Monthly Archives: March 2013

Pastor Mike’s Weekly E-news Message

Dear Hope Folks,

I couldn’t be more excited for Easter weekend at Hope. Jesus’ resurrection changes everything, and that’s a message we all need to hear. I hope you’ll come, and I hope you’ll invite your friends and neighbors to join you.

In the Chapel on Sunday at 6:59 am (the actual minute of sunrise), Pastor Richard will lead a Traditional Easter Sunrise Service.

In the Worship Center on Easter Eve (Saturday at 1:00, 3:00, 5:00 & 7:00 pm) and Easter Sunday (7:00, 9:00 & 11:00 am, 3:00 & 5:00 pm), I’ll preach a sermon called Light Rises, based on Matthew 28:1-7.

John Cheatem will close each service with a song that just might blow the roof off the building. A special Easter offering will feature the beautiful voice of Cassie Marks and the graceful movements of dancer Abby Zaug. One of Hope’s inspiring choirs will sing at each service. Perry Ross will do a live painting during the sermon, while Keith Sandvig sketches an Easter themed drawing in the atrium that you can sign between services.

An Easter egg hunt and other kid-friendly activities will be offered on Saturday between services until 7:00 pm.

Shuttle parking lots, with friendly bus drivers who drop you off at the front doors, will be available on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Just follow the signs.

Best of all, our risen Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, promises to show up whenever we gather in his name. Open your heart. Give God some room. Experience the power of Jesus’ resurrection this Easter!

It’s Friday … but Sunday’s coming!

Pastor Mike Housholder

Hope Story: Melissa Dale

I started attending Lutheran Church of Hope in August 2004.

I was brought here by my sister who had known this church as a loving and kind place who might accept me for who I was.

You see, I had been down a very rocky road over the course of my life.


“I realized I could no longer do this on my own.”

My years of dysfunction started when I was very little. My life was one of addiction, co-dependence, abandonment and depression.

My parents divorced when I was four.

My mother died when I was 18.

I got married and began looking for something to fill the ever increasing void in my heart.

All the things I ever found to fill it, never worked. I tried everything… except seeking God.

I became addicted to drugs, gambling and people. I was in a vicious cycle of destruction. I really didn’t want to live anymore. The cycle ended when I found myself in jail for selling drugs.

While in jail, I surrendered my life to Christ.


“My way of life was going to kill me. God’s way saved me.”

I realized I could no longer do this on my own.  I felt an immediate sense of relief and knew I was right where I was supposed to be. And, that Christ was right their with me.

I was no longer afraid and vowed to never turn my back on the One who saved me.

I went through treatment and a change started to happen in my life. When I got out of jail, I started attending Hope. I got involved in recovery programs here: Alpha and worship every Saturday night.

But, life wasn’t all roses just because I was in recovery. I had a lot of wreckage from my past to face. I even came close to going back to my old lifestyle… but, my Alpha group prayed for me, and I felt drawn back to Christ.

I am certain their prayers helped save my life.

I went through a time of unemployment. I tried many jobs, but nothing ever felt “right.” None of it was where I was supposed to be.


“It gave me the chance to spend my time doing everything I could to let people know they no longer have to be bound by their past or choices.”

That is, not until the opportunity came to serve in the ministry of Celebrate Recovery, as an employee here at Hope. It gave me the chance to spend my time doing everything I could to let people know they no longer have to be bound by their past or choices.

Once I came on board, nothing could stop me!

I want Celebrate Recovery to be in every church in Iowa because this program saves lives. I am a state representative for Celebrate Recovery and am blessed to be able to tell my story all over Iowa… and even on Oprah!

On April 6, I will be celebrating nine years of recovery – all praise to God.

My way of life was going to kill me. God’s way saved me. And, His purpose for my life is better than anything I could have ever imagined…

Pastor Mike’s Weekly E-news Message

Hey Hopesters!

It’s time. The time has (finally) come for us to dig into the main course. Since September, we’ve been reading, studying and talking together as a church family about Bible stories from Genesis to the Gospels. Absolutely important and essential to the faith, still all of these great Bible stories can’t compare in breadth, depth or impact to what comes next – Scripture’s main courseHoly Week.

Holy Week is a time set apart by the church to celebrate the greatest story ever told. Read all about it (The Story, Chapters 25-27) with an open heart and mind, and you’ll discover that Jesus invites you to do more than take in a great story. He also invites you to join him on this journey, and experience the full power of God’s everlasting love and new life.

It all starts this weekend, as we follow Jesus through the city gates of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, into an upper room and the Garden at Gethsemane on Maundy Thursday, then placed on trial and nailed to a cross at Calvary on Good Friday.

