Category Archives: Cedar Chips

The month newsletter of Cedar Hills Community Church.

If You Teach It, They Will Listen

If You Teach It, They Will Listen

My fourth grader has been sitting in service with us since he aged out of Children’s Church. I knew he had the ability to sit that long, but I wondered how well he would listen to the teaching. I found out Sunday afternoon.

After hearing a sermon on the four chairs and the new Like Jesus app, he was moved to come home and download it on to his device. My husband and I looked at each other with a shocked expression. He was listening.

He then proceeded to take the four chairs survey on the app. He said he did not know every word, but that he could generally figure out what they were asking. Then, from the other room, we heard him watching the video that corresponded with the survey. Wow.

What a great lesson for me as a parent. My fourth grader was ready and willing to engage with the teaching at church. I see it as my job not to get in his way, but to facilitate whatever learning I can.

Lindsey Ungs
Connection & Communication Architect

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

    Like Jesus

    Like Jesus

    When we hang out with my grandson Mikah we play lots of games to keep him entertained. Many of the games go something like this: “What does a cow say?” If he does not moo then we all moo. Repeat until Mikah says, “Moo.”

    We moo, cluck, oink, baa, and growl (with claws up!), then we branch out to truck and tractor sounds. We seek unusual sounds to make. What does a golf cart say? What does a giraffe say? What does a rhinoceros say?

    Our journey to grow like Jesus is not a game, but it works like this toddler game. What does Jesus say? What does Jesus do? What does Jesus think? What does Jesus value? Once we figure it out we keep at it until we sound and look and live like Jesus.

    “Whoever claims to live in Jesus must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

    The Apostle Paul talked about it this way in Galatians 3:27, “And all who have been united with Jesus in baptism have put on Jesus, like putting on new clothes.”

    I’m certain that those who watch us make animal noises for Mikah can tell which animal we are imitating. I wonder if, as the world watches us, they can tell when we sound and look and live like Jesus?

    I think they can!

    Kent Landhuis
    Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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

      Little Lights

      LITTLE LIGHTS

      The more I get into Scripture the more the fake versions of Jesus I have held in my head slowly get melted away.

      I just finished up another journey through the Bible and the last thing that caught my attention was in the final scenes of John’s revelation where we are told there is no longer a need for the sun, moon, or stars because Jesus is our light. We sing songs about this!

      “No need for the sunshine in heaven we’re told —the light of the world is Jesus.” 

      I’ve gone my whole life understanding that Jesus would be the light in heaven. Then I read this in Revelation 22:5: “Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

      Isn’t that beautiful? Not only is Jesus the light, but we are each given light and reign with it forever.  Someone said to me, “Oh, like how the moon reflects the sun!” and I had the thought, “Yes, it must be something like that!” Jesus is the light and the source of our light that we are each given is Jesus.

      Imagine a place where each walks around glowing in the glory of the son, and in the glory of the son’s light enveloping them as well.

      Does that change your view of heaven?

      The more I get into scripture the more I discover these little details that I had gotten “wrong” or maybe just “not quite right.” But these details matter!

      I want to be LIKE JESUS—but I want that view, that Truth, that understanding to be completely and fully true. As we press in to know Him more and more may He continue to show us more of His Truth!

      Leah Carolan
      Director of Worship & Media

       

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

        Where Is the Battle?

        Where Is the Battle?

        We live in days of deep divides. Right and Left. Democrat, Republican. Conservative, Progressive. Pro-choice, Pro-life. Gun Control, Gun Rights. Enemies, Allies. Us, Them. We often talk about our divisions with “war” language. We are in a battle.

        But where is the battle?

        All of us who use social media are fed divisiveness by algorithms that stream battle cries. Or maybe I should say, scream battle cries. Basically, we get yelled at all day every day about our enemies. This is exhausting and counterproductive.

        Yelling to create outrage has the same effect as repeatedly crying wolf. To stoke a response the yelling must intensify or we stop paying attention. Constantly yelling at tired people is not a great strategy. Yelling is a bad strategy for another reason – it creates greater division. The tone we take toward our enemies might determine our success in turning them into allies.

