Archive for Faith

‘Wash me, Savior, or I die’

By Thomas Doohan

“Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.”

 

Thomas at Jail

Thomas Doohan listens to Wayne County Sheriff Thomas Hutchinson as he speaks about restoration.

Those words from Augustus M. Toplady’s hymn, “Rock of Ages,” are pretty much all I can remember of my trip to the Wayne County Jail with my colleague Bobby Warren on April 11, 2015.

Bobby is a member of Parkview Christian Church and on that April day he was filling in for his friend, Jeff Terwilliger, who heads up the congregation’s prison ministry.

Apparently, Jeff was unable to lead that weekend, and Bobby stepped up. He was tasked with bringing the word to the jail and sharing with those wanted to hear it.

On Friday, Bobby asked me to come along and I did, for which I’m glad. It was an honor to listen to him preach and to hear my friend share what is so clearly the passion of his life — the Gospel.

Bobby’s preaching was rich, the worship was fine and it was a gift to be asked partner in the work Parkview is doing in the jail. I won’t soon forget it.

I was asked to handle prayer requests from the inmates and to pray for them. But, I have to say, beyond that I don’t remember many details from the morning other than the words of the song running through my head.

As Bobby preached, the words kept ringing in my head, and I started thinking of who I was and who the inmates were.

The inmates listening to Bobby were in a low spot. Gathered in three separate groups (men who were in jail; women who were in jail; and men who were being transferred to prison), they were all dressed in colored jumpsuits and orange, plastic Croc-like sandals. Deputies stood in the back of the gym, listening to Bobby and watching the inmates.

From what I could tell, things were easier for our crew. I am pretty sure we all picked out our own clothes that morning. We chose to be there and nobody was watching our actions. They were in bondage, and we were free.

Despite our stark differences, the words of “Rock of Ages” reminded me everyone in that room was the same: Broken.

I was reminded that in front of a perfect God, all is stripped away. Jumpsuit or button-down, it doesn’t matter, man’s filth is exposed in front of God. Naked, in front of the Lord, with nothing to offer, we can only ask for his cross, his clothing and his grace.

“Wash me, Savior, or I die.”

This guest blog is by Thomas Doohan, a reporter for The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio.

True Story: I am Going to Jail This Sunday

Come Sunday, I am headed for the Wayne County Jail. My charge? To preach the Word of God. I will be filling in for Jeff Terwilliger, who leads Parkview Christian Church’s jail ministry, and preaching this week’s sermon.

Jail

Because Jeff has a previous engagement, he asked me to preach for him. I will be preaching on verse 3 of Psalm 23: “He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

This will be my third time preaching this year, so, for me, it has been busy. I appreciate every opportunity to share God’s Word.

Normally, I would invite you to come listen to me. However, you will forgive me for not asking you this time, right?

(Audio) The Triumphal Entry and Good Friday: What Changed?

I recently had the opportunity to preach at my home church, Parkview Christian Church. Lead minister Brian White asked me to preach about Palm Sunday, which I was glad to do. As soon as he presented the topic, I knew instantly what I wanted to talk about.

Wendi and Bobby

Wendi and Bobby

Something that has always intrigued me was how much changed in just a week. Some people went from praising Jesus to turning their backs on him when they shouted, “Give us Barabbas!”

A funny thing happened on the way to the sermon, so to speak.

My wife, Wendi, and I have been married for 20 years. One thing she has become used to is me getting called out to do something for work at the last minute. This time would be no exception.

We were planning to go on a date the Saturday before I was scheduled to preach. Because of our schedules, I was planning on finishing the sermon on Thursday and Friday nights.

Thanks to Angie Smith, I had my outline finished early, which aided in the writing of the sermon. Friday night as I worked on it, I received a text about a meth lab bust in Rittman, Ohio. I ran out, headed for Rittman, where I was there for a few hours. By the time I finished the story and video, it was midnight.

Oh, well.

Saturday morning, I started working on the sermon, and I finished it earlier than I thought. Wendi and I went on our date, and as she drove, I read her my sermon. I did not get my normal reaction, in that she tells me how much she likes it. Just silence.

“What’s it missing,” I asked.

“How did you know I was thinking something?” she asked.

Her silence told me everything I needed to know. She told me she was expecting to talk more about the Second Coming and what causes us to move away God’s grace.

Thanks to Wendi’s valuable input, I was able to add to the sermon and make it, in her eyes, a good sermon. You can listen to it below. (Thank you Ron Maxwell for reading Scripture and praying for the sermon.)

Listen to the sermon:

Expectations and Emotions: Be Careful

This morning, I have the privilege of sharing God’s word with my home congregation at Parkview Christian Church. I will be talking about the Triumphal Entry of Jesus, and I will focus on the reactions of the people who came out to line the road and toss down their cloaks and palm branches in front of Jesus.

