All posts by Cedar Hills

Backyard Hidden Treasure

Backyard Hidden Treasure

Since we bought our first house about seven years ago, we’ve been getting to know the ins and outs of what makes our house and our property unique. At some point, we borrowed a metal detector from a family member and had fun wandering around our yard with various boops, beeps and low ding sounds.

If you’ve never played with a metal detector, I highly recommend it!

(Also if you’ve never seen the show “The Curse of Oak Island,” watch it first and you’ll be super motivated to go on your own treasure hunt around your yard. I hate to get you hooked, but season nine is kicking off now on the History Channel.)

So after watching these real-life treasure hunters wander around an island and discovering 400 year old treasures with their metal detectors, we were excited to explore our back yard.

What we learned:  we think our back yard used to be someone’s burn pile. Not so romantic. Deep down below the surface, we’ve discovered lots of nails, old toy guns, tin cans, bottles, bottle caps, broken pipes. And ash. Lots of ash.

But the most beautiful discovery was an old china set—a teacup and saucer. They both suffered damage from the flames of a fire, but incredibly, I was able to scrub them down and superglue them back together until they looked restored.

Next, I headed online to see what treasure I had discovered! Perhaps they were super old and worth something! Perhaps part of a long lost set or some royal collection!

But—no. Just cheap china from the 1960s. There was a reason they got thrown out. No monetary value, no sentimental value—just someone’s trash. They were probably buried just a few years before our house was built.

I took a picture of my little restored china and later deleted it. And after a few years of sitting in my cupboard, I threw the cup and saucer away. I discovered it had neither monetary value nor sentimental value to me.

God’s work of restoration could not be further from my backyard discovery.

He doesn’t need to search for us—He knows exactly where we are.

While we may feel buried and lost and forgotten and disregarded, His value for us is one exponentially greater than money or sentiment—He is our Creator! He formed us in our mother’s wombs and knew exactly who we would be and are, even before time began.

He does not hide us away. And while it may seem we are covered and ash and dirty and broken, His Word says in Isaiah 61:3 that He, “bestows on [us] a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair… a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Did you catch that last part??? Even after He fixes us and makes us beautiful, He plants us to display His splendor! Not like me and my restored china that I hid away in the cabinet until throwing it — He displays us, His restored people, to His own splendor.

It’s kind of like that old saying—if God had a refrigerator, He’d have your picture on it.  But more like ‘if God had a china cupboard, He wouldn’t just have you stored on the shelf inside collecting dust—He’d have you in the most prominent place in the middle of His banquet table on top of a beautiful place setting, all cleaned and shined and ready to be adored over by all in attendance.

God’s restoration is for. His. Splendor. And He takes great delight in restoring His people.

Leah Carolan
Director of Worship & Media

 

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Personal Restoration

Personal Restoration

In June of 2018, our oldest son and our entire family fell hard and fast into deep pain, fear, and sadness. A beautiful young life was lost, and so many lives changed forever. If I could create a picture, I was Humpty Dumpty scattered into millions of fragments. I wanted my old life, my old self back. I wanted this for my entire family, especially for our oldest son. How could I go on with this brokenness and why couldn’t God hear me crying out to him to fix this situation for him and my family?

Every morning I walk around my town’s perimeter. I’ve walked this path for so many years rarely missing a day. On September 18th, 2018 it was a beautiful sunrise, early fall temps and my music was playing in my ears. However, I couldn’t see or feel any of this. I was lost in my thoughts about how I wanted my old life back. Why was God putting this in my path? What had we done so wrong that my family must suffer so? As I walked along the far side of town, I happened to look over, and I saw something I hadn’t seen before. A cross, tucked back behind the Cowboy Church, nestled into some evergreen trees. I was drawn over to the cross and as I came straight on to the cross, I saw the most spectacular sunrise and painted sky. In that moment, I truly felt Jesus Christ was there telling me, I am with you, I have never left you. I heard Jeremiah 29:11 in my head “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” and I cried. Not the tears of despair I had cried so many other times but the tears of relief that I finally understood that Jesus was my restoration and the light out of this darkness. That life would be restored, was being restored, and that I needed to let go of my version of restoration and let my life be led by Christ because it would be better than it was before. I began to pray differently. His will, His way, His timing, not mine became part of my daily walk and talk at the cross.