        We are the kind of people who seek peace, reconciliation, and restoration. Our goal is not to deepen the divide but to build a bridge. Or course our actions alone do not guarantee the outcome – we rely on the Holy Spirit for that. We are simply called to love God and love our neighbor.

        Holy Spirit reliance is key for another reason. The Bible tells us where the battle lies:  “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

        We engage in the battle to defeat the enemy of our soul and rescue our neighbors. We fight the battle to restore peace. We fight to make the world better for everyone!

        I am thrilled to join you in this battle!

         

        Kent Landhuis
        Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

        P.S. I recently read a very helpful essay by John Goerke entitled “How Should We Fight the Culture War?” His words challenged me: “Should we relish too much the false glory of finding what is wrong with the world, we may blind ourselves and our opponents  to what is actually right with it.” To read his essay: click here

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

          Calling All Enneagram 7’s

          Calling All Enneagram 7’s

          One of the places I struggle the most with authenticity is being authentic with myself. I’m a 7 on the Enneagram personality test.

          When I am at my best the test says I can “assimilate experiences in depth, becoming deeply grateful and appreciative for what I have. Become awed by the simple wonders of life: joyous and ecstatic. Intimations of spiritual reality, of the boundless goodness of life.”

          However, when I am unhealthy I can “Get into conspicuous consumption and all forms of excess. Self-centered, materialistic, and greedy, never feeling that I have enough. Demanding and pushy, yet unsatisfied and jaded. Addictive, hardened, and insensitive.”

          That explains a lot.

          Or worse yet I can be “Desperate to quell my anxieties, can be impulsive and infantile: do not know when to stop. Addictions and excess take their toll: debauched, depraved, dissipated escapists, offensive and abusive.”

          I’ve noticed how easy it is for me to fool myself about how I’m doing mentally, physically, and spiritually.

          The place I am most authentic is in my journal. I write most days of the week. It’s the first thing I turn to in the morning before my kids get up. Somehow this process of journaling allows me to suspend judgement for a bit while I pour my heart out. Then, I’m better able to get a true look at what’s going on in my heart. As an external processor it’s really the only way I can process my feelings without the help of another person. Although, my friends and spouse help me work through my heart issues often.

          Back to the authentic part. If I’m not processing what’s really going on in my heart, I can easily trick myself into thinking that all is well even when it is not.

          Do you ever do this? Do you ever lie to yourself about the state of things?

          If you’re interested in learning more about your personality, you can take a free enneagram test: click here.

          If you’re looking to get to the bottom of things, buy a journal and use it as a way to be honest with yourself and God.

          Lindsey Ungs
          Connection & Communication Architect

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

            Your Home is a Hallway Out of Hell

            Your Home is a Hallway Out of Hell

            I borrowed this title from a great article on the Desiring God website, which you can find here and which I quote from below.

            “Your home may be someone’s hallway out of hell. There’s a spiritual power that pulses through the floors and walls and furniture of a Christian home – a strong, even overpowering aroma, a wild and compelling story unfolding for anyone who comes close enough to hear. Beneath the dirty clothes, behind the unwashed dishes, just below the dusty surfaces, a glory hums and unsettles and woos. A 1,500-square-foot sermon.”

            We discussed this article in our Sunday Class this week. As a church body we do our best to live out the call of hospitality. We are inviting friends, neighbors, and even strangers into our home and offering them a “1,500 square foot sermon” just by opening the doors. A little food and drink can help the stranger set their burdens down and experience the peace that is being offered.

            In our Sunday class is a family that has opened their home to a stranger that happens to be a neighbor. They offered to watch the children so the mom could keep her job. The children kept them up late at night, but also the kids picked up on the peace that resides in their home. The family mentioned Jesus because He’s a part of their everyday language.

            It was at this mention of the name Jesus that the 5-year-old wanted to know more. He had so many questions that his mother asked for a children’s Bible, so she could help answer his questions.

            This is hospitality at work. One family who opened their home to strangers and now a 5-year-old knows who Jesus is and wants to know more every day.

            This a beautiful example of hospitality. One that has touched my heart and encourages me to open my doors.

            Lindsey Ungs
            Connection & Communication Architect

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

              Exceptional Hospitality

              Exceptional Hospitality

              Cathy recently experienced exceptional hospitality.  She attended a kids craft event and was deeply impressed by the quality with which she was cared for and the communal feeling of belonging it fostered.  Chick’fil’a workers greeted her and the kids at the door, and even offered to help her carry some of the “baby stuff.”  However, the hospitality didn’t end with a greeting, Cathy felt valued by the way staff members engaged our kids.  They didn’t just hand over a craft bag, but they sat. They did the craft with your kids.  The staff talked and listened well to all the children.  Cathy left feeling loved, heard, and humanized. This reminds me of Ephesians 5, which we have been studying on Sunday mornings: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

              One of the challenges I think we all face in our over-stimulated, over-distracted, and over-entertained world is to remain present in each and every moment. Instead of just passing the time during “boring” tasks like crafting with little kids, we can “make the best use of the time” by really engaging, talking, and listening to them well. This is an example of the wise way to walk that Ephesians 5 is teaching us. I am also reminded of Colossians 3: “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people” (Colossians 3:23).

              So I guess my challenge this week is to NOT let Chick’fil’a one-up the BODY of Jesus!  Let us all strive to show this type of hospitality to our co-workers and neighbors this week.  Let’s be people that make someone else’s day by making the most of every moment and every opportunity God gives us to love others through our words and deeds.  Because whatever we do, we do it for the Lord!

              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.

                Where do I put it?

                Where Do I Put It?

                On Father’s Day, I got the chance to take a trip home to my home- town church (where I grew up) to surprise my dad. We knew where he sits every Sunday, so we filled his row with our family and my sister, and then waited for my parents to arrive. To see their faces walking in was priceless.

                From far away, they could see someone was in their row and looked frustrated.

                As they got closer, their puzzled look changed to “I think I know those people.”

                Then as they approached and could see us up close, it finally dawned on them that the people sitting in THEIR ROW was THEIR FAMILY and that we were surprising them for Father’s Day.

                Not only did we witness this take place—but those around us saw the entire drama play out as well. Many got a good chuckle out of it. It was awesome. I’d been wanting to surprise my dad like that for over a decade. 🙂

                It had been almost 15 years since I’d been to worship at that church. It was barely the same church I’d left years ago. New faces, new system, new renovations, new stage… pews gone, chairs added, and entry doors moved! A happy, vibrancy filled the room that wasn’t there before. What I thought to expect was not the case at all. It was so different! Including minor details like…where do I put my money?

                We came prepared for the offering—and then it never happened!  I asked my husband, “Did you see an offering? Or baskets or plates or trays?” He replied, “Well, it said in the bulletin where to put it.”

                Ugh. I didn’t read the bulletin. I was so caught up in the moment with my family that I never read through the entire thing.

                Not a big deal, but a minor hospitality detail.

                You may wonder why it seems we sometimes repeat the same things every Sunday. The truth is—from one week to the next, the makeup of the congregation can be completely different. Are they new? Are they returning after a long absence? Are they visitors from out-of-town? Did they grow up here but came back for short visit? Is this their first Sunday back post-COVID?

                But we try to hospitable, which sometimes sounds like we’re repeating ourselves if you are a regular attendee. Children’s Church, Offerings, Connect Cards, Bulletin Response forms, location of the restrooms… these are all things that not everyone knows about.

                I’ll admit I was nervous to return to a building I’d spent the majority of my younger years in—nervous we’d go in the wrong doors or my kids would make a scene or the baby would have a blow-out and we didn’t know where to change her or that we’d be late after our 90- minute drive and have to walk in after the service started and not be able to find a seat!  It’s good for me to remember that all these points of anxiety might be someone else’s points of anxiety when they enter the doors of our church.

                I believe at the core of hospitality is removing the anxiety of entering a foreign place! And sometimes that means repetition for the natives.  🙂

                Leah Carolan
                Director of Worship & Media

                 

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

                  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.