Monthly Archives: November 2016

How to have Happy Thanksgiving with family members who didn’t vote like you

As we all know, Thanksgiving is a time for turkey, football and family get-togethers. So in order to truly have a “Happy” Thanksgiving those three things must be enjoyable.

Assuming the you are not my brother, it’s tough to ruin a turkey (I will spare you the long details, just take this advice: Do not use licorice in the turkey stuffing).  As for the football, well the Lions are playing and while they may technically be in first place the Lions are still the Lions.  To be happy with the outcome of a Lions’ football game, it’s best to enjoy the atmosphere, the crowd, the athletic achievement of the players and not get too wrapped up in the score.  Finally, to have a “Happy” Thanksgiving, your family gathering will need to be pleasant too.  That might be tricky in this season of a nation divided.  So here are my “Saving-the-Family –from-a-Fight-Before-it-Starts tips” and how to have Happy Thanksgiving with family members who voted opposite of you.

During the gathering, it would be best to avoid the following:

1)  No matter how you voted, don’t use the words “Clinton” or “Trump.”   This may be a difficult challenge if part of your Thanksgiving tradition involves playing card games like euchre or Rook where someone calls “trump.”  Instead of trump, I suggest calling it “The swooped haired special card grouping.”  My sister lives in Clinton Township (by Detroit), there are a few residents of her municipality that haven’t mentioned their city’s name since Monica Lewinski was a hot topic. My sister is not hosting the Thanksgiving gathering this year, so even my GPS will not be saying “Clinton” township.

2)  Don’t loudly announce: “I’m building a wall around this turkey no one gets a slice without the proper papers!” 

 3)  Don’t ask: “Can I use your computer, Aunt Suzie, my personal email server is causing me troubles?”

 4)  If you don’t like either team playing football (It’s the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings in the first game), please don’t start cheering for the New England Patriots.  No matter how loud you cheer for a third party, that team will not win.

And 5) Most importantly, Pray!   The Apostle Paul was not thinking about our divided nation and how we might make our Thanksgiving gatherings “Happy” when he wrote to Timothy, but his words apply to us this year.  He wrote:  First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. (1 Timothy 2:1 CEV).   

Imagine if we did that for our relatives that voted opposite of us.  If we prayed for everyone and asked God to help and bless them all.  Imagine how our attitudes might change if we thought of ways we are thankful even for the most cantankerous relative. Paul used a lot of inclusive language in that one verse: (“everyone,” “them all,” and “each of them”).  He didn’t leave anybody out.  There are no exceptions.  So let’s pray for everyone who will be at our Thanksgiving Table—Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike.

If we follow Paul’s advice to pray for everyone, I believe we will have a Happy Thanksgiving—even if the turkey is overcooked and the Lions lose.


The 2016 Presidential Election and the 2017 Nazarene General Assembly

Will the same angst that propelled Donald Trump to the White House in 2016 creep into the mindset of the Nazarene General Assembly in 2017?

I think it might.

I’m not talking politics.  I’m talking mindset– an unsettled dissatisfaction with the status quo.  There seems to be a mistrust of authority and the ability to voice displeasure with a greater ease.  Moreover, a nostalgia for the perceived past by the disgruntled American congregant adds to the current anxiety.

I’ve pastored in Nazarene mecca in the not too distant past and now I am back in the rust belt that helped propel Donald Trump to victory.  I’m deep in the grass roots of the Church of the Nazarene far away from the Nazarene decision makers in Lenexa.  I’m out of any loop in other words.  I have no insider information.  I only have my anecdotal observations.

Thanks in part to the heated election, the angst of people is real. Many church folks have taken an anti-James 1:19 approach to life. James 1:19 says: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  I’ve seen just the opposite.  People are slow to listen, but quick to speak and quick to be angry.  Saying the “wrong” word or addressing the “wrong” issue in the mind of many brings the speedy wrath and suspicion against the speaker.

A mistrust toward authority is everywhere. Like the anger expressed by Trump supporters before the election and the anger expressed by Clinton supporters after the election, this mistrust is from all sides.  These are interesting days to pastor (to say the least).

