Sunday, October 30, 2016


"So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor."  (Luke 20:20 New King James Version)

I don't live in New Hampshire and I've never lived in New Hampshire, but almost every time I turn on a television set,  I feel like I'm being dragged into the gutter of New Hampshire politics whether I want to go there or not!  I think people from outside of New England would be surprised to know that the major Boston television stations are overflowing with [mostly negative] political television commercials at this time.  There are numerous pro and anti Trump ads and there are numerous pro and anti Clinton ads.  This may seem strange in what's been called, "the bluest of all the blue states"! The fact is, those ads are all aimed at New Hampshire viewers, as the major Boston television stations are watched [mostly via cable and satellite] all over the state of New Hampshire.  Along with the Clinton and Trump commercials, and along with commercials about the Questions on the Massachusetts ballot this fall [such as legalization of marijuana, and expanding the number of "Charter Schools"], there is an absolute flood of commercials about the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race.  It's almost impossible to watch T.V. without being blasted by an ad (seemingly) telling the viewer that Senator Kelly Ayotte hates old people, hates college kids, and is a money hungry idiot who is funded by insane right-wing billionaires, and then being equally assaulted by a commercial telling the viewer that Governor Maggie Hassan is a sleazy, left-wing, tax raising fool who was linked to a pedophile who terrorized a Massachusetts private school. The anti-Ayotte along with the anti-Hassan commercials have been just so disturbing to watch!  Listen, if you think the Clinton and Trump negativity is sickening, well, that's "small potatoes" compared to the vitriol between the Ayotte and Hassan camps, and I think even former Vice-President Dan Quayle would have to agree with me!  (For you non-political types, the Quayle reference has to do with "potatoes", but never mind!)

I don't profess to be an expert on either Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte or her challenger, Democrat Maggie Hassan.   Frankly, although I'm very much a "news and current events junkie" and even though at times in my life I've been quite politically active, I've been so disgusted by politics this year that I've scrupulously avoided writing anything about politics on my blog or on social media.  But something happened a few days ago that really touched my heart, and has prompted me to write this piece. Many of my readers know I'm a registered Republican and I would be classified as a "social conservative" on most issues.  Once in a great while I will vote for a Democrat, and once in a very great while, I'll take the liberal side of an issue, but for the most part, I'm a conservative Republican. If I did live in New Hampshire, I'd probably be voting for Kelly Ayotte.  Again, I'm not an expert, but from the little I have read about the race, I'm in agreement with Kelly Ayotte on most issues.  Kelly has come forward with a couple of positive campaign television commercials, most notably an ad which features her mother and her daughter.  I've also got to say, I love the one in which she's wearing a Red Sox cap at home plate and belting a bunch of baseballs.  There is an ad, however, that grabbed my heart a few days ago like no political ad has done in a long time!  That one was a commercial for Maggie Hasson.  I probably disagree with Maggie Hassan on ninety percent of the issues.  Prior to seeing that ad, I hate to admit it, but I think I was beginning to think of Maggie Hassan as some sort of evil queen akin to the queen in Snow White!   The ad that ripped my heart out featured the Hassan family and especially Maggie Hassan's very disabled son Ben. When you see Ben, it's difficult not to start weeping.  He seems like a great kid, and it's gut wrenching to see a fine young man suffering with such severe disabilities.  And, there was Maggie Hassan in the ad, no not a wicked Snow White queen, but rather a very loving mother pushing her son's wheelchair.  The ad included Hassan's daughter talking about her mom and informing the audience that it was Maggie Hassan's love for her family that motivated her to get into politics.

You know, I just couldn't dislike Maggie Hassan after seeing that!  Now, I'm not saying I'd vote for her, because I don't believe I would.  And, I also genuinely have come to like and admire Kelly Ayotte.  But since I've seen the ad with Maggie Hassan and her family I've been thinking, "These seem like two nice, hard-working, dedicated public servants.  So how did our society get like this?  How is it that we hate each other and 'trash' each other?  How is it that I could have seen Maggie Hassan as a wicked queen and so many liberals could view Kelly Ayotte as the epitome of selfishness and evil?"

