Monday, April 30, 2007

Top Six Weekend Highlights

6. My Detroit Lions drafted a wide receiver... wow that was a shocker! (For you non football fans, the Detroit Lions always draft a wide receiver).
5. The pool cover is off. The pool is gross. I'm sure a swamp monster is in there... but with the cover off, can summer be far behind?
4. Went to Taco Bueno for the first time on Saturday (Amy Hall's Favorite Taco Joint.) With the addition of the new Taco John in Olathe... I have this goal of doing a "Fast Food Taco Road Rally" in Olathe. For one meal, I want to eat one taco from Taco Bueno, Taco John, Taco Via and Taco Bell. Anyone want to join me? (Of course, we'll probably be sick for a week following... but what a way to go!)
3. We had nine Ninth and Tenth Grade young men spend the night with us on Friday and Saturday as part of the Youth Group's Spiritual Renewal Weekend... from all reports they had a good retreat!
2. Central Church had the largest representation at the One Heart Many Hands Work Project at the KC Rescue Mission on Saturday... Great Job Central!!!!!
1. Great services on Sunday, culminating in five people being baptised on Sunday Night!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I'm in sales

Why does God do what he does?
Why does God heal some and not others?
Why do some people go through the fire and others avoid the fire?

Bud Reedy's answer at the Pastoral Team Retreat... "I don't know. I'm in sales not management."

Friday, April 27, 2007

It's going to be a good weekend

It's going to be a good weekend!

Our youth are having a Spiritual Renewal Weekend. Pray for Pastor Cory, Speaker Eric Willits, our students and all the rest... pray for real revival among our students and the rest of us.

Several will be heading to the KC Rescue Mission for a One Heart Many Hands Project.

I'm excited about Sunday's Sermon. Our Fully Alive Sermon series will focus on: "When Faith is Difficult." If you have friends who have gone though the fire and are questioning God's love and care for them, this will be a great week to invite them.

And then on Sunday Night we will have a Baptism service, if you've never been baptized its not too late, see any of the Pastors on Sunday Morning.

We are a team!

This week I am at the Kansas City District’s Pastoral Team retreat. When I first started pastoring, this event was called “Pastors and Wives Retreat,” but someone wise and thoughtful recognized that in our tradition we believe that God calls both men and women. Hence, the notion of a Pastors and “wives” retreat would not be quite right. So the name was changed to “Pastors and Spouses Retreat,” but someone wise and thoughtful recognized that in our tradition we believe that God calls both single and married individuals. So to say that the retreat was for pastors and “spouses” wasn’t quite right either. So now we have “Pastoral Team Retreat”—and that’s where I and the rest of the pastoral staff are this week.

I like the notion that we are a “team.” Now, I don’t think that the powers that be on the district will be passing out uniforms and playbooks. I certainly hope that this week we won’t be playing any team games (the vision of a group of pastor types playing a giant game of kickball just isn’t a pretty sight, in my mind’s eye). Still, we are a team. The Nazarene pastors in the Kansas City area are in this Kingdom building business together.

And not just the preachers on the district—we believers are a team. A unified group is what we are called to be. In fact, one of the last things that Jesus did before his arrest and crucifixion was pray that we would be a team. Unfortunately, a case could be made that the only prayer that Jesus ever prayed that wasn’t answered (or at least, that hasn’t been answered yet) was that very prayer in John 17 that we believers would be one. Here’s the prayer that Jesus prayed: "I am praying not only for these disciples, (that is-- the original twelve disciples that were in the upper room with Jesus) but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. (John 17:20-21)

Jesus’ prayer is that we would be one. And the result of our oneness, the result of our being a team, is that the world would believe. Could it be that the world doesn’t believe in the degree that they could believe, because we modern day disciples haven’t been as united as we should be? Could it be that the world sees Christians bickering and complaining, churches splitting and arguing— and they conclude: Why be a part of that? If I want to watch people fight, I’ll tune into wrestling or go to my in-laws. (Attention Rob’s in-laws: the preceding statement was just an expression—I know that y’all don’t fight. I’m not divulging any family secrets. Whew, that was a close one… I almost wrote myself out of a Christmas present.). Excuse my tangent, the point is: Could it be that if we displayed more love, more care, more concern, we would make more and better disciples?

Listen, I know our church isn’t the perfect church. (I know it’s not perfect because I personally know the lead pastor, and I know for a fact that he isn’t perfect). In fact, there are no “perfect churches” out there. We all have our warts. But I also know this,--as we work together, warts and all, as a unified team God will work in great ways. The world will believe and more and better disciples will be the result!

