Monthly Archives: September 2019

What Mission Outreach (aka Faith Promise) Means at Central Church

Mission’s Outreach (aka Faith Promise) Sunday is this week. It’s the Sunday we bring in a great missionary speaker (Check. Lindell Browning is our speaker, a great Nazarene missionary in the Middle East. You’ll love his preaching!). We also raise money for all of our mission efforts for the coming year. We hope people will pledge over and above their tithes. Over and above? That’s right. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is practically unbiblical at least according to Peter. Our Mission Outreach (aka Faith Promise) giving is the “offering” portion of “tithes and offerings.”

Personal Request: Given that a preacher just mentioned the word “offering” you’ll be tempted to delete this little note faster than you can say “Get Your Hand off my Wallet,” but please read on.

How do you know what you should pledge? Honestly, that’s between you and the Lord. What is it worth to you that people around the world and in Flint hear about Jesus? Before you answer that question, did you know according to this week’s NMI Prayer Mobilization Line, “There are 7,035 people groups in the world that are identified as unreached or least-reached with the gospel, in which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize the people group without outside assistance.” 7,035! Did you know that through our Convoy of Hope Community Event last Saturday we served 3,328 people and prayed with 1664? There are needs around the world and there are needs around the block. Central Church is trying to meet needs both globally and locally. We need your help!

What type of sacrifice could you give to start whittling down that number of unreached people groups or advancing the gospel in Flint and Genesee County? What could you give (over and above your regular tithes) to make a difference for Jesus?

Here are a few examples:

Giving up a Starbucks coffee a week ($5) would mean a pledge of $250.
Giving up a Five Guys lunch (and eating PB & J instead) a week ($10) would mean a $500 pledge.
Giving up a Dinner and Movie with your spouse (Netflix and Little Caesars is cheaper) once a month ($100… by the way, you eat at fancy restaurants) would mean a $1000 pledge.
Giving up that dream of a Tesla and buying a Buick would mean a $5,000-$10,000 pledge (C’mon this is Flint; Elon Musk doesn’t need your money anyway).

Jesus said, “Go into all the nations and make disciples.” (Matthew 28:19). He said, “and you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Paul asked these questions: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent” (Romans 10:14-15).

You get the idea. Missions is important, but it doesn’t happen without our giving and sacrifice. Bottom Line: Jesus gave us the orders. We must tell our world that Jesus saves! We must disciple and baptize people. We must be about this high calling or going and sending others to accomplish this mission. This is our opportunity and our duty, Central Church! Please pray, discuss with your family and pledge to give to our mission efforts this year.

Thank you in advance for what you are going to do!

What the Bible says about the UAW strike of General Motors

Flint is a General Motors town. General Motors was born in the city of Flint and so was the United Auto Workers Union. There are more GM retirees living in Genesee County than any other county in the country. The truck assembly plant is less than a half a mile down Bristol Road from Central Church. So when the UAW strikes General Motors, it effects our city, many of our friends and families and our church.

I’ve checked the scriptures regarding strikes and while the word “Strike” is used 95 times in the Bible. None of those instances involve picket signs. I’m fairly certain that Zechariah 13:7 is not a call to arms for the sheep of the world when the prophet states: “Strike the shepherd.” Although it makes for a fun mind game (in Far Side comic fashion) to think of sheep holding little picket signs shouting, “Hey, Hey, Ho Ho! The Shepherd Man has got to go!”

Likewise, the Bible never mentions Chevy, Ford, or Chrysler. Although it does say in Acts 2:1 that “the believers were in one accord.” I’m fairly certain that reference is not about Honda vehicles (but says more about my affinity to old, corny jokes).

That is not to say that God does not care about workers and management. He does. Of course, there were no factories in the Bible times. It was an agricultural society. Yet the Bible talks about justice when it comes to workers. The book of James states, “Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” (James 5:4) 1 Timothy 5:18 says, “The worker deserves his wages.”