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The Triumphal Entry is found in all four Gospels. It focuses on Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey, a beast of burden. He is not coming to announce his kingship, rather to claim it.

The reason I want to focus on the people is because of how their expectations related to their reactions. They perceived Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of David, a divine King and a performer of miracles. They praised God for Jesus and his ministry and the work he had done.

However, the Gospel accounts do not end with Jesus riding triumphantly into Jerusalem to the praise of all the people. No, there are some who do not like what they see.

About a week later, everything changes. Jesus is no longer the triumphant king, rather a common criminal. Pilate finds nothing wrong in Jesus, but to accommodate the wishes of the people before him, he releases a real criminal named Barabbas.

So, what happened in a week’s time? People went from shouting “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” to “Give us Barabbas.”

What came of those expectations of the Messiah coming to deliver liberty to God’s people? What happpened to their emotions? Did they get caught up in a mob mentality and that is why they cried “Give us Barabbas”?

Be careful how you deal with expectations and emotions, the price you pay can be costly.

Below is the sermon I am preaching. Please take time to read it. Thank you.

Triumphal Entry Sermon

Gettysburg Address was 272 Words, So are These 2 Sermons

Today, I had the honor and privilege of preaching at Parkview Christian Church, Wooster, Ohio. I wanted to do something totally different, and with the help of my friend, Ron Maxwell, we did.

Sermon

Some time ago, I heard the Gettysburg Address was only 272 words. Some consider it the most important speech in American history (see here). President Abraham Lincoln shared his remarks at the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa. His remarks lasted three minutes, and they still resonate today.

Given what Lincoln accomplished in 272 words, I always wondered what it would be like to write and deliver a 272–word sermon. In my mind, I thought about creating something called The 272 Project. I envisioned it as a preaching festival where all of the preachers would deliver messages of 272 words: No more, no less.

Well, this morning I had the opportunity to preach not only one, but two 272–word sermons. I appreciate Parkview’s senior minister, Brian White, giving me the opportunity to preach. He had no idea what I was going to do, and he wanted to be surprised. So, we surprised him.

After the worship team opened the service, we had communion and we took up the offering. I explained to the congregation this idea I had about The 272 Project, then Ron Maxwell came up to present the Gettysburg Address. Interestingly, a woman came up after the sermon and told me she did not realize how relevant the address was even to this day. The praise team played Awake My Soul, and then I preached. Here is the video:

The Parkview Address

#PrayForBoston

Pray for Boston

What do Magic and Christianity Have in Common?

There are some Christians and some churches that want nothing to do with magic, we’re talking the David Copperfield, Criss Angel, David Blaine kind not the black magic kind. I am a Christian who performs magic, so I sometimes find myself caught up in this debate.

Newspaper Magic

Bobby Warren performing a Torn and Restored Newspaper effect at Wooster Jam 2013. Photo by Dick Beery / 3 Oaks Enhancements.

I do not have a problem with it, because I am performing entertainment. When we go to the movies, we are actually watching a series of still photographs shown in rapid succession that gives the appearance of movement. It is magic. Any way, …

This past week provided ample opportunity to perform magic. I had four performances over a three-day span with three of them coming on the same day.

The first show was for an event for the Northeast Ohio Division of the Salvation Army, and it was in Ashland on Thursday. The other three performances were Saturday: Two were in conjunction with the Wooster Jam and the final one as a private show.

Needless to say, I was kept busy … very busy.

Each show provided interesting opportunities.

  • The Salvation Army show allowed me the opportunity to weave a Christian message into the effects I was performing.
  • The Wooster Jam performances were done to music, and they allowed me to create a sense of awe and wonder without saying a word.
  • The private show was for a group of girls ages 8–16, and a few adults, so I had to put together a show that would connect for young kids, teenagers and adults.

Each show, also had its challenges, but the goal was always to provide the best show I am capable of performing for each different situation and each different audience. In other words, I had to set aside my interests and focus on the interests of my clients.

When I perform, I do not always perform my favorite effects, and I don’t always perform my most stunning and amazing effects. Why? Because my audiences dictate my shows. If I were to perform my favorite effects, it would be a combination of rope magic and mindreading.

  • In creating the Salvation Army show, the challenge was to find effects that would provide a variety of different things, yet, I could still share a Christian message with it.
  • The Wooster Jam performances required me to put together effects that would be visually stunning and stand on their own. This required me to perform classics of magic, like the Linking Rings, something I have performed, but do not perform regularly.
  • The challenge of the private show was to find effects that little kids and adults would enjoy. I performed everything from a coloring book trick to a mindreading trick at the end.

