7-11-2019 – e-News

This past Sunday, I made a passing comment in my message about God having a sense of humor.
 
Let me tell you once again, He really, truly does.
 
Many of us have had our eyes glued to the weather reports, trying to decipher whether or not we’re going to be hit by Tropical Storm Barry this weekend. Most people are thinking about how to prepare and praying for no substantial damage. I’m over here thinking, “But we have to set up for Vacation Bible School!”
 
I found myself in a spiral of worry and anxiety shortly thereafter – what if we have to cancel our VBS Decorating Day? What if it’s too stormy to even have VBS? What if, what if, what if, what if, what if …
 
Finally, I decided there really wasn’t anything I could do about it and I just needed to get back to work. So, I went to finish our Sunday lesson for KiX Worship. The subject? Jesus calming the storm.
 
Ah, irony. One of God’s many forms of humor.
 
The “Main Thing” for this lesson – that is, the big idea we want our kids to take home with them – is, “When things get rough in life, you can ask Jesus for help.” The more I worked on the lesson, the calmer my own internal storm became. “Okay, God, thanks … ” I thought.
Then it was on to another lesson, this time for our upper elementary Learning Hour class. The topic? God answering prayer, even in ways we don’t necessarily understand or expect.
 
“Okay, God, I GET IT!” I thought with a chuckle.
 
It is so easy for me to get caught up in worry and to play the “What if?” game. I believe God can use worry for good in our lives, but I also believe that we all too often allow it to run our lives. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for preparing any potential storms that may come our way. What I’m not for is spending time in a spiral of worry and anxiety over things I cannot control.
 
I cannot control the storms in my life, literal or figurative. Only God can do that. But I can control how I choose to respond to them. So, today, I’m choosing to trust that whatever weather comes my way this weekend – or any day, for that matter – God’s still got it. He’s still in control, He’s still good, He’s still to be trusted.
Pastor Chelsea
 
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6-20-2019 – e-News

Vulnerability can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, it is a vital component to any thriving relationship. If we want to have a meaningful relationship with anyone, it will require us to open up about our lives at one point or another. On the other hand, we don’t want to be vulnerable with people who could potentially misuse or misinterpret the things we share.
 
In today’s culture and society, we see people all over doing their best to deny their own vulnerabilities. The world tells us this is how we appear strong. But for those of us who believe, we need to remind ourselves that this is in no way what Christ tells us about strength.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul reminds us of Christ’s words when he says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” He then adds “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” You see, as Christians we are called to account for our weaknesses. When we stumble, when we fall, we must hand the things we struggle with over to Christ. When we do this without reservation and fully hand over our vulnerabilities to our Creator, he transforms us in the most amazing ways. But in order for this to happen, we must first acknowledge our weakness and be vulnerable. And that is what can keep many from experiencing the transformative power of Christ.
 
These past couple of weeks, I had the privilege of going on a missions trip with a group of our high school students and leaders. We went up to Allen, South Dakota to help out the local missionaries Tim and Kim Wardell as they were putting on VBS and youth group for the local Native American community. To say that people living in this area were living in hopelessness is an understatement. Upon arriving we were able to see that the people of Allen were essentially living in a place much like a majority world country.
 
In my conversations with Tim and Kim I got the sense that the local teens had a lot of experiences with groups coming up and trying to “fix” them. Many students there were living in horribly abusive and destructive environments, Many had multiple friends who had committed suicide, while still others had tried to kill themselves more than once. In short, our group was likely going to have a hard time connecting with them. But then I was reminded of the importance of vulnerability. Instead of coming to theses kids with another way to “be fixed,” I challenged myself and my students to be vulnerable with them.
 
Over the course of three nights, three students, one leader, and myself all shared our testimonies with the teens. We held nothing back. We were as vulnerable as we could be with them, letting them know of our hurts and our brokenness. We also shared where God had encountered us in our brokenness and where he had begun to work in our lives. Instead of trying to fix them, we let them know that God was the one who had transformed us, and, through our sharing, we witnessed God transform them as well.
 
By being vulnerable, admitting our weaknesses, and being open with sharing what has happened in our lives, we open the way for God to enter into us, transform us, and use us to transform the lives of others. I was able to witness that over the course of our missions trip, and my hope is that by sharing this, you are reminded of what God has to say about our weakness as well. After all, it is not about us being strong, but us glorifying and praising the One who is strong when we are not.
 
