Encountering Light

Encountering Light

This summer the theme at Lake View Camps is “Be the Light.” So I have been contemplating light and darkness a lot lately.  One scripture I have come to appreciate more deeply is Ephesians 5:8

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light—

It is not just that darkness was in us, or that now we have the light in us, it says we WERE darkness and now we ARE light in the Lord. Amen! What a transformation has occurred through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus says it this way in John 8:12,

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”’

I need to hear Jesus say this sometimes when I get down from battling self-doubt and sin, or from seeing how evil hurts so many people in our world. I need a light. We need a light. The whole world NEEDS a light. Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world and if we follow Him we can experience new life.

Another thing I have done this summer, ever since Pastor Kent taught the staff on his passion for poetry, is write some poetry of my own. I have written some about fishing.

Set the hook, you’ve got a bite
Adrenaline pumps

Another is remembering sitting with my dad on the porch or dock of a lake cabin we rented for the week for family vacation. We were up before everyone else, drinking coffee and telling stories.

Smell the coffee brew
Creaking dock, smell wormy morn
Tell stories; miss dad

The poetry brings me back to the light of Jesus because I have been trying to reflect on the Bible while writing poetry. I was thinking about the man born blind that was healed by Jesus and my own spiritual blindness when I wrote:

Useless, lightless eyes
Looking, seeking, desperate
Groping in the dark

I think that captures the helpless and hopeless feeling of despair I feel at times without God. Then when we first encounter light it can be overwhelming.

Bewildered, blinded
Caught off-guard, confusing light

Blinding, burning light
Too holy and pure for me
Exposed, pathetic

Light purifies, that is why sometimes the light of Jesus makes me feel exposed. However, His light is good and His work in me, though painful, brings health and healing.

Warm, comforting light
Melts a soul frozen in pain
Son’s heat like spring thaw

Jesus’ love is light that brings healing to my wounded soul.  I need Him to thaw me and make me warm enough to be able to love others in His name. Ezekiel 37 tells of a vision God gives the prophet of a valley of dry bones coming back to life. This is the meaning of the vision:

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

This is the hope we have too! That through faith in Jesus Christ we can go from dead in our sins to ALIVE in Him! Just as the stone was rolled a way, and Jesus rose from the grave, we too are born again into the family of God.  While this is a beautiful truth my heart still ask God this question:

Purifying light,
Plumb this foul, festering corpse
Can these dry bones live?

God’s answer to me and you from Ezekiel 37 is a resounding, “YES”!

Steve Poole
Director of Youth & Young Adults

What did you think of this article? Did you laugh? Cry? Learn something new? Let Steve know below.

    Rinse. Wash. Dry. Repeat.

    Rinse. Wash. Dry. Repeat.

    Rinse. Wash. Dry. Repeat.

    Rinse. Wash. Dry. Repeat.

    There are sometimes where the daily rhythms of life feel so mundane.  Like breakfast dishes.

    Do you have a morning routine?

    I wake up, turn on the coffee pot, and while the water is heating and that first cup is brewing, I empty the dishes on the drying rack from last night’s dinner clean-up.

    I sit down to enjoy my coffee and open the Bible app on my phone and read until my kids slowly wake up and wander down into my quiet space.  Then, it’s time for breakfast, and more dishes.

    Rinse. Wash. Dry. Repeat.

    We get everyone ready for the day—diapers, clothes, hair, teeth and shoes.

    Sometime shortly after this, someone starts asking for a snack. It doesn’t take long for the word to spread that mom is dishing out the good stuff and everyone else becomes convinced they need a snack, too. More dishes. Only this time I let the dishes sit, because I know come lunch time, there’ll be other dishes to address.

    Then lunch. Then dishes.  Then snacks. Then dishes. Then supper. Then final dishes and a grand cleaning swoop before bedtime.

    It’s amazing how much of my day is spent addressing dish clean-up!  But there is a rhythm to it that if I stick to the rhythm, I don’t get overwhelmed.  If I let things pile up, the task feels too big, too time-consuming.

    I heard recently from a preacher about his frequent and favorite daily prayer times.  They go something like this:

    “Lord, help.”

    That’s it.  His day is sprinkled with this short prayer.  About to write an email? “Lord, help.”  Making a phone call? “Lord, help.”  Losing patience with the kids? “Lord, help.”  It’s a rhythm of constant engagement with God.  It’s not a two-to-three hour time slot (though his prayer life contains those, too!) but a short prayer that reengages his heart back to God in the midst of the mundane.

