All posts by Cedar Hills Community Church

Easter Music Opportunities

Easter is coming up quick – April 9. There are three services on Easter: 8:30/9:45am traditional and the 11am. I have a couple of different music and worship opportunities I want you to plug into!

SANCTUARY CHOIR – 8:30/9:45am
The choir will be singing on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday at the 8:30 and 9:45 traditional services. Choir rehearses on Wednesday nights immediately following the Lent service, around 7:05pm in the Teal Room (where Journey youth meet). For more information on choir, contact Stuart Geiger.

WORSHIP JAM – 11am
The Worship Jam is for any and all musicians (including kids!) who want to help fill the stage at the 11am service – current worship team members and any others who wish to join. We will practice Monday, April 3 at 6:00pm, and then a warmup Easter Sunday at 9:55am in the Journey classroom. Please kindly RSVP here for the Jam so I know who to expect for setup and music. If anyone you know is curious about 2nd service worship teams, this is also their first step in exploring the team. All the music and some simple practice recordings are available here. Paper copies also available ahead of time. Just let me know and I’ll get copies to you. Otherwise, I’ll provide all the music on the rehearsal day.

Thanks,
Leah

“Hey YOU! Be Quiet and Calm Down!”

“Hey YOU! Be Quiet and Calm Down!”

Back in my seminary days I had to take an introductory class on the spiritual disciplines.  We followed a well-known book by Richard Foster on the different disciplines called “Celebration of Discipline.  It was a great eye-opening class on the different disciplines Christians can and should undertake and the ways each discipline invites us into a deeper faith.

I think it was probably the first time I had heard about fasting as a regular ‘discipline’ that Christians are called to.  Until this point, I only knew of fasting for a few passages in Scripture here and there that I largely overlooked.

As part of this class, we had to create a year-long plan of how we would try out the different disciplines and implement them.  Bible reading, worship, solitude, worship, simplicity… they all sounded easy enough. But fasting? BUT FASTING? Ugh. I wasn’t so sure about that one.

But I included in my plan.  My ambitious goal:

One day a week.

One week a month.

One 40-day fast a year.

Everything I read said to train up for it.  So I used my one-day-a-week days to teach my brain that it is actually okay to feel ‘hungry.’ Like seriously. It’s okay.  You just tell your stomach, “Hey you, be quiet and calm down.  You can make it a day,” while also telling the Lord, “I hunger for you more than that food. Be my bread.” 

My one-week-a-month became great training in planning for a fast.  I learned to look ahead at the calendar, not buy groceries and try to use up food in the fridge that might go back during the week.  I also learned that physical hunger pretty much subsides by day 3, followed by an amazing amount of energy.  The first 3 days were always the hardest!! After that, easy.  All the while saying, “Lord, I hunger for you more than that food. Be my bread.”

But I still had that 40-day fast lingering over my head. Could I do it???  After almost a year into my little experiment, I official made the plans for the BIG ONE.  Lent.  Only, I learned that for Lent, it’s actually 47 days! And Sundays are free.  Any fast taken on, you get to break on Sundays.  So that’s what I did.  Six days of nothing, and eating on Sundays.

I made it through (barely), but I learned a few great lessons in the midst of it:

1. It is doable. Seriously.

2. In my fleshes weakened state, God REALLY DOES make His great strength known—just like His Word promises to.  HE DOESN’T LIE.

3. It takes some planning and some practice.

4. I don’t know if I’d do it again, but…

That brings me to this year.  I haven’t done a long fast since then—just random two- or three-day stuff here and there when I need to hear from God.

I feel wimpy.

WHAT IF God doesn’t give me strength to do it again?!

I sound like the Israelites, fresh out Egypt, right after crossing the Red Sea, whining for food because they don’t believe God will follow through with His promises (EVEN THOUGH THEY JUST SAW THE MIRACULOUS).

Anyhow, I’m thinking about it for Lent.  My amazing husband has been regularly doing 40-day fasts yearly and I think I might join him this year. 

Leah Carolan
Director of Worship & Media

 

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

    Puke and Friendship

    Puke and Friendship

    I got puked on recently by a child in our Children’s Worship Class. The picture below shows the location of the incident.

    I know it was meant to be because I was filling in for someone else that day. I had followed the very last child from the sanctuary to make sure everyone made it safely into the teal room. As I was walking into the room, this particular child was running out of the room crying. He ran directly into my loving arms…and proceeded to release the contents of his stomach on the carpet and also on my hair, shirt, jeans, and boots.

    It was meant to be. I’ve retold this story several times now. It always ends in laughter and smiles. These stories have great shock value, but also they bond us together as something we can laugh over.

