Monday, December 31, 2007

I missed Central!

I don't know how people can stay away from their faith community. I really missed Central yesterday. My "church" consisted of some devotional time, watching a new missions DVD (I saw some Centralites in the video clips-- Rob and Cindy North and Nancy Firestone) and then listening to last Sunday's sermon from my friend Rev. Shawn Siegfried in Visalia, California. It wasn't like being there. I missed y'all.

I am continuing to get better. My hope is to be in church on Sunday.

Have a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Home sweet home!
The doctor released me from the hospital on Thursday Night and we got home around 9 PM. Because of a medication snafu, yesterday had a bit of a rough beginning. But things are on track now, I think we have the meds managed and I am on the mend.
Thanks to for all the help, the meals, the cards and especially the prayers! I probably won't be able to join you at Central tomorrow-- but you will be in my prayers!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas in the Hospital is not so bad

It is Christmas Eve and I am still in the hospital-- I just left ICU and am now in a regular room. The doctors say that I will be here until Wednesday. The MRI done today showed no permanent damage (Praise the Lord!) and the issue now is stabilizing my blood pressure. They feel that a spike in my blood pressure (for whatever reason) was the cause of the hemorrhage in the first place.

So we will celebrate Christmas in a hospital. All in all that's not so bad, I remember hearing about someone celebrating his first Christmas in a barn!

I have much to be thankful for!!!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Praising the Lord

On Thursday morning, while working at my desk, I had a brain hemorrhage. That little fact, has meant the last few days I have been hanging out in the ICU at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City. After an initial diagnosis of a brain aneurysm, the doctors have (mostly) determined that whatever happened was not a result of an aneurysm. They are now trying to figure out just what happened. Usually people my age, who don't smoke or drink or have high blood pressure or are overweight don't have the troubles that I had. So... the doctors will run a few more tests to try to determine if this little episode will happen again. Something none of us want.

So the bottom line is-- besides a pretty good headache and a couple of lost days (I don't remember much of Thursday or Friday) I am doing OK, will probably go home on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and am praising the Lord that it wasn't worse!

Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Being a Wise Man (or Woman) this Christmas

The wise men started this whole gift giving business at Christmas. So blame them the next time you venture into a crowded mall looking for the perfect gift. Blame the wise guys from the east for any head aches you may incur from troubles in locating this year’s version of the “must-have” childhood gadget (and by “wise men from the east,” I don’t mean the Chinese toy manufactures).

The wise men had it easy. They never had to wait in the express checkout lane at their local Frankincense- R-Us store. They simply brought the myrrh, they never had to spell “myrrh” (don’t you think it’s missing a vowel, Vanna?) And they never spent any of their hard earned gold on a fancy GPS system, since they had a great big ol’ star giving directions every night.

Oh sure they had to deal with kooky king Herod (one day I’ll tell you of my portrayal of Herod at my last church that had some parishioners questioning their pastor’s… um… manliness. Let me just say, in as deep of voice as possible, I will not be doing a Herod monologue anytime soon). Still, I think I would take my chances with Herod over some of the crazy-eyed Wal-mart shoppers fighting over the last remaining Chia Pet or some such thing on Christmas Eve. And yes, the wise men had to travel from “a far” to find the baby Jesus, but really can that be any worse than traveling from Olathe in an ice storm and finding a parking spot at the crowded Oak Park Mall on a Saturday night? I think not.

In any event, blame the wise men for this gift buying frenzy. They started it. But notice this: when they brought their gold, frankincense and myrrh it was an act of worship. Did you catch that? As an act of worship, they gave. Too often we think of worship as what we can get. How often have you grumbled on your way home from a less than powerful sermon “I didn’t get anything out of worship today”? We think of life as what we can get out of it. Our chatter about Christmas is often spoken in terms of what we will get this year. But the wise men gave. We too would be wise to have our worship more focused on what we give than on what we get.

And speaking of our giving, far from grumbling about the inequalities of the tithe (Do I tithe on the gross on the net? Could we cut the tithe from 10% to maybe 8% this year?), like the wise men we should rejoice in our giving. We should be all about “joyfully giving.” God has blessed us, every one of us, how could we do anything but cheerfully give! Like the wise men, shouldn’t we give to the Lord as an expression of our worship and thankfulness?

Moreover notice this about the Wise Men and their gifts:

Their gifts were personally given. The wise men never called UPS and their brown trucks to deliver their loot, but I’m sure they could have sent the gold, frankincense and myrrh with an errand boy had they so desired. They were important men, busy men. But they didn’t call up FedEx or Western Union; instead they wanted to personally deliver their gifts. It took some sacrifice and time and effort to give their gifts, but they did it. Here’s how the Bible tells their story: “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:10-11) Could we “open our treasure chests and give” as the wise men did so long ago?

They gave unexpected gifts. Mary was not waiting by her door hoping for some wise men from the east to bring her requested myrrh or a vat of frankincense. Their gifts were unexpected. It was a surprise.

And they gave with joy. The Bible tells us that the wise men were filled with joy. It was a joy to give. No grumbling. No shortchanging the baby Jesus. No calculating what’s the least I can do and still be OK. They simply worshiped and they gave.