The shrinking influence of the church in public life and upon the culture has added to the angst.   Like in the political arena where in part many people voted based on a perceived better time in the past that has “slipped away,” many people in the church long for the perceived “good old days” too. They remember the days when people dropped everything when the church called a meeting.  Their kids and grandkids aren’t doing that these days.  They are sitting in folding chairs at soccer games on Sunday mornings more than they are sitting in a pew.  Church folks long for familiar songs in worship and a familiar American Holiness version of sanctification (if they talk about sanctification at all).  In many cases, there is a fundamentalist lens in which much of the nostalgia is viewed. They see the greying of the American church and are legitimately worried about the demise of their local congregation in which they have invested their life. The angst grows.

Social media has provided a greater audience and fuel to a quick angered and slow listening angst.  Hiding behind a computer screen, people are free to share vile objections (Read: gossip and malicious talk) to a far greater audience than in the past.  A decade ago, if a carnal believer wanted to share their biased concerns they told a friend or two who might or might not believe the information. The friends of the disgruntled person (because they knew their friend’s personality and struggles) would evaluate the validity of the claim.  Today, the discontent person shares on Facebook and Twitter their dissatisfaction. The result is that people who are merely Facebook “friends” and Twitter followers and who don’t have the same connection to the individual as the close associates of a decade ago then take the biased misinformation as fact. The result is fuel to a perceived fire that might or might not actually exist.

If this nostalgia for an imagined past, mistrust of authority and a slow to listen but quick to anger in social media and life exists, it stands to reason that it will be brought to Indianapolis in the 2017 General Assembly.  How it will play out in church elections and decisions is yet to be seen, but if the presidential election is an indicator the General Assembly will be a more vocal and angered gathering than ever in our history.

So what can be done?


The only hope for the church is God’s intervention.  We need God to be present with the decision makers and with our leaders. We need God to work in the hearts and minds of the delegation.  We need His wisdom.  Rather than a reactionary quick tempered response to current events and the changing times or ignoring the issues of the day, we need to be creative and open to God making all things new (even in the Church of the Nazarene). This General Assembly will have the new challenges of a very diverse collection of delegates with various world views and opinions.  It is imperative that our delegates gather with a God first, God inspired desire to see His will done.  If the Church of the Nazarene is going to be a force in the 21st Century we need bold, courageous leadership and people that are “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

The Presidential Election and my only grade school fight

Don’t let my current manly physique fool you, the truth is I wasn’t much of a fighter as a boy. I was in one scuffle (if you can call it that) in my school years.  This “Battle Royale” was not a remake of the “Thrilla in Manila” nor did it take place in Madison Square Garden.  It was in Mr. McNulty’s 8th grade math class at Radcliffe Junior High School.  My opponent was a big, moose of kid name, John Bird. If I ate a big lunch and had a lot of quarters in my pockets I might have weighed 80 pounds.  Look up the word “mismatch” in the dictionary and I think there is still a picture of the classic John Bird vs. Rob Prince showdown.

Here’s what happened: I may have made some smart aleck remark to young Mr. Bird.  I think the comments revolved around his lack of academic achievement and I may or may not have call him a “Bird brain.” Surprisingly and swiftly, Mr. Bird took exception such comments and proceeded to smack me silly.

The scrum didn’t take long.  He hit me.  I hit the floor.  End of fight. This was not a David and Goliath remake. One punch and I was out for the count.  Mr. McNulty quickly intervened and sent us to the principal’s office where the matter was resolved.  I promised to not refer to John as a “Bird Brain” and he promised to not pound me into the 21st century.  While John never invited me to his house for crumpets and tea following that encounter, we did experience a bit of détente and mutual respect. It didn’t take long for us to have conversations, to joke and laugh and have life get back to normal.

Why remind you of my eighth grade mismatch?  Simple, our nation has just come through a tough electoral fight. No punches were thrown by the candidates but it was a national brouhaha. Moving forward we won’t be sending either candidate to the principal’s office (maybe we should), but for the good of the country we need to find solutions to our differences.  There is truth to Jesus’ wisdom:  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand (Mark 3:25).  We must be the UNITED States.

Unity is achieved by listening to a few other things that Jesus said like:

Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). Even if your neighbor didn’t vote like you did.

Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44).  Even if they really, really didn’t vote like you.

Seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Seek his glory!  Not your glory.  Not Republican glory or Democrat glory.  Seek His Kingdom and His glory… FIRST!

Clearly our nation is divided. The election process has revealed many systemic problems, deep hurts and huge differences that exist between people who call themselves Americans.  For our nation to be healed and one, we need to start listening to our neighbor, loving them and in all things becoming more and more like Jesus.

Pray for America.

Pray that God would use you to help in the healing.

And Love… your neighbor, your enemy and love this land in which we live.