    The carpet squares had to be changed out. Even though we did our best to clean it in the moment, or should I say AFTER the moment, the carpet was very brown.

    Telling stories that create laughter are a great way to help connect people. I’m not perfect at creating conversation or even knowing what to say, but I sure do enjoy helping people to build friendships.

    Friendships are built on trust. If we can all laugh at a newly shared memory, connection starts to form and grow into trust.

    From nothing more than a funny story, you can see a connection that leads all the way to friendship.

    Also, thanks to the person who changed out the carpet squares.

    Lindsey Ungs
    Connection & Communication Architect

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

      Ouch!

      Ouch!

      Nobody likes pain. A splinter makes us flinch. Sickness brings misery. Broken relationships hurt. Losing a loved one breaks our hearts. Pain comes in many ways but our reaction is always the same – we want to avoid it.

      When we can’t avoid pain, one response is to whine about it. The technical word for whining is lament. A lament expresses the frustration, confusion, and suffering that comes with pain. Lament is the opposite of another common response to pain – denial. Are you more prone to lament your pain or deny it?

      The Bible is filled with lament. God’s people cried out to God when they were in pain. More than one-third of the Psalms include lament. “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!” (Psalm 130:1). The book of Job is filled with lament. “Why did I not perish at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?” (Job 3:11). One whole book, Lamentations, expresses the confusion and suffering of God’s people.

      In the New Testament people who are afflicted cry out to Jesus for help. Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, shouts out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” (Mark 10:47). Jesus himself laments in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me.” (Mark 14:36). On the cross Jesus repeats a lament from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

      I’m not usually a fan of whining but during Lent this year I will be encouraging it. I’m going to focus on the practice of telling God when something is not the way it is supposed to be. I’m going to cry out and ask God to help. Lament helps us focus on the truth. “We are powerless before this vast multitude that comes against us. We are at a loss what to do, hence our eyes are turned toward you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12).

      As kids, when we were hurt we cried out for a kiss and a band-aide on our booboo. Lamentation cries “Ouch!” and hopes that God will hold us in our pain and bring healing.

      Kent Landhuis
      Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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

        Turning Off My Cell Phone And Logging Out Of Facebook During Lent

        Turning Off My Cell Phone And Logging Out Of Facebook During Lent

        Growing up, Lent was not a part of my faith experience. It was not a tradition really practiced in my church or my family. Actually, if I am honest, I probably even felt judgmental about it. My unspoken thoughts were; “It’s just something those weird catholic kids do!” They get ashes on their forehead and then quit eating meat on Fridays. Why? Honestly, most of my catholic friends didn’t understand it either. It was just a ritual.

        At Central College I was introduced to the practice through Lenten breakfast times of prayer. I enjoyed this practice and now regularly practice fasting from something during this time of year.

        There are some traditional spiritual disciplines protestant Christians have focused on during these 40 days leading up Easter and Jesus’ resurrection. These disciplines are prayer, fasting, and generosity. One of the best ways is to ask God what He wants for you during this time.

        Last year I was doing some reading about how addicting social media is, and how it rewires our brains. I was convicted about my own compulsive use of social media at times. I committed to fasting from Facebook and to fast from my cell phone at night. The flipside of this fast was to use that time to pray and read. I wanted to break some bad habits and build some better ones. This was good. I read some books and prayed more.  I was not perfect. It was difficult at times, but I did find less of an urge to do those things at the end of Lent. I think I may repeat this fast again this year.

        So, as we enter into Lent 2023, are you feeling led to be intentional about changing your patterns of prayer, fasting, and generosity?

        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.

          Lent at Cedar Hills

          The season of Lent begins Ash Wednesday and runs until Easter Sunday.

          During Lent, we will gather on Wednesday nights for a meal (5:15-6:15pm) followed by a short 30-35 min time of worship in the Worship Center.

          Please kindly RSVP for the meal weekly in the Sunday bulletin using the bulletin response form.

          During Holy Week, we will gather on Thursday evening instead of Wednesday to celebrate Maundy Thursday together.

          Easter services will be 8:30, 9:45 and 11am.  There will be no Sunday classes on Easter Sunday.

          Pray Continually

          Pray Continually

          The day before we left for our Guatemala trip, we learned that one of the participants had just been diagnosed with a large mass in her stomach. She and her husband would not be coming because they immediately scheduled follow-up appointments with an oncologist and a surgeon. This news created a bit of panic in everyone who heard it.