    Another prayer he uses is, “Holy Spirit, show me more.” Short and sweet and sprinkled throughout the day.

    I love this approach. If I were to pile up all these little prayers into a giant prayer time, it feels a little like letting my dishes pile up —a giant task that I just don’t want to tackle. My brain says it’s too hard! But five seconds throughout the day? No problem.

    While we should have goals to expand our spiritual lives and times of devotion, getting to that point can often feel like a giant mountain.  I genuinely WANT to be a person who prays for hours on end, but getting into that rhythm will take some practice. Can I start with a simplified rhythm? YES!

    Rinse. Wash. Dry. Repeat.

    Just because my musician brain is fully at work right now on ‘rhythm,’ here’s what I think my prayer life looks like and COULD look like:

    Leah Carolan
    Director of Worship & Media


    Did you enjoy this article? Did you laugh, cry, or learn something new?  Let Leah know.

      Praying From the Heart

      Praying From the Heart

      I’m reading a memoir right now entitled My Father Before Me. The author honestly recounts his father’s troubled life and how it impacted him. He looks without flinching and then tells us about it. It is powerful. As I read about ordinary family events that often went wrong, I could not help but feel empathy.

      Reading these stories made me wonder how God might feel when I talk to Him about the ordinary events in my life. Does God want to hear the nitty-gritty of my daily routines? Does God share my joy or grief? Does God empathize with me?

      As we’ve grown in prayer this year, I must admit that I still have more questions than answers. Prayer, on the one hand, is a simple conversation with God, on the other hand, it connects us with God in mysterious ways.

      Our value of being authentic people helps us when we pray. We pray honest prayers from the heart and God listens and responds. When we talk to God we tell it like it is and then listen – that is really all we need to know.

      Keep praying from the heart!

      Kent Landhuis
      Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

      P.S. Special thanks to prayer champions and mentors praying for the next generation. Your prayers matter!

      Did you enjoy this article? Did you laugh, cry or learn something new? Let Kent know.

        Artificial Intelligence in Ministry

        Artificial Intelligence in Ministry

        Recently, someone posted pictures on social media that an Artificial Intelligence generator created based on scripture. The pictures were amazing and thought provoking.

        That made me consider what AI would write for my chips article this month. I thought it would be interesting to ask the AI Generator to “Write three paragraphs on the value of Christian Friendship.” What you see below is what the AI bot came up with in a few seconds.

        Friendship is a bond in love through reciprocity, mutuality, and holiness. Friendship is essential to the Christian life for the church because it is a fruit of godly virtue, a gift of God’s grace, and a way of grateful obedience to God’s law. An essential aspect of Christian discipleship is friendship. Christians are called to love their neighbors as themselves (Mark 12:31), and friendship is one way that Christians can fulfill this commandment.

        Friendship is important because love is greatest. God is love, and He is glorified by Christians who love wisely, rightly, and well in holy friendship. This love promotes the peace, purity, and unity of the church 1. The Lord knows there is value in earthly friendship, as well as fellowship. One place in the Bible where God tells us why having a good friend is important is in Ecclesiastes. There, we are told something simple but very profound: two are better than one 2.

        In conclusion, friendship is an essential aspect of Christian discipleship that promotes peace, purity, and unity of the church. It is a bond in love through reciprocity, mutuality, and holiness that Christians can fulfill the commandment of loving their neighbors as themselves. Friendship is important because it glorifies God who is love and it builds us up and helps us grow 3.

        1. tabletalkmagazine.com
        2.  ministry127.com
        3.  crosswalk.com

        What are your thoughts on using an AI generator in your ministry?

        Lindsey Ungs
        Connection & Communication Architect

        Did you enjoy this article? Did you laugh, cry or learn something new? Let Lindsey know.

          24 Hours of Prayer

          How to Pray for 15 Minutes

          As you enter into your 15 minutes of prayer, here are key areas you may want to cover. (Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as He guides you in your prayer!)


