Sunday, February 27, 2011

SPIRITUAL PRACTICES: YOU HAVE GIFTS by Cheri Holdridge (with assist by Kurt Young)

What is your gift? We all have one, at least one. But we all have one. My gift has two parts. There is a preliminary step: first, I help people find their healing, to claim their belovedness by God, especially people who have been cast aside and pushed to the margins. We all have to start there.

But then, my gift is to help you claim your gift and your passion – your purpose for being on this earth. We all have a reason why God put us on this earth. My purpose is to help you find your purpose. It’s a great privilege. That’s my place of service – to help you know that you are special to God – and that you have a special gift to share. Every one of you, your life is a gift.

Most people don’t feel special. We don’t feel gifted. But we are. Each one of us is a special gift, a gift of God. Our job, as followers of Jesus, is to discover our gift, to claim it, and to use it to serve God, to make the world a better place. Together, using all our gifts, we can change the world. Just like we talk about each week in our Village Statement.

It’s a simple as finding a place to do our part, like Kurt and Becca giving some Saturday mornings to serve with Food for Thought. Projects like that can’t do what they do without people like us giving our time in service. The work is not hard. It does not take any special training. It just takes commitment. Carving out the time. Deciding to get out of bed on a Saturday morning. It takes a decision.

Of all the things we could do with a Saturday morning for myself, projects around my house, a bike ride, going shopping, reading a book, surfing the web, paying my bills, cleaning my bathroom, cooking a meal so I can have friends over for dinner, doing work for my job, and so on, time to time we decide to give some time to make a difference in the life of someone else. Because here at the Village we have a mission to follow Jesus and change the world.

You see, long before Jesus even came onto the scene the prophet Micah (we read Micah 6:6-8 in our worship celebration today for those who could not join us) put it simply, when he asked: does God want burnt offerings of sheep and rivers of oil? Because that kind of sacrifice was a huge part of the religious tradition in those days. People spent lots of time and energy in their worship practices. You could say they spent their time going to church on Sunday morning and thought that was enough. Micah’s response: “Heck no! That is not what God wants. This is what God wants”:

1) Do justice.

2) Love with kindness and compassion

3) Walk humbly with God, that means to pray and stay close to God.

Last week we talked about the spiritual practice of prayer. This week, our focus is service, practicing acts of compassion and kindness in the world, and doing justice. This is what God requires of God’s people, simple acts of service and changing the world –doing something to make a bad situation better. Just choose one – and so something! It’s not so hard. You can’t fix everything. You can’t help everyone. But you can help someone. You can make a difference in SOME situation.

So which one will it be? Here’s how to find out:

What do you love?

What brings you joy?

What keeps you awake at night?

Sue Kibbey, who is the Director of Missional Initiatives for our West Ohio Conference, when she was on staff at Ginghamsburg UMC (GUM for short) tells a story of being a new staff member here. She met a women who attended GUM and she asked that woman “where is your place of service?” Every Sunday Sue would greet this woman as she came into worship and Sue would have another suggestion for this woman about where she might serve. Because, you see, Sue shares my value, and the value we have here at The Village, that every follower of Jesus has a gift, and lives a more fulfilling life serving God in some way. Sue suggested something different each week:

1) children’s ministry, do you like children?

2) hospitality team, how about welcoming people and doling acts of hospitality?

3) working in their food pantry – how about serving the hungry?

Nothing appealed to the woman. Finally after several weeks, the woman came up to Sue beaming, and told Sue she had found her place of service. What she was doing was something Sue had never dreamed of.

The woman had a friend whose husband was terminally ill and needed constant care in their home. The woman had begun to make daily visits, helping her friend care for her dying husband. She was passionate about this ministry. Over time, she helped develop a team of folks at their church who would do similar ministry for other folks. It just became this amazing ministry of care.

Sue learned an important lesson from this encounter. She could not tell the woman what her gift was, could she? The woman had to claim it for herself. Just because a church might have a dream or a desire for some particular ministry, does not mean it is your gift. Often ministries in churches fall flat on their faces because one person gets an idea about what the church should do, but the passion and the right gifts just are not in that congregation. The timing is just not right. It may be a great idea, it might be a great need in the community, but the gifts just do not match up. Sometimes we may have to accept that it’s not the right time and place for that ministry, but later on it might be. Other times, if we see a need, that we are really passionate about, then we may need to learn new skills, and we may need to pray and look a little harder. God may show us that the skills and resources ARE right here under our noses within our congregation and among our networks if we will just dig a little deeper.

