Tag Archive for God

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:

Jim McComas leaving “Thrill on the Hill” for national position with Free Will Baptists

Pastor Jim McComas, who has been part of the Canaan Free Will Baptist Church (aka the Thrill on the Hill) for the past 25 years, will step down as senior minister at the end of February as he transitions into his new role as director of church revitalization for the National Association of Free Will Baptists in Nashville.

JimMcComas

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him for a story that appeared on The Daily Record’s Religion page Feb. 21, 2014 (read the story here). I shot video of our conversation and much of what McComas had to say appears in the story.

Some of the things that did not make it into the story concern his calling to the ministry and his favorite themes on which to preach.

McComas accepted the Lord as his savior when he was six years old during Vacation Bible School at Grace Brethren Church. By the time he was in third grade, he knew God was calling him into the ministry. He said he would preach into a tape recorder because “who wanted to hear a nine-year-old preach.”

When I asked McComas about what themes he liked to preach on, he said he could come up with a list of a hundred sins and start preaching on them. However, “If I can get them to fall in love with Jesus,” that will take care of a lot of stuff, he said.

When Doug Hunter was doing his Wayne County 365 project, McComas was one of his subjects. In Hunter’s piece, which you can read here, McComas talked about how he wanted to be known as more than just a guy in a suit to the students in the Norwayne school district. McComas touches upon that and more in our video conversation.

Check it out:

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

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

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.

Princess Grace

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.

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

 

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.

Interconnectedness.jpg

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.