That's what I'm asking here.  Part of me thinks it's too bad Kelly Ayotte couldn't just continue being a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire and that Maggie Hassan couldn't just continue being Governor of New Hampshire.  But, I know that's impossible and it's just idealistic wishful thinking!

Incidentally, as soft-hearted and respectful as I've suddenly become toward Maggie Hassan, I do have sort of a bone to pick with her and her supporters:   There's an anti-Ayotte commercial that particularly upsets me.  I think it really "hits below the belt"; and I wish it would be pulled off the airwaves.  That ad states Kelly Ayotte had stated she'd vote for Trump,  then it shows her being asked during a debate if she'd recommend Donald Trump as a role model for children, and she eagerly states she would do that.  Finally, it shows Kelly Ayotte speaking against Donald Trump and politically distancing herself from him.  Maybe those weren't Kelly Ayotte's finest moments.  But I have so much sympathy and compassion for her!  Have you ever been asked a difficult "no win" kind of question in public and then badly "fumbled" your answer to that question?  I have.

The quote I opened this piece with is from the passage where Jesus' enemies come to Him asking a bunch of tricky and ridiculous questions, trying desperately to get Jesus to say something stupid or inappropriate [or both] so that they could completely discredit Him.  Well, it didn't work.  But, Jesus is the Son of God!  Jesus is perfect!

I'm not perfect.  Have I ever "said something stupid" or said something in public that I later deeply regretted?  I absolutely have!  I pastored a small church for twenty-three years.  I'm probably not much of a businessman and I'm probably not much of a leader, but I am a powerful public speaker and teacher.  Despite my gifting as a teacher and preacher, I'm also fallible.  During my years in the pulpit, I gave many wonderful sermons and I said many wonderful things.  But I also said possibly as many as two dozen "really stupid and/or really insensitive things" from the pulpit.  [And, I'm not including occasional "off the cuff comments" in causal conversations with people where I didn't always use a lot of wisdom.]  I think two dozen comments I shouldn't have made during twenty-three years isn't too bad of an average.  Even so, I would hate to see a television commercial which proclaimed something like, "Bob Baril- listen to the stupid things he said as a pastor..." (then they'd run a montage of me saying one dumb thing after another for about twenty seconds) and the announcer would ask the question, " this a man who belongs in the pulpit?  Vote to rescind his Ordination on November 8!"

I can't imagine how ashamed and embarrassed I would be.  Yet, it would be very unfair to judge my ministry and my speaking based on that alone!  It's also ludicrous to judge our political leaders that way!  An often used old expression says it well, "There but for the grace of God go I!"

I think it would be cool if I wrote for a newspaper with a circulation of over 100,000!  In reality, a typical blog posting of mine gets about 60 "hits" in a month.  So, unless there's a miracle, not too many people will read this.  But, honestly, I'd love to see a miracle happen where both Maggie Hassan and Kelly Ayotte would read this blog posting, and where both of them would immediately agree to pull all their negative advertising off of radio and television!  Maybe it would start a new trend, and wouldn't that be refreshing?  I suppose they'd each say something like, "Well, I'll pull the negative ads if my opponent will."  No, each should just take that step regardless of what the opponent did or did not do!

I'm publicly making a commitment to pray each day until at least the end of 2016 for Kelly Ayotte and her family and for Maggie Hassan and her family.  I hope many Christians in New England will join me in doing this!  I pray God's touch on each of them and that each would draw very close to Him.  And I pray for God's perfect will regarding who wins that U.S. Senate race!