Here is the thing: We all have a place to serve, because every one of us has a gift that God has blessed us with and wants us to use. God wants every one of us to serve. I believe this with every fiber of my being. Do you?

We have enough gifts. We have enough gifts for serving and making this world a better place. We can’t change the world ourselves, but we can with others. So my question for you today is this: what is your gift? And are you using it? What gives you joy in serving? Are you worn out and need to make a change? What are you doing with your time and your skills to make a difference in the world? Have you found your one best place of service? And if not, will you pray about finding that place during this up-coming season of Lent (that’s the 40 days leading up to Easter – starting March 9). Will you consider trying out some new spiritual practice of service during the six weeks of Lent as a “Spiritual Practice.” Or will you get back to some place of service that you have let slip out of your routine, as a way of deepening your commitment as a follower of Jesus.

One place to start, is by claiming your gift, and recognizing that God gave you a gift so that you could use it to make the world a better place. If I asked you to name your gift, and how you already use your gift in service in the world, or how you might like to use it for service, could you do that?

In our worship celebration, we came forward and took a little gift (don’t get too jealous it was a beautifully wrapped piece of cardboard) and thought about how they can share it with the world. Do you have a place to discover your gifts? If not, think about joining us at the Village. You won’t be alone as many of us are still trying to figure out our gift, our place to serve in this world. You have something to offer, it’s just a matter of finding it and putting it into action.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

We Have Enough: Spiritual Practices: Prayer by Cheri Holdridge & Kurt Young

About 3-4 weeks ago, our daughter Becca came from school, admittedly Toledo School for the Arts, and out of the blue said she wanted to start playing a new musical instrument. For several years she played piano. Despite how good she became at it, practice was a chore. Cheri and Becca would come close to blows some days. And, then Becca told us she would like to play the String Bass, the biggest and most expensive musical instrument available. Both parents suppressed the groans fortunately.

But something amazing happened, she took to it. Her first weekend with the Bass, she could not leave it alone. She had no training, no lessons yet, and she would not leave it alone. Before her first lesson, she was getting sound out of it, real notes and all. And with the bass, she is practicing without being told, even asking for chances to do so, rather than reading, etc.

Something is different, Becca wants to do this. She has found something that feeds her. And, maybe those piano lessons are paying off. She learned to read music, keep rhythm, knows how to count out notes, and within a week, after one lesson, she’s already playing simple songs.

Both Cheri & Kurt have struggled for years to develop a spiritual discipline. For Kurt, this is done in motion, martial arts, yoga, some form of exercise. In movement, Kurt gets closer to the spirit. For Cheri, it’s the opposite, quiet prayer. For many years, she has tried to develop a practice of daily prayer on a consistent basis. She has admired other Christians who had this habit. Both of us have struggled throughout our adult lives with this discipline.

Cheri has listened to pastors tell her that as a faithful follower of Jesus she should have this practice. She has tried to get up early in the morning and do it. Finally she found a rhythm that worked for her, in the summer evenings, on my front porch, lighting a candle and reading a book about Sabbath (Kurt’s still working on it, but he got a great week or so prayer session of sanding and painting that porch while she was out of town to get this started).

Something finally clicked. But here is the thing we want you to hear – all those other times we prayed for a few weeks, and then got out of the habit, those times were important too. Because it was a start. It was a conversation with us and God. And even though there were some long breaks in between, it was all valuable. Not one moment we have ever spent in prayer with God has been wasted, even when we went years in between.

Cheri’s prayer life is like Becca learning the bass. First, prayer was more fun for her, when Cheri was truly ready. But second, praying is a skill that comes, like anything else, with practice. Becca can learn to play the bass easier because of those piano lessons, even though she never really took to the piano. She liked it, but it was not her passion. But it laid the ground work. Watching her, now we understand how a musician, once they learn one instrument, can learn so many more. It’s a skill and with practice, it becomes so easy, it’s like breathing.

That’s what finally happened with Cheri and daily prayer. In College, in seminary, even as a young pastor, she tried this prayer practice and that one, she can show you a stack of devotional books in my office. Cheri read the Psalms (a book of beautiful, prayerful, poetry in the old Testament, many written by King David) off and on for years. And then she would get mad at herself because she would not maintain the practice of getting up every morning for my quiet time with God. Kurt experienced that too as one exercise/prayer discipline that started well fell by the wayside again as he would not take the time to get up and make that happen. (Can you tell we are not morning people?).