          • The Church Staff (Kent, Steve, Leah, Lindsey, Cathy, Gary, Jennifer, Rick, Frankline, Kathryn)
          • Our Sunday class teachers
          • Our small group and Bible study leaders
          • Our youth and youth leaders
          • Our elders and deacons
          • Our key volunteers
          • Our Food pantry leaders and visitors
          • Our building and premises
          • Our community directly around the church
          • Our preschool and preschool teachers (Director Kris Crowther)

          Then, start here:

          Praise is the entryway into God’s presence. Tell God who He is.

          Tell Him, “God, you are…”

          • Adonai –  “Lord” or “Master”
          • Elohim –  “God” or “gods”
          • Yahweh – “I AM WHO I AM” or “the LORD”
          • El Olam – “The everlasting God” or “the eternal God”
          • El Roi – “The God who sees”
          • El Shaddai – “God Almighty” or “God the All-Powerful”
          • Jehovah – “The LORD,” “the Self-Existent One,” or “the Eternal One”
          • Jehovah Elyon – “The LORD Most High”
          • Jehovah Jireh – “The LORD will provide”
          • Jehovah Nissi – “The LORD is my banner”
          • Jehovah Raah – “The LORD my shepherd”
          • Jehovah Rapha – “The LORD who heals”
          • Jehovah Shalom – “The LORD is peace”
          • Messiah or Christ  – “anointed one”
          • Emmanuel – “God with us.”
          • Lamb of God – the one who takes away the sins of the world.
          • Alpha and Omega – eternal and all-encompassing nature

          Take a couple of minutes of silence to quiet your thoughts and become aware of God’s presence. Take note of any prayer direction from the Holy Spirit that comes to mind.

          Ask God to “search your heart” for any sin, and take a moment to confess it, turn away from it, and receive God’s forgiveness.

          Open your Bible to any of the Apostolic Prayers and plug in the names of our staff, teachers, groups or anything else related to Cedar Hills.

          • For wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God (Eph. 1:17)
          • For strengthening with might in the inner being (Eph. 3:16, Col. 1:11)
          • For love to abound (Phil. 1:9, 1 Thes. 3:12)
          • For the knowledge of God’s will (Col. 1:9)
          • That the Word of the Lord would run swiftly [rapidly spread and powerfully take hold] (2 Thes. 3:1)
          • To glorify God in unity, with joy, peace, and hope (Rom. 15:5-6, 13)
          • To preach with boldness and power (Acts 4:29-30)

          Contend for God to move on someone else’s behalf.  Identify the situations, areas of culture, or groups of people for whom you are asking for spiritual awakening, and pray for them.

          Identify areas in your personal life where you are hungry to see God move and pray in faith to your Heavenly Father who loves to bless you!

          Remember God’s blessings. This shifts our perspective from our circumstances to God’s activity, strengthening us to contend, believing that God does not withhold any good thing from His children.

          Sing along with Spotify or YouTube, or sing any song on your heart. Or take any scripture and make up any melody you want.

          Cathy Dahm Funeral

          Cathy Dahm Funeral

          Please continue to keep the Dahm family in your prayers as they grieve Cathy’s passing. The funeral will be Thursday morning, August 3 at 10:30am at the church, the visitation Wednesday evening 4-7pm at Cedar Memorial.


          Cathy Sue Dahm, 59, of Cedar Rapids, went to be with the Lord on July 29, 2023, while surrounded by her loving family at the Oldorf Hospice House.  A visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, August 2, at Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home.  A Celebration of Life service will be held at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, August 3, at Cedar Hills Community Church, Cedar Rapids. Interment will be in the Union Mills Cemetery, Union Mills, Iowa.Born on December 15, 1963, in Oskaloosa, Iowa to John and Shirley Netten Ferguson, Cathy was raised on the family farm near New Sharon with her sisters, Marcy and Molly.  Cathy participated in 4-H, athletics, and helped on the farm while growing up.  She graduated from North Mahaska High School in 1981 and Des Moines Area Community College in 1983.  Cathy was united in marriage to Scott Dahm on August 25, 1984, and they moved to Cedar Rapids in 1985.  Cathy was self-employed for most of her accounting career, which enabled her to work from home and raise her children. While Cathy enjoyed her flower gardens, bicycling, cooking, and decorating for Christmas, what she enjoyed most was spending time with family.  Cathy was a member of Cedar Hills Community Church.Cathy will be lovingly remembered by her husband of 39 years, Scott; daughter, Danielle Dahm; son, Ryan (Molly Ruhser) Dahm; granddaughters, Maren LaVon and Maya Sue Dahm, the lights of her life; father, John Ferguson, and sisters, Marcy (Fritz) James and Molly (Rick) Swenson; as well as nieces, nephews, and many other relatives and friends. She was preceded in death by her mother, Shirley.In lieu of flowers, please remember Cathy with donations to the Cedar Hills’ Open Hands Food Pantry. 

