopped at “The Whirlpool Aero Car”. As one tourist guide says: This red-and-yellow cable-car contraption whisks you on a 1,097m (3,600-ft.) jaunt between two points in Canada. High above the Niagara Whirlpool, you'll enjoy excellent views of the surrounding landscape.” We didn’t actually go ON it, we just looked at the whirlpool and at the cable-car, but it was a fun place to stop. There’s also MarineLand, the Skylon tower and dozens of other attractions. You won’t be bored!

Some people HATE the drive from Boston to Niagara Falls as most of it is the New York Thruway which has been called “A Very Boring Road”. I don’t think it’s all that bad. Now, it tends to be HEAVILY patrolled by NY State Police, so avoid being a lead foot! I love history, so I enjoy the part of the Thruway which parallels the Erie Canal. There are also very nice service areas along the Thruway. For those who complain about the price of the MassPike, the Thruway is comparatively more expensive, but you get across New York in a few hours

On the trip with Amy, we stopped at Niagara Falls on the way to taking her to college in Springfield, Missouri for Sophomore year. (The Canadian customs guy kind of gave us a hard time about all of Amy’s stuff in the car!) That leads me to a tip: if you’re traveling to Michigan or to much of the midwest, driving across the southernmost part of Ontario can be a pleasant trip. THAT part of Ontario is actually as far SOUTH as is Massachusetts! You cross over at Niagara Falls and can drive several hours right to Port Huron, Michigan. There are lots of farms and lots of pretty scenery across Ontario...well, once you get past the industrial city of Hamilton! Mary Ann and I have driven that route a couple of times.

Yes, I really love Niagara’s one of the interesting “Places I Remember”!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


“The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice ; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.” (Psalm 97:1)

It’s easy to get in a rut. It can be a rut of what you’re DOING, or, YES, it can be a rut in what you’re writing. The last piece I wrote on this blog (about revival from Psalm 15) is very powerful and in the right sense of the word, I’m really quite proud of it. Yet, I also know that the way I’ve reacted to surprising and challenging events of my life in 2010 is to write some pretty intense and introspective pieces. I WANT TO TRY TO GET AWAY FROM THAT STUFF, at least for awhile!

This is the VACATION season of the year. I may not get much more than an “overnight” this year, but I HAVE been on some fabulous trips and vacations in my life. It occurred to me that I could take a few postings and share about them. It may give some of you vacation ideas...if not for THIS summer, then for the Fall or maybe for sometime next year. Hence the title “PLACES I REMEMBER”. I intend that this piece will be “PLACES I REMEMBER- PART ONE” and that there will be others like it forthcoming. Today, I want to put in a good word for Prince Edward Island, Canada.

I think Prince Edward Island, Canada is a COOL place. I don’t suppose I’d visit it during the winter. They DO get brutal winters there. Year round residents of places like P.E.I. are pretty hearty, healthy people to survive those winters. The other seasons of the year are great times to visit there. All four of my grandparents were originally from Canada: two from Quebec, one from New Brunswick, and one from Prince Edward Island. It was my mother’s mom who came from P.E.I. Her maiden name was Mary MacDonald. Her mother’s maiden name was Effie MacPhee. So, contrary to what most people think, I’m actually NOT a pure Frenchman. There’s a lot of Scottish and a little English in me!

Mary Ann and I were very curious to check out Prince Edward Island and we did so over Columbus Day weekend in 2002. In Canada, our “Columbus Day” is their Thanksgiving Day. That year we took Tuesday off, as well. We used Saturday and Tuesday as our travel days. P.E.I. is farther away than you might think. Charlottetown, P.E.I. is actually as far away from Framingham as is Akron, Ohio!
As I recall we drove to the Bangor, Maine area, then we picked up Maine route 9 which goes through miles and miles of mostly woods and unincorporated townships. The border crossing is at Calais, Maine and St. Stephen, New Brunswick. Keep in mind that now you need a Passport to travel to Canada. It took at least 5 hours to drive on the highway across New Brunswick. There are MANY Christmas tree farms along the highway there. Many, many of the Christmas trees used in the northeastern U.S. are grown in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In the Moncton area, we got on a road heading toward Shediac where you pick up the Confederation Bridge.

I’ve already mentioned how far away this area is from Boston, but the Canadian maritime provinces, in fact, are VERY oriented toward Boston. Boston is the nearest REALLY BIG metropolitan area for them. At a Shediac fast food restaurant, Celtics and Red Sox logos and paraphernalia were in evidence. The maritimes are LOADED with fans of Boston teams. At our motel in Charlottetown, PEI, we got several Boston channels on cable TV: 2, 4, 5, 7 and 38. It’s the Atlantic time zone there so all the shows are on an hour later than we’re used to at home!

Up until 1997, you could only get to P.E.I. by ferry. There are still ferries which run between Nova Scotia and P.E.I. but the state-of-the-art Confederation Bridge (9 miles long) connects Shediac, New Brunswick to Borden-Carlton, P.E.I. You pay the toll when you’re LEAVING the island. I believe in 2002 it was $37 Canadian/$26 American. I would guess it’s gone up since then. The bridge has cameras all along its span and a control center that monitors everything going on. If you break down, for instance, a tow truck will be dispatched to you. If conditions get too windy, the bridge is closed.

Prince Edward Island is the “coolest” place! It’s Canada’s smallest province in area. I’d guess it’s maybe half the size of Massachusetts at most. There are only two “cities”, Charlottetown and Summerside. Charlottetown only has around 30,000 residents. The island is quite rural. Most of the villages are tiny. It’s probably a lot like Cape Cod was a hundred years ago before the building boom.
There are a lot of potato farms on the island...mostly on the northwestern end. The central and eastern parts have varied agriculture and are a little more “touristy”. There’s shellfishing for mussels EVERYWHERE along the coast. Mussels are a big P.E.I. export. Much of the interior of the island is GREEN like you’d think of Ireland. The dirt and sand tends to be RED and I mean RED.