But here is the thing: Regardless of the “failures” , WE WERE STILL PRACTICING. No one ever gets it perfect every time, EVER. This is life. LIFE IS PRACTICE. Prayer is a life practice. Prayer, our conversation with God, is a practice of life. Prayer is what connects us to God.

So this is our question for you today: are you happy with your prayer life, or would you like it to be better? Or to put it another way: are you happy with your feeling of connection to God, or would you like it to be better? Because prayer is our tool for getting connected to God.

For those who want to get a better connection to God, we have an invitation. But first, a little lesson in “church stuff” for those who may not have grown up in church, or are not from a church that celebrates the Church seasons. You know we don’t give you church stuff without explaining, and if you catch us doing that, call us on it.

First a big term – Lent. Lent is period of 40 days (except Sundays, you actually get the Sundays off) leading up to Easter (April 24) . It begins with Ash Wednesday, March 9, a usual somber celebration, service of preparation. The

Season of Lent is traditionally a time of reflection, confession, take our spiritual life deeper, “walk with Jesus to the cross,” adult candidates for baptism go through preparation, sacrifice – a.k.a. “give up something for Lent”.

Here at The Village, we are going to use the season of Lent to go deeper in our connection to God. We are going to have connection groups on Wednesday and Thursday nights, a 5 session study on the book “Economy of Love”. Also, coming up we'll talk about other Spiritual Practices: Prayer, Giving to help the poor, fasting (this Sunday and next two in worship)

On Ash Wed, March 9, at 7 p.m. we’ll have a Worship Service here to mark the beginning of the season of Lent. It will be a time for us to gather and make a commitment to God about the Spiritual practice we want to practice during the 40 days of Lent. You have about two and a half weeks to think about it. One of the options is to make some commitment around prayer. Whatever your current practice is with prayer, would you deepen it for the 40 days of Lent? Now, just to help out a bit, let’s just look at prayer for a couple of minutes.

Some of you know quite a bit about prayer. Some people tell me they do not pray because they just do not know where to start. When Cheri started taking prayer more seriously she was fascinated to learn that there are so many different types of prayer:

  • Intercessory – (praying for others)
  • Petitions for yourself (God help me pass this test.)
  • Confession (at the Village, unlike our Catholic brothers & sisters, we believe you can go directly to God and receive the forgiveness that God gives. They go through clergy)
  • Praise – singing God’s praises
  • Thanksgiving and gratitude (God thank you for the roof over my head, the bed I’m getting into, etc)
  • Listening – being still (or moving quietly) and listening to God
  • Emptying yourself – emptying our minds with a simple word or action to meditate.

That last one is what finally helped Cheri unlock the mystery of prayer, at least as far as she has unlocked the mystery so far, in her life. She still has more to learn. Meditative prayer, where we just empty our heads of any thoughts, and just open ourselves to God, can be some of the most powerful prayer.

Another variation on this is to choose just one word (or a phrase) for God, a sort of mantra, like Peace, or Spirit, or Calm, and just pray that word with each breath sometimes called a breath prayer. Cheri often does that at the beginning of the day. Kurt wears a bracelet of prayer beads around his wrist. A time or two a day, when he needs to center himself, calm himself prepare himself, he takes it off and does a breath prayer. On each bead he breathes in and says “here I am God” and on the next bead, as he breathes out “Make me your servant”. It makes all the difference.

Jesus’ disciples, the people who were actually there with Jesus in person, were no different than us. They were clueless on how to do this. They asked him for advice about how to pray – how better to connect to God in this conversation. Jesus told them to keep it simple. He said that when we are getting started we should not worry about praying in public. He criticized folks who used lots of fancy empty phrases when praying in front of other people, trying to sound important. He said, just find a quite place, where you can be with God. That’s the important thing. And then he gave them an example of a prayer that we now know as The Lord’s Prayer.

Honestly, we don’t think Jesus ever meant that we would we would pray that same prayer every Sunday in our churches – though we’re sure he does not mind. If you look more closely at his prayer, and our list of types of prayers, many of the components of prayer are right there in Jesus prayer. That’s why we call it a “model prayer.” So if you don’t know where to start, this is a good place. Let’s pray it together. There are lots of different translations of the prayer. Here is one we will use together today:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours

now and for ever. Amen.

