Category Archives: Cedar Chips

The month newsletter of Cedar Hills Community Church.

From Ankles To Belonging

From Ankles To Belonging

Small groups are restarting now at Cedar Hills, as we begin our Walk Like Jesus series, and I would like to encourage us all to join a group. Not because it’s easy. In fact, small groups take time and work to be successful. Don’t join a small group because it will solve all your problems because some days it will seem like your small group has created new problems. Don’t join a small group if you feel like everyone will agree with you and always get along easily. All of these are unrealistic expectations of small groups. They all over sell the benefits and minimize the fact that when you meet with other broken people, it won’t always be easy to love them (or for them to love you), and sometimes you will be offended. That’s just life. However, there are many benefits to opening up your lives to others.

It helps me identify my own selfishness and pride. When I meet with others, I must wrestle with caring for other people. Do I care enough to listen well to you? Do I care enough to inconvenience myself to help you when you need it? Will I swallow my pride enough to admit when I need help? If I ‘go it alone,’ as a ‘lone ranger’ Christian, I never have to deal with these issues. However, when your son ends up in the hospital where do you turn for support? Well, for my family, that is my wife’s small group. These women watched our children and made us meals.

I hate to be an inconvenience to others. I despise being dependent on others for help. But I believe the humble call of Jesus is to be a part of His Body and to find a place to belong. The brain needs the blood vessels and heart. The feet need the leg muscles to function properly. I recently rolled my ankle. My right ankle is healing, but now my left leg muscles and back are sore. Why? Because all the parts of my body are connected. While my right ankle is hurting, my left leg is working overtime to help compensate as I limp. Just like all the parts of my body are interdependent, God made us to belong to each other as part of His body. I think one of the best ways to find a place to belong at Cedar Hills is to join a small group. It won’t be easy. It may drive you crazy at times. However, belonging is worth it.

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.

    Living In Fear Of

    Living In Fear Of

    Part 1:

    I just read a blog post suggesting that if we put the word “teenage” before any term, the second word automatically becomes negative. For example: “Teenage Driver.”

    Also, teenage drama. Teenage hormones. Teenage choices.

    This negative association, according to the blogger, is everywhere. We seem to be living in fear of teenagers. Then the writer of this post said, “I think there is something fundamentally wrong with how we think about teenagers.”

    I agree.

    And I wonder, if we spent time with teenagers, would that make us less fearful? I wonder, if we imagined the potential of teenagers as 1 Timothy 4:12 does – “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity – would we have less fear? I wonder, if we invested in helping the next generation succeed, would we have less fear of teenagers?

    Familiarity overcomes fear. What are we living in fear of? Teenagers? Maybe we need some exposure therapy to help us confront this fear.

    Part 2

    I met with my small group last night. It was the meeting that saved my week. After an exhausting series of meetings, I did not want to meet again with my small group. I actually was afraid that I might not have enough energy.

    We met anyway.

    We are doing the Walk Like Jesus study and the group blew me away. We all want to be more like Jesus. We want this even though this desire kind of scares us. What will Jesus want from us? What changes can we expect to make? What happens when Jesus calls us to obey and we are not ready to obey?

    Our group said, “Full steam ahead. We want to walk like Jesus and we will not live in fear.”

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

    Kent Landhuis
    Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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

      Small Groups Are Scary

      Small Groups Are Scary

      Small groups are scary.  At least that’s what I thought most of my life as I skillfully did everything I could possibly do to avoid being a part of one.

      They gave me visions of sitting criss-cross applesauce in small circles, singing kumbaya, with forced sharing of intimate stories and lots of crying.  Not my thing.

      It wasn’t until I arrived in Cedar Rapids in my late 20’s that I made any real effort of actually trying one.  I’ll be honest, the first couple I tried to be a part of eventually flopped, ended, or disintegrated into messes, which just cemented in my head even more that they weren’t worth my time.

      So with a not-worth-my-time attitude and my propensity towards being as introverted as one can be,  I thought my time in small groups was over. JUST NOT GOING TO DO IT. No, no, no, no, no. No Thank You.

      Until last year. I tried again. This time, it was a Bible study group of women. I only joined it because my husband was a part of the same Bible study organization, as were my kids—and even though each met on a different day, we’d be studying the same curriculum and daily questions together. So weighed down by sheer mom-guilt alone, I decided I should try it.

      This particular group was super-structured, and involved intense, weekly individual homework. It wasn’t too big, or too small. We (15 ladies) had a set timeframe of starting and stopping, set number of questions to answer, and a set number of minutes for “socializing” which was great for my general let’s-just-dig-in-the-Word-and-get-on-with-it mindset. You know what?? I LOVED IT!!!!  Turns out, I just do really well with structure. Like, SUPER structured. No sugary snacks, no coffee time, just a tiny bit of socializing, and lots and lots and lots of Bible study in and out of the meeting.

      This revelation has been huge. Small groups are scary when they are a structure that doesn’t fit how I’m wired, but there are so many out there! And so many options!

      So if you have given up on them, or are weirdly wired like me and just need structure to function, can I encourage you to try again? And maybe again? And then maybe one more time? And maybe once more after that?

      Leah Carolan
      Director of Worship & Media

       

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

        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.