So, if you ever see things that are less than perfect in our church or in the Kingdom of God at large, would you try this: determine to make them better. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Don’t be like my childhood friend, Timmy who whenever things didn’t go his way, would get mad, take his ball and go home. We are on a team. That means – we work together, we refuse to quit, we determine that God has great things in store if we just keep moving forward and trusting him.

We don’t have fancy uniforms… but we are a team! Let’s determine to win our world for Jesus!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Pro Bowler I ain't!

Last night we had a late night one game bowling deal as part of the retreat.... after posting my terrible golf score I hate to tell you what I bowled... here it goes... 78! I didn't even break triple digits! UGH! I break triple digits in golf, and I don't in bowling. I have some serious issues! The only Centralite that I beat... my own dear, sweet wife (I think Karla bowled a 74).

Pastoral Team Retreat Update

All is well on our retreat... Bud Reedy is the speaker. He is talking about "How his mother wrecked his life." She "wrecked it" in ways like teaching that the altar is important and that lost people matter to Christ. I wish we were all "wrecked" in a similar fashion.

Tiger Woods I ain't!

It didn't rain on the golf course, but I think I wish it would have... I shot a 115! 115? Are you kidding me? Tiger Woods has no worries from me. Most senior citizen golfers have no worries from me. In case you are wondering... the score card from the Central Staff went as follows:
Joe Hall 92
Jeremy Bond 100
Kevin Koker 111
Cory Stipp 114
(David Volker wisely decided not to play.)
It's after viewing those scores that I like to quote Jesus words... "The first shall be last."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Off to a Pastors Retreat

Heading out to the KC District Pastoral Team retreat (I'll blog more on that later...). It's in a place called Tan-Tar-A. I've never been there, but it sounds like a plantation from the Old South to me. I can just imagine the conversation:

Karla (in a deep southern accent): Oh Rob, there she is: the cotton fields of Tan-Tar-A
Me: (In my best Clark Gable impersonation... cleaned up and edited for this church type blog) Frankly my dear, I don't give a goober about the cotton fields, I just hope it doesn't rain on the golf course."

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Separated at Birth?

I received this picture this week... wondering if the French Presidential candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, and I were separated at birth. There is no truth to that rumor. Unless, my parents have not been completely honest I was not a twin. Furthermore, I have never used the alias of Nicolas Sarkozy, and I am not running for the President of anything-- certainly not France! WhileI know nothing of his politics, I must say, Mr. Sarkosy is a fine looking fella!

Sunday Morning Recap

I'll admit it... I like Favorite Teacher Day. We had several teachers in the services this morning and the brunch during the Sunday School Hour was very well attended. Everyone seemed in a good mood. One mom told me their children were so excited that their teacher was going to be in church this morning they could barely sleep. And the teachers that I spoke to were genuinely honored that we would thank them for their service!

Speaking of service, our services were good, good , good! Erica Hudson and Shonda Serpan both did amazingly well in the special music they brought us-- and the band (in the 8:30) and the choir (in the 11AM) were both terrific!!! (Aren't they always!!!) We have talented people, using their gifts for the Lord-- that is always a good thing!!!

Friday, April 20, 2007

A good day to be working in the yard

A day off... yipeee. It's been a while since I took a "regular" day off.
A day off... when it's beautiful outside means this: YARD WORK. The new mower was used last night (thank you, Alex). Today means mulching, raking and planting.

Tomorrow is the first of the Sunday School parties at our house, so we want the "ol' Prince Palace" to look as good as can be (no, the kitchen renovations aren't done yet...but they are getting closer!).

Enjoy your day, I'll be enjoying the day in Olathe.

Lawn Mower Woes

Spring is (finally, oh so finally) in the air. That means flowers are growing, trees will be blooming and the lawn will need to be mowed on a regular basis. And that’s the problem.

My poor Sears and Roebuck lawn mower has a lot of troubles. According to Bud, “the Lawn Mower Expert of Central,” here’s the list of woes: The gas tank leaks; the self-propulsion mechanism is ca-pooey; the grass catcher doesn’t “catch” much of anything (most of the clippings are blown directly into the face of the person pushing the mower, which truly heightens the grass mowing experience.); it’s missing a screw that holds the handle together (I had to borrow a similar screw from my snow blower handle. I hope I’m done with that piece of machinery for a while); the blade is so dull it would have trouble cutting through hot butter; the wheels are cockeyed; and, the crank shaft is bent in ways a crank shaft was never meant to be.