That’s how I want to be. With my giving to the Lord, I want to sacrifice and give unexpected gifts (not simply the requirement but rather I want to be an exuberant giver!) and thereby being a joyful giver. And throughout the Christmas season, as I give gifts to my loved ones-- I want to give gifts personally. I want to put some thought into the gifts I am buying. And I want to give some unexpected gifts. Not gifts that I have to buy, for someone who is expecting a gift from me, not giving for the sole purpose of recognition or glory, but rather I want to give some unexpected gifts to people who won’t (or can’t) repay. And I want to give with a joy filled heart. I want to give out of gratitude for what God has done for me.

With twelve more shopping days till Christmas, think of giving gifts this year personally, unexpected and with a joy filled heart. Whether giving to the Lord, a loved one or to a total stranger give with joy. If you do that, even if you’ve never ridden a camel from “a far” you will be wise man or woman!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

I hate Ice

I hate ice storms or threats of ice storms. Yesterday's ice and threats of ice kept many people from seeing a very wonderful Christmas Musical from our Worship and Arts Department. If the ice kept you away... you missed an excellent program!

In the PM, the ice kept down the numbers for the so-long to the Halls. But never fear, there is still time for you to give a going away gift, and their is still time for you to say "So Long!" since Joe, Any and Sam will be with us for two more weeks before heading to OKC.

I am excited about this Sunday's edition of God at the Movies. We will be looking at the Christmas Classic: A Christmas Story. Remember don't just attend Central... invite a friend to join you as you come to Central!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Texting Revolution

If you are living in the 21st century, then you know that text messaging and instant messaging has become the communication of choice for many. My own dear son proudly boasts of “texting” over 3,000 times a month. When I question such behavior, he informs me of his friends (who shall remain nameless, since some of their parents may read this fine little article) who text over 10,000 times in a single month. To which I reply: WOW!

Just last week, the whole Prince clan entered into the world of “unlimited texting.” Whether it is 10,000 or two text messages, it’s the same price of $19.99. So in an effort to get more for our money, we no longer speak to each other. We simply text. For example, “Time 2 eat” sends the boys running to the kitchen like Pavlov’s dogs. (I am only partially exaggerating).

If you are a participant of the texting world, then you also know that true texters have their own lingo by which they communicate. I am learning this “text speak.” So in an effort to be culturally relevant and educate all the non-texting people, allow me to write the rest of this article in text shorthand (If not from the texting generation, no need to get out your Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, simply read below for the translation of the message).

HIG ISTM and PLZ CMIW, this texting is not EZ. 2 understand fully 1 must FITB of many things. If U R having MSG troubles and have said WIM, HO.

FWIW there are many ways 2 say the same thing. For instance ILU and 143 and even 459 are synonymous. Moreover if U really want to say LY, 1 could text LUMTP or LYL and if saying CIAO as well, 1 might type LYCYLBB. Honestly, 404 4COL! HHO1/2K.

JSYK, a Christian texter might type WWJD (or maybe WWJT) or even GLYASDI. Remember, U MBN, TILII, and AFAP ALOTBSOL.

Pastor Rob

OK, here’s the translation (abbreviated text words in bold):

Hello Friend,

How’s it going? It seems to me (and please correct me if I am wrong) this texting is not easy. To understand fully one must fill in the blanks on many things. If you are having message troubles and have said “Woe is me” hold on.

For what its worth, there are many ways to say the same thing. For instance “I love you” and “I love you” and even “I love you” are synonymous. Moreover if you really want to say Love you, one could text “love you more than pie” or “Love you lots” and if saying good-bye as well, one might type: “Love you, See you later, Bye Bye.” Honestly, I haven’t a clue, for crying out loud! Ha ha, only half kidding!

Just so you know, a Christian texter might type what would Jesus do (or maybe what would Jesus text) or even “God loves you and so do I.” Remember, you must be nice, tell it like it is, and as far as possible always look on the bright side of life.

So till our paths cross again, ta ta for now.
Pastor Rob

The bottom line to all of this: how ever you do it, in whatever language or font… share the love of Christ. That is our calling, our task, our duty as believers. Love God and Love people.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Weekend Reflections

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent and the "official" launching of the Christmas Season. Our new Sermon Series, "God at the Movies: Christmas Edition" got off to a great start by using the familiar Christmas story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. (I had a few comments that people didn't realize how mean Santa was in that story... he was kind of mean to poor Rudolph). In the PM our children kicked off the season with a wonderful musical. All did a great job!

This week our Worship and Arts Department tell the Christmas story in "Be not Afraid." Invite. Invite. Invite your friends and neighbors to this Sunday's performances at 8:30 and 11 AM. In the PM, we will have a so long celebration for Pastor Joe and Amy (Their last Sunday is going to be December 23rd).

Here's the rest of the Christmas Schedule:

December 16 AM: God at the Movies: A Christmas Story
PM: Work and Witness Auction
December 23 AM: God at the Movies: It's a Wonderful Life
PM: NO PM Service
December 24th: Christmas Eve Service at 6 PM