Sunday, May 31, 2015

God Has Plans by Cheri Holdridge (with an assist by Kurt Young)

Why does suffering happen? This is the age old question. Why do good people suffer? We all heard stories this week out of Texas, stories of lives lost. Alyssa Ramirez, 18 was the homecoming queen and student council President. She was on her way home from the prom when her car was swept away by the waters. Now her family must pick up the pieces of their lives after her death. I am sure they are asking “why?” Why did our daughter have to die at such a young age? Why are we left behind to grieve? It’s not fair.  When these things happen, we wonder “How can God let these things happen?”

Laura McComb and her daughter are missing from their home in Wimberley TX after the home was knocked off its foundation. Her husband is in the hospital with severe injuries. Their son was found dead a couple of days later.  How must that husband and father feel? Waiting for word on his wife and daughter?  We live in a world where disasters happen every day.  And we wonder, “How can God let these things happen?”

Why are some children born into wealth and others into poverty? Why are some born into loving homes and others born into abuse? We have no good answers. Yes, there are some systems that create poverty. There are some political forces at could lift people out of poverty and they fail. We have systems in place to try to protect children from abuse, but sometimes they fail. Everyday good people try to make a positive difference. And yet bad things still happen, and we wonder, “How can God let these bad things happen?”

Our scripture for today is one of those Old Testament stories about suffering where God seems to be the cause of the suffering. I have mentioned before in recent messages that the Jewish people were taken to live in exile in Babylon. It appears from scripture that God allowed this suffering to happen as a punishment. The people were practicing idolatry and they were disobedient to God, and so God allowed the Babylonians to take over the Jews. They were taken to live in exile in Babylon. We don’t like to think about God as a punishing God but that is the God we sometimes see in the Old Testament. 

So we find Jeremiah, the Prophet, writes a letter to the people who are living in exile. He is trying to encourage them, to be their pastor. He tells them to make the best of it while they are living in exile. Because the exile won’t last forever. He says:

“Build houses and make yourselves at home.

“Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country.

“Marry and have children. Encourage your children to marry and have children so that you’ll thrive in that country and not waste away.”

He basically tells them, “Even though you are living far away from home, make the best of it, and continue to receive the blessings of home, food, and children.” 

Then he tells them, that their exile will last 70 years, a whole generation, but then he gives them a word of hope. This is the high point of letter. He says to them, “God has a message for you, and this is the message: 

“I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

You see, God can’t stay angry with them forever. God promises to bring them back home. God has plans for them, plans to care for them. God will not abandon them. God has a future for them, a future they’ve hope for. 

I believe this is the message God has for us when we are suffering. God promises to show up. Our suffering cannot last and God has better things planned for us.

Now, let me be clear. I do not believe God causes our suffering in order to teach us a lesson, did you hear me? That is bad theology. I do not think God sends floods to teach us a lesson. I don’t think God makes some people poor to teach them to be strong. I don’t think God causes some people to be abused so they will learn from their abuse.

I think bad things just happen. Suffering just happens. Sometimes because of nature. Sometimes suffering happens because other people sin. Sometimes it just happens by accident. Suffering happens. I don’t believe God causes suffering.

But when suffering happens, we have to decide how to deal with it. And Jeremiah gives us a word of hope from God when we are suffering. God has a better plan in mind for us. God wants what is good for us. God wants us to live out our hopes and dreams. That is God’s desire. It is NEVER God’s desire that we suffer. That is not God’s nature. God wants us to have abundant life.

That does not mean we won’t suffer, but when we do, that is a time to look for something good, and to watch for the other side of suffering. 

What do you do when you are suffering? Jeremiah invites us to lean into God. To put our trust in God. I believe God suffers with us when we are suffering. I am sure God is suffering with those who are grieving for lost loved ones in Texas this week. They need time to mourn. There is a time to die and a time to be born as the writer of Ecclesiastes said. But there is also a time to plant and to dream. Once the mourning has passed it is time to live. It is time to live life to the fullest and to give our lives to God. 

Jeremiah reminds us that when our suffering has passed, God has plans for us.  Do you know God’s plans for you? Plans to give you the future that you hope for? What is that future you hope for? 

I believe God has a plan for you, and it is connected to your deepest hopes and dreams. But we have to discover that plan. That path to discovery is what we call discernment.