Rejoicing in my weakness where He is strong,
Pastor Andrew
 
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6-13-2019 – e-News

Each week, I post a little something in our KiX Leaders Facebook Group, asking our team to share highlights from their Sunday morning experience. I am so blessed by their responses each week and thought it might be fun to share some highlights with you.
 
Nursery
“One sweet baby spent time playing in the nursery after she woke up from her nap. Mommy and Dad were in service. This was a huge win! She followed another baby around and never cried!” “A sweet baby boy cooed and smiled and had a great conversation with me. Afterwards, he snuggled up and took a long nap in my arms.” “I really love seeing how the babies become more comfortable with us over time. It really made my heart happy to see one baby walk around and talk to each of us as friends she feels happy to be with.”
 
Toddlers
“We had an impromptu dance party in the Toddler Room to celebrate the lame man regaining use of his legs. We were jumping, skipping, and walking to count beats which naturally led to dancing. It was fun and spontaneous and the kids loved it!” “I had two new kiddos in Learning Hour and everyone really played great together.” “It was my first time working with the Toddlers on Sunday … my highlights were watching my helpers read to the kids after our lesson finished and how their little eyes lit up!”
 
Preschool – Elementary
“When one little girl volunteered to lead the prayer and prayed the sweetest prayer about obeying your teachers. And then when she was done, she grabbed my arm and asked, ‘Was that a good one?'” “We were reviewing what we had done for the last few months and when answering one of the questions, several of them started saying one of the old memory verses. They really are keeping them in their hearts and heads.” “After church, a child did not know what she wanted to say but her hug said it for her.” “While praying with a child during worship, I felt tear drops touch my hand as we prayed together for the student’s friends who do not know Jesus and do not have a church home.”
 
God is doing amazing things in the hearts of our kids and their leaders! I hope these little tidbits left you feeling encouraged.
Pastor Chelsea
 
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5-30-2019 – e-News

We just finished a series on grace being greater … greater than my sin, the circumstances I face, my deepest hurts, my worst failures and even some religious acts of beliefs I bring.
 
Let me say one last thing that never made it into a sermon.
 
Every week, I get an email from Reliant Energy to tell me my electricity usage and how much that computes into money that I will owe them. It goes up and down each week dependent on the season we are in and the weather outside, especially in the summer. It’s one of Reliant’s ways to try and keep me happy as a customer.
 
That makes sense. Of course Reliant wants to keep me happy as a customer … or do they?
 
See, in the 16 years we’ve been here, we have had several different energy companies, each one for about two years usually. Reliant, TXU, Direct Energy, Champion, you name it. We’ve even gone back with some of them a few times over the years, but we’ve never stayed. And you know the reason why.
 
It’s because energy companies offer the best deals for new customers, but when those deals expire, they don’t offer any incentive to stay. So, you just slide over to the next company with the best deal for awhile only to move to another and another. We all do this, but have you ever wondered why things are set up like this? It doesn’t make sense. You would think that the companies that spend so much time and effort to win you would spend at least a little bit more time and effort to keep you.
 
In one of the best summaries of the Gospel, Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10) We have to do everything necessary to not lose sight of that order.
 
How were you saved? By grace alone and through faith alone in Christ alone. This is so important because it wasn’t a trick to get you in. It’s not a cheap introductory offer that will soon turn into something you want to get rid of later. If it’s all by grace and all dependent on what Jesus has done, then the Gospel is good news. If it’s about me and what I have to do, it’s not good news at all. But thanks be to God that it is about Jesus and it’s always about Jesus!
 
Why were you saved? Because even before the world began God loved you and desired you to be a masterpiece of His workmanship for His glory. When you know what He did for you, you naturally live to please Him. You do good out of love, not fear. It’s your natural response to the good news of Jesus. It’s all by grace from beginning, middle and end.
 
I’m so thankful that the Gospel is not an introductory offer – a trick just to get me in the door.
 
I’m so thankful that the terms of this agreement have never changed and never will.
 
I’m so thankful that I never have to look for a better deal. In Jesus, I have the best deal in town!
 
