Growing in Prayer

One of the ways to grow in your prayer life is learning from other practices of prayer. Regardless of the practice of prayer you choose, a good place to start is by asking the Lord to birth inside of you a desire to spend time with Him. The purpose of spending time alone with God is to develop intimacy with Him, secure our orders for the day, and to come alongside the things that are the closest to His heart.

Time not scheduled to be alone with God in prayer or any other discipline will be filled with other things in life. We must make time to pray, even schedule it on our calendars like every other important meeting in our life. Spending regular time in prayer will radically deepen our personal lives as disciples, transform our priorities, renew our commitment to service, and increase our awareness of how involved God really is in our lives.

There is considerable variety in prayer and nearly as many different ways to pray as there are people to pray. Some people  write out their prayers; others prefer more spontaneous praying. Some people pray silently; others pray loud. Some people like praying alone; others like praying in groups like their cells. While it’s true that most new prayer disciplines feel uncomfortable at first, you do grow into them if you stay with them, and often the fruit results in a new and fresh encounter with God.

Because different prayer formats are helpful to different people, refusing to try new ways to pray may mean that you never discover a format that enhances your relationship with God. Visit www.discipleshiptools.org and look at the Disciplines of Prayer for new ways to grow in your prayer life.

J.R. Henderson
Pastor of Spiritual Formation
Isaiah 56:7

Journey – October 2017 Cedar Chips

This year the Journey student ministry is dwelling in the Word of God by reading through the parables of Jesus. Each week we pick a different parable and seek to understand what God is speaking to us through this story. We have also encouraged our students to engage in God’s Word by giving them five passages to read and respond to each week. Our hope is that each student will grow in their knowledge and application of the word of God during this year. Please also pray for our Fall Retreat coming up Nov. 10-12. If you know of any student in 6th -12th grade who would like to join us, please let me know.

Jeremy Van Genderen
Director of Youth & Young Adults

Worship Ministries – October 2017 Cedar Chips

Every now and then a song text that I’ve sung for years and years will suddenly strike me with new meaning. It’s not quite Christmas season yet, but I’ve been listening to a Christmas Lullaby with my kids and heard the song “We Three Kings.” Have you ever pondered the meaning of that song? It’s quite moving once you realize the song is about us on a journey towards Jesus and not about the wisemen from the East at all, though we may have thought it was, having heard the song hundreds of times since our youth. I think sometimes scripture can be like that to us.

There are verses we’ve memorized and stories we’ve heard and enjoyed since childhood that we overlook and think we completely understand, when out of nowhere BOOM — and God suddenly brings a new and greater revelation to His Word. We can never ever completely have fully learned everything there is know about the Bible, His voice, His character, His love. There is always more for God to show us. This is what I love most about the Dwell series.

Even if we think we know all the stories, we are wrong. There is more. Dwelling: speaking, writing, meditating, singing, praying the Scripture helps our spirits to focus and receive more from God. And He has so much more for us! Never be content. Never settle. Never think there is nothing else to the Christian journey. There is always more, always a deeper place of intimacy and knowledge in Christ to be had.

Are you in a lull? Are you in a dry season? Are you bored? Keep seeking! God will break through! Even if the seeking seems mundane or worthless at the time… it is not. There is deep blessing in the journey. Be encouraged today that God is going to show you more.

Leah Carolan
Director of Worship & Media

Note to Self

I have a little devotional book on my desk that I refer to often entitled Note to Self: the Discipline
of Preaching to Yourself. Joe Thorn shares scripture and meditations that inspire me. Like this one:

Jesus is Enough
Dear Self,
Are you satisfied? It is pretty obvious that the answer is often no. I am not saying it is wrong to
want things in this life, but why do you find yourself so frustrated with the absence of those things? The
problem is not that you want evil things. The things you want are generally good, or at least harmless in
themselves. But more than wanting, you become frustrated by not having. You become jealous, envious, and discontented with your life. It is true; you need what you lack, but what you lack is satisfaction in Jesus.

When you find your deepest satisfaction in Jesus, you are protected from bitterness in times of want and pride in times of abundance. The world and all good gifts within it are temporal blessings. For you, Christian, their presence should remind you of the Giver, and their absence should remind you of that which never fades nor can be taken away.

Paul models this well for you. He knows the secret of being content whether he has an abundance or nothing at all, for he has  found his ultimate satisfaction in Jesus. Jesus is enough. Do you believe that? Can you say, with the author of Hebrews, that you can be content with whatever you have because God said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). This is a promise made to us in Jesus. Jesus is enough, but that kind of satisfaction is only experienced when we understand our greatest needs to be redemption and restoration. God in Christ has reconciled us to Himself, is renewing our minds, and promises to raise us from the dead, and we will dwell in righteousness and peace forever. If you have this, what more do you need?

