All posts by Cedar Hills Community Church

What’s Next?

What’s Next?

The Reformed Church in America (RCA) has been a spiritual home for me for almost 60 years. A few weeks after I arrived in the world, I was baptized into the First Reformed Church, an RCA congregation in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. For almost six decades I never imagined leaving the RCA. Until now.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine shared these words of Jesus, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins” (Mark 2:21-22).

We then discussed the ways God works. God sometimes repairs the old. God remodels and revives and remakes. God restores broken things. And sometimes God restores by doing a brand new thing. God makes something out of nothing. God brings new creation. God breathes a fresh wind.

Honestly, I tried for a long time to avoid the question, “What’s next for Cedar Hills and the RCA?” But, following the Vision 2020 report last fall, the RCA called the question. Every church was called to discern. And so we’ve been discerning and the more time we’ve invested, the clearer it seems to us that God wants to do a new thing.

For years the RCA has tried to sew new cloth on an old garment and it appears that the tear this created is getting worse. I believe that now is the time to pour new wine into a new wineskin for the sake of the kingdom. By doing this we will see even greater faithfulness and fruitfulness.

This is my hope and my prayer.

Kent Landhuis
Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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

    Easter Worship Then and Now

    Easter Worship Then and Now

    Easter of 2020 was difficult for many all over the world. The church building was empty and the actual church (the people) were fumbling around trying figure out how to share fellowship and encouragement while not being together in person.

    Those of us who are leaders in the church found ourselves in the church building, standing on a platform speaking to empty chairs and a video camera. Without a congregation to speak to face to face, it was a challenge to believe that anything we shared on the platform mattered.

    Easter of 2020 found us as a church staff reeling from the changes in the way we gathered and sharing a simple meal of ham, rolls, and deviled eggs in the gathering space.  It was a far cry from Easter of 2019 and involved much lamenting on my part.

    The people (paid and unpaid) that showed up on in those first weeks and months became linked in our efforts to continue to share the Good News despite having to navigate constant changes.

    Thankfully Pastor Kent had hope and developed a plan with the consistory. Thanks to the leadership of this church body, we were able to function with a core group of courageous ministry leaders and volunteers to make it to August of 2020, also known as The Derecho.

    As bad as the Derecho was, it also was a time of people remembering that people matter. It was as if people came out of their own homes and remembered that other people existed and had needs as well.

    It was as if our whole city took a breath and then used the strength from that breath to chop wood and patch roofs.  It was a beautiful group of people that came together to serve the church body and the community at large. This was a new level of fellowship we hadn’t seen since March.

    Then, in fall of 2021 we saw a whole new wave of those interested in meeting together as a body of Christ. This was a new level of fellowship and was certainly encouraging to me. New faces started to walk through the doors of our church building. Others decided to become members. People who hadn’t been around in a year and a half decided that being together in person was worth the risk.

    And that brings me to Easter Sunday 2022. As I looked around on Easter, it brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful sight to behold! The worship space was filled and some services were better attended than Easter of 2019. What a joy to see the restoration God has brought to our local church body two years later.

    Lindsey Ungs
    Connection & Communication Architect

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

      Renewing Our Minds

      Renewing Our Minds

      This past week as I was reading our weekly memory verses for our 100 verse challenge, I discovered a familiar favorite that has meant a lot in my journey of restoration. God has renewed my mind over time as I have followed Him.