Saturday, October 22, 2016


"And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy   (Acts 2:17-18)

There are so many Bible verses I could have used to start this piece, but since it has to do with God supernaturally intervening in the lives of very ordinary people, I chose those words from Acts chapter two.  One of the hardest aspects of being a "Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christian who believes in the dramatic and dynamic interventions of the Holy Spirit, and that absolutely nothing is impossible with God" is also coping with things when life is difficult, confusing, and seemingly unfair.   We sing a song entitled, Blessed Be Your Name, which has a line about, "when there's pain in the offering".  Yes, that's what I'm talking about.  The Israelites in the time of the exodus from Egypt got very angry with God and with Moses.  Many of them became so angry, despondent and faithless that they seriously desired to return to Egypt, ask the Egyptians' forgiveness, and just volunteer to be slaves again!  Yet, these were the people who'd experienced the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, and God miraculously sending free food [i.e. manna] on a regular basis.  They became so obsessed with their problems and difficulties that they [apparently] forgot about His miracles done to bless and help them!  I'm so embarrassed to admit that I'm so much like them!  I can focus on my immediate situation with its problems, perplexities, and difficulties and completely forget about great things God has done for me.  In fact, God has done many great things for me, although I'm in one of those "dry" and challenging periods of life right now.  Today is Saturday, and on this Saturday I've found myself thinking about a great intervention of God in my past.  

The year was 1988.  It seems like only about eleven years ago; I can't believe it was over twenty-eight years ago!  It was mid-June.  Our family was leaving for a one week vacation on Cape Cod.  We would be staying at a cottage owned by a family who attended the church we pastored in Framingham.  In those days, we had only one car.  (We did not become a two car family until 1993.)  Our car was a 1982 AMC Concord station wagon.  (Some people called it a "Rambler" which is fine because the name of the Rambler make was changed to AMC some years prior to 1982.)  We bought the AMC used in 1985.  For the most part, it was a terrible car.  It leaked oil- lots and lots of oil every day in any location in which it was parked!  Our driveway was covered with oil stains and looked horrible.  It "broke down" a lot! There were many vacuum leak problems with that car, there were many radiator problems with that car, and from time to time, there were carburetor problems with that car.  Frankly, I spent a number of very sad and frustrating days because of that 1982 AMC station wagon!  On that mid-June Saturday morning, we packed the car and I attempted to start the car.  There's no way the car was going to start!  I telephoned Bill Lincoln, a member of our church, and one of the finest mechanics I've ever known.  Bill came over, literally took out the carburetor, took it apart, cleaned it, put it back, and the car started.  What a way to start a vacation!

Driving to Cape Cod during that morning, I experienced something mystical and supernatural.  I did not hear an audible voice, but it was so real and so definite that it might as well have been an audible voice.  Deep inside my spirit was a silent yet very real and very powerful impression.  The message I was getting was this:  "You will leave this car on Cape Cod.  One week from today you will drive off Cape Cod in another car which you will buy while you're on vacation on Cape Cod."

I didn't say anything to Mary Ann.  I thought she might think I was nuts.  And I felt like maybe I was nuts!  You'd have to know me well to understand this, but I can be a very rigid and inflexible person.  Shopping for a car while on vacation on Cape Cod (or anywhere else) is something I would never, ever do for many reasons.  I was totally puzzled.  There was no way I was going to shop for a car or buy a car while on vacation,  so how could that inner impression be correct?  Yet, I knew I received that message, and I knew it was real, it was powerful, it was supernatural, and dare I say it:  It was God.

The very next day we were at the home of Fred and Shelley, friends of ours, in Mashpee.  Shelley asked what was happening in our lives and how things were going.  I mentioned that we were having a lot of problems with our car.  Shelley suddenly became both very still and very happy and excited.  She said with conviction and enthusiasm, "I believe God is going to have you buy a car and it's going to be very soon.  It's going to be a little scary, but the whole situation is going to be of God and you're to buy that car!" 