These words encouraged me to draw near to Jesus. They also struck me in light of our recent discoveries in the REVEAL study about our getting stuck as we grow in our faith. I am not satisfied with my own stuckness, but want to keep growing, to know Jesus more so that I can experience him more fully.

That sounds very satisfying,

Kent Landuis
Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

The Luke Project

We started moving dirt last week for the new Luke Project storage building! Thanks to everyone who has pledged or donated to the Luke Project. The project has received 92 pledges for a total of $109,165. Another 16 households have also made donations of $4291. This brings the total committed funding for the Luke Project to $113,456. Total donations received to date are $43,226.

Over 40 people have indicated they will be volunteering in the construction of the project.  Anyone still interested in participating in the construction can contact Wayne Josifek (wjosifek@southslope.net) or Larry Pottebaum (ldpott@gmail.com).

We expect to be needing volunteers for construction of the side walls around October 7th.

 

 

Stuck

Ever feel stuck in a rut? I have. When I get distracted, worn out, and weighted down God feels distant. I’m stuck. Guess what? Stuck happens. So relax, but also respond so you don’t stay stuck? Five suggestions to get unstuck:

1. Be honest about it.
Psalm 40:1-2 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog.” Even King David got stuck. Let’s be honest about what we feel toward God— our distracted thoughts, our tired feet, our hurt feelings, our deadened passions, our disappointed expectations. Getting unstuck starts with honesty.

2. Complain out loud to God.
Now, speak your honesty. Psalm 6:6 says, “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.” Stuck? Tell God. Prayer is having an honest conversation with God.

3. Complain out loud to others.
Revival comes in community. This is not for the purpose of justifying our whining, it is for the purpose of letting others help us expect God to show up. When we can’t imagine our way out of a hard place, let other people imagine it for you. Psalm 7:7 says, “Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; rule over them from on high.” We grow in faith better together.

4. Get into the Word.
God’s Word is living and active. God heals and revives us by turning our attention to His truths, which are found in God’s Word. Tune into God and seek God’s path out of your spiritual stuckness. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp to my
feet and a light to my path.”

5. Dwell in God’s love.
Without this, all spiritual practices fail. Always remember, God loves you! Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” The beauty of God’s love is that it survives spiritual dry times. God is love and the Bible tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus. (See Romans 8) This can never be overstated: God loves you!

Everyone gets stuck. Don’t stay stuck.

Kent Landhuis
Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

Samaritans Purse and Iowa

Earlier this year there was a horrific school bus crash in Tanzania. There was a group of medical missionaries from Iowa following that bus, who were able to rescue three children. Tragically, 32 souls perished in that accident. One of the missionaries, Dr. Steven Meyer from Sioux City had arranged to treat the three survivors at his hospital in Sioux City, but had no way to get them to Iowa.

Congressman Steve King called Franklin Graham and immediately Samaritan’s Purse dispatched a DC-8 to transport the children, their mothers, and the medical attendants. They even got a waiver from the FAA to carry
two flight crews so they only had to stop for fuel. These children had multiple injuries, but Dr. Meyer is confident they will recover fully.

He stated that many Tanzanians, including Muslims, are amazed that American Christians would step in to care for these
children.

–Cedar Hills Missions Team

In dwell, dwell in… What’s the deal?

This Fall, we kick-off the start of a year long commitment to learning about the Bible. While dwelling in the Word, we know that Christ will indwell our hearts. When we dig into the Word, we cannot escape that God will reveal Himself in big ways and fill us with His presence. It will be so worth it!! So dwell in the Word and let the Word dwell in you. Simple, yes?

Any change of habit takes time, commitment and practice. If you’re not used to dwelling in the Word, it’s going to take some change. What do you need to give up to make regular time for the Word? How does your schedule need to be rearranged? And are you serious enough about taking on this new habit that you’re willing to actually make the changes?

I don’t know about you, but I’m HUNGRY. I see within myself the need to make reading and dwelling into the Word a greater priority in my life. I know I often feel spiritually empty because this one component is missing my from spiritual journey.

Even as mature Christians, there is so much more for us to learn in the Word and should not be neglected (preaching to myself!). Let’s do this! Will you join us in the journey? Are you ready to be amazed by what God has to say and what He will reveal to us in the next year? I am! August 20 begins this year long journey to Dwell.

Leah Carolan
Director of Media & Worship

Flying Away to Camp

In Alaska it isn’t always easy to drive your child to camp, many times they need to be flown. RCA missionary Brian Bruxvoort saw the need and as a pilot decided he could do something about it. He loads up his airplane with children and teenagers and flies them from the home villages to camp. Last summer, he flew 356 teenagers from 36 villages to 4 camps across Alaska. Of those 356, many of them professed faith in Christ. Through Brian’s ministry the lives of children and teenagers were changed.

Praise God!

–Cedar Hills Missions Team