Discernment is when we listen to God in prayer. Do you want to know God’s plan for you? Then we all need to be in relationship with God. This is not a passive thing. We can’t just sit around doing nothing, and expecting God’s plan for us to unfold. We need to be active partners in this relationship.

For example, if God has a plan for you to have a new career, to be a teacher, perhaps, then you have pay attention to that plan, and get an education and do the preparation to be a teacher. You can’t just wake up one day and “poof” you are a teacher. 

If God has a plan for you to have a life partner, because you long to have someone with whom to share your life, then you have to be out there meeting people and looking for that life partner. You can sit at home and expect that the person will just appear from thin air. We have to work with God.

Do you want to know God’s plan for your life? Have you asked God? Have you spent time in prayer? In quiet time? Really listening? Have you asked God to show you a direction? 

Now, sometimes we pray to God and we get a clear answer. We ask for direction and we get it. But sometimes we pray and we get that answer that I hate: “wait, not now. Be patient” God may have plans for us, but God may not be ready to put those plans into action yet. It just may not be time. In God’s time, the plan will be revealed and put into action. We are called to be patient. But the plan is there, nonetheless.

I believe the message of this scripture is clear. God has plans for us. That is our comfort. When you are suffering, and you feel like your life has no direction, take heart. God has a direction in mind. God has a plan. God wants you to live with joy and with direction. That is the message of this scripture. God has plans for your life, plans to give you the future you hope for.   

Sunday, May 24, 2015

We Have Power by Cheri Holdridge (with an assist by Patti Lusher)

This is Graduation season. Young people, and some not so young people are celebrating accomplishments. Some are graduating from high school. Others are getting Bachelor’s degrees, Masters degrees or even PhDs. Becca has been invited to so many graduations parties I have lost count. I went to a party last night for the twin sons of friends of ours. All of these graduates are stepping out into a new future. They have a piece of paper that says they are ready now, ready to get a job, hopefully. Ready to contribute something to society. Ready to make their mark.
Commencement speakers across the country are giving words of encouragement and inspiration. Speakers are challenging these graduates to go out into the world and make a difference. I am willing to guess that not a few of them are frightened. “Am I ready?” “Are you kidding? They are going to trust me with a classroom of children? Or a laboratory? Or to be the pastor of a church? I’m not ready for that.” But diploma in hand, those graduates will take their first job, ready or not. Sink or swim. And we will trust our lives to them.
Jesus had a word for his disciples when he knew it was time for them to sink or swim. He knew he would not be with them much longer, to hold their hands. They would be sent out, on their own, like new graduates, with the task of making disciples.
He said to them, “I won’t leave you alone. The Holy Spirit, also called the “paraclete” in Greek, will come alongside of you. The Holy Spirit will give you strength. They had no clue what Jesus meant when he promised them a paraclete. Paraclete means the one who comes alongside, the one who gives you strength. They had never heard of the Holy Spirit. Was it a ghost?  Jesus went on to talk about how he would not be with them much longer, which troubled them, and he did not say much else about this Holy Spirit.
It was sometime later, after his death and resurrection, that the Holy Spirit came. The disciples were alone in a room, probably still in grief and shock that Jesus was gone. Probably feeling overwhelmed like new graduates, wondering, “How will we be leaders in the world? We can’t do this without our teacher.”
They had forgotten all about the promise of the Holy Spirit, the paraclete who would come alongside of them. And then it came, like wind and fire, filling the room: the power of God in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit filled them and they began to speak in all the languages of the people who were gathered in Jerusalem for the Jewish festival of Pentecost. They began to preach about the wonders of God. People listened and were inspired.
Then Peter reminded them what the Prophet Joel had said:
“In the Last Days,” God says,
“I will pour out my Spirit
    on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
    also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
    your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
    I’ll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
    and they’ll prophesy.
….And whoever calls out for help
    to me, God, will be saved.”
That was the day the Church was born. The disciples all began to preach, filled with the Holy Spirit, and the message of God’s love revealed in Jesus began to spread. Churches were planted in Rome and Philippi and Ephesus and all across the land. We are here because of that day of Pentecost. Because the Holy Spirit lives in God’s people.
The Holy Spirit lives in you. In your baptism your church claimed the presence of the Holy Spirit in you. And so you have power. You have that same power that we read about that was like wind and fire. You may not feel it every day, but it is there, waiting to be tapped.
The Holy Spirit fire is what causes us to disrupt the status quo in the world. When we do justice in big and small ways, that is the Holy Spirit working through us, the paraclete working and walking alongside us. Have you ever said anything and wondered how you had the courage to say it? Have you confronted a bully? Have you stood up to evil? Did you speak the truth when someone was being hurtful and say “Enough! I will not tolerate your behavior.” That was the Holy Spirit working in you.
Have you ever marched in a Pride parade? Or run in the Race for the Cure? That was the Holy Spirit working in you, saying, “I believe the world can be a better place.” “I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”
These are all disruptions. Disruptions in the status quo. That is what the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit disrupts.
There are people in our world who are hurting. They are longing for us to be a disruption. They need God. People are without hope. They need us to give them a message of hope. You may not think you are a preacher or a teacher. But you are a follower of Jesus and so you have a message to share. And the Holy Spirit is in you, so the Holy Spirit gives you the power to share a message.
Here is how you do it. When you encounter someone who is discouraged, can you say, “I will pray for you”? Can you say, “I know things are difficult but I believe in a God that walks with us through difficult times and so I trust that God is with you”? Can you just sit with a friend in silence and be present? You don’t have to give any answers. Sometimes a calming presence is all a person needs. Sometimes a listening ear from someone who does not try to fix things but is just willing to listen is what is needed. Trust that the Holy Spirit is with you and trust that the Holy Spirit will work through you.  You don’t need to have the answers, just allow the Holy Spirit to work through you.
The first disciples were not perfect and we don’t have to be perfect. God just asks that we are faithful. Being faithful means that we are willing to share our love for God with others. We may fumble around for words, but the Holy Spirit will help us. Our honesty and vulnerability will make all the difference. There are people out there who are waiting. They are waiting to hear the story that we have to share. I’d like to show you this short video about telling the story.