The children’s “Anne of Green Gables” books were based on a house in Cavendish, P.E.I. and that’s possibly the biggest tourist attraction there. Believe it or not, “Anne of Green Gables” is HUGE in Japan, and Japanese tourists throng the place. Mary Ann and I visited the “Green Gables” house. It’s set up to be just like any rural Canadian house of the late 1800s. It was interesting to me to see the kind of home my grandmother would have grown up in. Cavendish is on the waterfront, and what a waterfront! There are CLIFFS! In fact, there are also signs warning you to NOT get too close to the edge because the cliffs “let go” at times, and if you’re too close to the edge, you’ll get killed!

On Canada’s Thanksgiving Day, we drove out to the East End of the island, very close to where my grandmother came from. There’s a lighthouse there. Wow, was it windy there! If you like maritime scenes, though, that was a great spot!
There are lots of nice restaurants in P.E.I. No, we didn’t have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We went to a Canadian chain restaurant and had our dinner there...more like the kind of stuff you’d get at a T.G.I. Fridays. The scenery was beautiful. The atmosphere was restful. It was hard to leave. If you’ve never been there, I recommend a visit to Prince Edward Island!

Monday, July 19, 2010


“...He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” (from Psalm 15:5)

One day this past week, I read Psalm 15 for my daily devotional reading. I’ve read through the entire Bible several times in my life, so I must have read Psalm 15 at least several times before, but for some reason I couldn’t remember having read it before. It’s funny how we seem to know some Psalms SO well, such as Psalm 23; you know “The Lord is my shepherd...” or Psalm 1 about spurning the counsel of the ungodly...or Psalm 22, the prophetic Psalm about Jesus’ suffering on the Cross. But I couldn’t have told anybody what Psalm 15 said should they have asked me.

Psalm 15 hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve never preached an Ordination service. In the Assemblies of God, preaching at an Ordination service is usually reserved for highly important clergy such as District Officials or Officials from the National Office. There are a number of very predictable passages which are frequently cited at Ordination Services. After reading and “soaking” in Psalm 15 this week, I’ve concluded that in the unlikely event that I EVER have the honor to preach at an Ordination service, I’ll preach from Psalm 15. In fact, it’s a suitable passage for any service of commitment and consecration. We require people in our churches to take Membership classes and we receive them into Membership. We have candidates for Ministerial Licensing and Ordination take difficult written and oral examinations. They “learn all their stuff” and in most cases, they pass and go forward. I wonder if we made Psalm 15 the standard for Church many Members would our churches have? If we made adherence to Psalm 15 the standard for ministers to be credentialled, how many ministers would ever qualify for credentials, and how many would STAY in the pulpit?

It’s sobering. The reaction I had to reading and meditating on Psalm 15 was like the reaction Isaiah had when he saw the Lord high and lifted up in the Temple (and just above the Lord’s throne, were angels of a very high order). Isaiah said, “Woe is me, for I am undone...” (see Isaiah chapter 6 verse 5).

I think Psalm 15 is a key portion of Scripture for bringing about true revival. Verse 1 asks, “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle?
Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?”
In other words, who is worthy to come into Your presence, Lord?

The answer is found in verse 2: “He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” In the New International Version, that’s translated, “He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart.”

Now, we evangelical Christians understand that you cannot get to heaven by your good works because no one’s good works are ever good enough. We understand we “get saved” by grace through totally putting our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and His “finished work” for our salvation. But sometimes we DO turn that into “easy-believism” and as Christian radio talk show host Jeanine Graff often used to say, “cheap grace”. How many of us have received Jesus Christ as our Personal Savior and Lord, have been baptized by immersion in water, have become Church Members, and have even been baptized in the Holy Spirit, and yet we live like the devil? I read verse 2 and asked myself, “Bob, do you ALWAYS walk uprightly, work righteousness, and speak the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”

I’m ashamed to say, I DON’T. It’s true that “nobody’s perfect” and nobody IS. THAT’S why we need Jesus! But it’s a cop out to read verse 2 and say, “Well, I can’t live up to that so FORGET IT!” I think of the late Norman Milley, Sr. He’d be something like 109-years-old if he were still living. I think Norman Milley, Sr. was the most Godly man I have ever known. As I think of verse 2, I can HONESTLY say, he DID that stuff! I also think of the late Al Davis, who would probably be around 77 if still living. That African-American layman and his wife were instrumental in bringing me into the Assemblies of God. Al maybe wasn’t QUITE Norman Milley, Sr., but he was CLOSE! As I think of Al Davis, his life was also evidenced my verse 2. Both of these men stuck SO close to Jesus every day that they BECAME like Jesus!

Verse 3 also tells us some characteristics of the truly Godly person: “He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor,nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.”
In the New International Version, that says, “and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman,”.

Every time I read James chapter 3, I get convicted. No James 3 is not a typographical error here. James chapter 3 is about the sins of the tongue. There’s a joke about three clergymen who were sitting near each other on a plane flight. The plane was experiencing rough turbulence and some people were afraid it might crash. The Rev.Tom said, “I’ve got to come clean with you brothers. I’ve been having difficult times financially, and last month I stole $2000 from the church offerings.” The Rev. Dick then said, “I’ve also got to confess something. I had an affair with my Secretary last year. She has since moved away, but I’ve never told my wife or anyone about it.” The Rev. Harry then said, “Well, MY sin is GOSSIP and I can’t WAIT to get off this plane!!”