So unlike Humpty Dumpty, I started to come back together that day piece by piece. Slowly but surely but in a new way. Letting Christ lead me down a new path as he did in September 2018 helping me to pick up pieces of myself along the journey. One of the ways in which I have been restored is through attending the Saturate Group and connecting with members of a newly formed small group my husband and I attend on Sunday evenings. I’ve been able to tell my story, as authentic as I have ever been, sharing that l still have cracks and wounds as we all do, and I have support in putting the pieces back together. Through our small group’s acceptance, prayer and sharing of their own personal stories of faith, I recently acknowledge for the first time in a social media forum that I have a child in prison. It was on the second anniversary of his incarceration, and it was important for me to share how much he is loved and missed by his family and what great hopes we have for his return home. It has also given me the strength to connect with others who are navigating the challenges of incarceration and reentry by sharing how Jesus has impacted this journey for me and my family. I have also felt called to reach out to a non-profit organization focused on helping inmates reenter society after incarceration called Inside Out Reentry of Johnson County.

I’ve always loved the saying “we are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” I think in my case the light of God gets in and part of my personal restoration is to make sure that the light also shines out to others from those cracks and holes that make me real. That is what small group does for me as well as my daily trip and stop at this cross where I know Jesus is always waiting to restore me.

Beth Brown
Part of the Cedar Hills Community Church Family

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

A Story of Restoration

A Story of Restoration

Steve’s sermon last Sunday really got to me. I can’t stop wondering about a question he raised. What if we are the innkeeper, and what if Jesus keeps bringing us hurting people, and what if Jesus supplies us with everything we need to restore the hurting? Think about that as you read this story of restoration from Luke 10:27-37:

Just then a man stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

Jesus answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”

He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”

“Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you will live.”

Looking for a loophole, the man asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.”

“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’”

“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”

“The one who treated him kindly,” the man responded.

Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

Kent Landhuis
Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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Restoration

Restoration

As I reflect on restoration I am once again drawn to share about our latest house project. Cathy and I recently refinished some of the wood floors in our house. When we wrapped that project up we decided the stairs looked like finished hardwood under the carpet so we decided to rip it up. As Cathy peeled off the carpet, we found out two things; first, that they use a LOT of staples to attach the carpet and second, two of our steps didn’t match the original wood. Wow! What we thought might be a simple refinish project just became much more challenging. I think this is like the Christian life. As God peels back the layers of sin in our lives we find the restoration project is much more difficult than anticipated. God peels back our superficial sins and we find underlying selfishness and self-centeredness that was hidden under those surface level sins. Personally, the more closely I follow God, the more time I spend in His Word and prayer, the more I become aware that like these steps I have real problems. I have a flesh deeply corrupted by sin. God’s restoration process has begun, but will not reach completion until one day I receive a new body, one that is not corrupted by sin. Paul describes God’s restoration project of us this way in Romans 6:4-5: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

Our hope for complete restoration lies IN our hope in Jesus Christ. Our hope is in the power of His death and resurrection. This is why our Apostles’ Creed ends with more than the forgiveness of sins. It also includes resurrection and eternal life!

I believe in…

“the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.”

Steve Poole
Director of Youth & Young Adults

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Hogging the Legos

HOGGING THE LEGOS

Boy 1: “Mooooooom! He just kicked me in the leg!”

Me: “Are you bleeding?”

Boy 1: “No.”

Me: “Send your brother in here so I can talk to him.”

Other brother begrudgingly appears.

Me: “Why did you kick your brother?”

Boy 2: “He pushed me off the chair first!”

Me to Boy 1: “Is this true?”

Boy 1: “He was trying to steal my Legos! He started it.”