So, there’s the trail head to a prayer journey. Are you ready to take it? If so, get started. If not, and you need a trail guide or more, than try coming to the Village. We’re at the Corner of Monroe & Central in Toledo.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

WE HAVE ENOUGH TIME by Cheri Holdridge (with an assist by Kurt Young)

A couple of weeks ago in worship I talked about the article I saw on the cover of Newsweek about 20 years ago about how CEO’s were ending up in the hospital with diagnoses of exhaustion simply from working too many hours. They were trying to run their companies, in the pursuit of the almighty dollar, and their value systems were just all upside down compared to Jesus’ Way of life.

Well, I think I was in the 9th Grade, I was probably about 14 when I started getting so stressed, from being too busy, too over committed that I had to go to the nurse’s office every day at lunch and take a dose of Maalox. My doctor looked at me one day and said: “You know if I have to put you in the hospital one day, then you will slow down.” Ninth Grade? I was 14, for goodness sake. I can imagine that happening to CEO’s but a teenager? What was happening to CEO’s should not have been happening to a teen-ager. I was stressed, from doing too much, and the life of a busy teen-ager for most kids was NOTHING back then, compared to what it is today.

By my Senior Year of High School I had to make a choice the Marching Band and the Church. I was very active in church boards and was chosen to be on a national board of the Methodist Church the General Council on Ministries (GCOM), a big deal for a fourteen year old. I meant I was going to get to travel around the country. But I had to choose. The band had a competition the same week as I had a big meeting. I went to the Band Director for help, that was a BIG MISTAKE. The band director of course said “you’re going to ruin your senior year in high school”. I had an opportunity to serve and learn, build relationships, and see the big picture of the church. I chose the church thing. I would not be here today, and neither would the Village, if I had not made that choice. I would not have come to Ohio, met Kurt and have him and Rebecca & Jamie. I made the right choice for me. It was a crucial choice. I said YES, to one thing, and NO to something else.

At Ginghamsbug United Methodist Church, at a training event, a few years ago, I learned a really important lesson. It may sound a bit more like science than psychology, but the lesson has proven to be one of the most valuable ones of my life, especially when my life is spinning out of control and I feel like I don’t have enough time. Here it is: When we say “yes” to one thing, then we are saying “no” to something else. It’s a simple cause and effect. I challenge you to find a situation where it does not play out.

When I say “yes” to another commitment, I am usually saying “no” to some family time, free time, or sleep. Or when I say “yes” to some work commitment then I am saying “no” to some other project at work, or I am saying “no” to spending adequate time to do something well. Saying “yes” to some things often means I say “no” to sleep, or “no” to self-care. Or by the same token, saying “yes” to sleep, can mean that I say “no” to keeping a commitment I have made. See how it works?

When someone asks me to do something, this thought process helps me, because I think to myself: “What will I be giving up if I say ‘yes’ to this?” Because if the new opportunity is something I am passionate about, and something I believe in, or something that will bring me joy, then of course, I want to say “yes.” And I should say “yes.” But if not, then going through this thought process, of what I will have to trade, sometimes gives me the strength to look the asker in the eye, and say, “no.” “No, I’m not going to be able to help you this time.” And by the way, you don’t have to give an excuse. You are allowed just to say “no” to someone. I admire people who can do that honestly and guilt free. Grown-ups do that all the time. Guilt free! I want to be that way when I grow up. It’s Jesus’ Way! Listen again to what he said.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus wants us to live with joy! Jesus wants us to live “free and lightly.”

Who wants to sign up for this, what if I told you I could give you an extra day every week? How many of you would like any extra day each week? Well guess what? That is God’s desire for us too. It’s right there in that book we say we want to live by, the Bible. Right there in the first section of the book, in Genesis, in the stories of the origin of creation. God created the world in six days and rested on day seven and said, on one day of the week, we are allowed to rest too. It’s called our Sabbath Day. God gave us permission to say “no” on the seventh day of the week so we can rest and play and find our joy. We have an extra day. It is already ours to claim. God has given us the right and the privilege to claim it as children of God. Now the world may not honor that value, but we get to decide, whether we are going to live by the world’s rules, or God’s rules. I, for one, decided a long time to live for God. Now we don’t have to be rigid and claim our Sabbath Day on the same day every week, but God, who created us and who created this whole universe, says, we are all allowed to have a day of rest. One day EVERY WEEK, for rest and renewal, for something that gives us joy and renews our souls.