I’m a lot like the Rev. Harry. I can have a “big mouth”, and that mouth has gotten me in a lot of trouble. It’s so easy to spread a malicious story about somebody---to run someone down with your tongue. You can feel bad about it and ask God to forgive you, but you really can’t take back the damage you’ve done.

Verse 4 of Psalm 15 says, “In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoreth them that fear the LORD.He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.” That’s maybe a little tough to understand in the old King James Version. The New Living Translation puts it this way, “Those who despise flagrant sinners,
and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts.”

I don’t think “despise flagrant sinners” means to HATE people, but it DOES mean to give no support or endorsement of their actions. Romans chapter 1 verse 32 speaks of those who see and hear others doing absolutely vile, sick, perverted things, and then “take pleasure in them”. In other words, say or think things like, “Well, he raped that low caliber girl, well GOOD FOR HIM!!” I don’t think we’re to go around with our noses stuck in the air acting “holier than thou”. I think that just turns people off and does no good. But we do live in the midst of a moral cesspool and we are NOT to call good evil and evil good, (see Isaiah 5:20).
We are also to keep our promises no matter what. Have you ever emphatically made a promise and then BROKEN it? Peter did that on Maundy Thursday. He said, “Jesus, I’d never deny you!” and then just a short time later he was saying when questioned, “*#%!+*# I don’t even know the man!!” Many of us Christian men have made commitments at “Promise Keepers” meetings and then broken our promises. God is calling us to keep our promises no matter what.

Finally, verse 5 says, “He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.”
In the New Living Translation, that says, “Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.”

“Yea, I’ll lend you 500 bucks,” we say, “but you’re gonna owe me 600! That’s only FAIR.” Well, the Lord says, it’s NOT. In fact, years ago Dr. Terry Lewis taught us to never LEND money but rather to GIVE it to people who are truly in need.

Imagine you saw a crime being committed and some “gangbanger” hands you $10,000 in cash and says, “Look, this is for YOU- YOU didn’t SEE anything!”
What would you do? I have to tell you, for ME it would be very tempting to keep the money and to keep my mouth shut. But God would know all about it, and it just wouldn’t be worth it! Norman Milley, Sr. and Al Davis would NEVER take the money. I hope and pray I wouldn’t, either! Just the fact that I have to THINK about it bothers me greatly.

The New Living Translation, in its last words of Psalm 15 says of those who truly LIVE by Psalm 15, “Such people will stand firm forever.”

See what I mean about Psalm 15?

No kidding, that’s the most powerful and convicting passage of Scripture I’ve read this year! I’m quite humbled and sobered by it.

May Christians read Psalm 15 and read it and read it and read it... and may we purpose, through and by God’s grace to WALK in that live it... to be living examples of God’s Word empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Then, we’ll see revival!


Back around the time I was around 14-years-old there was a top 40 song called "Kind of a Drag". Well, the poll I attempted which was inspired by "Ned's" questions and comments was "Kind of a Flop"!

"Ned" contacted me after I'd posted that piece about the poll and said the questions I posed were actually NOT the questions he'd wanted posed for the poll. I re-read his e-mail to me, and found that was true, so I did all you can to in a situation like that: I apologized, and he was O.K. with the apology.

I certainly didn't expect 200 people or even 100 people to participate in the poll, but I thought I'd get at least 10. In fact, I got 3! There was 1 "Yes" and 2 voted "No".
So, I'm officially putting the lid on that!

When you write a blog and do a lot of e-mailing, you can manage to write and distribute some things which are huge successes and some which are huge failures. This one was a huge failure. In retrospect, if I had it to over again, I would not have "done" the poll, and I probably would not even have posted the piece entitled, "Overwhelmed ?"

I'm no Thomas Edison...not even CLOSE! But it's said that Thomas Edison had thousands of failures before he came up with a successful incandescent lamp (the "light bulb"). I'm also no Colonel Sanders, but he had many miserably failed business ventures before he started Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 66.

So, I hope I'll take away from the experience the importance of being a little more thoughtful and wise about what I write and distribute and what I don't! Hope you "guys" will all be patient and understanding and will keep checking out the blog!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)

This morning, my wife Mary Ann needed to go spend time with a family member who is ill. Rather than drive up to the church in Westminster where we’ve been attending, I decided to join my son Jon and daughter Rachel at the predominantly African-American Greater Framingham Community Church in downtown Framingham. I think I’ve written about GFCC once or twice in the past on this blog. Their facility at Franklin and Park Sts. in downtown Framingham was the main Framingham Post Office MANY years ago. The church did a magnificent remodeling job on the building and it’s really got a spectacular modern sanctuary.

Like many African-American churches, GFCC is a mix of the old and the new. I find that predominantly Black evangelical churches are much more into tradition than are their predominantly white counterparts. Whereas the dress and worship style has become extremely casual in many white evangelical churches, and there’s all sorts of power point presentations and multimedia stuff, at GFCC, you’re handed a printed program of the order of worship, announcements, etc. There’s no power point or even use of an overhead projector. Words of the choruses are printed in your program, and the church still sings a few hymns out of the hymnal. (Many predominantly white evangelical churches retired the hymnals somewhere in the mid-1990s.)