So, what do magic and Christianity have in common? Well, it is all about serving others.

Leland Pennington, my magic mentor, taught me a long time ago that when performing shows, the goal is not to design a show that will fool other magicians or create a series of effects in which they would approve. No, you perform effects the audience likes. Your shows are about your audiences, not you.

Leland is an amazing magician who has studied so many areas of magic. So much so, that he is perhaps best known for his silk magic and metal bending, perhaps two aspects of magic people would not normally link together.

What Leland and I do might not suit other magicians, but that is OK, because it suits our audiences. (Do I need to mention we both get repeat bookings?)

A True Classic from the Halls of Atheism, You Won’t Believe This

In a piece on RawStory.com, David Edwards writes this: Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical particle that bears his name as the “God particle.”

Theoretical

This is classic. I say print it out and frame it. This is one for the ages.

Let me see if I understand this correctly: A scientist with a theoretical particle named after him claims there is no God, therefore, do not call his theoretical particle, that I assume does not exist, after a God he believes does not exist.

File this under the heading: You can’t make this stuff up.

I might need to break open one of those big city dictionary’s, but am I right in thinking “theoretical” does not mean “actual.” Wait a second, let me check the interwebs.

The truth of the matter, even though I have faith that God exists, and even though I believe there is strong evidence that points to a transcendent Creator, both Prof. Higgs and I are two sides of the same coin: We both accept our views in faith.

Even Richard Dawkins, a staunch atheist who vigorously attacks Christianity and world religions, holds out the remotest possibility, though, admittedly not much, there might be a God.

Look, I am not a scientist, and I don’t play one on television (though I did play Doc Burton in a high school production of “Cheaper by the Dozen”), but there are questions science has yet to answer for me, and most likely others.

How did sexual reproduction start? How in the world did an organism who never engaged in sexual reproduction and had absolutely no history with it realize it could happen?

If the odds were astronomical that nonlife could become life, how is it that it happened repeatedly and how was it that there ended up being a male and a female organism in the same proximity that this type of union could happen?

Then, there is always the fact no one was around to observe how the universe or life began, so that makes us all speculators at best.

Then, there is this: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1, NIV).

Should There Be One More Stop on the Romans Road to Salvation?

The Romans Road to Salvation is a series of verses from Paul’s letter to the Romans that points a person toward a saving relationship with God.

Depending upon whom you are reading, there might be four or five stops along this road. Generally, this is how the Romans Road to Salvation proceeds:

The Romans Road to Salvation

There is a good overview of the Romans Road on About.com in the Christianity section. You can read the full post here, but here is a brief description:

  1. Everyone needs salvation because we have all sinned. Romans 3:23 states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (all Scripture from the New International Version).
  2. The price (or consequence) of sin is death. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  3. Jesus Christ died for our sins. He paid the price for our death. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  4. We receive salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9-10, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. {10} For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
  5. Salvation through Jesus Christ brings us into a relationship of peace with God. Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Romans 8:1,”Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:38–39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, {39} neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Is that the end of the Romans Road?

I would maintain there needs to be an additional stop on this path: Baptism.

This is what Paul writes in Romans 6:3–4, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? {4} We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

This passage suggests to me those who have been baptized (immersed) were connected with the death of Christ (v. 3). Why were we baptized? So we may have new life (v. 4).

Today, Joe Rubino, our community outreach minister at Parkview Christian Church in Wooster, Ohio, said baptism is important, which is why it is part of the Great Commission and is included in every conversion account in the book of Acts.

We’ll discuss baptism further, but ponder Romans 6:3–4 and consider how it fits in with salvation. What do you think?

Are You Headed in the Right Direction

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:12, NIV

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I love the Tom Cochrane song, “Life is a Highway.” It is a fun, upbeat tune. I admit, I am one who does not get caught up in lyrics, unless it is a Christian song. So, don’t ask me what the song by Cochrane really means, but I will tell you want it means to me:

Life is an open book, and we can take ours wherever we want to.

We have the opportunity to strive for greatness or wallow in complacency. We can choose to do good or no good at all. It is up to us.

As for where we find direction, there is no lack of influences: Parents, preachers, friends, teachers, book, movies and bands. All of these can be positive influences, but not necessarily. People, even those with the best intentions, can fail and fall.

As it says in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Not everything is as it seems. We need to be careful and cautious.

For me, I have strayed off the straight and narrow, but a good guide for me has been God’s Word, the Bible. It helps me to stay on track. It has a lot of wonderful advice in it, and it leads us to heaven.

We’ll explore more tomorrow, but for now, enjoy Tom Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway” on Spotify:

Or, on YouTube

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