Will you allow the Holy Spirit to work through you? Will you share your faith with the people in your life who are searching for direction? God will lead you to them. There are people in need. They need to know God’s love. We are the ones that have a story to tell.
The story is so wonderful we can’t keep it inside any longer. We have to take it out to the streets. That is the message of Pentecost. The power of God can’t be contained. The power of God, the Holy Spirit, lives in us and we won’t be contained. Our love is a fire that burns. Our love is a powerful wind that blows through the city. We make a difference when we show love and compassion and when we do justice.
Will you let the Holy Spirit live in you, and pour out through you? That is the challenge of Pentecost. To live as a strong follower of Jesus.
I think back to those graduates whom I mentioned at the beginning of my message. They may be a bit nervous but they are also on fire. Because they believe they can change the world. Armed with a fresh diploma, they are ready to make a difference.
But we are equipped with something even more powerful than a diploma or a degree. We have the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit living in us, we have the power to change the world. So claim that power. Live in the strength of the Holy Spirit. Go, and live with compassion, and do justice. Share the message with your neighbor. Tell the story. God loves you, and that makes all the difference. Amen.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Land is Restored by Cheri Holdridge (with an assist by Patti Lusher)

As you may recall we left the story of Nehemiah last week with Nehemiah calling the people to help him rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The local officials did not think he could do it, but he had the blessing of the King. More than that, he was called by God to restore the wall. so he was sure he would accomplish the task. The Jewish people came in from the outlying countryside, the men leaving their wives to tend the fields, and they rebuilt the entire wall and all the gates in just fifty-two days.
Okay, fifty-two days is a long time when you are not getting paid for the work and you have left your farms behind, and when there is a famine. But fifty-two days for such a building project is a short time. (Just consider how long our road construction projects take.)
Near the end of the project, there was an outcry among the people. That is where we pick up our story today. You see, as I mentioned, there was a famine. The working poor who were called upon to work on the wall, were having to mortgage their homes and their fields just to eat. Some of them were mortgaging their own children as slaves, in order to survive. They were also borrowing money to pay the King’s taxes. The wealthy people who were loaning them the money were charging outrageous interest rates. All of this was legal but it was not right.
Nehemiah became furious. He called a meeting with the nobles and the officials and told them, “You are gouging your brothers.”
 He explained: “We did everything we could to buy back our Jewish brothers who had to sell themselves as slaves to foreigners [when they were overtaken by the Babylonians]. And now you’re selling these same brothers back into debt slavery! Does that mean that we have to buy them back again?”
They said nothing. What could they say?
“What you’re doing is wrong. Is there no fear of God left in you? Don’t you care what the nations around here, our enemies, think of you?
Give them back their foreclosed fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes right now. And forgive your claims on their money, grain, new wine, and olive oil.”
12-13 They said, “We’ll give it all back. We won’t make any more demands on them. We’ll do everything you say.”
Their fields were restored. The economic balance was restored. Justice was restored for the people. You see, these were Jews, wealthy and poor who were pitted against one another in an economic war. One group was thriving and the other was not making it.
Nehemiah made them see that they were all brothers and sisters as Jews. They had been through a terrible time when they had been taken over by the Babylonians. They had been made slaves and been made to live in exile. They had survived this terrible time in their lives. Now was the time for them to come together and rebuild and have a good future together.
And so the rich saw that he was right. They realized they did not have to gouge the poor and charge them such horrible interest rates. They could live together with economic justice. That is what God wants – a world where we all live with economic justice and balance.
So I wonder, what Nehemiah would say about our world if he were here today. If he looked at how we treat one another, and how we deal with our finances, what would he say about us? I believe if Nehemiah were living here today he would be concerned about the economic inequalities in our world. He would be concerned about the 1% of the wealthy holding 46% of the world’s assets, and 2/3 of the world’s adults holding less than 3% of global wealth. There is an imbalance there.