My son very much DISLIKES all the power point and multimedia stuff in churches today, so the more traditional Protestant church format of a program and hymnals is to his liking. Honestly, I can go with EITHER way; but I’ve gotta admit, I prefer the traditional. Black churches do much that’s traditional, but keep in mind their worship style is anything BUT boring! Today was Youth Sunday or as the church called it, “Youth Jam”. The regular Senior Pastor, The Rev. J. Anthony Lloyd is on some time off for the summer. Today’s preacher was an associate pastor there who also works full-time in construction: The Rev. Courtney Lackard. Mr. Lackard is not QUITE as charismatic and dynamic as is J. Anthony Lloyd, but he IS a very good speaker, and has a good sense of humor. I tend to like Old Testament sermons, and this one was from I Kings 18: the confrontation of the Prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. That’s where the Scripture asks, “How long will you FALTER between two opinions?” Lackard explained that the word for “falter” there is the Hebrew “pesach” from which we get “Passover”. It CAN mean “pass over”, but it can also mean “limp”, “halter”, “falter” or “waver”. Lackard said his whole sermon could be summed up in one sentence: “It’s time to stop limpin’ and to start standin’ .”

The preacher talked about the worldliness of most of today’s Christians...that we have so many false gods in our lives, like money, and cars, and even our kids. He explained that he’s struggled much with “limpin’” in his own Christian life. I can appreciate that. I have. He challenged us, as Elijah challenged the Israelites all those thousands of years ago, to really put God first in our lives and quit selling out to the world. It was a powerful sermon!

I called this piece “A New Thing”. That’s because we sang a chorus at church today which was new to all of us. The words are as follows:

“I will do a new thing in you;
I will do a new thing in you.
Whatever you ask for, whatever you pray for,
Nothing shall be denied,” saith the Lord.

I liked the chorus. Listen, I know, I know, that chorus HAS to be understood in light of Scripture. You can’t pray to become the best bank robber in Massachusetts or to be able to successfully cheat people as a salesman and expect God to answer.

The theme of the service, especially focusing on the youth, is on what God wants to do TODAY and TOMORROW and that we should NOT focus on the past.

The preacher talked about how many people have lost their jobs and have found themselves in very difficult places where they’ve been angry with God and questioned God. Well, I can relate to that. The focus was that God is on His throne and if we’ll seek Him, trust Him, and obey Him, He will see us through, and WILL do a new thing in each if us that does that.

There’s a lot of talent at GFCC. Two youth mime groups performed. A youth choir sang. A young woman read a beautiful and wonderful poem she has written which is worthy of publication.

You don’t have to be Black to attend GFCC. I’d say there were at least twenty other Caucasians there in church today, and I saw a young Asian woman there, as well. The church is very welcoming. If you’re a first time visitor, they want you to get up and give a greeting. (As my daughter Rachel says, “If you don’t want to have to speak publicly, DON’T let anybody know you’re a first time visitor!”)

I got a lot out of my time at Greater Framingham Community Church today and I just wanted to share that!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:” (Joel 2:28) (Acts 2:17)

In evangelical Christian circles and especially in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, sometimes a lot is made of people’s dreams. Certainly God CAN and does speak through dreams as we learn in the Book of Daniel and in the “Joseph” account in Genesis, for instance. (Ever see, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”? It’s a take off on the Biblical story, but well worth seeing!) Some people DO make too much of dreams, however. It’s the same way with angels. The Bible teaches that angels CAN take human form and can communicate with humans, as on the television show “Touched by an Angel”. But I become very leery of people who’ll say, “Yeah, I talked to 4 angels last night, 3 yesterday, and as a matter of fact, 2 just flew by over that house!!” Yeah, RIGHT! Angels, CAN “visit” us, but I think those visits are probably pretty rare. In the same way, God DOES speak in dreams, and demons can “invade” people’s dreams, but such instances are also pretty rare. I’ve had maybe a handful of dreams in my life that I truly believe were supernatural and of God. MOST dreams are just products of our subconscious mind working as we sleep. My friend D.C.M. used to caution Christians who believed they frequently had dreams from God that they’d “probably eaten too much pizza before they went to bed”! I think in most instances, D.C.M. is probably right.

I had an interesting dream last night that caused me to do some reflecting when I woke up today. Was it a dream from God? Maybe, but I’m not ready to put that stamp on it yet. I agree with D.C.M. that 99% of all Christians' dreams come from stuff like, “too much pizza”. Ironically, I ate a late supper last night after I got home from the telephone answering service. Yes, it was pizza and I did eat too much! So, even if it was the pizza, the dream gave me some things to think about.

In this dream, Boston radio personality Howie Carr was making a special personal appearance at some sort of meeting or rally. The rally was being held on the lower level of an old stone Catholic church building. It was one of those Catholic churches that the Archdiocese had closed but where a group of the parishioners were refusing to leave and were keeping 24/7 “vigil” to keep the church open. Now, the Howie Carr rally had NOTHING to do with that. They had just rented the lower level of the facility for the rally. I had a great seat near the front. Howie Carr came in from an upper left front entrance of the room. He was at the head of a cluster of at least ten people, all big shots of one kind of another. Howie was wearing a white long-sleeved shirt with both sleeves unbuttoned. When he came in, there was cheering and that sort of thing, and he smiled broadly and waved at the crowd.

Sometimes in my dreams, the scenes switch almost like in a movie or a television show. In the next scene, I was in the upper level of the church building looking at the baptistry area. I’ve very much admired the dedication of the Catholics who “keep vigil” and try to keep their facilities open in opposition to the Catholic hierarchy. I started thinking about this in the dream. Suddenly, I got a gut feeling that my admiration for them was wrong. It was as though God was telling me the people keeping the vigils were actually rebels and that I should not admire them. I felt sort of guilty that I HAD admired them, and I realized I’d never considered the other side of the issue.