       “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~ Romans 12:1-2

      To me this is one snapshot of what Christian living looks like. It is me. It is you. It is us together, offering ourselves body and mind to God. Our lives become a living offering. Our actions every day take on a new meaning, as they become our offering to please God by obeying Him. In Romans 12:1-2, I have discovered this purpose and identity that is more important than myself, and my own wants and needs. As verse one gives us the why, I think verse two helps us understand how we act as living sacrifices. We are transformed! God transforms us by renewing our minds.  As we pursue God’s good will instead of being tossed about by our own whims and feelings, God makes our thoughts more like His! Wow! This is an amazing truth, which the creator God of the universe, who came and died on the cross to redeem us from sin and death, now wants to transform us into His image. He wants us to be His body here on earth as we live sacrificially. What a great privilege and honor! However this is not an easy call. We are to shun the ways of the world. We should not be consumed with worldly pursuits of money, recognition, fame, sexual gratification as is the world around us. My heart breaks to know that statistics say there is very little difference between those in the American Church and the world.  If we are honest we have mostly failed this Romans 12:1-2 challenge. So this month I was inspired by our Ephesians series, and Romans 12, to think about what Kent said, “welcome is our language and transformation is our vocabulary.” How have my thoughts, my mind, been transformed to be more like God’s? What actions can I do to be more transformed, to be a better living sacrifice?

      I challenge you to spend more time with God! It never fails in my life. The more time I spend with God the more I think like Him. I start to see the temptations of the world as fleeting and false. I find I have more love, joy, peace, patience, and self-control. So, the nearer we draw to the goodness of His light the more we reflect that goodness to those around us. The great truth of Christian restoration and transformation is that it is not accomplished by our own strength or power, but through more surrender to God’s awesome power and love in our lives.

      Steve Poole
      Director of Youth & Young Adults

      What did you think of this article? Let us know.

        To Whom Do I Owe Forgiveness?

        To Whom Do I Owe Forgiveness?

        My brain keeps coming back to the same topic when I consider what to write about in my article on forgiveness.

        For six months we cared for two toddlers through the Safe Family program. We were asked to adopt them a few months into caring for them and we agreed. Several months after agreeing to adopt them, their father decided he wanted to have some custody of the girls. So, the girls were ripped from our home and put back into the care of their mother, who had asked us to adopt them. After all this, their father has seen them four days out of the last month and a half.

        So it’s to their father that I owe forgiveness.

        If I think of it from the perspective of the girls, I cannot get there, to forgiveness. I cannot push my heart that far up the forgiveness hill. The journey is too far and my heart too heavy.

        But, if I think of their father as an individual, a human struggling in this world, it’s more possible to find forgiveness.

        I too am a struggling human in this broken world. I make all kinds of rash choices. I have made plenty of messes for myself and others to deal with. I cut people down. I’m short with my kids and husband. I am selfish and want what I want regardless of how it affects others. When I finally turn my head to look fully in the mirror, I see a lot of mistakes and poor choices and sin.

        Thankfully, the Lord can wipe that away and replace what I see in the mirror with His image. Pure beauty and love and truth.

        Thankfully I don’t have to push my heart into forgiveness. All I have to do is open my hand to find the gift of forgiveness already inside my fist.

        And so, I can offer forgiveness to their father. He is a human, struggling just like me.

        Lindsey Ungs
        Connection & Communication Architect

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

          I Used Up the Coffee Creamer

          I Used Up the Coffee Creamer

          Every time we are asked to write articles on the theme on forgiveness, my brain hits a blank and full writer’s block hits hard.  I feel like I’ve told all my good stories of forgiveness, and all that are left are my dumb stories of forgiveness.

          You know how in the Bible there are the MAJOR prophets like Isaiah and Daniel, and then the MINOR prophets like Nahum, Amos, and the other little ones that are hard to name?

          These are my MINOR forgiveness stories.

          Like today—I was moving baby from my arms to my shoulder and my fingernail snagged her nose and scratched her, resulting in instant tears and momma saying, “Oh, I’m so sorry, sweetheart! Mommy didn’t meant to scratch you.”

          Or yesterday, I accidently dried my 9-year-olds favorite hoodie after lecturing him to never dry it because it would probably shrink and not fit anymore. Oops.  I had to tell him and apologize.

          Earlier this week, I had the table all setup for dinner—burger buns √, ketchup √, baked beans √, mustard√, plates √, chips √.  We all sat down to dive into our burgers and had no drinks, napkins or silverware.  A minor irritation, but still resulted in an, “I’m sorry.”

          This morning I dropped my curling iron which bounced from countertop to floor, making a giant CLUNK orchestra on it’s escapade to the floor in the upstairs bathroom.  It woke up two of the older boys earlier than needed.  “I’m sorry!” I quickly professed to them.

