Archive for March 31, 2013

A Glimpse into a Worship Service (via @Storify)


Free Gift for Everyone If You Accept It

Guest Post By Wendi Warren

When I wrote my fairy tale, Princess Grace: A Tale of Faith, Hope & Love, I did so because I wanted to write an allegorical tale of God’s love for us—for me.

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I wanted to show His love for us, even when we make choices that aren’t good for us. I wanted to show that He is coming to get us some day and take us back with us to His kingdom—heaven.

When I finished my story initially in 2007/2008, I shared it with a woman that I had come to respect. I didn’t know (and still don’t know) where she stands in her relationship with God. The feedback she gave me was that my story would have been better if I gave power to the princess to save herself and not have to rely on her father or brother to save her. Perhaps that is why I kept it on the shelf for so long.

The message of needing someone to save us, is not a popular one—especially in the United States. We are an independent lot. We believe we are more than capable of accomplishing anything if we just put our mind to it. Honestly, I feel this way a lot.

But when it comes to the salvation of my soul, there is nothing I can do to save myself. I must fully rely on and trust the message of the Bible.

Jesus Christ, the only son of God, came to earth as fully God and fully human to rescue me from the penalty of death, which is caused by my own willful disobedience to God’s law (i.e. sin). It is only through his death, burial and resurrection that I have hope of ever being rescued. I can’t earn it. I can’t buy it. I can’t do anything to get it, except receive it as it is, a free gift from God.

So because of the free gift that God gave me, that we celebrate on Easter, this coming Sunday, I want to give my fairy tale away as a free gift. It doesn’t have the power to save you, but maybe God will use it lead you to want to know about His free gift of grace.

Editor’s Note: Wendi’s book will be offered free through Amazon’s Kindle store on Saturday and Sunday. The Amazon link to Wendi’s book is on a special page about “Princess Grace,” you can click here. In addition to the Amazon link, the page contains other blog posts about the book and a podcast of an interview with Wendi about her book.

It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming

May you all have a blessed Resurrection Sunday. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.

How Does a Blogger Discover Other Voices?

Over the next few days, my voice on this blog will be quieted as others step to the forefront and share their stories.

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On Saturday, my wife, Wendi Warren, has a special message, and gift, to readers of The Z Section. We hope you like it. If you cannot wait until Saturday, you can get a head start and see what else Wendi has written on this special page about her book, “Princess Grace: A Tale of Faith, Hope & Love,” when you click here. My favorite post on The Z Section was written by Wendi. You will find it here.

On Monday, Beverly Hootman will be writing for The Z Section for the first time, and it will be her first blog post. Beverly has been on a quest to improve the financial standing of her family, and she will be sharing some of her thoughts. Early word is she has a lot to say and it might have to be published in more than one post. We shall see.

So, how does a blogger discover other voices? By listening.

As always, thank you for spending part of your day with The Z Section; I realize there are other things you can do.

How Does a Blogger Discover One’s Voice?

When I knew I wanted to be a writer back in the ’80s, I read a Writer’s Digest article that offered a simple path: Get an apartment in New York City, place a typewriter on your kitchen table, sit down and start writing. When you get up in 10 years, you will be a writer.

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Well, I did not get an apartment in New York and opted for a dedicated word processor (I believe it was an Amstrad sold by Sears) in 1986 and a few years later an IBM-clone. Wouldn’t you know, in about 10 years I finally got the sense that maybe I could write.

Another way of looking at this is that it took 10 years for me to find my voice in writing.

Since December 2012, I have been blogging regularly, and it is mildly discouraging that I have found neither a voice for my blogging nor my blog.

The Z Section is supposed to be about anything. I fought the urge to “specialize” and focus on a niche to give me the freedom to write about whatever caught my attention. What I have discovered is anything can be anything and sometimes anything can be too daunting so anything becomes nothing.

Will I specialize? Will I focus on a niche? Truthfully, I am not sure.

But, here is what I know:

  • I have varied interests.
  • These interests include my Christian faith,
  • Reading the Bible,
  • Family,
  • Technology,
  • Smartphones,
  • Tablets,
  • Computers,
  • Social media,
  • Leadership principles,
  • Journalism,
  • Blogging,
  • Writing,
  • Pets, and
  • so much more.

The thing is, down the road I want to write books, and I want them to focus on potential material for Sunday school classes. However, as I look over this blog, admittedly about anything, I find very little that point toward that direction.

So, you can expect more regarding faith and how it intersects with all of those things above. Perhaps there I will find my voice.

I hope it doesn’t take 10 years.

Spring has Sprung in Ohio, on the Calendar, at Least

This was the scene from behind our house on Monday, the sixth day of Spring 2013 in Wooster, Ohio.

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The scene was beautiful, so breathtaking I had to get a few photographs of it before heading off onto the snow-covered streets to do some work.

Most of us are ready for spring weather to arrive, but what do you do when life hands you snow, the wet kind that is good for packing. Some around the area made snow men, one a snow bunny and another a fort.

I am confident spring will arrive, it is only a matter of time. When it does, me and everybody else will probably start complaining it is too hot. Such is life.

Enjoy the unexpected moments when you can.

If you want to see more photos from the Wooster area, click here.

 

MMA coming to Wooster Jam 2013 (Sorry, not that MMA)

It’s not Mixed Martial Arts, rather a blend of Music, Magic and Art coming to the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster on April 13, and I will be providing the magic.

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This is the third year for the Wooster Jam, an ambitious effort to blend music and the arts. This will be my third year performing magic at the event, and I was quite surprised to see my name on the official poster.

