All posts by Cedar Hills Community Church

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
Pastor 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
    Pasor 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.


        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.

          Girls of Grace – May 21 at Brewhemia

          We are Girls of Grace!

          This program is designed for young girls who are eager to grow in confidence, Christ and community.

          Come alongside us and help teach our daughters their worth in Christ, while walking in His grace.

          Join us Sunday, May 21, 8am at Brewhemia (Newbo area in Cedar Rapids)

          Questions? Contact Lindsay and Lauren below:

          Do You Use the Guardrails?

          Do You Use the Guardrails?

          Recently my friend shared about the book “Boundaries” in the Parenting Together Sunday School class. This led to a new understanding of many areas of life that boundaries can be applied. Some of those areas include time, words, truth, love, values, limits, resources and gifts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs, behavior, desires, and choices.

          One of the biggest realizations for me is that I’m a boundary mover. I fall into the ditch of frequently adjusting my boundaries. Constantly, I’m evaluating: “Is this where my boundary should be or should I move it for a specific purpose?”

          For example, the other day someone needed dozens of rides to and from their home, throughout the week, because they could no longer drive. My week was already full plus I had meetings all five nights that week. My boundary is typically only three evening events per week in order to preserve the health of our family.

          In the moment, I wondered was God asking me to step up and toss one of my boundaries aside for this need? The answer for this specific situation seemed to be “no.” I needed to let others step up and care for this person.

          How do you handle boundaries in your life? Are they movable? What if the Holy Spirit calls you to move beyond your comfort zone? Or, do you need to add some boundaries in your life? Do you have any boundaries in place at all? Maybe you need to put some guardrails up in certain aspects of your life in order to prioritize what matters.

          I find that I fall into the ditch of constantly moving the boundary lines in my life. Others fall into the ditch of setting up boundaries and never evaluating them again.

          While it is good to be open to the Holy Spirit stirring in our heart, most of the time sticking to a boundary can be helpful.

          Lindsey Ungs
          Connection & Communication Architect

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

            Friendly Prayer

            Friendly Prayer

            I get a kick out of kids’ simple, sometimes funny prayers. Prayers like these:

            • “Dear God, if You can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am!”
            • “Dear God, thank You for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy.”
            • “Dear God, it must be super hard to love all the people in the world, especially my sister. I don’t know how You do it.”

            These prayers open us up to unexpected thoughts and truths and usually help us see God in a new way. They help us connect with God and isn’t that one of the main reasons we pray?

            • Dear God, please take care of my daddy, mommy, sister, brother, my doggy, and me. Oh, please take care of Yourself, God. If anything happens to You, we’re gonna be in a big mess.”

            I used to think prayers had to be proper. Self-important. Maybe even a bit pompous. We, after all, should approach God carefully. Right?

            Now I think the most important thing is to come to God just as we are. Sometimes we come with big, bold, important prayers. Sometimes we just come with a friendly prayer to tell God what is on our mind. Like a kid.

            • “Dear God, I don’t think anybody could be a better God. Well, I just want you to know that I am not just saying that because You are God already.”

            Keep praying.


            Kent Landhuis
            Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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

              My Dad, Pat, and PrayForMe

              My Dad, Pat, and PrayForMe

              Easter Sunday was the second anniversary of my dad’s passing. I know many of you have lost loved ones, so you understand the emotions that come, and the grieving process. It seems like this year was easier than last year. Honestly, the grief always surprises me. I will be in bed talking to Chris about his day, or our next fishing trip, and a surge of grief will come. I miss my dad, but what brings the most sadness is knowing Chris and Josiah won’t have an opportunity to make Grandpa Tom memories, him baiting their hooks and taking off bluegills and crappies we catch. Easter Sunday is such a fitting time to remember my dad because I know the faith he has in Jesus. My dad wasn’t perfect, but he loved God and he loved us, his family. This was evident in the life he lived and the legacy he left. Growing up I remember my dad prioritizing church. It was expected, no matter how busy my week with sports, the arts, school and friends, that Sunday morning we would all be worshiping God together at church. My dad taught Sunday school, Awana, and participated in Bible studies. He not only passed on faith to me and my brothers, but to others. For a few years my dad was a co-leader with a young man at our church named Pat. My dad also had the opportunity to be Pat’s banker and share in big moments in his life, like buying an engagement ring and a house.  Since my dad has passed my mom has had several conversations with Pat about the impact my dad had on his life. I think this is an example of what Psalms 145:4 means when it says:

              “One generation commends your works to another;

              they tell of your mighty acts.”


