Monthly Archives: December 2017

I Like Flint

“Phooey” is not the Greek word that means: “You are wrong about Flint,” but it should be.  This week I read another article containing another stupid list of the worst cities in America and, of course, the New York biased or Los Angeles biased author (I bet dollars to Donna’s donuts the author has never eaten a Koegel hotdog or stepped foot in our city) placed Flint on his worst cities list.  Pardon my not-so-ancient-or-accurate Greek, but “Phooey!”

I like Flint. In fact, here are just a few things I like about Flint:

I like…

  • The people of Flint. They are generous and loving!
  • Flint’s history of how a labor sit down strike lifted the working people of America.
  • That jobs are coming back to our city.
  • The pastors I’ve met as we worked together since the water crisis who love Jesus a lot!
  • We are becoming a pretty great college town.
  • The Flint has a downtown ice rink, even though my ice skating days are behind me.
  • The Capitol theatre is opening up again.
  • The Farmers Market is great!
  • The Crim is the coolest race in America not named “the Boston Marathon”
  • The brick streets down town—I especially like it when the brick streets downtown are filled with old cars during Back to the Bricks.
  • The Vehicle City signs over Saginaw Street.
  • The Sloan Museum.
  • The General Motor’s Factory One is a very cool venue.
  • We have a minor league hockey team, although I would have named them the Stones, not the Firebirds, I still like them!
  • When someone mentions the Flintstones, we don’t think about Fred, Wilma or Pebbles but of basketball players Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson, and Charlie Bell
  • Koegel hotdogs, Donna’s Donuts Foster’s Coffee, Totem Books and the Crepe Company!
  • The Whiting Auditorium is a wonderful place to see a concert.
  • Halo Burgers (although their bill board announcing “salvation is just ahead” on the highway annoys me mostly because it’s Jesus who brings salvation not an olive burger)
  • Chipotle and Panda Express have built new restaurants in Flint this year and if Chick-fil-A were smart, they’d open one too.
  • When people debate on the yumminess of a Flint or a Detroit Coney (True Confession: I like Detroit coneys. Don’t hate me).
  • How at Central Church we purposely misquote the Lord’s prayer just a little bit and pray that God’s kingdom would come “IN FLINT as it is in heaven” (of course we want God’s kingdom to come to the whole earth, but are just kind of partial to idea of God starting in Flint as His kingdom comes).

OK, more honesty, there are a few things I don’t like too. I don’t like that…

  • Poverty is still high in Flint and crime and drug dealers and sex traffickers are present, but too often our kids are growing up when their moms or dads are not present in their lives.
  • People are still afraid to drink the water, because they don’t trust the politicians who told them it was ok to drink the water (when it wasn’t) in the first place.
  • We have too many liquor stores, bars, strip joints, boarded up houses and pawn shops not enough Holy Spirit filled outposts of God’s Kingdom.

Still, I like Flint and I like to think that Jesus was thinking of Flint too, when he grabbed a scroll in the Nazareth synagogue and unrolled it to Isaiah 61 to read:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor. 
(He didn’t say it, but I think we could have said, “I’m looking at you Flint, Michigan!”)
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.  He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18-21)

I like Flint and I know God loves Flint, and far, far, far from turning his back on Flint or has forgotten Flint or in some way has abandoned Flint and certainly unlike what any author of an article that says how terrible things are might say, God has great things in store for the hard working, fun loving, generous and wonderful people of Flint in 2018! In fact, I think God is FOR FLINT and if we are on God’s side we will be saying, “I am FOR FLINT TOO.” In other words, I think Jesus would have read that article about worst cities in America and would have said, “Phooey! People said the same thing about my home town of Nazareth, but it was a lot like Flint and I loved that place too!”

Merry Christmas Flint! God is on our side!

 Our Overly Honest Christmas Letter

Dear Reader of the Prince Christmas Letter:  For the last 28 years, each Christmas season I have managed to brag, boast, crow and swagger about the vacations we’ve taken, the sites we’ve seen and our boys’ accomplishments from the previous 12 months.  Well, I ‘m done with all of that, instead I offer you….

 Our Overly Honest Christmas Letter

Ben and Madison.  Graduated from Olivet Nazarene University in May; got real jobs this summer, tied the knot in November, but aren’t coming home in December.  They made some lame excuse about wanting to go on a honeymoon to a tropical island instead of spending Christmas break visiting their loving parents in not-quite-so-tropical paradise of Flint, Michigan.  We offered to go with them on their Dominica Republic honeymoon, but they said “no” to that suggestion too. We may have lead in our water, but that poor decision, virtually guarantees coal in their Christmas stockings and is seriously bringing into jeopardy any inheritance they may reap in the future.

Alex and Blaire.  Of course, we aren’t sure we want Alex and Blaire to squander our life savings after we pass through the pearly gates either. Blaire tells us, she gets her “baby fix” working as a nurse in the Mother/Baby unit at Kansas University Medical Center. Alex says he travels too much for work. Translation: They have a dog but there will be no babies anytime soon.  Both Alex and Ben work for the Cerner Corporation and travel all over the country but not once have their jobs brought them to the state shaped like a mitten. Karla may be calling Cliff Illig (the Cerner CEO) soon to discuss this matter.  Still we are glad that both boys and their wives have jobs and most importantly aren’t living in our basement.

