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.


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.


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

Friday Funnies: Cuckoo Clocks Say the Darndest Things (Video)

During an interview with Wayne County Health Commissioner Nick Cascarelli, my cell phone (a Samsung Galaxy S3, not an iPhone) started ringing. I am normally pretty good at silencing the phone during interviews and meetings, but not this time. And, boy, am I glad this was the case.

Hunter Smiling

In looking at my phone, I noticed Sheriff Travis Hutchinson was calling me. Hutch, as he is known to most, does not call just to shoot the breeze. I knew it had to be something important, so I asked Cascarelli if he would mind me answering the sheriff’s call. He said go ahead.

Hutch informed me a body had been found off an oil well access road in Wayne Township, north of Wooster. Cascarelli and I had pretty much ended our interview, and I excused myself. As I was heading back to The Daily Record office to grab the video camera, I called reporter Steve Huszai, who hands cops and courts.

Huszai shot back a text informing me he was in court. I let him know about the body that was found, to which he replied, “Ah. Well sounds like I’m leaving court then.”

We met up at the office and headed out to talk with Hutch and Capt. Doug Hunter at the Wayne County Justice Center. Huszai interviewed Hunter while I shot video and snapped some pictures.

Just as Hunter was answering a question about whether drugs were involved, something funny happened that caught all of us by surprise. Check out the video and see for yourself.

The $500,000 Agricultural Conundrum

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dave Daniels stopped in Wayne County Tuesday to talk about the importance of agriculture, and he shared a couple of stories from the Ohio State Fair to demonstrate how little people know about what it takes to be a farmer.


Daniels, who spoke at the Wooster Kiwanis Club meeting, said his agency has large farming equipment on display at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. One time, a woman was looking at a combine and asked how much it cost. Daniels told her $500,000. Because of the cost, the woman said the government must purchase them and allow the farmers to use them. No, Daniels replied, the farmers purchase the combines themselves, and some of the larger operations might buy two or three. What would you do if your livelihood required this kind of investment and commitment?

Another woman saw how big the combine was and asked what purpose it served during wartime because anything that big has to be used to the destroy an enemy.

Daniels went on to say combines might be used only three or four weeks out of the year.

Many years ago, Frank Sollers, a farmer from Washington Courth House, Ohio, told me when he was a boy farming was labor intensive, but now it is capital intensive.

The cost of farmland continues to rise, as does equipment and other inputs.

I was born in a city, but I know from where milk and meat come, and it is not the grocery store. Farming is a demanding lifestyle, and I am glad there are people out there who do it. I have long said there are two groups of people I really appreciate: Those serving in the military and farmers. Because of what our servicemen and servicewomen do, I am free to do what I want, like be a journalist. Because of what our farmers do, I am not required to work the land all day everyday to provide food for my family.

(Subscribers to The Daily Record can read my story about Daniels’ visit here.)

What a Blessing Owney Turned Out to Be

By Wendi Warren

One year ago today, Bobby and I made the decision to adopt a 3–year-old terrier/beagle mix from the Wayne County Humane Society. He had been in our home for 4 days before we actually adopted him. That was so we could see if he got along with our cats, and the dogs of my sister and parent. He past the test and we made him ours on August 17, 2013.

Wendi and Owney

I remember how when we first got him, I was less than enthused to be entering the world of dog guardianship once again. Madison, our 14 year old husky/chow/shepherd mix had passed away only 5 months before. She was a perfect dog for us. A quiet, laid back sort of pet who was perfectly content to sit out in the snow on cold winter days.


So here comes into our lives this terrier mix who was anything but quiet and laid back–although to be fair, he hoodwinked us at the beginning making us think that he was quiet. In fact, he was the only dog at the Humane Society who didn’t bark when we went into the room. He just jumped enthusiastically in his X-pen. He kept the secret of his tendency to bark for almost 6 months. I guess he was waiting for us to be so in love with him that we could put up with his little quirk of barking … loudly … often … especially when we are trying to nap.


In the year since we have gotten Owney, our lives have changed dramatically. Before, during the summer months, Bobby and I would go bicycling on the rails to trails on the weekends. Since Owney, we haven’t been on our bikes once. You see, when you fall in love with someone, you want to do things he likes to do. Bikes are not something that Owney would like. However, walking is. So instead of go to bike trails, Bobby and I walk Owney on different paths. We especially enjoy the work out we get at Oak Hill Park.