The Gospel of grace never changes! Never! And that is good news!
Pastor Jim
 
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5-23-2019 – e-News

I have a love-hate relationship with the “Memories” feature on Facebook.
There’s the hate side: “Did I really think that was a good outfit choice?” or “How was college that long ago?” or “All the children need to stop growing up so fast!”
But there’s also the love side. Memories of family vacations or nights out with friends or encouraging ministry moments.
This past week, a photo popped up and, boy, did the memories ever flood in! I was reminded that three years ago I was in the midst of one of the most difficult seasons of my life. Those of you who were in service on Mother’s Day heard me share some of that story.
I was at a crossroads. I sensed God was calling me to a new ministry role, but wasn’t sure just yet what that was. I’d just gotten wind from a friend that her church in Texas was still accepting applicants for a new Children’s Pastor. I was prayerfully considering applying for the position, but didn’t want to act out of haste rather than out of the Holy Spirit’s leading.
My folks sensed I wasn’t doing well, and my mom decided to fly out for the weekend. It wound up being cheaper for Mama to fly into O’Hare than Indianapolis, which was fine with both of us since we love Chicago.
So, on a Saturday morning, I trekked out to pick Mama up. The airport wasn’t too crazy and we were able to duck out in a decent amount of time.
We stopped to shop a little and grab lunch. While we were out, I received a phone call from the Senior Pastor of the Texas church and he encouraged me to get my application in ASAP. I knew from the moment I talked with him that this indeed was where the Holy Spirit was leading and I needed to freshen up my résumé.
About an hour or so later, my sweet Mama started having some pretty severe abdominal pain and it only got worse. We ended up deciding to take her to the Emergency Room, since as far as we could tell every Urgent Care in the greater Chicago area closed at 3 p.m.
I’m glad we did because the hospital ended up admitting Mom overnight. Mom has a history of GI issues and so the hospital staff wasn’t messing around.
Let’s back up a few steps and make the story a little crazier. I was scheduled to baptize two elementary-aged girls the next morning at my church back in Indianapolis. After deliberating with Mama and – via phone – my dad back in Oregon, we decided I needed to drive back to Indianapolis so I could be present for their baptisms. Mama’s pain had radically subsided by this point and she was now comfortably resting in her room.
So, around 9:15 p.m. Chicago time, I hopped back in my car and drove the 3-hour trip to Indy. I arrived home at 2 a.m. Indiana time. I know it sounds crazy, but I did not want to miss this sacred moment with these sweet girls, who had invited me into their faith journeys by asking me to officiate their baptisms!
I rolled out of bed 7 a.m. Sunday morning, got ready and headed into church. I sat in our Early Childhood Center offices wrapping up a few final Sunday morning details when I heard a massive BOOM and watched as all the electricity in the church suddenly shut off, the emergency lights flickered on, and the alarm system began beeping in discomfort.
A quick investigation showed that the transformer powering our church was smoking, falling victim to a squirrel … who, in a cruel twist, fell victim to an electrical surge.
After some deliberation, our staff decided it wasn’t safe to host services in a pitch-black building and we needed to cancel. It wasn’t an easy call, but we had no idea when power would be restored.
I’m going to be honest. My first thought was, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” These sweet girls had worked so diligently preparing their hearts for baptism. Their families had traveled in from out of town. Even I’d spent hours in the car to ensure I’d be back in time for the morning.
Enter the Hydro Rush.
What’s a Hydro Rush you ask? Well, it’s a massive backyard water toy – a pool base with a slide and a sprinkler soaker. It’s a great thing to set up if it is a 79-degree day in Indianapolis and you’ve got a ton of families coming over to celebrate your daughter’s baptism.
And – incidentally – it became a great thing in which to actually do a baptism.
One of the girls’ moms had the brilliant idea to host a “Backyard Baptism” and invited the other family to be a part. After planning in the church parking lot, we decided to reconvene at this family’s house in an hour and a half.
I grabbed everything I could think of to help this baptism feel as true to form as it would have at the church – baptismal robes, the plush terry cloth robes we let folks wear afterwards, baptism certificates … loaded up my car and joined the family at their home.
What transpired next felt like a glimpse of Heaven right here on earth. The girls’ dads read their testimonies, my high school intern prayed over the girls, and I officiated the baptisms – right there in the Hydro Rush! The girls publicly declared their faith for Jesus in front of family and friends, in a pool of freezing cold hose water.
After the baptism, I headed back to Chicago to pick my mom up from the hospital. We checked into a local hotel and, just before we called it a night, I submitted my application to Parkgate Community Church.
Friends, if someone had told me that weekend that three years from now I’d be living in Texas (as would my brother and his family), serving in a life-giving ministry role and engaged to be married, I’d have told them they were absolutely bonkers.
Even as I felt tangled in the thorns of life, experiencing a wide swath of emotion, God was at work pruning and shaping my life into something new, something I couldn’t even begin to imagine.
I don’t know where you’re at as you read this today – but I want to reassure you that whether you’re in the thorns or reaping the benefits of the harvest, God’s with you. And he isn’t stagnant – he’s a constant gardener, cultivating and caring for your life even if you can’t quite see the growth yet.
 