              And Psalms 71:17-18:

              “Since my youth, God, you have taught me,

              and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.

              Even when I am old and gray,

              do not forsake me, my God,

              till I declare your power to the next generation,

              your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

              Pat’s life was changed by my dad, passing down his faith as they faithfully served in children’s ministry together. How are you passing down your faith? I think of the empty-nester in Altoona who is a state fair nut! She tries to win as many ribbons as possible, even in things like “husband calling contest?” She took the teen kids from other families in her small group each year to the fair for one day. This is a celebrated highlight of their summer. When these teens had questions or problems they always knew they had a supporter in Deana. Building relationships matters. Investing in youth and young families matters. Recently we had a mishap during youth group that resulted in a hole in the drywall. Some men in our church took this opportunity to build a relationship and invest in a teen.  It was slower and messier than if one of them had just done it. However, in the end, the wall was fixed, a new skill was learned and that teen knows she has people on her side here at Cedar Hills. To help build more intergenerational relationships, and opportunities, we are doing this PrayForMe campaign. I hope you will all join me in the PrayForMe campaign. So that every teen and family with kids can have three prayer champions. People who are in their corner. We can all learn from each other, and learn to appreciate one another through building relationships and praying. Our young people need to know they have a whole family of people on their side here at Cedar Hills Community Church. Just like Pat knew my dad was a man of faith whose door was always open for a good fish story or a chat about life and faith.

              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.

                Spring Cleaning: Heart Check and New Beginnings

                Spring Cleaning: Heart Check and New Beginnings

                Who else loves to spring clean? I’m sure I can’t be the only one. When I think of spring cleaning, I cannot help but think of new beginnings, fresh starts and the sweet aroma of flowers. This time of the year gets me excited, due to how organized I tend to get. One of my favorite ways to spring clean is to reorganize my closet and replace my winter clothes with spring clothes. It reminds me of the saying ‘out with the old and in with the new.’ My mom and I enjoy organizing the fridge and keeping storage spaces in order. There is just something about the spring that gets us in the mood to become intentional about cleaning. Spring reminds me how beautiful change can truly be!

                Funny how it can become easy to spring clean around our houses, but not take that same approach when it comes to our spiritual life. Let me ask you a real question: When was the last time you did some spring cleaning in your heart? Maybe there are habits you need to cut off and replace or forgiveness for something that you need to let go of. All these can make it difficult to experience God’s goodness in this new season of life. Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it. I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” God wants to do a new thing with you this spring. The bigger question is will you make room for Him?

                So one may ask, “How and where do I begin?”  Well, let us simplify it and incorporate some of the things you may enjoy or are familiar with.

                • Prayer – Asking God to reveal to you the areas that might need a deep cleaning. (Psalm 139:23-24)
                • Enjoy nature; go on a walk or hike. (Psalms 89:1)
                • (Habakkuk 2:2)
                • Talk with someone; there is power in community. (Proverbs 15:22)
                • Dwelling in the Word. (Hebrews 4:12)

                Here are a few worship songs to check out:

                • Make Room by Community Worship
                • Defender by Upperroom
                • Healing Rain by Michael W. Smith

                Frankline “Franky” Tshombe
                Children’s Church Leader


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

                  This One’s for the Girls

                  This One’s for the Girls

                  Ladies, what does it take to find a good friend? I mean the kind of friend that you can call to watch your kids in the middle of the night? I mean the kind of friend that puts up with your bad habits and still wants to hang out all day. I mean the kind of friend that can hear your beat down tone of voice over the phone and who shows up with your exact coffee order.

                  You don’t have a friend like that you say? You don’t know where do you start?

                  This kind of deep friendship is built one conversation at a time.

                  When was the last time you attended a women’s event? When was the last time you invited someone to coffee? When was the last time you allowed yourself to be vulnerable in conversation?

                  I know these things are risky. I know you’ve been hurt before. I’m sorry that happened to you. The hurt makes us shut down and close off and say no more.

                  What’s worse is that I can offer you no guarantees. No money back. No safety net of perfect connections.

                  The only thing I can offer is a promise that it’s worth it and a suggestion that we are called to cultivate friendship.

                  It’s worth it to lean back into that conversation. It’s worth it to attend that event. You are doing the work of cultivation every time you engage another person.

                  Every time you say yes to attending that event (when you would have preferred to not risk it), you are saying yes to potential new friendship.

                  I’m not promising you’ll walk away with a new bestie by night’s end. No. But, you may have started a conversation with someone that will eventually become the person you call in the middle of the night.

                  Lindsey Ungs
                  Connection & Communication Architect

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