Tag Archive for Ministry

‘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

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

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.

Microphone.jpg

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.

What does God’s Presence Mean to You?

This Sunday, March 3, I will be preaching about God’s presence at Parkview Christian Church. It is one thing to ponder God’s presence and quite another to practice it.

God's presence

I am excited about the opportunity to share God’s word. I preached from 1994-2003 at Mount Washington Church of Christ in Hillsboro, Ohio, so I am no stranger to the pulpit. I have, on occasion, preached at Parkview.

Did I tell you I was excited about preaching? But, then, as you start to think and read and study about this subject, it gets a little daunting. The topic is massive. Where do I start? What do I include? What do I exclude?

When you think about God’s presence, what goes through your mind? How he walked with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of day? How he was with the Hebrews during their 40 years of wandering in the desert? How he was a pillar of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire at night in the tabernacle? How his glory filled the temple?

As you can see in the above photo, a picture of a page in one of my notebooks, I am thinking about the general theme, how life is better in God’s presence. As I thought about this, we want to be in God’s presence. When do we want to be there? All of the time, right?

If that is indeed the case, then we want to live in God’s presence, and we want to die there, too.

Hell is sometimes referred to as separation from God, so, in a sense, it is separation from God’s presence. However, we must toss in a caveat. God is everywhere, so this separation is a spiritual separation, and the Bible does not describe it as a particularly enchanting state to be in.

There are a lot of things to consider as I put this sermon together, and if you are in Wooster on March 3, I would love to worship with you. Our worship service begins at 10 a.m. Parkivew Christian Church is at 1912 Burbank Road, Wooster.

Leadership Fundamentals with Dean Hammond, Session 1

Dean Hammond has a passion for leadership and teaching the fundamentals of leadership. This has been evident from his ministry at Parkview Christian Church and during his time teaching at Cincinnati Christian University.

Leadership with Dean Hammond

Dean Hammond teaching a leadership development course at Parkview Christian Church, Wooster, Ohio.

Hammond began teaching a new group at the church about leadership. He has done this several times with Parkview and other congregations. Not only does he teach leadership, but he practices what he preaches and teaches.

Hammond recently stepped down as Parkview’s lead minister, a role he has filled for the past decade, to make way for new leadership. However, lead minister Brian White and outreach minister Joe Rubino asked Hammond to stay on staff in order to continue to mentor them. The elders, the group who oversees the church’s operations, agreed the arrangement would be beneficial.

With Hammond settling into his new role as an associate minister, he will focus more on teaching, which is a passion of his. Part of that teaching is the leadership development course he is now leading. The first session was Jan. 12.

Here is Hammond’s definition of leadership:

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Here are some of the highlights from Session 1:

  1. The simplest and most inclusive definition of leadership is influence. (This was a quote from John Maxwell’s “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.”)
  2. Right now there is a lack of leadership, a vacuum.
  3. In order to reach the highest levels of leadership and influence, you have to make a personal connection.
  4. Among the most important traits of a leader are character and integrity.

Hammond summed up what he was trying to accomplish by telling the group:

What we are hoping to accomplish through this monthly discipline is to fully develop into men and women of integrity. Men and women who will become wholesome, genuine, effective and influential leaders.

Hammond will be leading the class the second Saturday of each month.

Update: Something I should have included is that Hammond said when he taught leadership at Cincinnati Christian University, he had used secular authors. What he discovered is that all of the leadership principles they were writing about and he was teaching ultimately came from the Bible.

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