Rob and Karla.  The personal growth that Rob experienced this year, unfortunately has been mostly in his waist size and the excessive hair growth in his ears, eyebrows and nostrils. Speaking of unwelcomed occurrences, Rob still has headaches most of which can be attributed to the fact that the sporting teams he supports continue to disappoint him.  While to date no one at Central Church has tossed rotten tomatoes in his general direction during a sermon, he has been considering taking dodgeball lessons just in case. Moreover, he is a bit worried that as he gets closer to his life insurance expiration date, Karla may recognize that he is worth more dead than alive and begin to plot Rob’s expiration date.  Speaking of Karla, she continues to work as an assistant at the church for a couple of days a week.  Read: Rob get bossed around at home and work. Karla has been observed secretly spying the senior citizen’s portion of the menu at Bob Evans. Proving that her frugality is stronger than any vanity she may have about getting a year older.  Much of her time is consumed with her parent’s care.  Like the US Men’s Soccer team, Karla’s folks are still kicking but won’t be attending any World Cup matches in 2018.

Totally Honest Conclusion:  We’ve had a pretty good 2017 (a few “downs” but mostly “Ups”) and we are looking forward to a great 2018.  We hope you are too!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas as you celebrate the birth of our Lord!

Rob and Karla

An Alternative to Social Media Bitterness

True Confession: I am not as mature as I think I am or want to be. I know this because of how I experience a flip in my stomach when a “friend” who has hurt me in the past posts something spiritual on social media. They are not writing anything about me, mind you. It is not directed at me at all. Usually the post is some spiritual platitude or Bible verse or how God has been speaking to them or blessed them in some fashion. My default response to such a posting too often is: “Really? God has been speaking to you? I think if God was really speaking to you, the Almighty would have first reminded you how much your actions have hurt good ol’ Rob Prince.”

I don’t like that like that about myself. It is so petty. I have preached on loving our enemies dozens of times, and yet such petty-mindedness still creeps into my heart. Here’s what I have found: I think it’s easier to “love our enemies” if the enemy is a faceless enemy like a terrorist who hasn’t encountered Jesus or an atheistic blowhard that hasn’t met a “true Christian.” When my enemy is a “Facebook friend” that has wronged me or spoken ill of me I want God to right the offender and do something about it. Oh I don’t want the Almighty to send a lightning bolt in their direction (I’m not that extreme), but a wart on the end of their nose or a case of head lice would be nice.

Obviously, I am still working on forgiveness. Forgiveness means forgiving even when the other person doesn’t ask for forgiveness. Sometime forgiveness means forgiving even when the offending person doesn’t realize how deeply they have hurt you.

Here’s what I’ve decided to do (I hope this helps): When I see a social media post from such a “friend” who has hurt me, I’ve determined to pray for him or her. Not pray that God would send the fleas of a thousand camels to infest their armpits, but pray that God would truly bless them. I want to genuinely pray that they would experience the power and majesty of God and know the joy of the Lord. I want to pray this not so that they will have some revelation that they have hurt me. I want to pray with the expectation that they may never know how deeply they have hurt me, but quite frankly (and to be honest somewhat selfishly), I need to see them in another way other than bitterness. Carrying in my mind a list of hurtful people is crippling and not particularly healthy. Resentment is a joy thief.

I’ve been camping out in Ephesians 4:32: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Oh how I want to live out that verse. Bottom line: Bitterness and forgiveness cannot fill the same heart. I want to choose forgiveness.

If Clement Moore wrote a poem about our house…

There was (and may still be) a mouse in our house. Yesterday, Karla found a recently deceased furry creature in our basement storage area when she went to retrieve some Christmas decorations. Apparently, if Clement Moore was writing a poem for the Prince home this Christmas season, it would have read:

Twas three weeks before Christmas and all through our house,
Not a creature was stirring, especially not that dead mouse.
Rob will be hung by the chimney by his beak,
If another mouse shows up by the end of the week.

You get the idea. The thought of a mouse that may or may not be in our house has made for a spouse with no visions of sugar plums dancing in her head. It’s more like nightmares of Willard the Rat seeking his revenge. I tried to convince my bride that there probably weren’t any more mice in our house. “Our dead furry friend probably died of loneliness,” I told her. “The solitude killed him. Poor lil’ guy.” She wasn’t buying it. She thinks mice are like socks, shoes and Bartlett fruit—they come in pairs (or pears).

In order to ease her mind, I bought a four pack of mouse traps that I promptly stationed around the storage area—just in case. If there is a second mouse, he will soon join his friend in mousy heaven. There is a side of me that hopes there is a second mouse in the house and that he stumbles upon the trap, so I can say: “Mission Accomplished. We got ‘em! We can sleep easy tonight.” If the traps stay empty, with every noise and every clatter, Karla will be kicking me out of the bed to see what is the matter. There won’t be many long winter’s naps even if mama is in her kerchief and I in my cap.

Here’s why I share my mouse/house/spouse woes: It is so easy to worry over imagined threats—on issues much bigger than a mouse in the house. I heard someone say that 90% of the things we worry about never happen. I don’t know if that percentage is true or not, but I do know it’s a waste of time to worry. Jesus said so: Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:27). Worrying about what might or could happen is like waiting for a mouse, only you’re the one stuck in the trap.