God commanded a Sabbath for physical rest but also because we need to pause at least weekly to reflect back and see all that God has done. Otherwise, we just keep running ahead and forget all the big and small ways God has guided, provided, blessed, and protected. In our work and effort, we easily miss his amazing grace. Now, Jesus and his apostles made it clear that we don’t have to legalistically keep a Saturday or Sunday or any particular day as the Sabbath. But, the principle is still important to observe. And here’s why – we need to slow down, quiet our frenetic agenda, and be still so we can practice and experience gratitude. Gratitude is a vital path to experience the fullness of God’s grace.

So as I write, it’s the Monday after Easter. I put in over 40,000 steps, climbed over 30 floors, walked more than 18 miles on Saturday and Sunday and burned almost 7,000 calories in those two days! Gotta love the Fitbit! So it’s time to slow down and take some time to reflect. Here are a few of the many things I’m grateful for:

I’m grateful for the man baptized on Sunday who decided he had his last drink. And an older gentleman was baptized Sunday who came to our church deeply wounded by the ugliness of religion and found grace and a renewed relationship with God. And a man came up at the last minute to be baptized who had been fighting surrendering to Jesus for months. I’m deeply grateful for the 94 people baptized and for the life change and new beginnings for each precious soul loved by God and the people in their lives.

I’m grateful for all of you who invited people to join you at our Family Fun Fest and Easter services. I spent a good part of both days meeting the people who were your guests. That is one of the best parts of Easter for me. I love it! Thank you all for caring enough about people to invite them and to love them to Jesus.

It’s amazing that we gave away 50,000 Easter eggs filled with scripture verses, candy, and small toys. But, what blows me away are all of the folks who spent hours filling them and taping them shut! Folks also donated water, soda, candy, and all the supplies so we could make the Family Fun Fest a free event. Wow! And how great are the hundreds of people both Saturday and Sunday who volunteered and put in long hours to serve the 5000 people who came on our campus for the Family Fun Fest and the 6780 people who attended Easter services… Wow!

I’m so grateful for our staff and volunteers who put in long hours preparing, long before Saturday and Sunday. I’m grateful for our leaders who love people and will do what it takes to make every experience the best it can be and be done with excellence. On Saturday and Sunday, I was overwhelmed by the creative gifts exercised and used by so many of our artistic folks. I’m just so proud of our whole church. I love our church!

Don’t forget to join us and invite folks to hear our new teaching series that starts Sunday – Upcycle. In Upcycle, we’ll learn how to move past our past to start again with God. We’ll tap into the transforming power of God that makes beautiful things from the ruined, used, old, or worn out pieces of our lives.

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This Sunday we will celebrate that God raised Jesus from the dead. It is a big deal! The resurrection changes everything, in every way, for everyone who believes. There are two passages from the Bible that I love to reflect on at Easter time; each has a special meaning to me and I want to share them with you. The first is found in Matthew 28:5-6 (NIV) – The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”  Because Jesus is alive and because Jesus conquered death there is nothing we have to fear in the present, for he is with us, and nothing to fear at the end, for death is only a door to life that never ends. As God raised Jesus from the dead, we too share that same hope. If we really believe in a risen savior, fear no longer has to rule in our lives.

Last Sunday I read from Romans 10:9 (NIV) – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Paul describes our salvation as based on surrendering to Jesus and making him “large and in charge” of our lives as Lord. It is also based on the deeply-held belief that Jesus is alive. God raised him from the dead. He is our living Lord who guides us in our daily lives. But that hope is based on the fact Jesus is alive!

Join us Easter Sunday as we celebrate the risen Jesus. Services are at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm. Children’s ministry is at all services except the 7 am. We’ll have free breakfast and lunch between services. Our team has created an amazing service to celebrate the resurrection, including baptisms. We’ll have two baptisteries on stage this year!

On Saturday, from 8 am to 2 pm, we’ll have our Family Fun Fest on campus. It’s a FREE event that features family-friendly activities and a 50,000 Easter egg hunt. There will also be a petting zoo (the largest we’ve ever had at an event), an illusionist, train ride, crafts, games, inflatables, a slip ‘n slide (if you want to get wet, come prepared!) and more! It’s not too late to sign up to help us serve either Saturday and/or Sunday.

He has risen! Indeed! And that changes everything.

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