On a more local level, I believe Nehemiah would be really angry with the pay-day loan companies and the credit card companies and the interest rates they charge. These two institutions are perfectly legal but they take advantage of customers who are desperate, much like the wealthy did in Nehemiah’s day. The pay-day loan companies and the credit card companies make it almost impossible for a person to get out of the cycle of debt once a person has begun to borrow money.
I am willing to bet that most of us have fallen prey to one or the other of these institutions. The average American household with at least one credit card had nearly $16,000 in credit-card debt (in 2012), according to, (Source: lesson9/index.htm).
Why do we borrow money on credit cards and from pay day loans? I don’t know anyone suffering from famine in Toledo.  But sometimes we have legitimate emergencies. We have unexpected health care costs. We have car repairs or home repairs and we don’t have money set aside in savings to take care of them. These are realities. True enough.
But sometimes, we run up debt buying things that we want that we simply cannot afford. We get caught up in the American consumer culture, myself included. I make that confession here. We want it NOW. We don’t want to wait. We want to take that trip NOW. We don’t want to wait. We deserve this. And yes, we probably do. But the fact is, if we don’t have the money, we need to wait.
But the TV ads, the internet, the magazines all tell us, we need this thing NOW. We need it to be beautiful. We need it to be successful or because it will make our home more wonderful.
The truth is, there are very few things we NEED. And mostly things we WANT. Now, if any of you own a pay-day loan company or a credit card company, I believe the message of this scripture for you is this: be just in your business practices. Lower your interest rates and treat your customer as you would treat your brother or sister.
But I am pretty sure none of you own a pay-day loan company or a credit card company. So what does this scripture say to the rest of us? It says that God wants economic balance for us in our lives. God does not want us to be in debt so that all we do is worry about money.  Worry is evil. Some debt is okay. Many people are going to have a home mortgage. That’s not what we’re talking about here.
We’re talking about debt that weighs us down. If we have credit cards, and can’t pay off the balance each month we may need to ask ourselves, “Are our personal finances in balance? Am I living within my means, or I am getting sucked into the American consumer culture?”
You see, one of the biggest causes of stress in the United States is financial stress. Financial stress can affect your health. It can affect your marriage or other relationships. God does not want us to live burdened with stress.
God wants us to be free. That is why Nehemiah said to the ones holding the mortgages: “forgive your brothers, the debts that they owe you.” They had the power to set their brothers and sisters free.
My friends, God gives us the power to be free. We can be free from the worry of debt. It takes time and perseverance but we can do it, with God’s help.
So what do we need to do? If you believe you need to get your financial house in order, start with writing down everything you spend money on for a month. You will be surprised at how much you learn by this exercise. Then make yourself a budget and live within it. Be ruthless with yourself.
Kurt and I did this a few years ago. We had let our credit card debt run up. We took a course in money management. We kept track of every penny we spent. In a couple of years’ time we were able to pay off our debts and build up more savings that we had ever had before. It felt really good.
Another thing you can do is to meet with a financial advisor. I know one I can refer you to who will not charge you a penny for an initial consult, and he will help you create a family budget if you can’t do this on your own.
You also might want to talk with Karen Shepler. Sometime in the next few months she hopes to teach a class for us called “Faith and Finance” that will help the participants get their finances in order.
Finally, it is always good to pray. Ask God to help you find economic balance in your life.
Nehemiah heard the cries of the people when they said they were struggling financially. He went to those who had the power and insisted that they make some changes. My friends, we have power over our own economic lives. We have the power to make different choices. We have power to get out of debt. It takes time, discipline and prayer but we can do it. And I believe economic justice starts with economic balance at home.
So let’s ask God to help us. God, we give our money and our money decisions to you. Help us to restore economic balance at home. Amen.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Building a Strong Future Together by Cheri Holdridge (with an assist by Kurt Young)