Wow!  I don't remember what I said at that point.  We went through a normal few days of vacation on Cape Cod.  On Thursday afternoon, we stopped to visit the Sandwich Fish Hatchery.  I'm not sure why we even went there, but when I was a kid our family had visited the fish hatchery, and I thought our kids just might like it.  About fifteen minutes after we'd started walking around, I looked and to my shock, a guy named Tom that we knew [who was both a fellow Assemblies of God minister and a car salesman] strolled onto the grounds of the fish hatchery with his daughter.  Tom walked right up to me and almost on cue asked, "Are you looking to buy a car?"

"Well," I replied, "in the flesh, no; but in the Spirit, maybe!"

Tom said he thought he had the perfect car for us.  He asked us to stop into the dealership in Hyannis on Friday morning, and we agreed to that.  The next day, Tom told me he'd been driving by the Sandwich Fish Hatchery and [similar to my own experience while driving to Cape Cod] he got a strong inner impression from God to drive into the fish hatchery and begin walking around.  He said he'd thought, "But I've already been to the fish hatchery!"  Instantly, that inner impression replied, "Yes, but your daughter hasn't seen it."  When Tom saw me he said he knew God was up to something and believed a very desirable used car on their lot was probably for the Barils.

On Friday morning, we test drove a 1986 Plymouth Caravelle.  (That was a mid-sized model, also marketed by Chrysler Corporation as the Dodge 600. )  We still were making payments on the AMC.  The payments on the Plymouth would be for four and a half years, and would be almost double what we were paying for the AMC, and frankly couldn't afford.  Yet, Mary Ann and I knew this was of God.  We said "Yes".  We signed the appropriate paperwork.  We were told this would all be processed through the local Registry of Motor Vehicles branch and that the Plymouth would be ready to pick up on Saturday morning.

After we made the deal, we went out for Chinese food.  In the parking lot of the Chinese restaurant, we smelled an unpleasant odor, and noticed green anti-freeze fluid pouring onto the parking lot.  I had to call AAA to come and help us!  Had we made the right decision to get rid of the AMC and buy the Plymouth?  It sure seemed like we did!

I'll never forget that shortly after we got home and showed the "new" car to a couple from the church, the wife gave me one of the dirtiest looks I've ever received from anyone!  "How did you possibly buy that car?"  she'd asked.  "I financed it!"  I'd excitedly announced, and that's what brought the dirty look!  During the 1980s there were many evangelical Christians who taught it was always wrong and always out of the will of God to finance an automobile.  I think she believed that.  And, frankly, we couldn't afford the car.  Well, we made the car payment every month for four and a half years, and we had that car for two and a half years beyond the payment book.  Mary Ann has an expression that we, "drive our cars into the ground".  Usually, we do exactly that!  On a late summer day in 1995, a flatbed truck pulled up to 40 Harrison Street in Framingham, loaded up the 1986 Plymouth Caravelle and hauled it away.

This is only one of probably scores of similar stories of God's intervention in my life that I've experienced.  Honestly, I don't know why sometimes God seems very silent and very distant.  I know He's not.  I also know at times I've cried myself to sleep wondering why a prayer went unanswered or a terrible disappointment took place, and wondering why God seemed to be not there.  I want Him to be as present and as real and as dramatic and even as cool and mystical as He was to me in that situation involving the purchase of the '86 Plymouth.  And, yes, this is why we teach "new Believers" that we "don't go by feelings".  I guess if those "mountaintop" kind of things always happened, we'd take God for granted.  A true story such as this one about the two Saturdays in 1988 keeps me on track, praying, reading my Bible, "witnessing for Christ", going to church services, and hoping for the future.  I needed to be reminded of it this week, and if it was helpful to you in any way, I'm glad, and I hope you'll give the glory to God!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them."  (Acts 13:2)

A couple of days ago, I posted the following on my Facebook page:
"VERY nice service this morning at First Baptist Church of Marlborough where my daughter Amy Baril Julian was guest speaker (sharing about her Missions call and ministry). Great music and worship! My friend Pastor Stafford Trapp looks GREAT!"