Bobby tells me that I spoil Owney. I often deny that, but honestly I do. The dog is just so darn cute, it is hard not to! He loves toys. He loves shopping for toys.


If it has a squeaker, then it has his name on it. He loves to chew. I think maybe that he ended up in the Humane Society because of his ability to be destructive. But we have found if we give him things that he can chew, make it a game and allow the house to get messy, he is destructive in a controlled way.


One of our favorite games is “Where’s your toy?” This is a game that I came up with one day when I was trying to clean and he was getting into everything. I found a shoe box, threw his toy in it, put the box on the floor and asked him, “Where’s your toy?” He figured out it was in the shoe box and got it out. Now, when he has more energy than we do (which is often). We get a box and throw a toy in it. We then watch how long it will take him to destroy the box. I guess this is kind of like kids at Christmas who are more interested in the box than in the toy.


One of my most favorite things about being owned by Owney is the opportunity to just hang out on the couch and give belly rubs. At night, when I’m dog tired and so is he, we’ll sit on the couch, watch TV and he’ll snuggle up beside me and give me what we call in the Warren household, “full access”. That is where Owney lays on his back and lets me rub his belly. He’ll let me do this all night long. And I just love it -–  really.


So after a year of being a “parent” to a terrier mix; walking two times a day for 30 minutes at least; coming up with creative ways to keep him entertained; spending more money on dog toys than Dave Ramsey should know about; I am utterly in love with the boy. He is such a blessing and I thank God for him often. I wouldn’t recommend a terrier to anyone who wants to live a sedentary life, but he is ours now and I wouldn’t change that for the world.


Only One Thing Left for McComas To Do: Pray

At the Wayne County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner, I ran into Jim McComas, former pastor of the Canaan Free Will Baptist Church, who is now director of Home Missions for the National Association of Free Will Baptists. McComas has served as the GOP’s chaplain.

McComas and Kasich

When I saw McComas, he joked about this blog, where my last post about him exploded with page views. In less than a day, the post about him transitioning into the new position became the fourth-most popular one on The Z Section. You can read that post (and watch my interview with him) here. It is amazing how many people have visited the site to see the post about McComas.

As chaplain of the Wayne County Republican Party, McComas was asked to open the event with a word of prayer and to close out the night by giving a benediction. In doing so, one of the people he was praying for was Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a deeply religious man who is not afraid to speak about his faith, as well as other elected officials and leaders.

I was not around for McComas’ opening prayer because I joined fellow journalists in an ante-room for a question-and-answer session with Kasich. I was there for McComas’ closing prayer, and it was powerful.

How powerful was it? See for yourself. Watch the video below:

Finally getting to meet one of Wayne County’s enigmatic figures

For more than a decade, I have been a reporter at The Daily Record. Up until a week or so ago, I had never had the chance to really speak to John Bowling, president of Rayco Manufacturing.


Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Administrator Steve Buehrer (left) hears from Rayco Mfg. Plant Manager Jim Miller about a powder coating line.

Bowling is a quiet man who goes about his business, not desiring to call any attention to himself or his company, which manufactures stump grinders, brush chippers and forest mulchers. So, to say I was shocked when I received a call from Jim Pindell, the human resources/safety manager, asking me if I wanted to come on a tour of the plant is an understatement. I jumped at the opportunity.

What was the reason for the tour? Well, Gov. John Kasich was going to be in nearby Medina, Ohio, to deliver his state of the state address, so state officials canvassed Northeast Ohio. Steve Buehrer, administrator for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, wanted to visit Rayco and see how they were putting to use a couple of welding tables the company purchased with a safety grant. (Read The Daily Record story here.)

Plant Manager Jim Miller led Buehrer, his staff and me on a tour, which gave me a glimpse into who Bowling was. When Buehrer arrived, Bowling welcomed him, but deferred all comments to Miller and Pindell. Bowling rejoined the group as it was wrapping up the tour.

Bowling literally built the business from the ground up. Miller talked about how back in 1978 he had a tree service. He needed to rent a stump grinder, but he would not have access to one for a year. He couldn’t wait that long, so he built one. A friend liked it, so he sold it to him, and he built another. Thus began what became Rayco, named for Bowling’s father, the Rev. Ray Bowling (now deceased).

In the journalism business, reporters get to meet a wide-range of people. Some desire attention, a lot of attention. They call up the newsroom informing us of their every activity, asking (before insisting) we send out a reporter and a photographer. In the grand scheme of things, these people do very little, but they crave the spotlight.