Boy 2: “He’s hogging the Legos and never lets me play with them!”

And on and on and on… until finally:

Me: “I want you two to look each other in the eye, say ‘I’m sorry’ and then other say ‘I forgive you.’”

They hate that part, but it usually settles the argument and life goes on as before. Even if they don’t mean it, the mere words “I forgive you” end the dispute.

I cannot count the number of similar conversations I have daily like this. The beautiful part is that childhood disputes *usually* are that simple. A fight, some words are tossed, an apology, and back to playing like normal.

I don’t know when adulthood-sized arguments start to work their way into life. The drama is amped up, the injuries more severe, the grudges held longer, the wounds are deepened, and the reconciling conversations are held off for days, months, years… if ever at all. Maybe it’s the absence of a grand ‘mom’ figure in the picture to put us back in line. Or maybe in our maturity we toss off the need to be held accountable to a ‘higher power’ like mom who would normally step in. Maybe we grow more stubborn in our ways and master the art of revenge and quiet stewing.

But I do know forgiveness still isn’t an option. As adults, we are accountable to Christ who commands us, “Forgive as you are forgiven.” It’s a serious offense.

I, Leah, in all my detestable ways of sinning and turning away from God… have been FORGIVEN.  No drama, no grudge, no revenge. No stewing in the corner or years of silence.  Freely offered by a loving God.

Wounds run deep but, I believe in the restorative power and grace of God—for even the deepest wounds and most egregious offenses.  Just say it. “I forgive you.” Even if you don’t mean it. Say it again. “I forgive you.” Every time you are reminded of the hurt. “I forgive you” again and again and again until it becomes easier.  1x, 7x, 70×7 times….

Leah Carolan
Director of Worship & Media

 

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

Forgiveness Through Jesus’ Work

Forgiveness Through Jesus’ Work

In high school I spent many hours late into the night with my good friends Drew and David. We had fun getting into and escaping trouble together. Sometimes Drew drove the getaway car, other times I did. David hardly ever drove. Because we spent so much time together, my parents considered them brothers of mine.

In college it continued and we started venturing into the world. I met Lindsey and Drew seemed happy for me but I know he was wanting to find his special lady, too. When I asked Lindsey to marry me, she tasked me with finding six groomsmen! David accepted the best man role, but I didn’t hear back from Drew. As the wedding drew near, he declined stating that he wouldn’t be able to make it. It hurt, but we were wrapped up in plans and I had to find another friend to stand in.

Later in life he revealed to me he’d become addicted to heavy drug use and didn’t want to pay for the tux. Now he was in a 12-step rehab program, confessing much worse offenses than this. The best part however was he had found Jesus! I was so glad to hear this and was happy to forgive him. At that point I had recently come back to my faith. If I hadn’t known forgiveness through Jesus’ work, I may have “forgiven” him out loud, but perhaps not truly “in my heart.” He’s since gotten married and we were able to attend and send him off to California a few years back.

Karl Ungs
Leader of Parenting Together

 

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

When Tired, Take a Nap

When Tired, Take a Nap

I’m wired for self-critique, judgment, and condemnation. I’m not sure why, but I am hard on myself. One evidence of this is a denial of my need for rest. The tape playing in my head tells me, ” can keep going, push a little more, don’t quit yet.”

If you phone me early in the morning, rouse me from a deep sleep, and then ask, “Did I wake you?” My knee-jerk reaction would be, “No, I’m awake.” Ditto if you catch me napping. Just resting my eyes.

Truth is, I get tired. Sometimes very tired. And that makes me normal. One of my favorite verses in the last couple of exhausting years has been Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

I’ve been seeking rest recently from the burden of self-condemnation. We are the kind of people who believe in forgiveness. The most difficult person to forgive can be ourselves.

We are also the kind of people called to love our neighbors as ourselves. My mentor Ray always reminded me that we can not love our neighbors boldly until we love ourselves properly. Proper self-love is free from self-condemnation and shame.