To my surprise, when I looked at that posting today, Norman Biagetti, one of my Facebook friends, had left a poignant comment regarding my posting.  He wrote, "Just what is a nice service? Except that your daughter was there."

I must say, Norman's comment sparked a lot of thought in me.  I suppose we could ask a hundred Christians what constitutes a "nice service" and we'd get a myriad of responses!  Some might describe a "nice service" as a "quiet service".  Many might describe a "nice service" as a short service in duration which did not make them feel uncomfortable.  Some would say a "nice service" is a service in which the sermon was interesting and they "got fed".  Many pastors would say a "nice service" is a service in which a large offering was received!  The type of Christians who tend to be very excited and exuberant might say a "nice service" included public utterances in tongues with the interpretation of those utterances, as well as Christians being filled with the Holy Spirit.  

When I described the service at First Baptist Church of Marlborough as a "nice service" I did not mean it was a nice service because my daughter Amy was speaking there.  Admittedly, that was part of it, but I meant much more than that.  The group was small.  I don't think there were many more than thirty present.  The people were pleasant and friendly.  The "worship team" who led in music and singing were truly wonderful!  The Bible passage which Pastor Trapp read (from the Book of Esther) was a very relevant passage to "where I'm at" at this time.  Amy's message was one I'd heard her give before, but it touched me in a special way.  Yes, that's what I meant by a "nice service".

The verse I opened with comes from Acts chapter thirteen, the chapter that begins what we call, "Paul's First Missionary Journey".
The chapter opens with, "the story behind the story", (to use a line from the late radio broadcaster Larry Glick) about what caused Paul and his companion Barnabas to embark on that great missionary journey.  Paul and Barnabas were very active in a young and dynamic church in Antioch in Syria.  At that church, they "ministered to the Lord, and fasted" and then God called them to the great work He had for them.   When I was growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, we called the public gatherings for worship, "masses", or "Sunday mass".   Most (but not all) Protestant churches call these gatherings, "services".  More correctly, they should be called, "worship services".  An important reason we meet is to teach and help and encourage and pray for one another.  That's taught in the Book of Hebrews chapter ten.  Another reason for holding public gatherings is to encourage friends and family to come and join us and learn about the Lord and His Holy Word.  Yes, those are important reasons, and they're part of why we meet and hold public gatherings, but they shouldn't be the primary reason we meet.  The primary reason we meet is found in the verse I opened with.  We meet to, "minister to the Lord".  It's about Him!  It's not about us.  It's a "worship service" because we gather to "serve the Lord in our worship."  And, when we do that, extraordinary things can happen- such as the Holy Spirit dramatically calling someone to serve as a missionary to a foreign land.

It's sad that some "church services" are nothing like what I've described here, indicating what they should be.  Sometimes they involve people who are on "power trips" or who want to push a private agenda, or who want to "show the pastor where he's wrong".  (Many years ago, a gentleman attending the church I was pastoring told me his job was exactly that- to show me where I was wrong!)  Of course,
church should involve practical projects to help the needy and other benevolent actions.  That's part of it, too.  But I think we often forget; and listen, many times, I've been guilty of forgetting, that the matter of a "worship service" and of "ministering to the Lord" is "where it's at" and will be the action which facilitates all of the other "good things" that a healthy church practices!

Saturday, October 8, 2016


“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”  (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

In our amazingly fast-paced, instantly on-line society, it seems there are fewer opportunities to “stop and smell the roses”.  I had one of those rare moments yesterday around Noon.  I’d gone to meet my wife prior to us heading to Logan Airport to pick up our daughter Amy.  We’re so thrilled that Amy’s in the area for ten days or so to do several public appearances regarding her family’s missionary call.  I arrived a bit early at Marian High School in Framingham where Mary Ann works.  It was such a pleasant day that I decided to take a few minutes, sit on one of their outdoor benches, and just enjoy the atmosphere.  My eyes quickly zeroed in on the beautiful autumn colors of a tree located just off the school’s parking lot.  Suddenly, I remembered a scene from my own high school days.