          Sunday, I gave the worship team one set of words, and another set to the tech team. They didn’t match. It caused confusion. I’m sorry!

          I spilled my coffee on the carpet…

          My lunch exploded in the microwave and I left the mess for someone else to clean up…

          I didn’t fill the Keurig for the next person…

          I didn’t return a text, email, voicemail in a timely manner…

          I shut my office door because I’m not in the mood for people…

          So many minor things that require a quick and easy apology.  Small, but not to be overlooked.

          Or this article—it’s technically 17 days late and I’ve been whining about having writer’s block without really even trying.  So Jennifer—I’m sorry! I’m going to double proofread it so you don’t have to fix too many grammatical errors!

          I often picture forgiveness as this big life-altering event that will radically change the course of events. Sometimes it works that way. But maybe, more often than not, it happens in the little moments, the silly mistakes, the ‘oopsies’ and day-to-day grind. And perhaps these little moments prepare us for the big, life-changing forgiveness narrative when it comes.

          By the way, Rick, I used up the rest of your favorite coffee creamer this morning.  I should have seen it was low and used less so you’d have some when you got up.  My selfish self wanted all of it. I’m sorry!

          Leah Carolan
          Director of Worship & Media

           

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

            The Practice of Forgiving

            The Practice of Forgiving

            Jesus said some very challenging things about forgiveness. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15). That is a tough one. It ranks up there with loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us. These difficult sayings make it easier to talk, or think, or write about forgiving – anything to divert our attention from the actual practice of forgiving.

            Forgiving is hard and I suppose that is one reason for the parable of the unmerciful servant which came after Peter asked: “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 

            “No, not seven times,” Jesus says, “but seventy times seven! (Matthew 18:21-22)

            We are the kind of people who forgive and I, like you, am working on it. I’ve appreciated the novelist Ann Lamott’s advice from her book, Traveling Mercies, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” 

            She also wrote, “Forgiveness means it finally becomes unimportant that you hit back. You’re done. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to have lunch with the person.”

            Another piece of Lamott’s advice stuck with me. She suggested that if we are just learning how to forgive then don’t start with Adolf Hitler. Start with something smaller – like the guy who cuts you off in traffic, or the neighbor whose dog wakes you up in the morning, or your kids.

            Now, stop thinking about forgiveness, and go practice forgiving someone.

            The Lord be with you,

            Kent Landhuis
            Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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

              Am I Living Authentic?

              Am I Living Authentic?

              Authenticity. It seems like a loaded word. What does it mean? Am I living authentic? If I’m not, how do I? If you are like me your head just keeps spinning with those questions.

              Growing up I was always told to treat others as I wished to be treated, be truthful, be a good person, do my best, try hard, work hard, etc. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really started to take those statements and put them in to action.

              Living authentically seemed very out of reach to me just a few years ago. I thought I had to live up to certain expectations; not disappoint anyone; apologize for things that were out of my control; don’t say too much because you might hurt someone’s feelings; please everyone I possibly could and the list would go on.

              It wasn’t until after going through a tough divorce, hitting rock bottom, and meeting my current husband that I really started to live more authentically. I started to realize I was loved for exactly who I was. I didn’t have to put on a brave face for anyone. It has been a tough switch in my life to live more authentically, but one that is so much easier. I’ve learned that I don’t have to hide behind someone that I’m not. In a recent book I read by Amy Carroll and Cheri Gregory, they said: “The difficulty of hiding your gifts behind a façade to fit in feels less scary than authenticity.” (from the book Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not, Love Who You Are, Live Your One Life Well). I’ve learned that people need the gifts that I have and the love that I have, just the way I am.