Who knows? Three years from today, you might find yourself looking at a Facebook memory and thinking, “Wow, God did all that while I wasn’t even looking!”
I leave you with the words of Philippians 1:6 from The Living Bible translation: “And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.”
Pastor Chelsea
 
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5-2-2019 – e-News

Twenty years ago, I was just days away from graduating college. Then, just a few days after that, I’d be standing in a church in Wonder Lake, IL, where Julia and I would become husband and wife. That was May 21, 1999 … a very happy day!
 
Even though we’ve been married for twenty years, I don’t think either of us would consider ourselves experts on marriage. Certainly no one is breaking down our door asking us to write the next best-selling book or to lead some big conference.
 
That said, I believe our marriage has worked for two big reasons:
 
First, and not to be trite at all, we have tried to honor Jesus in our marriage. Honoring Him means honoring each other. As he begins his teaching on marriage, Paul writes these words, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
 
Too many people read that section of scripture and try to figure out who has the power in the relationship. But the truth is, it’s not about power – it’s about mutual submission to one another out of reverence for Jesus. That mutual submission means respect. It means honoring the other person above yourself. It means sacrificing for each other. And, of course, it means love.
 
No one can be in a relationship that lasts, especially a marriage, without realizing that love is a decision long before it’s a feeling. We have to decide to love each other sometimes. We have to do loving things and say loving things (or at least not do the opposite), even when we’re hurt or mad and really want to. We especially have to choose to love after a big fight, when one or both of us said or did something stupid, and we need to make it right. In those moments, when you don’t feel like it and they certainly don’t deserve it, love decides to forgive and reconcile.
 
That decision to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ is no small thing. It’s made twenty years possible.
 
The second thing that has been critical has been remembering that marriage takes work and we vowed before God to work until we got it right. You’ve probably heard these vows many times:
 
I, ___, take you, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death; as God is my witness, I give you my promise.
 
Anyone can get dressed up, stand in a decorated room, and say those words. That part is easy. The hard part is living them out when you had a big dream and it didn’t work out, or when you have big bills to pay and not enough money to pay them, or when you have to sit by a bedside in a hospital waiting for surgery or worse. We’ve had to deal with all of those and more.
 
I know there have been times when I didn’t qualify for the gold medal on fulfilling those vows. I also know that I will have plenty of time to practice in the months and years to come. There are days when it will be easy, but there are also days when it will be work.
 
And I think on the days where it will be work … that’s when it counts the most!
 
I’m sure Julia would join me in thanking you for loving us through sixteen of these twenty years. Thank you to many of you – young and old alike – for being such great examples to us of what a Christian marriage can and should be. Thank you for supporting us and our family in good times and bad. You have sustained us and built us up more than you will ever know.
 
Blessings! Pastor Jim
 
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4-25-2019 – e-News

This past Thursday evening, our church hosted a Worship Gathering to honor and remember Jesus’ final meal with his disciples. While the adults gathered in the sanctuary, our kiddos came together for an experience of their own.
 
As soon as they walked into the KiX Building, our 1st through 5th graders knew something was different. Their typical Wednesday night carpet square circle had been replaced by two long tables, dressed in purple tablecloths and speckled with tea lights. Kids came in and took a seat and immediately berated me with questions:
 
“Why are there tables?” “What are we doing tonight?” “Why do you have bread?” “Why is the room different?” “Are we still going to have a snack?”
 