So, how are we doing with that? If we are not doing so well with Sabbath Days, then how about a Sabbath hour, now and then, or a Sabbath moment, just to stop and smell the roses, or experience joy – in whatever way YOU experience joy? We’ll be talking more about that in some future weeks in worship. Or if you want to see one of our Spiritual Directors, that would be a great way to explore this value of Sabbath.

To take us back to today’s focus of TIME. I talk to lots of people, and one of the recurring themes is this: people tell me they wish they had more time. We say we don’t have enough time. We want more time. Well, friends, we all have the same 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week. We can get stressed and wish we had more time. Or we can take a deep breath, and ask God to help us find a better way to live in the time we do have.

Here is one image that has been helpful for me. Maybe some of you have seen or heard this before but it is worth repeating. Stephen Covey uses this at his time management seminars. Imagine all the things in your life that you want and need to spend time on as rocks, some are big rocks and some are smaller rocks. And they all have to fit into a glass jar.

Work Church Reading

Family Hobbies Volunteer work

Friends yard work Facebook

Sports home care bill paying

Entertainment laundry vacations

At the Covey seminars, they try to fit the things into the jar. . .

You want to put the most important things into the jar first. And then fit the other things around those. Don’t let other people decide for you what is most important. And don’t let things that are not really so important, eat up your time, so that the more important things get pushed out. If you do the most important things first, or put them on your calendar first, and fit everything else around them, then the other stuff will get done, OR it’s really not that important to you.

Now, I know this is easier said than done. Prioritizing is one of my biggest personal challenges in life. I want you to know, that when I speak to you, as your pastor, and your friend, that I am speaking from my heart today. Time management is one of my hardest things. And this is why we need to ask God to help us. And we need to listen to Jesus on this one. When I get really stressed out, I need to remember a day when I was at the end of my rope, stressed out from work, and a wise mentor told me simply: turn off your phone, and go take a nap. Let someone else take care of them today. It’s your day off. “It’s a Jesus thing.”

Jesus said: “Are you tired? Worn out? . . . Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. . . Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. . . . Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:28-30).

Need a place to help learn how to recover, learn the unforced rhythms of grace, join us at the Village. You can say Yes to joining a community where taking care of you, while working to change the world. We’re at the corner of Central & Monroe Street in Toledo Sundays @ 9:45 AM and 11:30 AM and around various times during the week. Come join us.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

“WE HAVE ENOUGH: WHERE’S YOUR TREASURE?” by Cheri Holdridge (with an assist by Kurt Young)

A Social Studies teacher gives an assignment to a 7th grade class on the first day of school. The assignment is for the whole year. “Think of an idea to change our world and put it into action.” Most kids clean up a vacant lot, or do some recycling, nothing radical, but at least they get engaged with their world and that is the teacher’s point. But one child, Trevor, is special. He takes the assignment really seriously. Trevor has seen some stuff: his mom’s alcoholism and how they live on the edge financially. He sees the homeless folks who basically live in a deserted area near his home. He decides to change the world, one person at a time. He invites a homeless man to live in their garage, without asking mom’s permission, to give the man a second chance.

By now, if you didn’t figure out what movie this, Joe from our band did before this point in the sermon, we watched a clip now from “Pay It Forward”. We watch as Trevor’s mom finds the man, and confronts him. He is fixing her truck. Trevor has given him his life savings. That has given him a chance to buy shoes and clothes and with that, he has gotten a job. He has made himself homeless with a drug habit, but now, with this leg up from a kid. Now the man has an assignment.

Trevor’s idea, if you haven’t seen the film, is that he helps three people who need help. They then have to help three other people, not him. They have to pay it forward. So three people becomes nine, nine becomes twenty seven and as the man says as he explains the concept to Trevor’s Mom, “I’m not very good with math, but it gets big really fast”.

Now if you’ve see the film, you know that it’s not all sweetness and roses. It’s real human stuff. Some people do well with their blessings and others not so well. But the point is this, the assignment was to change the world, to make the world a better place, and there is no question that Trevor’s plan has that effect. Because here is the thing, the boy has a good heart. He loves his mom. You can see, that his mom, even with her struggles as an alcoholic, and as a single mom trying to pay the bills, she loves her son, and she is trying to do right by him. She has raised a boy with a heart big enough to want to give his life savings to give a homeless man a new start. That’s a big heart for a little boy.