          Connection Sunday August 13

          Prayer Champions and students are invited to meet on Sunday, August 13.  Grind Coffee will be on site with their coffee truck, offering specialty coffees and smoothies at regular prices.

          Smoothies flavors include strawberry, mango, banana, and peach; and combinations of those as well.  They can also do regular lemonade, peach, strawberry, or raspberry lemonade.

          Blueberry Blitz – support Lake View Camp

          BLUEBERRY BLITZ – Buy blueberries, support Lake View Camp!. Fresh from the farm in Michigan! Order forms are available at the Welcome Center and should be mailed with payment directly to Lake View by July 17.

          A Cedar Hills volunteer will drive to the Pella area to pick up all our church orders on July 22 and bring them to the church for pickup on Sunday, July 23.  (Please be sure to have someone available to pick up your blueberries on that day as we do not have ample storage for unclaimed orders.)

          Lake View Camp is a ministry we support and send many our students and grandparents to throughout the summer.  They also host camps for children who have a parent in prison (“Angel Tree” camps), which often means these students don’t have the financial means to pay for camp.  We are so passionate about reaching out with the gospel to every student–fundraisers like these make it possible!

          ORDER FORM – Click to print


          May is Mental Health Awareness Month

          May is mental health awareness month. We pray for many in our circles who struggle with mental health issues that they would know the perfect peace of God.

          You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3).

          We pray this story of one will help bring awareness to those who are struggling, as depression and causes come in many forms.


          “This is not easy to write.  And it’s long so I hope you will stick with me.  People don’t want to hear about it, they don’t know what to do about it.  But you or someone you love need to know it is real and what it’s like to live with it.  “It” is major depressive disorder.

          What I’m going to tell you about today is severe, debilitating depression.

          I have experienced chronic depression since my late teens.  As most of you are aware, there are good and bad days/weeks/months.  This is the 2nd time in my life I have hit the floor for an extended period of time.

          Have you heard of a high functioning alcoholic?  They can get to work and do their job but afterwards they are blotto drunk most nights and weekends.

          I don’t know if there’s such a term as a high functioning depressive but that’s what I’m calling it.  If you were to go by or call the desk, you probably wouldn’t think there’s anything wrong with me.  I’ve become really good at hiding it.  Having the structure of the work day is an immense help in that.

          Once I pass that time clock in the evening, the darkness sets in.  I don’t have anywhere to go but home.  COVID has only made it worse.  There’s no shopping, no going out to eat, no museums or arts to check out.  Making decisions over simple things like ‘where can I stop to pick up supper’ or ‘do I get gas tonight or tomorrow night’ are impossible to make.  It becomes overwhelming so I go home and do nothing until the only choice left is to take care of it

          There’s a commercial on tv for Rexulti.  They show a woman with her friends, obviously not having a good time like they are.  For me, that’s what it feels like on a good day.  Although I laugh and joke around, I feel nothing.  Most of the time I’d rather be home by myself because it’s mentally painful to watch others enjoying life.

          Thankfully I don’t have any ideations of hurting myself.  I just don’t want to be here anymore.  When I see a young person so ill or hear of a fatal car accident, I ask God why he doesn’t take me instead of someone who was loved and needed.

          It took not wanting to see my grandchildren to get me to realize that it was really bad again.  I am getting the help that I need and it is slowly getting better.  To the point that I think I need to share my experiences.  I believe part of the cause is heredity.

          But, there are 2 parts to this story.  Today I got validation that the 5 concussions I’ve had over my lifetime indeed play a role in my diagnosis.

          Suffice it to say, I’ve never been graceful.  A horse, a bike, a toboggan, a motorcycle, and a divot in the sidewalk were all contributing factors to the falls causing concussions.  Each time I ‘recovered’ and nothing was ever thought about it again.

          A few years ago I started seeing articles about athletes and the long term effects of a concussion.  That’s when I started asking my providers if there could be something to it.  Only to be told I appear to be fine so no worries.  It felt like being in a Charlie Brown scene.