A few minutes after 7 p.m., we dimmed the lights and started our time together. I reminded my friends that we’d be celebrating Easter in only a matter of days and told them how, tonight, we’d be taking a break from our typical Club KiX lesson to learn about what happened in the final hours leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
 
I asked them to put on their listening ears and to use their imagination to try and bring the words I was reading out of the Bible storybook to life in their minds. I reminded them that, unlike other storybooks, these words were all true – these stories actually happened.
 
For the next 40 minutes or so, I had the pleasure of watching the Bible come to life for our kids, serving hunks of bread and cups of grape juice for the Lord’s Supper and recounting the Easter weekend narrative. At one point, a first grader looked at me wide eyed with wonder and said, “Is this the only time in our lives we’ll ever get to do something like this?”
 
I love having the opportunity, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to bring the Bible to life for our kids. But the opposite is also true – they bring Scripture to life for me.
 
At one point in the evening, I explained how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and what a truly gross job that was. Their eyes grew wide with sheepish delight as they exclaimed, “They stepped in animal poop!” and “Feet really stink!” I offered to wash their hands or feet with a baby wipe in honor of what Jesus did for his disciples. I was pleasantly surprised that most of our 20+ kids wanted me to do this for them. “I’m doing this because I love you,” I told each child, “and Jesus loves you, too.” (Don’t worry – even the kids who opted out were reminded they were loved.)
 
As I crawled on my hands and knees from child to child, I found myself uncomfortable with the hard surface of the floor beneath me. Just when I’d get used to my awkward posture with one child, I’d finish up and move to the next.
 
I think that’s a detail of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet we miss. Yes, we remember that their feet were dirty. Yes, we remember how unusual it was and humbling it must have been for all involved. But we don’t always think about what it must have been like for Jesus to crawl around on the floor – a floor I’m certain wouldn’t live up to our modern standards of cleanliness and wasn’t covered in plush carpet or smooth linoleum. Jesus experienced discomfort – albeit at a smaller scale – several hours before he climbed up on that cross.
 
And Christ’s ministry as a whole was filled with discomfort. A vagabond of sorts, he relied on the hospitality of others to find a place to rest in the evening. When he taught, reactions varied from swarms of people literally following him everywhere he went to people trying to run him out of town. He was surrounded by fickle friends, judgmental religious leaders, and people so desperate to catch sight of him, they’d climb up a tree or grasp for his robe.
 
Jesus’ life wasn’t comfortable – but it didn’t stop him from doing what he came to do. The discomforts we face aren’t every easy – but they pale in comparison to the good that awaits us in heaven. As the apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
 
I’m so grateful that on that otherwise ordinary Thursday evening, I was reminded of this extraordinary truth. May your eyes be so filled with wonder at what God has done and continues to do that you ask, “Is this the only time in our lives we’ll ever get to do something like this?” And then, may you celebrate that we worship a God who delights in revealing his truths to us in new ways – not just once, but all the days of our lives.
 
Pastor Chelsea
 
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2019-4-11 – e-News

At a conference in the U.K., Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, spoke. After he finished speaking, Welby was asked what he believed to be the greatest challenge we face as Christ followers. Without a moment’s hesitation, the archbishop said, “Every Christian I meet … cannot quite believe that they are loved by God.”
 
What about you? Do you believe — deep down, in the core of who you are — that you are loved by God? Do you believe that the God of this whole universe has a special place in his heart for you? Well, he does. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
 
I’ve discovered that when we doubt the great love God has for us, it’s often because we’ve begun listening to other voices instead of to God. We listen to the voice of fear or insecurity or sin or the enemy, and the longer we listen and engage those voices, the more we believe them. The more we listen to them, the harder it is to believe, really believe, the promises of God — and the harder it is to believe that God truly loves us.
 
When I struggle with whether God truly loves me, I look back to the cross. I look back at the price he paid. A sacrifice like that isn’t made because God kind of loves you and me. It isn’t made because God likes us on some days (depending on how good we’ve been). No. God loves us. Period. When I look at the cross, I’m reminded of how very much God truly loves us! And if you believe that — well, that changes everything.
 
If you believe you are loved by God, then you have nothing to prove.
If you believe you are loved by God, then live a bold life of faith and adventure.
If you believe you are loved by God, then what others say about you loses its power.
If you believe you are loved by God, then your life has great meaning and purpose.
If you believe you are loved by God, then that’s enough.
 