As I then turned, there were a few people milling about. Among the people was a man I know very well who was stopped and having a pleasant conversation with another man that I don’t know. The guy I DO know is Sean Bowen. Sean is about my age and is the associate pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship church in Hopkinton. The “Hopkinton Vineyard” as I usually call it is experiencing explosive growth in a rental facility. The Vineyard churches typically feature very contemporary worship music, an emphasis on spiritual gifts and Biblical teaching, and casual dress even among the clergy. Sean had a great job in the business world that he gave up a few years ago to go on the church staff. He’s a bright guy with a lot of energy, but he’s not pushy or anything like that. He’s also a very good musician. Sean was talking to the other guy about an outreach they were going to be involved in. He had gotten some great material from some Christian organization like Intervarsity or The Navigators (something like that) and they were going to be using that material as they did the evangelistic outreach into the community. I don’t know why Sean and his friend were at that Catholic church. Had they come to the Howie Carr rally? Were they just meeting there because it was in the neighborhood of where the outreach would be? This Catholic church, wherever it was, was NOT in Hopkinton or the suburbs. It was somewhere in the immediate Boston area. Perhaps the outreach was going to be in the city; I don’t know. Then, I woke up.

At first I thought, “Boy I really DID eat too much pizza. What a crazy dream!”
Upon reflection, however, I began comparing what Sean and his friend were planning verses the Catholics having the vigil to keep the building open. I realized that focusing too much on the building and the familiar was not a good idea. Many of those who hold the vigils will say things like, “I went to 9:30 mass here every Sunday for 33 years.” or “I was married in this building in 1968” or “I was baptized here and all my kids were baptized here”. Now, granted, in the Old Testament it DOES speak of “building altars” in places of great spiritual significance to us, but if we actually begin to WORSHIP those “altars” and make them the “be all and end all” then it’s NOT a good thing and these “altars” can actually become false gods.

In the case of Sean Bowen and his friend, their focus was not a place or a building. It was outreach, evangelism, and ministry to people. That building was perhaps a base to do their city outreach in, but nothing more than that. There’s nothing wrong with having church buildings. In fact, Pastor Jack Hayford of the Foursquare denomination says having church buildings is a very good idea because we need places in which to meet, worship God, and disciple people. We should certainly take care of church properties and be good stewards of them. But the property should never take the place of people and ministry.

After thinking about this, I thought that maybe the Howie Carr scene was just kind of an incidental thing in the dream that didn’t mean anything. But as I later thought about it, I realized that sometimes churches can get into making people into celebrities and can have the wrong focus. Granted, the Howie Carr meeting in the dream was not a religious event...they were just renting the facility. But maybe it DOES symbolize the problem of churches focusing on celebrities and “stars” and not upon God.

So, THAT was my dream last night?

Any comments?

Friday, July 16, 2010


This posting is directly related to the last one I wrote entitled "OVERWHELMED ?",
I did send an e-mail copy of THAT piece to "Ned". I didn't think it was write to post that on the blog and not let "Ned" know about it, even though I changed his name.

I was surprised that he e-mailed me back and thought that it was a good piece.
Ned suggested I take a poll and find out if most people prefer e-mails to be either personal and/or professional and of a generally important or relevant nature or if they have no problem with getting mass e-mail forwards, cutsy things from friends, and stuff like that.

At first I did not like the idea of a poll at all. It kind of made me laugh that "Ned" who doesn't like frivolous stuff on internet and e-mail was asking for kind of a frivolous thing (in a way). But in the shower this morning, I thought about it, and I realized Ned may actually have a good idea about this. So I AM taking the poll.

I'm NOT including spam in this poll. I hate to receive spam, and I'd guess that 99.9% of people on-line do not want spam.

So, this is about those mass e-mails about Obama or Iraq or "the sweetest guy I've ever known" or "the legend of the Dogwood" or "you can stop gay marriage" or "the funniest clean joke I've ever heard" or "a classic '58 Chevy's restoration"...THOSE kind of e-mails.

I also may sound hypocritical, because I'd rather that respondents to the poll DON'T send me long e-mails about their opinion on this subject. I know a lot of you are "in the middle" on the mass e-mail forwards issue, BUT you have to vote "YES" or "NO" on this one!

Please send me an e-mail at

Your "body" of the letter should be one word: YES or NO

If you pretty much have no problem with mass e-mail forwards, cutsy stuff, etc. type the word YES

If you would only like to receive personal and professional e-mails and none of the mass forwards, cutsy stuff, etc. type the word NO

I will be taking this over the next few days. I will report on the results here on the blog. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)

Today, I received a short and somewhat curt e-mail from someone I think of as a friend, whom I’ll call “Ned”. It said something to the effect of, “I’m getting overwhelmed by all of your e-mails. Will you take me off your list?” I responded the only way (I think) you can respond to a request like that...short and to the point. “No problem!” I wrote. Honestly, unless it’s a genuine matter of life and death, I probably won’t e-mail that person very much anytime soon!

e-mail means different things to different people. On ONE END of the spectrum, e-mail is seen as sacred, almost like U.S. Mail. People at that end of the spectrum want each e-mail they receive to be either be personal OR directly related to their job, and they want each e-mail they receive to be serious and important. On the OTHER END of the spectrum are people for whom the computer and e-mails are very much a hobby. Those on THAT end will send forwards and jokes and cutsy sayings, along with e-cards and other stuff constantly as sort of a hobby. While I don’t see myself as being on either EXTREME, I’m certainly MUCH closer to the latter than to the former! I pretty much am one of those who likes to send and receive and read and explore stuff on-line and have (healthy and appropriate) friendships on-line, and for whom “on-line” can definitely be a hobby.

