Good morning, Hopesters!

The season of Lent – literally, “springtime” (even if it doesn’t feel like it yet) – has finally arrived!

I encourage you to participate fully in this 40-day (minus Sundays) journey of spiritual renewal from Ash Wednesday to Easter. It’s a healthy tradition. Christians “give up” distractions from God during Lent, or “take on” spiritual disciplines that increase faith. We don’t do these things to put on a religious show, impress friends with our piety, or attempt to earn our salvation (it’s a gift, not a pursuit). It’s all for the sake of sharpening our focus on our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

That’s why we “do” Lent at Hope. More specifically, here’s what we’re doing to foster spiritual renewal for you …

WEEKLY WORSHIP: Our worship themes throughout Lent bring us into the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. We’re taking a #MiracleMarch through the Gospel of Mark this month, and next month we’ll #SingALong with the Gospel of John. By Easter, if you join the weekly worship parade, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what it means to follow Jesus … and his path always directs our steps toward the better way!

DAILY DEVOTIONS: Hope’s pastors and ministers wrote 40 Days of Devotions for Lent to help keep you focused on God’s Word and prayer. Start each day with a fresh reflection on a passage from Scripture on our blog, or follow Hope’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages for daily links to our Lenten devotional.

GROWING KIDS : Friendly Jesus is back for Lent! When your kids spot him in the Worship Center at a weekend service – from now until Easter – they can report his location after worship to one of our friendly hospitality volunteers in the lobby for a treat … and any child with a perfect attendance Friendly Jesus punch card during Lent will receive a grand prize on Easter Sunday! Kids also have an extra incentive to come to HopeKids each week with another grand prize opportunity for good attendance! Why bother? The statistics are consistent, and alarming. If kids don’t discover the good habit and rhythm of weekly (every-once-in-a-while doesn’t work) worship when they’re young, the majority (89%) won’t have an active faith as adults. We love our kids too much to let them drift away from God’s eternal gifts – so Hope is unapologetically competing for their hearts. Tell your kids to get in the car that’s driving to church this weekend. It’s good for their souls.

LENTEN OUTREACH PROJECT: This Lent, we’re partnering with Habitat for Humanity on a massive all-church local mission effort called Hope Lives Here. We hope to build three new homes and renovate 40 existing homes in the River Bend neighborhood of Des Moines. Please pray passionately. Please give generously (we need to raise half-a-million dollars in six weeks to transform the lives of 43 families!). And, please sign-up to serve this fall by helping with a build, renovations, meals, or on-site encouragement and prayer.

Mike Housholder

PS- This weekend at all services on Saturday night and Sunday morning (Jeremy will cover Sunday night), I’ll preach a sermon called Storm Crasher ( Mark 4:35-41) – a closer look at the incredibly cool miracle story of Jesus calming a storm. As I write this Friday email on Thursday morning, yet another winter storm is falling on Iowa … I’m pretty sure most in our community are more-than-ready for God to step in and crash our storms, weather-related but (even more importantly) life-related. God can. God does. Come and see! 

Today's Daily Bible Reading:

Today's Daily Devotion:
Pharisees claim Jesus is possessed by Satan. Jesus says that would be a house divided and warns of the unforgivable sin – unceasingly vilifying God’s sanctifying power. Only by the #HolySpirit can we say Jesus is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3). #Mark #12BooksIn12Months

>> Follow along with our Daily Bible Readings every day of the week on Hope's blog or Twitter and Facebook !
“I t was August 6, 2010, and I was riding passenger seat in my dad’s truck. We were driving back to Chicago when we found out my grandma was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. After receiving the news, my dad and I sat in silence as we cried on the side of the highway together. This day cancer became the enemy; the enemy that brought the worst possible thing this world had to offer, which was death. At the age of 17, I became filled with anger at a distant god ..."