Then you have people like John Bowling, who are successful, hire a lot of people, support a lot of families and enhance the local economy my exporting manufactured products and importing sales dollars, and they seek to avoid the limelight, letting their actions speak for themselves.

Stan Welty Jr., former president of Wooster Brush Co., was another one of those who preferred to work behind the scenes. I tried for years to write a story about him, but he never wanted to. The only story I ever had the opportunity to write about him was when he died (you can read that story here).

It was nice to get a chance to spend a little, and by little I mean little, time with Bowling and learn more about him. Buehrer was impressed with what he saw and what he heard, saying Bowling and Rayco are true Ohio success stories.

Here is video from Buehrer’s visit to Rayco:

Norwayne Students Hit All The Right Notes With ‘Music Man’

My wife, Wendi, and I had the opportunity to see Norwayne High School drama and music students perform Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” on opening night Friday. We were joined by her parents, Bud and Dolores Breese, and her sister, Randi Breese. What a treat it was.

Music Man

Katie Moore, one of the girls with whom we go to Parkview Christian Church with (you can see her on the left side in the blue dress), was in the production. It featured Alex Miller as Prof. Harold Hill, a spellbinding con man looking to swindle the people of River City, Iowa, out of their money by selling the hopes and dreams of putting together a band (which means buying instruments, instruction manuals and uniforms), and Katie Rickey as Marian Paroo, the librarian and music teacher in town who Prof. Hill has to convince the band thing is legitimate.

My wife and I own the movie version with Robert Preston and Shirley Jones; we have seen the Matthew Broderick remake; we have seen the Broadway Series touring show; we have seen community theater productions; and my wife was in a dinner theater production of the musical.

One of the problems with putting on “The Music Man” is that Robert Preston owns the part. Everyone who takes on the challenge of bringing Prof. Harold Hill to live yet again will always be compared, unfairly, to what Preston did with the part. He played the role on Broadway and in the movie. It is tough to follow in his steps.

However, Miller did an admirable job with his performance, and he’s only in high school. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and gave the Norwayne Players and stood to applaud their efforts at the end of the performance.

“It was entertaining,” Wendi said. “I enjoyed all the students’ acting. The time and effort they put in practicing showed; they kept the audience engaged.”

There are still two performances, but I am not sure if there are tickets left. There is a 7:30 p.m. performance tonight and a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday. Tickets are $5 for children and students and $7 for adults.

If you cannot see the show, then have a look at the opening number:

What Would You Do Differently if You Knew Today Was Your Last on Earth?

Guest blog by Wendi Warren

Maybe because I’m growing older or because I’m hearing about people my age who have died suddenly, the thought of cherishing each day has become something that I have been thinking about lately, a lot.


Wendi and Bobby

After hearing of the sudden stroke of Aldo Colombini, a magician friend of Bobby’s, and then his death four short days later, it struck me again about how we never really know how much time we have. I talked with Bobby about what we would do differently if we knew when our last day on earth would be. He said, “That’s your next song: ‘If We Knew.’”

I am by no means a lyricist. I have written lyrics before and asked my sister, Randi, to put them to music. One in particular was for my dad a couple of Christmases ago called “Sharp Stick in the Eye” (the video appears at the bottom of this post). But I’m sure I’ll never win a grammy.

However, I do enjoy writing and haven’t done that much of it lately, so I thought I’d give it a shot. What came out was not lyrics to a song, but more of poem. I tried to capture that what we think is so important may not really be the case, if we knew — really knew — that today was the last day that we had. The poem appears below.

If We Knew
If we knew there’d be no tomorrow,
If today was all we had,
Would we allow bitterness and sorrow
To grow and make us feel so bad?

Would we leave things left unsaid
That show people that we care?
Wouldn’t we rather bear our hearts
Letting them know we’re glad they’re near?

Would the important seem more urgent;
And the urgent seem less so;
Would we do the things that matter
And let the things that don’t just go?

Would the dishes and the laundry
Consume our precious time,
Or would spending it with those we love
Become more vital in our mind?

Would criticism and complaining
Matter more to us
Than forgiveness and maintaining
A level of healthy trust?

Wouldn’t it make more sense for us
To spend the time that we’ve been given
Cherishing the ones we love so much
And make our lives worth living?

Yes, if we knew that today was
The last day on this earth,
The present would seem more like a gift
Than gold and all it’s worth.

So even if we have more years
To spend upon this globe,
It makes sense to enjoy life now,
Because we never really know.

Wendi Warren, February 2014

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