I want to tell you all a story about The Village and how we got started.  It’s one I am sure that most of you have never heard. More than 15 years ago I was trained by the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church to be a church planter. I went through a two year academy for potential church planters. I was encouraged to pray about a vision for a church. I learned how to identify a target audience. I learned strategies for how to gather people together. I dreamed about what worship and ministry could look like in a new context.

Then the days came about seven years ago when the vision for The Village began to form in my heart and my soul. I was praying deeply. God and I were like this. You can ask my family. I got a bit obsessed. I couldn’t talk about much else. I dreamed of a progressive church where everyone is welcome. We would be committed to outreach and mission in our community.  I dreamed of a church where the language in our worship would be simple and not weighed down by churchy insider language. The atmosphere for our worship would be comfortable and welcoming, with music that sounds more like what you listen to on the radio rather than a bunch of 18th century cathedral music. (Nothing against organ music but there are plenty of churches out there with beautiful organs, so we would offer an alternative.)

The time came for me to share my dream  with the powers that be in the United Methodist Church. I wrote a proposal for The Village Church. God and I knew I had a good plan; it was bathed in prayer. I felt called to plant this church. I remember telling people that everything in my life had prepared me for this work. I was born to plant this church. It was exhilarating.

So, I had to be assessed by a man named Jim Griffith. He is the national guru for church planting in the United States. Kurt went with me to that assessment. I had to turn in all this paperwork to Jim about my vision and my call. In this assessment meeting he asked me hard questions. He pushed me and quite frankly, I choked. I came out of the meeting fearful that I had failed the assessment. I remember talking to my coach Paul Nixon. Paul said, “What are you going to do if they tell you no?” Because a positive assessment was crucial for getting approval to plant the church. I thought for a moment and I said to Paul, “ I’m going to have to plant this church anyway.” I was that sure that God was calling me to plant The Village. Nothing was going to stop me. Paul laughed and said, “Well there is something to be said for clarity.” Thankfully I passed the assessment (with Jim’s highest level grade Kurt adds).

But then came the request for funding. I submitted a grant proposal to the West Ohio Conference, asking for funding for The Village, and they said, “no.” The reason? Because we did not have a mother church. You see, the preferred model for church planting in the conference was, (and probably still is), to have a mother church. But in Toledo there was no existing church that wanted to help launch The Village. So I was stuck.

The institution said, “no” to The Village, but I kept hearing God saying “Yes” to me. I decided to listen to God and that is how we are here today. I persevered. God and I found a way. We found a partnership with the United Church of Christ and eventually the United Methodists got on board too, but that is a story for another day.

The point of my story is this: there are times when human beings will say to us “no”, but God says “yes.” Human forces are strong. The United Methodist Church is a powerful institution in my life. I had been a pastor for 18 years when the church said “no” to me. I could easily have second guessed myself and decided it was not the right time to plant The Village. I could have decided I was misguided. Surely these smart people in the church that I had given my life to, could not be wrong. Who I am to question the church?

But there was a higher power at work. Yes, a higher power than the United Methodist Church. That power was God. God had prepared me my entire life to be a church planter. That church had trained me. But God had given me the vision and the perseverance to move forward. And so we moved forward.