It was this time of year, early October of 1968.  I was a fourteen-year-old freshman at Canton High School.  Miss Starr’s English One class overlooked a courtyard which included a small number of deciduous trees.  Miss Starr commented to the class that she’d taught at Canton High for several years in that very classroom.  Every autumn, she enjoyed watching the few trees as their leaves changed to bright fall colors, then dropped to the ground.  I remember her commenting that the trees changed color one tree at a time, in the very same order every year.  I don’t know why I remember Miss Starr saying that.  At that age, it would never have occurred to me to watch a specific group of trees changing color during autumn, or that they all went through the process in the same order each year.  Such a thing would have been about as interesting to me as watching paint dry!  Now, here I was, at Marian High School, forty-eight years later, a sixty-two-year old man, watching a tree off the parking lot in beautiful fall colors and remembering Miss Starr and her observations.

I had some very good teachers at Canton High and I also had some very bad teachers there.  I think of a few of them from time to time.  Miss Starr was of the vast majority of my secondary school instructors whom I’d considered somewhat “in-between”.  As I’ve thought about Miss Starr over the past day or so, I realize she was far more than a mediocre teacher.  Miss Starr left Canton High after that year and I never saw her again.  I remember that we read Charles Dickins' Great Expectations that year.  I also remember Miss Starr introducing us to great poetry.  I was really not interested in that material at the time.  I just sat through it, looking at the clock and waiting for class to end.   We read and discussed works such as Richard Cory and My Last Dutchess.  I even remember that Miss Starr played a recording of The Kingston Trio singing,  Tom Dooley.  Today, I’m a guy who loves good poetry and great short stories.  Did Miss Starr contribute to that appreciation of good writing that I now possess?  Maybe she did!  I don’t know where Miss Starr is today.  She probably has a different last name.  Several times in her class, another kid named Steve and I were laughing and fooling around.  I remember that one day, she kind of verbally laid in on me, saying this was my “seventeenth time” of fooling around, and that day she moved my seat to a different location.  My seat in her classroom remained in that location for the remainder of the year.  In those days, it would never, ever have occurred to me to thank Miss Starr for all she was teaching us and trying to do for us.  Today, I wish I could do that!

Yes, all of this came to me as I sat at Marian High School and watched a tree displaying its beautiful fall colors.  I wonder if those trees are still standing at Canton High School?  Trees typically live a long time.  My guess is, they probably are.  If they are still there, their leaves are transforming to bright fall colors, one tree at a time, in the same order as they were changing back in 1968.

1968 was a presidential election year.  Those were tumultuous times!  Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated.  Rioting broke out at the 1968 Democratic Convention.  The major party candidates were Democrat Hubert Humphrey and Republican Richard Nixon.  Humphrey was Vice-President under Lyndon Johnson. He was seen as a man who wanted to retain the status quo.  Nixon seemed at least somewhat phony and like a throwback to the 1950s.  The country was pretty disheartened and unimpressed with these presidential candidates.  Sound familiar?

No fourteen-year-old kids at Marian High School or any other school could imagine how fast forty-eight years go by!  It seems like only yesterday.  Today, I thought about how old I’ll be in forty-eight more years.  It will be 2064.  I will be a hundred ten years old!  Frankly, I’m one of those Bible-believing Christians who believes we’re very close to the second coming of Christ and the end of this Age.  It’s difficult for me to believe we’ll reach 2064 without the Lord having come back!  The bottom line is, this life as we know it will all be over so quickly!  And each autumn, in their order, the deciduous trees in North America continue to change color and drop their leaves.