I’m also very intrigued by the “power” of the internet. If, for instance, my mail carrier friend Ed from Texas writes a powerful and moving piece about saving the U.S. Post Office, I can read it and say, “that’s nice”, OR I can (with his O.K., of course) send it along to 30 friends and suggest THEY send it to a friend or two (and so on) if they liked it. At least theoretically, that e-mail could go to at least half a million readers in around 3 months time. That’s pretty powerful and pretty impressive and turns Ed from a letter carrier venting to a friend into a journalist and an activist whose piece may even wind up being discussed on one of those Sunday television “talking heads” shows!

I checked in my records to see how many e-mails I had sent “Ned” over the past month. I found that I had sent 18 e-mails to “Ned” in that time period. Most were forwards or mass e-mailings. That may sound like a lot, but it works out to be slightly more than 1 every other day. Honestly, if somebody sends me approximately 1 e-mail every other day, I consider that anything BUT overwhelming! Maybe part of it is that I send and receive all of my e-mail on the computer. There’s no “Blackberry” or anything like that for me. I prefer to keep my cell phone as a simple cell phone, and my e-mail on the computer in our computer room. My wife has one of those “Blackberry-like” things that beeps every time she gets an e-mail. I suppose if I HAD one and it beeped every time an e-mail came in, and then I checked the e-mail only to find it was either spam or a mass forwarded e-mail, MAYBE I would feel overwhelmed, too.

I have some friends who send me a lot of e-mails and especially a lot of forwarded mass e-mails. I checked to see how many of THOSE I have received over the past month.

-----My friend E.D. sent a total of 45 e-mails over the last month...I’d say around 27 of those were some sort of forwarded or mass e-mails and the rest were personal.

-----My friend J.G. sent me 11 e-mails over the past month.

-----My friend. D.C.M. sent 10 according to my records. but I think it’s more than that. I think it was more like 20 as I remember deleting some of them after I read them.

-----That’s also true of my father-in-law. I could only find evidence of 4 or 5 e-mails he sent over the past month, but I typically have 1 or 2 forwarded mass e-mails from him on a DAILY basis. I’m sure I’ve deleted most of them, so from my father-in-law, I’d say it’s probably at least 45 e-mails.

----- A guy I know in Florida, N.B. has sent me 9 e-mails in the past month, all of which were mass e-mail forwards.

-----A friend P.Z. who attended the Framingham church I used to pastor sent me 10 e-mails over the past month.

-----J.S. a friend from Florida sent 7 that I could account for (almost all mass forwarded e-mails), but I also think it’s more like 14 and that I’ve deleted some of his.

-----My local friend D.G. sent 9.

The bottom line is, I was not offended by any of these e-mails being sent to me. Well, honestly, about HALF of my father-in-law’s were pretty crazy, but other than THAT, I was really not offended!

About three years ago, a person called me on the phone IRATE and told me to stop sending e-mails. I had only sent that person MAYBE 3 or 4 a month! That person told me, “I get 500 e-mails a day!! I don’t need your e-mails!!” Well, I suppose with 500 a day (if that’s believable), you probably DON’T, now do you?

My friend D.C.M. has stated in the past that he can’t understand why people get so upset and irate about unwanted e-mails. “That’s what the DELETE button is for!” he says.


Do you find you can “get bent out of shape” by receiving forwarded e-mails and/or other mass e-mails from friends? You’re welcome to comment here or to (“dare I say it?!”) send me an e-mail!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2)

There was a news story recently out of Lynn, Massachusetts about vandalism at a local cemetery. A number of gravestones were toppled over. Sadly, such stories are reported several times a year. I believe the Lynn incident involved a Catholic cemetery. Possibly the worst such stories involve vandalism at Jewish cemeteries where not only are gravestones knocked over, but anti-Semitic graffiti is sprayed.

I think such vandalism at a cemetery is one of the worst things a person can do, but telemarketing in the middle of the night may qualify for second place. Many years ago when a loved one was in the hospital and near death the phone rang during the night. I answered the call, fully expecting to hear that my loved one had passed away. Instead it was some inappropriate and annoying sales call! No kidding! Last night, I had a similar experience.

At this time, one of my wife Mary Ann’s closest relatives is in the hospital. We were told by a family member that if emergency surgery or anything like that had to be done during the night, we’d get a call. Mary Ann has a hearing loss which becomes much more profound when she removes her hearing aid to go to sleep. She had cautioned me to be sure to hear the phone and answer it if there was call during the night. I went to bed around 10:30, but tossed and turned and had a terrible time falling asleep. Just as I was drifting off around Midnight, the phone rang. I awoke and grabbed the phone receiver, fully expecting to hear news of our loved one.

Instead, there was a man on the line with the professional sales voice and tone of a slippery used car salesman. “We’ve been trying to reach you to tell you that you’ve won a prize for the contest you entered...” it began. I immediately hung up. I hardly ever enter any contests or even fill out entry slips at shopping malls, because they usually just lead to annoying sales calls and tricks.

“Who was that?” asked Mary Ann.

“You won’t believe this but it was a stupid sales call,” I replied.

Yes, we’ve signed up for “Do Not Call lists” and all that sort of thing, but the call still came. In the morning, I noted from the Caller ID that the call had come in at 12:05 a.m. There was the name of a communications company, and there was a ten digit phone number. I entered the ten digit phone number as a Search on the internet, and it came up as belonging to a private residence in Illinois. I suspect this slick outfit steals people’s phone numbers and has them appear on the Caller ID, rather than their own numbers. I’m no high tech expert, but it’s like when unscrupulous spammers on-line steal YOUR e-mail address and then send out semi-pornographic solicitations for sexual enhancement products using YOUR e-mail address! (I’ve had that happen, and I’d guess at least one fourth of those reading this have had that happen!)