              Where do you start to live authentically? How do you know what to do first? I started my whole goal with just me and God. I started journaling and speaking with God about who I was and where I wanted to go, started reading my Bible and going to church more regularly. I started making daily changes, small changes, like washing my face every day. Then moving on to picking up toys at the end of the day. Then reading each night for 20-30 minutes and I just continued to work on myself. I was still a busy mom and working full-time, but I started to make small changes for myself and my family. That start date was almost six years ago and I still mess up. I have bad days, where I get nothing done and I struggle to even say a word to God. Remember to give yourself grace. I’m thankful to be a child of God who forgives me when I confess my sins and I get to start each new day with a clean slate and the ability to make it a better day than the day before. Go out and live authentically and start today!

              Bridgette Hintermeister
              Member of Cedar Hills Community Church

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

                I’m Tired

                I’m Tired

                I’m tired.  Can I say that? Like, overly tired.

                Part of it is being a new mom. You know—all the stuff of new babies—middle of the night waking, extra prep work of bottles and diapers and pumps and diaper bags and enough supplies to get through each day and still showing up. Part of it is just being back at work full-time and juggling life as a mom of four little ones who haven’t entered fully into self-dependence and still need me to assist with their everyday needs.

                I’m proud to say my 4-year-old can make his own instant oatmeal now, so there’s relief in sight.

                Another part is my desire to be in the Word more and more each day. And because the days have gotten so full taking care of everyone else, the only time of the day I can really find quiet and peace is 3:30-5:30am. So that’s my Word-reading timeslot.

                If you’re a night owl, or any normal person I guess, I might have just made you think, “Wait—what??” Because no sane person wakes up that early. I get it. It’s cringe-worthy just thinking about it. But my hunger to know God supersedes my need for sleep. I want to know Him! I want to hear Him! I want to break through in so many ways I’ve lost track!

                A woman asked recently of a preacher in a live Facebook feed, “I’ve been reading my Bible, but I still can’t hear God.” The pastor replied, “Keep reading.” The woman responded, “No, I mean, like I want to hear His audible voice.” And the pastor replied, “Keep reading!”

                Keep reading.

                The first time I went through The Bible Recap “read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year” plan, I felt like I fumbled my way through because the Bible was still somewhat foreign to me. The second time, it was much easier, but I felt also that I was getting new revelation on passages that seemed old or mundane. Now I’m on course to finish it a third tdime at the end of April, and hopefully again in August and again in December. Each read through gets more fascinating, the characters and kings and prophets a little more understandable, and God speaks a little more.

                Keep reading.

                Is this the only way? Does full devotion to God really take this much time and investment?  Do you have to be slightly crazy to pursue God at this velocity?

                Sometimes the internal battle asks this question. I’ve given up some of my favorite things to maintain such a rigorous schedule.

                When I read the Gospels, I see Jesus asking the big questions and the big commits. “Are you willing to give up everything and follow me?”

                Up until this point in life, I really haven’t given up anything where I really felt the hit.  Like… really felt it. Jesus just sort of fit into my schedule. I was probably a Pharisee—a religious imposter.

                Keep reading.

                May God fill you also with a great hunger for His Word!

                Leah Carolan
                Director of Worship & Media

                 

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

                  Own Your Own Sh**

                  Own Your Own Sh**

                  Small group ground rule #1 – own your own stuff. That is the Sunday way to say it. The small group way is – own your own sh**. (And don’t act surprised because I know people talk this way Monday – Saturday.) We hope for authenticity in groups and we get there by talking honestly about ourselves, not about others.

                  Our small group is using the Lent videos to explore the Fruit of the Spirit right now. The topic of week 2 was self-control. An amazing thing happened in our group as we dug in. Everyone came clean about their lack of self-control. One after another we put our stuff on the table. It was marvelous.

                  Then everyone shared something else. We all fear rejection when admitting our own stuff. If people really know the real us, will they still accept us? Will they still love us? This fear often keeps us from being real about our sh**. This kind of authenticity was even more marvelous.

                  As we all came clean about our need for greater self-control, our group discovered that we loved each other more. Our group members expressed deep gratitude for the openness of the others. We shared words of support and encouragement. We connected in deeper ways. We grew in love.

                  I recommend that everyone belongs to a group where you can own your own sh** and be loved for it! It is a marvelous thing.

                  Kent Landhuis
                  Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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