          Her surgery took place on the Wednesday while we were in Guatemala and so that morning we gathered in a circle to pray. It was a subdued prayer. Of course, we had already been praying non-stop and most of our prayers had been quite glum based on the initial prognosis. When we returned from our day of work we were told that the surgeon had removed a mass the size of a softball – and it was NOT cancer!

          1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray continually.” The context around this verse surprises me. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

          I often pray out of desperation and the mood of these crisis prayers is often somber – maybe even depressed. I wonder what it would look like to be able to pray about all things with rejoicing and thanksgiving. Would that change my attitude about prayer?

          This year I am asking God, “Teach me to pray continually with gladness, joy, and gratitude.”

          Kent Landhuis
          Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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

            God’s One Liners

            God’s One Liners

            One of my spiritual goals this year is to make time for listening prayer—but also not overcomplicate the listening process.  So I started a notes file in my phone, and put this question on the top:

            “Lord, what’s on Your heart today that You want to tell me?”

            Then I add today’s date, ask the question, and wait patiently for an answer.

            It doesn’t take long before an impression fills my mind.  Part of not overcomplicating this process is me going with the first thing I ‘hear’, the first thing that impressed in my mind.  Here are some of the things I’ve heard this year.

            “Pray for your boys.”

            “Keep affirming words on your mouth.”

            “Don’t just go about your day any longer.”

            And so I’ve done my best to be faithful to these words and small tasks God has given me.

            My great desire is to be able to hear God with greater clarity! I’ve been in His word, I’ve been memorizing His word, and now I want to know His voice in the way Jesus did—to receive my daily bread, my daily instructions, and walk more greatly in the things He has for His Church.

            This feels like just the beginning and sometimes feels like I’m still using my training wheels, but it’s amazing how much God can say in a one-liner.  I understand the heart behind each line, the greater picture of what He means, and even the details of what these little one line answers are referring to. 

            I’ll admit I haven’t been faithful to do this every day!  Getting into a new habit (even though it takes only about 60 seconds!) has been a bit of a challenge.  Even as I type right now, I’m going to stop and put a reminder in my phone…

            There. Done.  Hopefully that will keep me on course to hear more of what is on God’s heart this year with greater clarity!

            Leah Carolan
            Director of Worship & Media

             

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

              The Weary World Rejoices

              The Weary World Rejoices

              Christmas brings waiting. We anticipate family gatherings, giving (and receiving) gifts, colorful light displays, seasonal music, favorite treats – we wait with anticipation for these special seasonal celebrations. (We wait for it all to be over?)

              God’s people have a long history of waiting on God. They waited 430 years for deliverance from their Egyptian captivity. They waited another 40 years wandering in the desert. They waited 70 years exiled in Babylon. They waited 400 years longing to hear God speak.

              Waiting can be exhausting. “Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long? Restore us to yourself, LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old.” (Lamentations 5:20–21) Waiting for God’s intervention can wear us out.

              We live in a time of weariness. So many things are not the way we want them to be. They are not the way they ought to be. We long for the day when everything that is wrong will be set right. We look forward to that great day. We wait.

              Many Advent readings and songs invite us to wait patiently. The great day we anticipate is worth the wait. The one whose birth we celebrate at Christmas is worth the wait. “He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” (Luke 1:32–33)

              When waiting for something really important, we can be worn out in the waiting. Christmas reminds us that the wait is worth it.

              One popular Christmas carol reminds us – The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. (If you can name the carol – let me know in the form below!)

              The thing you are waiting for is yonder – but it is coming.

              Merry Christmas,

              Kent Landhuis
              Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

              Can you name the carol?

                Good Tidings in Small Group

                Good Tidings in Small Group

                In my family small group, full of ladies and gentlemen, we had one of the best conversations we’ve ever had. After more than a year, we are getting to know each other in a way that is allowing for us to be vulnerable with each other. We are using Alisa Childers’ new small group study guide and video called “Another Gospel?”

                In our study was an inventory on key Christian doctrines. The first question asks “On a scale from 1-10, how equipped are you to deal with assaults on core Christian doctrines?”

                1 – I think I’m a Christian, but please don’t ask me any questions.

                5 – I know the answers to some things but not to others.

                7 – I enjoy conversations about faith. Even if I don’t have all the answers, I love to be challenged to learn more.

                10 – I love it when people ask questions and debate because I think I have good answers.

                This was only the first question in a long list. We found ourselves sharing about our beliefs and our honest faith questions. This was truly a great way to spend an evening with merry gentlemen and ladies. Christ is our savior and at times we do go astray. Thank God for a small group to be vulnerable with about my faith questions.

                Good Tidings of Joy,

                Lindsey Ungs
                Connection & Communication Architect

                Can you name the carol?