The path to forgiveness for many of us begins with recognizing that we are far more loved – even in our brokenness – than we ever realized. We are forgiven. If God forgives us then we should feel free to forgive ourselves and that should lighten our burden.

So, when tired, take a nap.

Kent Landhuis
Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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Reading the Bible 2021

READ THE BIBLE IN A YEAR – Let’s do this, Church! Join the Cedar Hills staff by reading the entire Bible chronologically in 2021. We’ll be using “The Bible Recap” – a daily schedule of readings with an accompanying podcast.  Follow the steps below to get set-up for January 1st.  (Or jump in with the New Testament on Oct 1) There are options for those who prefer paper and those who will be using their mobile devices:

Authenticity Precipitates Sanctification

Authenticity Precipitates Sanctification

Once a week my family meets with three other families in someone’s home. We all eat and catch up and tell jokes. After dinner the kids loudly play in the basement while the adults circle around to discuss life and faith. We have a chosen curriculum we are following, though that will change with the seasons. It’s in this small group that we wrestle with how to live out our faith given life’s circumstances. We all face challenges on a weekly basis that make us wonder how to walk by faith as we move towards the chaos. Together we discuss how to accomplish this.

Each of us is at a different place in our faith journey. Some of us are mature believers. Others are brand new to their faith. It’s in these conversations (and prayers) that we are crafting the next steps: What to do at work or with a family member, how to approach someone with a loving attitude, and how to live with both truth and grace.

It’s in these conversations that we slowly learn to trust each other. Here as the trust is built, the conversation becomes more vulnerable. It’s because of this authenticity that heart matters are shared and believers can encourage and give guidance in the things that really matter. Authenticity is the pathway that allows the sanctification process to move forward. The process of moving towards holiness is our desire. Living life in authentic community is the way to live out the gospel.

Lindsey Ungs
Connection & Communication Architect

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A True Soul-Friend

A True Soul-Friend

Authenticity is at the heart of our current teaching series, LIFE TOGETHER. I want to share with you a story from The Walk by Michael Card. Michael had been going through a difficult time having recently broken up with his girlfriend. One Monday morning, Michael’s mentor, Bill invites him out for breakfast. After they are seated Bill makes a bold but loving statement:

“I’m worried about you, Michael. This is perhaps the third young woman you have dated since we’ve known each other and now you’re breaking up again. I’m concerned about your ability to sustain a relationship.”

Wow! That is being authentic about your concerns for a friend. Also, being bold enough to say it, even if you know they might have difficulty receiving such truth. Michael goes on to explain that out of his own immaturity he responded:

“How can you say that to me! After all, you are divorced. At least I never did that!”

Ouch! Burn! Michael shares this story in his book so that we could all see Bill’s response:

Bill grew quiet. He had risked genuinely loving me and, like so many others, I had hurt him for it. “Worked at that relationship as hard as I could for as long as I could.” He said, almost in tears, and there the discussion ended. Anyone else would have decided, at this point, that walking with someone like me was not worth the trouble. Not Bill. As best I remember, he never brought up the subject again. A few months before his death, I recalled the incident and asked for his forgiveness. It was obvious from his response that he had forgiven me long ago, although I could tell he still remembered the sting of it. All that remained, he said, was for me to forgive myself.

Authenticity opens us all up to pain. The pain we experience when someone lashes out at us, reminding us of our biggest regrets or mistakes or when someone weaponizes our honesty against us as Michael did. The hurt we experience when someone breaks our trust. However, real, deep and lasting relationships are built on authentically sharing our lives with each other. I hope you are as encouraged and challenged as I am by this story. Michael Card ends the chapter by saying:

A true soul-friend is willing to endure the inevitable pain that is caused by being in a relationship with another human being. “We are fragile and fallen people,” Bill would say. “Often we hurt each other.”

Who are those people in your life who know you authentically and can speak the truth in love to you the way Bill did?  Who in your life needs you to be their “Bill”?

Steve Poole
Director of Youth & Young Adults

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