That’s a lot of problems for one mower. In fact, I would say it’s more problems than one mower should have had to endure.

If my lawnmower was a horse, it would be put out to pasture or introduced to the fine people at the Elmer’s Glue Factory.
If my lawnmower was a burger joint, the health department would have shut it down months ago.

If my lawnmower was a baseball player, it would be on the disabled list. (Unless it was a Royal then it would be the starting leftfielder… Ouch! That was a cheap shot Royals fans. I apologize. Having a mower with a bent crank shaft makes one… cranky.)

But my mower isn’t a horse or a burger joint or a ball player, it’s just a lawn mower. So it will be by the side of the road waiting for the friendly Olathe Sanitation Technician (read: Garbage man) to take it away.

Unfortunately, some people I know are a lot like my mower—oh they don’t have a leaky gas tank or a bent crankshaft (at least not that I am aware of), but they do have more than their share of problems. Financial worries, bereavement, messed up relationships, health troubles, painful memories, spiritual lapses; you name it… in nearly 20 years of full time ministry, the one thing I’ve discovered is this: people have problems. And when people have problems, they can’t wait by the side of the road for them to be taken away. Most often, they simply try to endure. They know they aren’t “cutting” it, but they usually try to keep on going. They know the engine is sputtering, but they keep hoping that something will change.

Here’s the good news: Jesus can handle all our problems! He has called on us to take our problems to him, to leave them with Him, and to trust him with our troubles. He put it this way: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:38) Do you need a little rest? Take your troubles to Jesus and allow him to bring peace and rest and help to your weary heart. Will he mow away all of your troubles, maybe not, but he will come beside you and enable you to be victorious no matter how high the mountain or how deep the valley. Jesus really can make a difference!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Royals vs. Tigers

Two outta three ain't bad!
Go Tigers!!!

Favorite Teacher Sunday

The school year is winding down, and this Sunday we will be saying Thank You to our school teachers for another year of service and in many cases ministry to our students. Our Favorite Teacher Day is a good day at Central because the only real agenda is simply a “Thank You.”

In both morning services we will be recognizing and praying for our teachers, and during the Sunday School Hour we will have a special brunch and gift for all educators in the fellowship hall. So whether you teach in a public, private or home school setting—you are invited to attend this thank you brunch. And if you are student… it’s not too late to invite your “Favorite Teacher” and join in our thanks for these special people.

The Horror @ Va Tech

Like everyone in America, I am still in shock over the horror that happened on the campus of Virginia Tech University this week. It’s hard to know what to say or do with the magnitude of this terrible event.

Does it shake my confidence in a loving God? No, but it reinforces my understanding of the existence of evil. And once again, it seems to me that our ability to do good or evil boils down to free will. The question for all of us seems to be: Will we use the gifts and blessings of God for His glory; will we use the things that God has provided for our own personal satisfaction; or will we abuse the wherewithal that he has bestowed on us to cause destruction and mayhem?

Let’s be in prayer this week. For the many families that are dealing with immense issues of grief and suffering and confusion. Paul wrote these words along time ago—but they are good words for this week:

“God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Twelve who can change the world

Today we had our second monthly office staff worship time. All the folks in the building at the time (secretaries, janitor and pastors) gathered in a circle in the conference room and worshipped the Lord. We sang together, had a devotional time and prayed. It is so good to worship with those you care about and who care for you. It's not a big group. I think there were twelve of us today... but God can work through twelve people. I read somewhere that Jesus had picked twelve individuals to change the world... maybe he can do it again! Maybe he can do it through us!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The McCleery's have been a blessing!

Rev. and Mrs. McCleery are great people! We honored them yesterday and named them "Pastor Emeritus." Which simply means, as far as we're concerned they are "Pastors for life" around these parts.

They have modeled for us Christ-likeness in so many ways. They have touched thousands of lives and have made such a huge difference in the Kingdom. I only hope that I could be half the pastor that Rev. McCleery has been.

As they prepare to move closer to children in North Dakota let's pray for God's smoothing all the paths and opening all the necessary doors for this time of transition in their lives.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Need Something to Read?

A little while ago I finished reading: In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. I highly recommend it!

Right now my reading list includes: God on Mute by Peter Greig-- the subtitle is "Engaging the Silence of Unanswered prayer. So far (I'm about half way through it), so good!

Also, When Love Bends Down by Michael Lodahl from NPH is also quite good.

Next on my reading list is Sex God by Rob Bell. He's the author of a favorite of mine, Velvet Elvis. I'll let you know what I think of the new one in a week or so.

