Category Archives: July 2022

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.