Category Archives: June 2022

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

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      Renewing Our Minds

      Renewing Our Minds

      This past week as I was reading our weekly memory verses for our 100 verse challenge, I discovered a familiar favorite that has meant a lot in my journey of restoration. God has renewed my mind over time as I have followed Him.

       “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~ Romans 12:1-2

      To me this is one snapshot of what Christian living looks like. It is me. It is you. It is us together, offering ourselves body and mind to God. Our lives become a living offering. Our actions every day take on a new meaning, as they become our offering to please God by obeying Him. In Romans 12:1-2, I have discovered this purpose and identity that is more important than myself, and my own wants and needs. As verse one gives us the why, I think verse two helps us understand how we act as living sacrifices. We are transformed! God transforms us by renewing our minds.  As we pursue God’s good will instead of being tossed about by our own whims and feelings, God makes our thoughts more like His! Wow! This is an amazing truth, which the creator God of the universe, who came and died on the cross to redeem us from sin and death, now wants to transform us into His image. He wants us to be His body here on earth as we live sacrificially. What a great privilege and honor! However this is not an easy call. We are to shun the ways of the world. We should not be consumed with worldly pursuits of money, recognition, fame, sexual gratification as is the world around us. My heart breaks to know that statistics say there is very little difference between those in the American Church and the world.  If we are honest we have mostly failed this Romans 12:1-2 challenge. So this month I was inspired by our Ephesians series, and Romans 12, to think about what Kent said, “welcome is our language and transformation is our vocabulary.” How have my thoughts, my mind, been transformed to be more like God’s? What actions can I do to be more transformed, to be a better living sacrifice?

      I challenge you to spend more time with God! It never fails in my life. The more time I spend with God the more I think like Him. I start to see the temptations of the world as fleeting and false. I find I have more love, joy, peace, patience, and self-control. So, the nearer we draw to the goodness of His light the more we reflect that goodness to those around us. The great truth of Christian restoration and transformation is that it is not accomplished by our own strength or power, but through more surrender to God’s awesome power and love in our lives.

      Steve Poole
      Director of Youth & Young Adults

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        Son of Man

        Son of Man

        I watched a fascinating short video this past week on the meaning of the phrase, “Son of Man”.  It’s first used in the book of Daniel but is also the number one way Jesus describes himself.  He doesn’t use Messiah, or King or Lord… He uses this strange phrase: “Son of Man”.

        This video connects the phrase back to the garden of Eden.  In the garden, there are two types of creations—beast and man.  And with these two types of creations are two kingdoms —the kingdom of the beast and the Kingdom of God in which man was co-ruling over with Him.

        But in this story, man starts to doubt God, and makes a troubling decision to act in accordance of the kingdom of beasts—aligning with his beastly nature and turning against the Kingdom of God.

        So now the question remains: who will reign with the kingdom of God since man chose the kingdom of beasts?  So God kicks them our of the garden to rules with the beasts.

        And with the kingdom of beasts comes every bad thing—darkness, death, sin, torture, murder… you name it! Everything ‘beastly’!

        This thread exists throughout the entire Old Testament, with the lingering question… is there a Son of Man that will deny the beast and reign again with God?

        And there is! A man comes and identifies himself as the “Son of Man” – a phrase they would have understood to be the one who will conquer the beast.

        And not only will he conquer the beast, but all other humans can now choose to worship him and side with him.  They also get to be restored back to the Kingdom of God AND given the same power to deny the beast as the Son of Man did.

        This was a new concept to me! I’ve read the gospels, and heard Jesus calling himself “Son of Man” but never stopped to ask, “Why?”

        Are you curious??? Somewhat fascinated? I can’t tell the story as well as the video—so go watch it!

        “Son of Man” from the Bible Project.

        Leah Carolan
        Director of Worship & Media


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