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:17b-19
 
Believing I am loved with you,
Pastor Kenneth
 
Mark Batterson, Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God (New York: Multnomah, 2017), 187.
 
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4-4-2019 – e-News

Hello There!
I have three important items to relay to you:
 
First, at our January Ministry Forecast Meeting, we reported on a serious developing concern regarding our aging air conditioning units. We had been told that the units were no longer going to be serviceable due to changing coolant systems in the industry. That means whenever there is a problem, it soon becomes a very expensive fix or, eventually, an impossible fix.
 
With that in mind, the Stewardship and Leadership Teams went to work securing bids and working through options on what it would take to replace our units. Those bids came in somewhere in the neighborhood of $115,000, a significant sum. That is why we began exploring different funding options, hearing the church’s opinion in a straw poll, and eventually settling on using funds from the Generation Next account that were previously borrowed for construction, but unspent.
 
We were recently ready to come back to the church for official permission to do just that when some new information came our way – and it was good news! We were told by the company that was likely slated for the job that our current units still had some life in them. More than that, we were told that the new coolant being used today could be placed into our old units if necessary, making an expensive fix more manageable if and when that occurs. This new information changed our perspective a great deal.
 
So, at this time, we are returning the borrowed, but unspent money to the lender, lowering our overall debt and speeding up the time when it will be fully retired. We will also continue with our current maintenance schedule while saving and budgeting in the future for the complete replacement of those units.
 
Second, God has brought a number of new families to us since the first of the year. Through March, an average of 43 more people have worshiped with us this year than at the same time last year. This is a wonderful blessing! With that in mind, we hope you will join us in giving extra special attention to hospitality. Please intentionally be on the lookout for faces you don’t recognize. Welcome them warmly! Ask if you can help them find a seat or serve them in some other way. You might be a link to helping them or their kids have a better experience and be more able to freely participate and hear from God.
 
Finally, Easter is just a little over two weeks away! You know that Easter week is filled with many important events like our Worship Gathering on Maundy Thursday, our Eggstravaganza on Saturday and, of course, worship on Sunday. These are special times for us all. When it comes to Eggstravaganza and worship on Easter Sunday, we have especially good times to invite family and friends. We expect large crowds with many guests for both, including the ones who hopefully come with you. With that in mind, we hope that you will consider attending worship during the first service at 9 a.m. if you are able. This will ensure that we have enough space to welcome our guests in both worship services.
 
We have much to be thankful for and so many reasons to praise Him – as individuals and especially as a church! May our lives glorify Him with everything we say, think and do!
 
Pastor Jim
 
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3-28-2019 -e-News

The sun is shining. Flowers are beginning to bloom. Birds are chirping merrily. Spring is in the air – can you feel it? I find myself soaking in the longer hours of daylight and pausing to breathe in the scent of blossoming trees. There’s something about this time of year that spurs me toward hope.
 
Martin Luther once said, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” I know that the visible reminders of new life, made possible by the tremendous sacrifice of Jesus Christ, are the true reason I find myself dwelling in hope these days. Easter is coming!
 
I’ve appreciated the opportunity to travel through the book of Matthew as a part of The Kingdom series in this Lenten season. Traditionally, Lent is the period of 40 days before Easter where Christians pause, reflect, and prepare for the celebration of Easter. I’ve appreciated having the opportunity to spend these 40 days revisiting a gospel full of stories and teachings I’ve heard dozens of times before – being reminded anew that, “ … the word of God is alive and active …” (Hebrews 4:12) and there’s always more I can discover. (Sidebar: If you haven’t yet joined in on The Kingdom journal experience, I want to invite you to do so. Contact the church office to get a copy. If you are participating, keep it up!)
 
There’s also something so humbling about reading Jesus’ words and soaking in his selfless actions and recognizing he knew full well the tremendous pain and suffering that awaited him on the cross. He knew the battle over sin and death that awaited him, and Jesus still paused to heal earthly ailments, to settle disputes between bickering disciples, to open his arms wide to children, and to dine with society’s lowest.
 
And – spoiler alert! – Jesus is victorious in that battle over sin and death. He’s our resurrected Savior, preparing a place for his followers in heaven this very moment.
 
Easter is coming. The promise of resurrection is written on every new leaf, every budding flower – in every corner of creation. Soak in that hope, friends!
Pastor Chelsea
 
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