Miraculously, and best of all, the story doesn’t end there. Much to the surprise of a skeptical world, even now, it continues with four Easter stories from the Gospels that changed everything … forever.

It just doesn’t get any better than this, so I’m inviting the people I love and care about (you) to come get the good stuff from God … the main course (Psalm 34:8) all throughout Holy Week at Hope!

Mike Housholder
Pastor. Preacher. Cooker of a couple Holy Week sermons.

P.S.- Our Lenten Outreach Project – Nets of Hope – continues through Easter. Thank you for your amazing generosity – let’s finish strong! Every $10 you give can save a life as we fight to help end malaria in Sub Saharan Africa.

Pastor’s Corner: Learning From the Master

One of the things that has always fascinated me about Jesus is how he teaches his disciples…

First, he invites them to be a part of his ministry.

Then, as his disciples begin to walk with him, Jesus shows them what he’s up to: putting people back together and giving them a brand new kind of life.

Next, he instructs them, and, after a while, sends them out to practice doing the same thing he does: heal the sick, free people from their demons and announce to them that God’s eternal kingdom is here. Right in front of their eyes.

Jesus Handshake_iStock_000012890147SmallMany people think the point of the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand is the amazing miracle of feeding all those people with just five loaves and two fishes.

But, there’s more to this story.

If you look carefully, you’ll find an interesting subplot that shows Jesus teaching his disciples.

Right before this passage, the disciples have just come from practicing doing what Jesus does, and are supposed to be going on a retreat.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen and the crowds find out where they’re going and follow them.

This is where the story kicks in.

Jesus feels compassion for the crowds and launches an on-the-spot all day teaching seminar. At the end of the day, the disciples point out that it is dinnertime and the crowds need some time to get a Big Mac at the local MacDonald’s…

So far so good. The disciples are trying to care for the flock just as they imagine Jesus would.

But, here’s where it gets strange.

After they suggest to Jesus that the crowds need some food, he says to them, “you feed them.”

Really? With what?

Jesus’ strange question stops them in their tracks and pushes them to think out of the box. After all, they’ve just finished the day practicing healing the sick and casting out demons. They should be used to strange things by now, right?

Unfortunately, they don’t quite get it and instead point out their lack of resources…

But, Jesus isn’t finished teaching.

“How many loaves do you have? Go and see,” Jesus said.

Jesus now gets them to be part of the solution by sending them on a hunt for more food.

Their answer? Five loaves and two fish—and they’re still a bit skeptical.

How’s this going to feed all of these people?

Now things really get interesting.

Jesus Walking_iStock_000009623439Medium

And, that’s what it means to be a disciple: to walk with Jesus and learn to do what he does.

Jesus answers their skepticism by taking the loaves, looking up to heaven, blessing them, and breaking them (sound familiar?). Then, he gives them – along with the fish – to his disciples to distribute to the crowds.

Once again, Jesus shows them how it’s done, and again, engages them in the solution.

And, that’s what it means to be a disciple: to walk with Jesus and learn to do what he does.

To be part of the solution.

As we read on, particularly in the book of Acts, we learn that this is exactly what happens. Even after Jesus is gone, his followers keep doing what he did, in all its wonderful strangeness.

So what is Jesus teaching you?

How is he pushing you to think out of the box?

And, how does he want to transform lives through you?

Pastor Richard




Hope Story: Darla Joens

No job.

No income.

Living with my parents.

Pregnant at age 17…

That was me and this is where my story began.

Joens13Being a single (teen)parent definitely had its challenges. But, I am happy to say, that today, I couldn’t be more blessed by the relationship my daughter (now in college) and I have, or the person she has become.

By the Grace of God, we made it through.

There were days when He carried me and dried my tears. There were also days when He walked alongside me and delighted in the accomplishments and joys of my life. Looking back on it now, I realize everything I went through was just preparing the way for my future…

Because of what my daughter and I had gone through, the thought of helping young mothers weighed heavily on my heart for a number of years. One day, I began looking for missions opportunities available through Hope.

Joens04One trip stood out to me – a trip to Africa that partnered with ChildVoice International, an organization that helps young mothers who have been abducted by rebel soldiers. And, although I knew I couldn’t relate to these young mothers on all levels, I knew I could relate to them on an important one – their desires for their children, for them to be safe, clothed, fed, happy and, most of all, for them to know they are loved.

So, I signed up. And, as I prepared for Mission Uganda in November 2011, friends repeatedly told me, “This trip is going to change you!”

To be honest, that kind of scared me.

I didn’t know what this “change” meant. However, I was willing to step out in faith and find out… and, I am sure glad I did!

