Monthly Archives: March 2019

Interchangeable Baseball and Church Life Lingo

In honor of the starting of the baseball season (Go Tigers!!), I give you the interchangeable baseball and church life lingo.

Sacrifice Fly: A bug in the communion juice

Double play: Both guitar players are strumming during what was supposed to be a solo

Squeeze Play: Nine people sitting in an eight-person pew

Grand Slam: The pew (from the above definition) breaks

Triple Crown: The three kings in the Christmas Pageant

Closer: The last song of the worship hour

Change Up: When the band has practiced a “closer” but the pastor announces a different song is to be sung to end the service.

Home Run: A teenager’s mode of transportation to his/her domicile following a forgetful parent’s leaving church without said teenager.

Walk Off: If the teenager from the above definition is not fleet of foot.

Full count: The head usher’s attendance tally on Easter Sunday

Hit and Run: What happens just prior to a toddler’s parent being paged to come to the nursery

Pinch hitter: When the toddler in the above definition has more than one bad habit.

Home Plate: The dish a parishioner brings to a pot luck

Long Relief: The hour and a half sermon by the guest preacher

Caught Looking: What happens to the senior high boys checking out the incoming class of freshmen girls into the youth group by the youth pastor

Pick Off: What the facility crew has to do with chewing gum stuck under the pews

Tagging Up: The nursery worker’s task of placing the security/information sticker on a toddler’s back.

In the hole: Where the preacher finds him/herself when using an unapproved sermon illustration of his/her spouse

Dugout: How the preacher from the above definition exits “the hole” using flattery and extra chores around the parsonage.

Wild Pitch: A Gideon’s plea to pass out bibles at the local zoo

Fielder’s Choice: If former Detroit Tiger players Cecil or Prince had to decide between regular or gluten free communion wafers

Slide:  What old time missionaries would bring to show a picture of their work in a far-off country before Power Point

Shutout: The experience of not getting into the church before the security team locks the doors

On deck: The happening at the Senior Game Day when someone is accidentally sits on the Skipbo cards.

Warning Track (sic):A brochure telling the reader the dangers of eternity without God.

Strike Zone: The area around the preacher’s flailing arms during a heated illustration.

Spit ball: What leaves the preacher’s mouth during the above definition’s heated illustration.

Stopper: What the security team does when a deranged lady is trying to rush the platform

Cut Off Man: The sound man’s nickname following his muting the worship leader’s microphone during an extra-long chorus introduction

Foul Tip: When a jokester parishioner gives a naive pastor an off-color sermon illustration

Whiff: The brief, pleasant aroma during the eulogy when the funeral dinner crew are making cinnamon rolls

Dinger: A parking lot infraction when the church bus slightly brushes the pastor’s wife’s car

Save: What Jesus does


Yes, the World has Changed, Here’s What Hasn’t Changed

Old preacher types like me often bemoan how our world is different from when we entered the ministry as bright-eyed, wet-behind-our-ears seminary or Bible college graduates.  After 30+ years of pastoring, trying not sound disgruntled (“Get off my lawn, you kids!) but still say, “it’s true.” Things are different now. Here’s a not exhaustive list:

  • People attend church less. Give less. Serve less. Seem to pray less. But expect more.
  • The Bible is not seen as authoritative anymore. Member’s preferred cable news seems to carry as much weight (if not more) as the Bible these days.
  • Sunday mornings are not off limits to sports, camping trips or any other activity.
  • Wednesday Nights are not considered “church night” by public schools. Concerts and sporting activities take place on Wednesdays just like any other night.
  • Young adults don’t “sow their wild oats” and later return to the church; now too often they “sow their oats” (wild or otherwise) but don’t return.
  • Social media has given a voice to every disgruntled and carnal member who cowardly spews hate, lies and gossip. (Mark Zuckerberg might think he created Facebook, but after seeing the carnage caused by social media, it sure looks like the Enemy was involved. If not at the beginning, he jumped on board quick.)
  • Political angst has splashed into the church creating more friction than a sandpaper factory.

Enough examples, you get it — pastoring is different in today’s world.

But it’s not all bad, here’s what hasn’t changed:

  • The Bible is still true. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.(Hebrews 4:12). The Bible still forms a firm foundation in its “alive and active” pages. It still convicts and convinces people that God loves them and has a better, deeper, richer, fuller, more abundant life for them.
  • Broken and hurting people are still everywhere. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way (Isaiah 53:6).  The world is broken and full of broken people. It was true when Jesus walked this earth. It’s still true today. We have no shortage of people who have yet to experience the love and grace of Jesus. Sometimes these folks are in our pews week after week. Sometimes not. But all of us have “gone astray” and need Jesus!
  • Jesus is still Lord. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.(Hebrews 13:8). Jesus still repairs and restores broken and hurting people. Jesus still conquers every foe. Jesus is still the victor. Jesus is still the answer for our hurting, broken, troubled, lonely planet. Jesus’ message never grows old and His love never wanes.