Is it LEGAL to call somebody at 12:05 a.m. with such a stupid and annoying and invasive call? I don’t know, but I doubt that it is. I thought such calls were not supposed to be made after 9 p.m. If somebody needs to call people in the middle of the night in order to con them into thinking they’ve won a prize, THEN in order to con them out of some money or sell them something they don’t need, well that’s pretty sleazy! Some of you know I currently work for a telephone answering service. We provide a valuable service for the businesses for which we answer the phone and their customers. Unfortunately, unscrupulous telemarketers and scammers give the whole “call center” industry a very bad name.

Monday, July 12, 2010


“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

Last night, Mary Ann and I attended a healing service conducted by the Rev. D. Michael “Mike” Peterson at Leominster Assembly of God in Leominster, MA. Mike Peterson is an old friend. (Yes, we’re both getting old!) I met Mike and his family back in 1976 at the old Walpole Assembly of God church. In those days, he worked full-time as a plumber. Mike had a powerful testimony: he was well known in Walpole as a heavy drinker and a tough guy, and had been completely “saved” and transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ. The former fighting drunk was now a fine Christian young man. Mike often sang “special music” at church. Everybody loved to hear him sing because he has a great singing voice, almost as good as Elvis Presley’s.

In the late 1980s, Mike began spending a lot of time with me. He was taking Bible and ministry correspondence courses through the Assemblies of God and he told me and several close friends that God was calling him into a healing ministry.
I remember that many were skeptical about this. One woman told me, “Mike is calling HIMSELF into the ministry.” Behind Mike’s back there was a lot of doubt and skepticism about his declared calling. I was blessed to tutor Mike as he prepared for his examination to become a Licensed Assemblies of God minister. Mary Ann and I were happy for Mike when he became “The Reverend Mike Peterson” officially. I was one of the first to have Mike preach and conduct a healing service at the church I pastored. In those days, Mike wasn’t much of a public speaker and he kind of struggled through it.

That was twenty years ago. Today, Mike lives in Florida and preaches and conducts healing services all over America. Mary Ann and I hadn’t seen Mike in probably around five years. He was at Leominster for several healing services over the weekend, and we went to the concluding service, Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

Mike sang one contemporary Christian “oldie but goodie” song to a soundtrack, and preached a good sermon on healing. Although he tends to say “you know” a lot, his preaching is 100% better than it was in 1990- the years of experience are evident. I guarantee some “AG” preachers of today would not have agreed with his sermon. Mike preaches the old time Pentecostal message that “healing is in the atonement”- pretty much a cardinal doctrine of the “AG” in the pre-1950 era that’s been greatly watered down in our day.

Having spent about twenty-eight years in full-time ministry, I’ve certainly seen all sorts of healing services: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sadly, there’s a lot of “phony baloney” stuff that goes in healing services and even a lot of that in AG circles.

I love Mike, and I was open to whatever God wanted to do, but I was also objective and thoughtful about what would take place. Mike asked for testimonies of healing from any of the previous services. The pastor’s wife testified, saying she’d had an injury and had not been able to bend her finger beyond a certain point, but that she was healed in one of the services and she demonstrated that it was bending fine. There were several other testimonies given. Following Mike’s sermon he began calling out a lot of specific healings that were taking place, similar to what happens in a Benny Hinn service and what used to happen in Kathryn Khulman’s ministry. He must have rattled off at least fifteen specific healings. Mike then called for people who’d been healed to come forward. As happens in any healing service of this type, some said things like, “I’m claiming this or that,” which to me doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot. However, there were specifically two healings I witnessed which were impressive.

Following the initial coming forward of people who’d said they’d been healed, Mike opened things up for people to come up and be prayed for to be healed. One middle-aged woman with asthma came up to be prayed for. She said she had a tightness in her chest. I was sitting about halfway back in the church auditorium, and I could hear the woman wheezing as she spoke into the portable microphone. Mike laid hands on her and prayed for her. He then told her to take a deep breath.

I guess I didn’t have much faith, because I thought, “Boy, he’s taking an awful risk. If she starts wheezing and coughing, he’s going to look foolish!”

She took several deep breaths. There was absolutely no wheezing. She had a big smile and proclaimed her asthma was gone! It was. She went back to her seat very happy. A bit later, Mike pointed out a guy wearing a blue striped shirt who looked to be around 55. “Brother, I think you’ve been wanting to come up here but you keep hesitating.” The guy admitted that was so. Mike urged him to come down and be prayed for. The guy was sitting directly across the aisle from where I was sitting. He got up and began coming forward. He had a slight limp and appeared to have some sort of physical disability. He told Mike he’d fallen about a week earlier.

“I think I did somethin’ to my tailbone!” he said.

Mike asked if he’d been to the doctor, and he hadn’t. He said the pain was worst when he was sitting down. Mike laid hands on him and prayed for him. He then had the guy sit down and get up a few times. The guy smiled in amazement and said all the pain was gone. He walked back to his seat with no limp. Across the aisle he was smiling and telling his wife he was healed, and he was truly rejoicing.

I know that skeptical readers may say the woman and man were “plants” to make Mike look good. I know Mike and I know the pastor. They WEREN’T.

I know this raises a million questions and the big one is, “Why isn’t everybody healed?” If I knew the answer to that, I would write a book and make a million dollars. I don’t know. My sister and I laid hands on our accountant eight years ago and prayed for him to be miraculously healed of cancer. HE WAS! I see him every year at tax time, and he continues to proclaim that he was miraculously healed. Yet, we prayed for our mother, and despite all our prayers and best wishes, she died of bone cancer ten years ago. I get colds and flu and all sorts of stuff. I know one time I prayed to be healed of the flu and I got over it very fast. But, another time I had it for ten days. No, I don’t have all the answers.