My mission trip to Africa was life-changing. The women had the brightest smiles and the biggest laughs. They appreciated every moment we spent together – whether walking to get water, doing crafts, community service or dancing. We bonded… and, it was amazing! The transformation these women go through truly is a God thing, and it is unbelievable to witness firsthand.

Immediately after the trip, it was obvious that something inside of me was changed. Once I returned home, my heart physically hurt (it brings me to tears to even reflect on it now). Now I know, it is because my heart was changed, and it was changed for the better.

Joens06Because of my experience, I am able to love deeper and wider, and have a much stronger feeling of compassion towards others – I never would have picked up a homeless-looking man to help get him to an appointment he was late for, or stepped out of line to help a man who didn’t have enough money… But, now, I not only notice these things, I act on them.

So, was the trip life changing? You bet it was! God knew what he was doing the whole time. And, His plans are far greater than we could ever anticipate for ourselves…

Weekly e-news message

Hello, Hope folks!

Can you feel the heat wave coming on? I know I’m looking forward to higher temperatures – a little bit of sunshine is on the way, provided we don’t have another surprise Iowa snow storm! For those preparing for a spring break vacation this week, many of you have even warmer days ahead… enjoy!

In fact, many groups at Hope will be traveling to warmer climates in the coming days. A couple of large teams will soon depart for mission trips to Jamaica and Navajo Nation in New Mexico. Please keep them in your prayers as they prepare their hearts for service and become Christ’s hands and feet, living out our mission to reach out to the world around us and share his everlasting love!

Nets-of-Hope_125-sq_web-buttonAdditionally, Hope member Steve Florer will journey to Ghana to further educate farmers on how to grow their own sustainable food source, and my son and I will join the ELCA Malaria Campaign in southern Africa to provide villages with malaria prevention training. We are so excited to have the opportunity to see our 2013 Lenten Project, Nets of Hope, in action. With 18,099 lifesaving nets donated so far, the impact will be huge - thanks to all of you!

For those of you looking forward to a “stay-cation” this spring break, local service opportunities through Meals from the Heartland and Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp are available. I encourage you to check them out if you are looking for some fun ways to serve near home.

No matter your plans for the next couple of weeks, I pray you will feel God’s love. And, just like our KQ kids have done by making personal cards for those receiving aid from the Nets of Hope project, I pray you share that love with others!


Finally, Easter is right around the corner, and it’s the perfect opportunity to share His love with your un-churched friends and family by inviting them to celebrate with us here at Hope. After all, there’s no greater love than the love Jesus has for us, and no greater display of that love than his victory over death.

Gus Gustafson
Chief Ministry Officer and African Net Deliverer

P.S. – This weekend at Hope: Hope Des Moines Campus Director Jon Anenson (Saturday at 5:00 & 6:30 pm, Sunday at 7:45, 9:15 & 11:00 am) and Pastor Jeremy (Sunday at 8:15 am & 5:00 pm) will preach on Chapter 25 of The Story… join us to find out more about who Jesus truly was! And, for those of you who are out of town, you’re in luck: our 11:00 am Sunday service is always live-streamed on, so you can tune in no matter where you are!

Get Cookin’ with Hope: Easter Cake Basket

We are very blessed to have an extremely talented fellowship team here at Hope. So much so, that we wanted to share some of their deliciously yummy creations with you! We guess you could call this your Not-so-typical Church Cookbook!

With Easter right around the corner, we are sure some of you have already begun to plan out your Easter meal menus – from the appetizers, all the way down to the deserts.

Our first recipe is a fun twist on an Easter cake. It’s so cute, you won’t want to ruin how pretty it is by taking that first cut into it (but, then you’ll think about how yummy it is and that problem will quickly go away). Easy. Kid-friendly. Delicious. Cute. What more could you want?

Check back often for more recipes from Hope’s kitchen!

Have recipes you want to share with us? Email them to us and they just might get featured here!

Easter Cake Basket

DSC_0791-qbWhat you need:

  • Cake mix
  • Frosting
  • 8.5″ round pans (2)
  • Easter decorations of your choice (jelly beans, Easter grass, chocolate Easter egg candies…)
  • Easter basket (with at least an 8.5″ wide opening)
  • Ribbon


  1. Prepare your selected cake as directed
  2. Frost and decorate
  3. Place 1 – 8.5″ cake pan upside down inside basket
  4. Set cake on top of upside down cake pan, making sure it is even with the opening of the basket.
  5. Place grass (or other decorations) around/on the cake.
  6. Tie ribbon around basket.
  7. Eat and enjoy!