 All this to say, the world is different, but God is still on the throne!  Praise the Lord!

Robert Prince is a Football Coach for the Detroit Lions. Wait… Who?

The Detroit Lions released the names of their coaching staff for the upcoming season.  For fans of the Motor City Kitties reviewing the coaches list, there is one name that might come as a surprise to you.  The wide receiver coach is none other than Robert Prince. Not yours truly, another Robert Prince.  I probably couldn’t help the Lions wide receivers much other than say things like “Run faster” and “Catch the Ball.” After watching 55 years of Lions futility, it’s my observation that the past wide receiver coaches failed to give those two important instructions. Maybe I could coach them after all. How much worse could I do?

I hope the other Robert Prince is a good coach, because I’d love to see the Lions win something before I die.  The Lions have won exactly one playoff game in my lifetime.  To put that in perspective, the New England Patriots have 36 playoff wins (in less years). So good luck to you, Robert Prince! Coach them well!

Could you imagine if somehow, I went to Ford Field and passed myself off to the security guards as the other Robert Prince. I have learned the other Robert Prince coached at Boise State (I’ve never been to Idaho), coached in the Japanese X-League (Japan has a football league?) and is African American (this might pose a challenge to pass myself off as him). I seriously doubt I could fool anyone that I am the other Robert Prince. But if I could sneak by a guard, and make it to the field as soon as it came time to call real football plays to real players in real helmets and uniforms, my lack of football knowledge would become abundantly clear. No matter what name we share, it wouldn’t take long for people to know I wasn’t that Robert Prince.

In the same way, people can call themselves “Christian,” but it doesn’t take much observation to discover if their “Christianity” is in name only. Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16). Not by their words or calling themselves a “Christian” or occasionally sitting in a pew at church, but their fruit determines whose they are. If a person is stirring up trouble, spreading lies, causing dissention, never tithing, bitter, and not building up the body of Christ but tearing it apart, then his or her “fruit” will be sour and unappealing. Conversely, for the true followers of Jesus, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”(Galatians 5:22-23). No matter what name people may call themselves their fruit (or lack thereof) gives away their true self.

I will never be confused with the Detroit Lions wide receivers coach, but I hope the fruit of the Spirit is evident in my life.  By the way, years ago the service manager at a local car dealer was also named Robert Prince.  Guess what? Just as I can’t coach football, I can’t fix cars. But I can tell you what Jesus has done in my life, how He can work in yours and share as much godly fruit with as many people as I can. You can too. Be a fruitful Christian!

Thoughts on Lenten Fasting

The Lenten Season begins today and will go until Easter. Christians have been observing Lent for a long time– since about the mid to late 4th century.  During this season, many Christians will give up something (or fast) as a means to draw closer to God and intensify their spiritual awareness. I’ve known people to give up chocolate, coffee, television, social media or any number of other things for these forty days. The idea is to temporarily give up something we like (i.e. candy or coffee) in order to draw near to Someone we eternally love (Jesus).

Deciding on what or if one should fast is a deeply personal choice, and I would never suggest what you should or should not fast. Keeping in mind that fasting should be something good that you miss temporarily as you abstain from it, the following items were NOT among my Lent fasting options (since I already don’t like them and am on a permanent “fast” from them):

Flint Coney Dogs (I’m a Detroit Coney guy…sorry)

Sweet pickles (barf)

Snow and cold (it’s above my pay grade to eliminate snow and cold for Lent, but if I could…)

The Bachelor (No TV program since The Jerry Springer Show has made me consider poking my eyes out on a more frequent basis).

Political posts on Facebook (Politics and Facebook are a deadly combo, I avoid it like some politicians avoid the truth…. Oops I just got political).


Moreover, speaking of permanent fasts, I wish that…

The Detroit Lions would stop their fast of Super Bowl Appearances

Church folks would permanently fast from the following phrases:

“That’s not the way we’ve always done it…”

“I just need to be fed….”

“It’s the youth pastor’s fault…”

“It’s not my spiritual gift…”

“I’d like to give but….”

“My kid’s soccer game is this Sunday morning….”

“I probably shouldn’t mention this to you, pastor, just before you preach but….”

If you haven’t decided to fast during Lent, consider doing so. Take time to think about what you would temporarily miss, as you draw your thoughts to Jesus during these next 40 days. Remember James 4:8 is true during the Lenten season and all year: Come near to God and he will come near to you.