I'm off to officiate at a funeral for Imogene Stines in a few minutes. Imogene is Annette Shaw's mother. Please pray for the family.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thankful for Headaches?

On Monday I had a headache. Not your run-of-the-mill, garden variety headache, but rather the “mother-of-all-headaches” type of headache. The kind of headache that makes a pin drop sound like the 1812 Overture performed with real cannons. It was the type of headache that causes one to dream of less painful experiences such as passing a kidney stone or having a root canal without the benefit of anesthesia.

Down through the years, I have had my share of headaches (parent of teenager experiences not included). From my earliest days, I remember having headaches. That’s just the way it is. Maybe I have a hyper-sensitive headache chromosome in my DNA (if there is such a thing). Paul had a “thorn in his flesh;” Superman had kryptonite; the Road Runner had Wile E Coyote; and I have headaches. That’s just the way it is. Usually they are quite manageable, and most folks don’t even know that there is a teeny tiny marching band practicing for the Macy’s parade in my noggin—but on occasion the headache is a little more than that. Monday was such a night.

As I was lying in bed, head pounding, I prayed: “God why does a nice preacher like me have headaches?”
God didn’t answer.
So I prayed: “God is there any lesson I can learn from feeling like the lead drummer from the 80’s rock and roll band KISS has taken up residence in my cranium?”
God didn’t answer that one either.

While lying in the darkened room, I did think of the Bible verse that says “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Hmmm… thanks for headaches? Is that possible? So with my head doing its best impersonation of a jackhammer hooked up to an amplifier, I tried to think of reasons why I should be thankful for my “brain pain.” Here is my partial list:

1) I am thankful that my headaches are usually quite manageable. Some folks have “thorns in their flesh” that are much more serious.

2) I am thankful that my headaches are usually gone by the next day. Some folk’s ailments last years and years.

3) I am thankful that ibuprofen usually helps headaches.

4) I am thankful that while Karla’s kisses haven’t proven to have any medicinal purposes, she will still “kiss my forehead to make it feel better.” (Please don’t tell her that her kisses usually don’t make it “feel better,” because I still like her smooches on my melon from time to time.)

5) I am thankful that my schedule allowed me a night to be in bed by 8 o’clock instead of at a meeting or trying to minister to a family while enduring the headache to end all headaches.

6) I am thankful that my headache will be gone soon enough, I know some pastors whose “headaches” include unruly church members, uncertain finances, and a troubled home life—in other words, things that won’t be remedied by a couple of aspirin.

7) I am thankful that God has promised to prepare a place where there will be no headaches or sickness or pain or grieving or tears. I don’t know much about my heavenly mansion. I don’t know if it will be a Cape Cod Style Mansion or a Ranch style, but I know this: there won’t be a medicine cabinet on the inside or a handicap parking spot on the outside.

I am sure that there are other reasons to be thankful for headaches, but that was all the ibuprofen induced fog would allow me to remember.

Maybe you’ve had some things that would, under normal circumstances, cause you to be less than thankful, but being on an adventure with God (this Christian journey) means that life can no longer be referred to as “normal circumstances.” When God is in control then everything that happens has the opportunity to be a grace-filled moment. Every trial has the potential to lead to a place where God receives the glory. Every burden can be a spot where His Name is lifted high. So, Paul says, “in all circumstances give thanks,” and I’d like to add, “Even if that circumstance is “a Richter Scale 10 headache” give thanks, but pass the ibuprofen, please.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A busy day in the life of this pastor

See the pastor.
See the busy pastor.
Today was the type of day that is both fulfilling and tiring. I’ve been to three hospitals (one surgery, one new baby and one recovering from surgery), had lunch with a man who is going through a difficult place in life, videotaped a greeting for our Discover Central Class that will be meeting on Sunday, met with another family that has had questions regarding Central, sent out notes to all of Sunday’s first time visitors, made a few needed phone calls, worked on my Thursday e-mail, and in between hospital visits worked some on Sunday Morning’s sermon too. I managed to rush home for Little Caesar’s Pizza with the family and got back to Central for all the Wednesday night activities. Whew… I am glad that our strength comes from the Lord. He supplies exactly what we need, when we need it. I am looking forward to Him supplying me with a nice comfy bed in a little while!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ministerial Credentials Meeting

A few times a year the district committee on which I serve interviews ministers-in-training as to their ministerial progress. Today was the day. We met at Central which was good for me-- I could sneak out from time to time for a water break in the office. And my sub-committee was assigned the library for our meeting place, which was also good for me since, as you know, our library has nice big comfy chairs. (Always a good thing for an all day meeting!) And we had Zarda for lunch-- which was probably not good for me (but the cookies I ate were very good for me).