“You put your treasure, where your heart is.” That’s what our scripture for today says. Show me where a person put their treasure and I’ll show you where their heart really is. Or to put it another way: The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

Listen again to what Jesus said in his preaching; "Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars.” And then he sums it up: “You can't worship God and Money both.” Think about that again. “You can't worship God and Money both.”

Our collective mission here at The Village is to “follow Jesus and change the world.” Trevor certainly claimed the mission to change the world. We claim to do it in the name of Jesus. We have decided to live our lives in the Way of Jesus. We believe Jesus’ way of peace, justice and compassion is an excellent Way and so we have said “YES” we will commit our lives to this path, instead of the other choices out there. We are here today because we’ve chosen that path. So what does that mean?

Well, every now and then, we need to take a look and see if our actions match up with our stated values. Another way of saying it is this: “Are we putting our money where our mouth is?” It’s a phrase we use when we want someone to prove that they are really committed to something, isn’t it? We could say, put your TIME and your MONEY where your mouth is, because our time and our money show what we value. If I want to know what is most important to you, I need to see two things: your calendar, and your bank account. That will tell me volumes. Now, I could write an essay for you about the 5 most important values in my life, but until you match that up with how I spend my most valuable resources, my time and my money, you really would not know if I am serious about those values – or if they are just some pie-in-the-sky ideas about how I wish I might live my life. Maybe they are the values I think I should have, or that I think you want me to have, or that my mama wants me to have. But until you SEE how I spend my time and my money you don’t REALLY know what is important to me, do you?

So I could have you take out your calendars right now, and tell me how you spend your time and then we would know what we value. If we value you equality for the oppressed, or compassion for the poor, then how are we giving our time toward that? If we value deepening our relationship with God, then you are here today, that is great, but what else? You have 168 hours in a week. If we value you time with family and friends, or value our health, then are we making time for exercise. . . you see where I am going.

Then I could ask you to take out your family budget or your checkbook. Now I am really getting nosey. If Jesus were to sit down with us and look at how we spend our money, what would it show Jesus about what we treasure? What percentage of our money goes toward compassion for the poor and working for equality for people who are oppressed? We care deeply about those two things here at the Village. What percentage goes toward The Village Church so that we can be a welcome place and a healing place for people who want to find the love of God? One long accepted goal to strive for is the tithe. We give 10% of our money away to God, to our church and other charity and we keep the other 90%. It seems like keeping 90% for ourselves would be plenty. But very few people actually give 10% away. What does this say about our treasure?

It’s not easy to re-order our priorities. Kurt and I worked really hard to go from giving away about 5% of our take home pay to our church to about 10%, but it took us years to work up to that practice. It was a sacrifice for us to do that. And we had to pay off some credit card debt along the way. But finally, we got there.

It’s not easy for me to re-order my time commitments so that I take some time for myself to go to yoga class and care for my body, even though I treasure self care like we talked about last week.

But here’s the point: the world will tell us what values to have. Certain people will call us to particular values. Advertising will call us to values. We got a telemarketing call last night at the house that Kurt took. But we have chosen to follow Jesus and his values for us. It is a free choice. I would argue that it’s the best choice. But if we are going to make this choice – then let’s take it seriously, like Trevor took seriously that class assignment. If we’re going to follow Jesus, let’s don’t just do it half way.

Where is your treasure? Where are you putting your precious resources of time and money? And what are the places that each one of us do not line our time and money with the way you think Jesus would want you to use them?

Now, if you are in financial debt and you are in over your head, you may need some help. There is a course, called the Financial Peace University that we are going to offer later this year that some other churches have offered. It’s a great class to help folks get a hold of their finances and get out of debt using good financial principles and Christian values. Several people in our congregation have used it and seen amazing results. One even was able to use it to pay off $17,000 in medical bill debt. If you are someone who would like to help other people, or who needs help, would you let me know that you will help with this class.

If you want to talk more about the challenges of living as Jesus’ followers day to day, then come to Bible study on Monday nights. Tomorrow night we will talk about this scripture in particular, and I will be leading the class, as Pat is out of town.

My challenge for you today is this. Consider this question. Where is your treasure? And does it match up with your where you want your heart to be? If you want to consider this more deeply, later today or tomorrow, get out your calendar, and your financial records, and take a close look at what they tell you about your treasure. And then pray over them. And ask God, “how you are doing?” God will tell you. And then let God show you your next step. It’s all about taking the next step closer so that our treasure and our hearts are together.