For the second year in a row, the event will be held in conjunction with the Wooster Ethnic Fair.

Here is a little about the event from the Wooster Jam website:

The Wooster Jam is an end-of-semester celebration of music and the arts, consisting of an array of individual artists and ensembles from a myriad of art forms and media.  The gathering will take place at the historic Wayne County Fairgrounds on April 13, using several distinct and non-traditional venues. One may hear an A Capella ensemble, the Ohio Light Opera, the Cedar Valley Cloggers and the best rock music on campus – all at different venues simultaneously.  The Jam is a unique fusion of language art sound motion music and interactivity.

We are looking for participation by Visual Artists, Installation Artists, Musicians, Media Artists, Light and Sound Artists, Theatre Artists, Poets, Sculptors, Performance Artists, Laser Artists, Magicians, Electronic Artists, Drummers, Video Makers, Filmmakers, Dancers, Floral Artists, Street Performers, Culinary Artists, Ceramicists, Sculptors, Fire Artists and more to participate in our art event!

We welcome your imagination and ideas.

The Wooster Jam is organized by the Wooster Jam Inc. Board of Director under the guidance of James Levin (founding director of Cleveland Public Theatre and Cleveland’s IngenuityFest). Further information about the Jam’s staff and history can be found on our website, listed below. “The Wooster Jam Festival is currently sponsored by the Ohio Arts Council and the J.M. Smucker Company.”

Official partners for Wooster Jam 2013 are WE Fair 2013, Wayne Center for the Arts &  120 Artist Co-op.

The Wooster Jam will take place from noon to 10 p.m. on April 13 (in collaboration with the Wooster Ethnic Fair during the afternoon).

The Wooster Jam will also have food and beverages on site from local vendors.

Hope to see you there!

The Z Section’s First Milestone: 100th Blog Post

This blog began in Dec. 19, 2012, and today, it is celebrating the century mark: This is The Z Section’s 100th blog post.

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I would have hit the mark a few days sooner, but a recent trip to Boston for a health journalism conference slowed me down a little bit. (The Association of Health Care Journalists conference was a great opportunity.)

To mark the milestone, I thought of where in the Bible could I find the number 100? Well, the Book of Psalms contains 150 psalms, so I figured I would go to Psalm 100. Come to find out, it is a psalm “for giving grateful praise.” Here it is (from the New International Version):

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2  Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

I am indeed grateful for the opportunity to have this blog and share my thoughts with people like you. Thank you for joining me here each week. I truly appreciate it. Let’s take a walk down memory lane together …

Here are the top posts:

1. The First Amendment, Right On

2. Learning Some Lessons About Persistence From Josh Krajcik

3. A Tribute to the King of Pop, Rock and Agility

4. This Discover Card Commercial Is Funny, But Is it Effective?

5. Memories of Madison, A Loving Dog and Companion

6. Once Upon a Time: The Story Behind the Story

7. Spend a Day in These Kids’ Shoes, If You Can

8. ‘Bungee’ Jumping to 3.0 Soon

9. #002 Interview With Wendi Warren on her New Book [Podcast]

10. Five Things Madison Taught Me, I Thought You Should Know

 

How Many Words is This Photo Worth? What Does it Convey to You?

I have looked at the photo below often, thinking there is a story in there, some kind of lesson I can share with readers of this blog.

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The photo was taken a few years ago, after my wife, Wendi, brought Mr. Thomas (then a little kitten) home after she attended a Wadsworth Community Band concert (her father plays with the band).

Here, Buddy seems to be indicating to the little man just how the pecking order goes, but Mr. Thomas will have none of that.

So, I thought I could write about resiliency, never giving up, David and Goliath, stand up for what is right.

Truth is, I love the photo, but I just don’t know what to say about it.

Will you help? If a picture is worth a thousand words, then is this at least worth 20, 30, 40 or 50 from you?

What story is this photograph conveying to you?

The Interconnectedness of All Things, Including This

I have an ability to see connections, even when others do not. I tend to apply meaning to these connections.

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I find it fascinating how seemingly disparate elements can find commonality. Take for example, my recent trip to the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists in Boston.

Even though I am a journalist who talks to people, and many strangers, every day, perform magic in front of audiences, play bass guitar in the band at church and preached for nearly nine years, at heart, I am an introvert. I found myself at a reception during the conference, and after making some small talk with a small group, I walked away, not quite sure where to go or what to do.

It had been a long day, and I was starving. I found some cheeseburger sliders (I didn’t ask if they were made with Certified Angus Beef ground beef) and just stood there looking at the packed room wondering where to go.

I spotted an open seat. At the table were all African-American women, and here I was a white man. So, I walked up, asked if anyone was sitting there and whether they minded if I joined them. I was informed no one was sitting there, and they welcomed me into their company.

Come to find out, one of the ladies was from Little Rock, Ark., and knew the area where I lived. Another one was a graduate of the Ohio State University, so we had a connection to the Buckeye State (this blog originates from Northeast Ohio). I believe another was from Georgia, and my father’s family hails from that state.

We had a great time, and we laughed. We came from different parts of the country, grew up at different times, lived through different experiences, but for a short time on one night, we came together and bonded as a single group.

Was there any meaning to our meeting? The Bible talks about how all of us are created in God’s image, and how God put eternity in our hearts. Perhaps if we can get beyond our external differences, then we can connect on a deeper level.

What do you think? You are, after all, reading this, and it cannot be a coincidence.