The sub-committee that I was a part of met with eight or nine individuals. Unlike some of these gatherings, all of the candidates that we met with were well spoken, thoughtful and obviously called by God to some form of ministry. (Our own Aaron Van Strien came before my committee-- he was terrific!) I was struck by the passion, zeal and enthusiasm for ministry that these individuals displayed and once again I quietly prayed that the Lord would keep the fire alive in me as well! I pray that the burning desire to serve the Lord and see people come to know Him will always be with me-- like it is in the ministers I saw today.

Monday, April 09, 2007

An After-Easter Lull Day

I think I am having an after Easter lull today. I've said good-bye to my folks who were in town visiting. Had a lunch meeting and staff meeting and am trying to think about this coming Sunday. But really I'm still thinking, processing and going over Easter in my head. We really did have a great Holy Week!

I am excited about this new Sermon Series: "Fully Alive!" Using the Resurrection Stories we'll examine how Jesus comes to us and answers life's deepest questions. This week we'll focus on Mary Magdalene's deep anguish in John 20 and tackle the issue of Hearing God in the Midst of Pain and Grief.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Week at Central

What a great week. I think the best Easter celebration I have ever had. Every service from Palm Sunday's Palm waving to Maundy Thursday's Communion to Good Friday's focus on the cross to today's Resurrection call that "Christ is risen" was great, great, great.

There are a lot of thanks that go into pulling off a week long celebration. The janitors and mowing crew got our facilities looking terrific. Michelle Plummer and the Easter Brunch Crew had everything tasting yummy. Pastor Kevin and the Worship and Arts Department out did themselves! The greeters, ushers, and Pastor Joe's team of Welcome Ministries were so... well, welcoming!

I love Central Nazarene. I love what took place this week in our church!

More Blogging

Hello All...

I am going to take advantage of this blog to update in a more brief fashion some of the happenings of Central and Prince families. The plan is to update this blog every day or so...

Hopefully this will help keeping us connected... stay tuned.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Dishwasher Troubles

As some know, we Princes are smack, dab in the middle of a little renovation project at our house. What began as new kitchen countertops has morphed into a new kitchen, walls being torn out, and life being under construction. Anyway, our little project has left us without a kitchen sink for the last few days. All the plumbing is unhooked, and we’ve been using the bathroom sink to rinse off dishes and do all the things for which one normally uses a kitchen sink.

Last evening, as Karla was painting and I was doing… ummm… nothing, she suggested I wash the dishes. No problem I thought. I’ve washed plenty “o” dishes in my day. Like the Easter Bunny on Easter morning, I went at my work with great fervor. Loading the dish washer in record time, I quickly pushed the “Wash” button and in a move that would have made Al Gore proud I also pushed the “Energy Saving” button. The dishes would soon be sparkling clean and done with no ill effects on our nation’s energy reserves.

Not long into my prideful, “I’m such a good husband because I did the dishes” moment, it dawned on me that if the sink was not connected then more than likely the dishwasher also would not be connected. And if the dishwasher wasn’t connected, then when the water cycled through the old Maytag there would be no place for the old yucky water to go except onto the cabinet floor underneath the sink area. Yikes!

About the time of my dishwasher mechanics epiphany and realizing that I had an impending disaster on my hands, the dishwasher went through its first cycle. I dove for the hose (which at this point was somewhat like a deflating balloon flying everywhere spewing water in every direction), while yelling at Karla (not yelling really, “loudly requesting” her assistance) to turn off the dishwasher. With water spraying all over the cabinet, the floor and mostly on me, Karla opened the dishwasher door, ending the cycle and stopping the shower.

Karla thought having her prideful husband baptized in dirty dishwasher water was the work of the Lord. Since God didn’t have handy a big ol’ whale to swallow me up like he did for a somewhat prideful prophet a few thousand years prior, in her opinion, a dirty dishwater spraying hose was the next best thing. She thinks God has a great sense of humor and he was teaching me a lesson. She thought the episode was quite amusing indeed.

I think the Lord has a great sense of humor too, but I disagreed with her theological conclusion. I think the lesson was: “Why didn’t you stop at countertops?”

I guess we’ll have to disagree on the lesson learned last night, but one thing we both agree on is that this Palm Sunday is going to be GREAT! I can’t wait. I’m giddy with anticipation for the day to arrive.