The Bible speaks to a number of feelings that can arise during a strike:

When anxious and uncertain: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

When discouraged: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God. Psalm 42:5

When worried: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27

When getting upset: Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity. Proverb 14:29 (The Message Version)

During the strike and after the strike: Trust in God at all times, my people. Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge. Psalm 62:8

Remember during these days to pray for the families affected by the strike. Pray for the negotiations. Pray for a speedy end to the labor stoppage. Pray for General Motors management and safety for those walking the picket lines. Finally, my friends, these words are good no matter which side of the negotiation table you sit: May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father. Colossians 1:11.

Grace and Peace!

Do What Jesus Did

Do you remember back in the 90’s when the rubber WWJD bracelets were all the rage among church folks? WWJD, of course, stood for What Would Jesus Do (not Wild Weekend of Jack Daniels as some college students tried to change it). What if we didn’t simply surmise what Jesus would do, but actually did what Jesus did? What if our bracelets had the initials DWJD (Do What Jesus Did)?

So, what did Jesus do? Maybe better stated what did Jesus do often that we can do too? Of course, Jesus did many things (heal the sick, duke it out with the Pharisees, eat dinner with tax collectors and other sinners, etc.) but the only reference to Jesus doing anything “often” is in Luke 5:16 that says: But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Hmmm… the person who arguably needed to pray the least (remember Jesus’ business card reads: Jesus, Son of God), often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Maybe if you and I (who by definition need to pray considerably more than Jesus) prayed more, we’d see more of God’s power at work in us and through us.

Do not hear me say, “You need to pray more!” Instead, hear me saying, “I need to pray more.” I do. Ask my wife what I do “often” and she’d might say, “Rob often watches sports.” Ask my neurologist and he’d say, “Rob often has migraines.” Ask my boys, and they’d say, “Dad often tells us how nice Michigan is in an effort to get us to move.” But I want to be known as praying often. I don’t think I’ve reached the “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) threshold, but I’ve decided to pray more lately. It’s been good. Really good.

It seems so simple. If we truly want to be more like Jesus, then we would do what Jesus often did. We’d pray more. We’d all pray more often than we currently do. As we pray more, we’d probably see different results in our evangelism, mission efforts, if you’re a preacher in your preaching or teaching, in our families and in our lives. Let’s start a campaign to begin wearing DWJD– Do what Jesus did.

What Loyalty to the Church of the Nazarene means…

Except for the two years as a seminarian when I served as a youth director at a Presbyterian church, the only church I have ever regularly attended is the Church of the Nazarene. All of my siblings and their spouses have attended Nazarene colleges. All of my parents’ grandchildren and most of their grandchildren’s spouses have also attended Nazarene colleges. As a baby, I was wheeled in a stroller to be dedicated in a Church of the Nazarene, and they’ll probably roll my casket into one when I die. The only way we Princes could be more Nazarene is if we were born in Pilot Point, Texas and named our dogs “Phineas,” “Schmelzenbach,” and “Wynkoop.”

My loyalty does not mean that I think the Church of the Nazarene is perfect. It clearly isn’t perfect. It can’t be perfect because every four years we have a General Assembly where there are over 200 proposed changes for our manual and by-laws. It can’t be perfect, because I know of too many leaders (pastors and laypeople) who have failed. It can’t be perfect, because I am credentialed elder in the Church of the Nazarene and I am not perfect.

My loyalty does not mean I view the Church of the Nazarene through rose colored glasses. Clearly, we have work to do. Our numbers in the USA/Canada are headed in the wrong direction. Our clergy are old and getting older (myself included). Many churches are staring at financial crises as older, tithing members die off while their younger counterparts aren’t giving at the same level. Every district has several churches in hospice, ready for last rites. There are too many hypocrites, bullies and carnal members filling the pews and pulpits. Our methods don’t work like they once did. Our views are too partisan. Our love is too conditional. Our mission too convoluted. Our comfort with the world is too cozy. I get it. I’m not oblivious to the challenges we face. To modify astronaut James Lovell’s famous quote, “Lenexa, we have a problem.”

Loyalty in response to these and other challenges means not grumbling, quitting or sticking our heads in the sand. Instead, it means it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Love God and our neighbor. Proclaim the Good News. Make Christ-like disciples. Reach the unreached. Serve the troubled. Be the church that P.F. Bresee and so many others dreamed we could be— the church that wears well the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene!