Category Archives: April 2022

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


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      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

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        Life is Hard

        Life is Hard

        I was reading about authenticity this week in preparation for this article and I came across an article by Roy Baldwin. He shares the story of being young and newly married, and struggling. Roy and his wife saved their marriage and ministry through counseling.  He writes this about authenticity:

        “I opened up this post telling you a story. A story about the struggles my wife and I had early on in our marriage. Truth is, we still struggle despite what you might see on Facebook or Instagram. One powerful lesson we learned from our early struggles is that we were not alone in those struggles. And so we started openly sharing about them.” ~ Roy Baldwin

        I just want to say this, “LIFE IS HARD!”  It is ok for us to admit that.  Marriage is hard.  Being single is hard.  Being a parent is hard.  Work is hard. Being a student in school today is hard. Life is hard!  Following Christ is hard.  That is a real, authentic, truth we must all face.  Recognizing this truth can bring freedom. We don’t have to pretend life is easy, and we have it all together.  The professional family photo we post isn’t REAL life.  We didn’t post the 15 other pictures where a kid is crying, or looking the wrong way.  Authenticity allows us to acknowledge the difficulties we all face in life, instead of pretending we all have it together all the time. The Bible helps us understand why life is so challenging.  We believe that God made a perfect world, but WE have corrupted it with our sin.  So why is life hard? Why is it so messed up?  Because WE are messed up.  “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is the Christian worldview.

        I think Christian authenticity is about more than just being honest about who we are and our struggles.  True Christian authenticity doesn’t just leave us a place of recognizing our own weaknesses and frustrations, but offers hope in Jesus. Paul describes this in Galatians 5:16-18

        16 I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

        I love this authentic description of what it means to be a Christian.  We all live in human bodies, here Paul calls that “the flesh”, and because of sin our flesh desires unhealthy and unholy things.  By nature our flesh is selfish, seeking satisfaction in power, money, fame, food, and sex.  But in Christ we now walk by the Spirit!  God has given us His own Spirit to lead us and strengthen us so we have the power to walk by the Spirit instead of live as slaves to our flesh.  God gives us a new identity that transcends our flesh.

        “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2

        WE HAVE DIED TO SIN! Why then is the life of the Christian hard?  We live with a flesh that is “opposed” to our new life in God’s Spirit. There is this constant battle between our flesh, and who God is making us to be as we become more like Christ.  Jesus didn’t sugar coat it either,

        “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Matthew 16:24-25

        Following Jesus means dying to that sinful flesh. Losing our life. Living NOT for ourselves, but for Jesus.  However, we do NOT do this alone. God gives us the strength to walk when we are faithful to follow His leading!  He is the one who produces the fruit of the Spirit we have been learning about during Lent. (Galatians 5:22-23)

        Steve Poole
        Director of Youth & Young Adults

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