          So frustrating that a jock can have 1 concussion and the world comes to an end.  Yet nothing to see here when it’s a clumsy girl who suffered 5.

          This spring I got a referral to a psychologist who actually heard me.  FINALLY someone listened to me and told me there was something that could be done to help.  Except there was no availability within CCH and the only other option was to go out of network.  Cha-ching!

          I was able to maintain for quite some time after that.  But a few months ago, like a clock, things started going downhill again.  Every year starting in September my mood drops.  Thirty eight years ago this past Saturday, my 23 year old sister was killed by a drunk driver.  She had a 6 week old baby.  I can’t believe I haven’t gotten over that after all these years.

          At any rate, a couple weeks ago I had an appointment w/my PCP.  I told her what was going on and she said she’d reach out to the psychologist again.  Such a blessing that now there was an opening to be seen by Occupational Therapy.

          I had my first appointment last week, today my second for testing.  At the end of the hour, the therapist had me in happy tears when she told me that the concussions definitely were a contributing factor to so many things I couldn’t explain.  Thank you God for sending an angel with wonderfully great news.

          This isn’t a cure.  Probably not even a miracle.  But there are things that can be done to get me to a better place.

          Don’t ever give up.  It’s taken many years and a good dose of stubbornness to get me this far.  If the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I am just starting the journey to many years of better days.

          Your poster child for Major Depressive Disorder,


          Toasted Graham (Celery Overtones)


          Banana Foster Flambe. Pumpkin Caramel Latte. Spiced Chai Cyclone Crazy.  Sweet Strawberries and Cream Vanilla Shake.

          These are all flavored coffee options.  Don’t those sound delicious?  Is there anything in that list you want to try?

          When you make a cup of coffee, the first thing you do is not taste it. Instead, you smell it while the coffee is brewing. Smell is the first thing that triggers the brain that this cup of coffee is going to be GOOD. Like, super yummy good.  The aromas waiver in the air until the brewing process is complete.

          Sometimes when we brew coffee in the office, the delicious-ness strikes the noses of everyone in the vicinity and people will start to ask, “Mmmm… what is that wonderful smell?”

          And then finally… that first sip.

          I don’t know if you’re as crazy about coffee as I am, but if you are, you’ve also learned that flavored coffees can be a HUGE disappointment.  That wonderful aroma that filled your nostrils a few minutes ago? That wonderful smell that tickled your taste buds in anticipation? It’s just not there when you take the first sip.  In the world of food and flavors, *usually* the smells and tastes are in alignment. But flavored coffees?  They are often out of sync.

          Out of sync—what I smelled isn’t what I tasted.  This disappointment does something to the brain.  That chocolate truffle? It tastes like dirty water.  That pumpkin pie?  Just cheap weak coffee.  This Starbucks Toasted Graham that’s currently in my cup as I type? I swear it has overtones of celery. Yuck. Weird. (I’m still going to drink, by the way…)

          I think our Christian lives can be so much like flavored coffees.  Sometimes the initial impression we give is like a vibrant and wonderful smell.  But when you really get to know us, there is a disappointment. We’re not as ‘holy’ or ‘spiritual’ or ‘mature’ as we once let on.  We’re sinful. Our character has major defects.  Our workday’s lifestyle doesn’t match our Sunday morning devotion. We are out of sync.

          But every now and then you encounter a Christian who’s life and outer shell match the inside.  They’re devotion is pure.  Their workday lifestyle matches their Sunday lifestyle.  Their character oozes the character of Christ.  They are REAL.  They are in sync.

          But they are also a rare-breed.

          There are only a few flavored coffees I’ve found that are in sync.  They are also a rare breed. But when that taste and that smell are in complete alignment, it is bliss. My brain doesn’t feel tricked—instead it is in a state of joy.

          I want to be that type of Christian—that brings a state of joy and honesty that doesn’t trick someone’s brain or bring disappointment.

          Flawed, but honest about the flaws.  Sinful, but quick to run to forgiveness and offer forgiveness.  In step, in sync, with my Savior. I’m not there, yet!

          Leah Carolan
          Pastor of Worship & Media


          Did you enjoy this article? Did you laugh, cry, or learn something new?  Let Leah know.

            Love. Belong. Serve.