So, How was I able to do it? Through PRAYER. Lots and lots of prayer. I put my trust in God. My prayer life was never deeper than during that time period when I was preparing to launch The Village.
This brings me to today’s scripture about a man named Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:11-20 from The Message paraphrase for those following along from afar). Nehemiah also had a calling. As I mentioned last week, he was living comfortably in Susa, a city in Babylon. He was working for the king. The Jews were living in exile in Babylon but for some, like Nehemiah, exile had become the new normal. They had been away from their homeland of Judah for 40 years. That’s a whole generation. Nehemiah could have remained comfortable in Susa.

But he did not. Because his brother traveled to Jerusalem and came and told Nehemiah that their people were living in terrible conditions. The wall around Jerusalem, a wall which gave safety to the people, was in ruins. Nehemiah got permission from the King to go to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall.

He traveled to Jerusalem. In today’s scripture we read as he surveys the damage to the wall. He does his investigation under the cover of darkness. Then, in the light of day, he comes and tells the leaders of his people: “Face it: we’re in a bad way here. Jerusalem is a wreck; its gates are burned up. Come—let’s build the wall of Jerusalem and not live with this disgrace any longer.” He tells them how God was supporting him and how the king was backing him up.

They said, “We’re with you. Let’s get started.” They rolled up their sleeves, ready for the good work.Ah, not so fast. Some of the local leaders do not like Nehemiah waltzing in and trying to take over. They are part of the institutional hierarchy.

The scripture says: “When Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they laughed at Nehemiah, mocking, “Ha! What do you think you’re doing? Do you think you can cross the king?”

 He didn’t even bother to tell them about the King’s permission, he went right to God.  He shot back, “The God-of-Heaven will make sure we succeed. We’re God’s servants and we’re going to work, rebuilding. You can keep your nose out of it. You get no say in this—Jerusalem’s none of your business!

You see, Nehemiah is not concerned with what the local officials have to say. He answers to a higher power. God calls him to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and that is exactly what he does. He calls together the people and they rebuild the entire wall around the city. It is a massive project. I am sure there are times when they get discouraged. But they have God on their side, they have strength. The local officials think they cannot do it, but the Jews persevere. They put their trust in God. In the end, the wall is fortified and their city is made strong once again and safe again.

How are they able to do it? Because Nehemiah prayed and listened to God and because the people listened to God and they worked together to achieve a goal.

My friends at the Village Church we are being called to work together toward a common future too. Last week I reported to you that the United Church of Christ approved us to charter as a congregation. On Monday I went and met with a district committee of the United Methodist Church asking for their approval and they were hesitant. While they value the good ministry that we are doing they are concerned about our small numbers of people and money. These are institutional fears getting the best of God’s people. The committee, rather than saying “yes” to us and to our vision to be a chartered church, decided to “table” our request. They sent our request up the chain of command to some officials in the conference.

I am disappointed with their decision, but not shocked. Often, institutional leaders get caught up in numbers, don’t they? I wish they had been willing to take a risk with us, and put their trust in God.  But sadly they are not.

Friends, we are at a crossroad. It’s true that we are small. Our numbers of people, and our financial resources may be small, but we have a big vision. I believe God still has wonderful ministry in store for us, if we will put our trust in God.

There are people here whose lives have been transformed because of this congregation, people who tell me they are alive today because they found this church. There are many more people out there who need a church like the Village church.  You can’t put a price tag on that. But there are more people out there who need God and who need this church. We need to find them. We need to pray that they find us. A church needs to grow in order to be healthy. As long as there are more people out there who need the love of God in their lives, our work is not done. We need to build a strong future, a strong future together.

So I am going to ask you to join me in a season of prayer for our church. Pray that we will find the people who need a church home like this. They are out there, and we need to find them. This church is too amazing to keep it to ourselves, that wouldn’t be fair.

And I ask you to pray that we will have the financial resources necessary to carry on the great ministry that we are called to do. We have the money. God has given the money to each of us. We just need to give it back to God through this congregation.

Nehemiah put his trust in God.  He rebuilt the wall, even though the local authorities thought he could never do it. I put my trust in God when I set out to plant this church even though some local authorities said I could not do it. Here we are.  Now, it is time for us to move forward together.

I am going to ask all of you to take home a prayer card. Put it somewhere where you will see it every day. Pray for the people who need The Village for their church home. Pray that we will have the financial resources to live out our mission. Ask God to bless our life together.

Let us pray: God, Thank you for The Village Church. Lead us to the people in our community who need The Village Church and who need you. Give us generous hearts so we will have the necessary resources to live out our mission. Bless our life together. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.