God is God. His thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways. (See Isaiah 55:8-9). But last night’s service reminded me that God still heals today. If you need a healing, ask Him!

You may also want to check out Mike Peterson’s website which is found at:

Thursday, July 8, 2010


“Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.
Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.
Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.” (Romans 16:13-16)

I believe I used the title “Pot Pourri” for a posting quite awhile ago, so I decided to call this “Another Pot Pourri”. I looked up “pot pourri” on the web, and found the following definitions:

“Potpourri is a mixture of dried, naturally fragrant plant material, used to provide a gentle natural scent in houses. It is usually placed in a decorative wooden bowl, or tied in small bags made from sheer fabric.”

“Pot-Pourri is an Australian opera/musical theatre group who perform a blend of opera, music theatre, cabaret, magic, didgeridoo and comedy both within Australia and internationally. The artists have all performed with Australia's major musical and opera companies.”

“(French), a hotch-potch.” (or as my late father used to say, “a hodge podge”!)

In regard to my title, I guess I mean it the way the FINAL definition puts it. That’s also the way it’s meant on Jeopardy when the category is “Pot Pourri”.

There are a “million” things on my mind today that I feel like writing about, so I think I’ll just throw ‘em on the table, and if something resonates with you, well that will be great! Here we go:

--- I don’t mean to be so morbid so often, but I woke up thinking of my brother Eddie today. I then suddenly realized this is the day he died: July 8, 1983. Well, to be most accurate, it’s the day he was taken off life support. He was rushed to South Shore Hospital in cardiac arrest on June 29 of that year and spent the remaining time on life support in the I.C.U. Eddie’s kidneys were donated to two kidney patients who were desperately in need of them.

--- Soon Framingham begins its “Every other week Recycling”. I had thought it was starting in July, but it will actually start in September. Critics say people will NEVER know which week the recycling goes out. Others say people are not that clueless; that they’ll put it on their calendars and they’ll know. Well, today on my street, just about every household (except for the Barils and two other households) have their trash out and just sitting there. You see, trash pickup is delayed by one day this week due to the Independence Day holiday. We usually have Thursday as our trash day, but this week it’s Friday. 90% of the street put the trash out on the wrong day... I’m not sure the coordinating of the recycling dates is going to work so well!

--- Politics can bring some surprises. I’m a big “news person” and a big “politically aware” person. Even so, I can be surprised. There’s no perfect candidate for Governor of Massachusetts this year, although I’m leaving toward voting for Independent candidate Tim Cahill. Well, there IS a fourth candidate: “Green-Rainbow Party” candidate Jill Stein. She’s ultra-liberal and is expected to get about 1% of the vote in November. Last night, she was Emily Rooney’s guest on channel 2’s “Greater Boston”. It turns out that Jill Stein is the only one of the four candidates for Governor who opposes legalizing and promoting casino gambling in Massachusetts, as I also do. It also turns out she is NOT happy with the government health care that’s been passed in Mass. or for the whole U.S. for that matter. Jill is a physician who knows it won’t work. I don’t plan to vote for Jill Stein, but this DID remind me that we sometimes “write people off” in life who may have some really good ideas and very helpful things to say.

--- I’m kind of sad that Chrysler Corporation will build its last PT Cruiser on Friday of this week. I have never owned one, but I think they’re really cool cars. The closest I’ve ever gotten to owning one is a MODEL PT Cruiser that’s still sitting in what was my Pastor office at 32 South St. Framingham!

--- I heard that former Boston TV News reporter John Henning died last night at Mass. General Hospital. He was 73. If I am remembering things correctly, I THINK that at various times in his career he worked for channel 7, channel 5, and channel 4. I also think he was anchoring the channel 7 news on one April Fool’s Day in the early 1980s when they announced that the “Blue Hills” located in Milton and Canton had ERUPTED as a volcano, and people believed it! When you hear somebody like that died, BOY does it make you feel old?! And speaking of that, Rex Trailer was once again in Natick’s Fourth of July parade (on the Fifth this year). He’s got to be 85. This is the first year he’s ridden on a float and not on a horse. Like so many baby boomers, I was once on Rex Trailer’s Boomtown, back in the early 1960s.

--- Speaking of the Natick Parade, somebody had a letter in the MetroWest Daily News complaining about the noise of all the fire trucks in the parade. The writer recommended ear plugs at the very least, and I can’t disagree! I wonder if I lose a percentage of my hearing with every one of those Natick parades I attend!

---Before you complain TOO much about the heat, be thankful if you can get out and about. I visited two senior citizens today...both are in rehabilitation facilities after having surgery. One is an 85-year-old man who had a knee replacement, and one is an 81-year-old woman who had a hip replacement. Both were members of First Assembly of God of Framingham until it closed in March. Both are doing well, but are looking ahead to at least another week in rehab. Both can’t wait to get out and about and HOME again, and I can’t blame them! So, when you’re out in the heat, think of these two members of “The Greatest Generation” and say a little prayer for them!

---I just finished off a McDonald’s iced coffee. Boy, was it good! Did you know that the “Newman’s Own/Green Mountain Coffee” we enjoy at McDonald’s is ONLY available in the New England states? So, you midwesterners and others, eat your heart out, but you guys just get the “regular premium blend” of McDonald’s coffee. (That description doesn’t seem too appetizing, does it?!)

--- Finally, speaking of the heat, most of us have air conditioning in our cars and maybe in our bedrooms. Think of people in places like Haiti...many poor who swelter in the heat and who never get a break. I especially think of the Haitians who are still suffering in the aftermath of January’s earthquake, so let’s remember to pray for them and do what we can to tangibly, help, also!

Yes, that’s another pot pourri!