Category Archives: Cedar Chips

The month newsletter of Cedar Hills Community Church.

Noah’s Ark – November 2017 News

I am a planner. I have a hard time waiting for answers. I want to know everything now so I can plan. This past year enrollment was very slow. Our numbers were low for a long time. We decided to adjust staff, cut hours, and changed some classes around. So all summer long we prayed hard, did some advertising on social media and our enrollment shot up! So again, we adjusted staff, added hours for some, and remembered to keep praying. How many times are we so focused on the planning that we forget to pray? This year reminded me that all the planning in the world wasn’t going to help if I wasn’t willing to pray to God as well. I’m more focused on what God wants as opposed to what I want done. I love that God still teaches us lessons and doesn’t give up until He’s ready for us. His time is not fast or slow, it’s perfect.

The preschool’s board works hard to keep a tight budget. Basically what comes in covers our budget and our gift back to the church. This year we are again giving a 10% discount to active church members. We gave back $10,000 directly to the church at the end of 2016. Our board for the 2017-2018 school year consists of: Jana Houghkirk as acting chair, Allison Johnson, Kaci Maire, Melissa Oberembt, Jennifer Miller, Carrie Campbell, Katie Curtis, Jan Fick, and myself. I absolutely love my staff! Jan Fick, 24 years, Assistant Director/Lead Teacher; Marcia Bruggink, 15 years as Assistant Teacher; Lori Larson, 11 years as Lead Teacher; Kris Crowther, 4 years as Lead Teacher, and Lorri Anderson, 3 years as Assistant Teacher. Bridgit Humphreys and Rachel Freeman join us as substitute teachers. We are grateful for all 62 families, who have stayed with Noah’s Ark and value a quality Christian education.

I believe in free preschool for those who can’t afford to pay. I don’t believe that our taxes should pay for all those who can pay. As a Preschool Director, it hurts my heart knowing that we have a quality preschool and loving Christian teachers who can offer way more than ‘free’ and we could reach twice as many families as we do. Please join with me and pray for the future of Noah’s Ark Preschool.

In Christ,
Leslie Clauson
Director of Noah’s Ark Preschool

November 2017 Adult Discipleship Update

It has been an exciting year for our Discipleship Vision Team. Our ‘on’ and ‘off’ campus cells continue to provide a growing number of families with the opportunity to connect with one another. There is still much work to be done in our groups owning the cell values. Some of our groups this past year merged with others and new groups continue to develop. Our focus on training and forming new cell groups will continue to be a way that we hope to reach out beyond the walls of the church to become a church that does life with one another in community.

The Adult Discipleship Cross Training has experienced a blessed year and is off to a good start this fall. This year we increased our Sunday morning classes to four instead of three. An additional Cross Training class is now offered on Tuesday mornings. Adult Discipleship opportunities continue to expand with a primary focus on the Bible, family dynamics, and other biblical electives presented to help resource our spiritual development.

Please continue to keep the search team and process in prayers as we seek our next Director of Children’s Ministry. If you have not attended a Cross Training Class or Cell Group, be sure to visit us online or at one of the registration tables for an opportunity to connect with others.

J.R. Henderson
Pastor of Spiritual Development

Little Ones Like Me

“The disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: …. ‘Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me…. See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven…. Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.’” (Matt 18:1-14)

Jesus loves little ones. Little ones are weak and dependent. They know their need for God. Jesus loves both literal and metaphorical children. They are the “micro”-people who become “mega”- people in God’s family. Jesus assures us that angels are assigned to help them and that not one of them will be lost.

As Pastor of Visitation and Care, I enjoy reaching out to “littles” because I myself am a “little” in need of God. When I visit families, I want children to know that they are at the center of God’s attention. When “grown-ups” sit in pain-filled hospital rooms or at tense kitchen tables, whenever we cry to him in our weakness, we can be sure that heaven comes down to meet us in our need.

When we lose a loved one, or get stopped in our tracks by a serious illness, we have God’s angels watching over us. When we face addictions, disasters, family conflicts, divorce, job loss, or depression, we just need to remember one thing: despite ever present suffering and evil, not one of God’s “little ones” will be lost.

Alan Crandall
Pastor of Care

November Journey Update

Over the year of 2017, the Journey Student Ministry has watched God grow and move our youth group. To kick off the year,  we redecorated our ministry room to reflect the call God has on our ministry to reach those far from Him. Here are some numbers that show the impact God has had on us and we have had on the community.

  • Hundreds of prayer requests prayed for and answered.
  • Hundreds of friends prayed for about faith.
  • Over 50 individual gospel conversations.
  • Over 100 students attend an outreach night at SkyZone.
  • All six of our student leaders have consistently shared their faith and led testimony times.
  • Student leaders lead four outreach days in our community.
  • We’ve had most students attending Journey in the last six years.
  • Doubled our registration for the Lead The Cause Evangelism training event.

God is continuing to move in our student ministry and we are excited to see what happens in 2018!
Jeremy Van Genderen
Director of Youth & Young Adults

State of the Church

Sailing Through the Storm

People are afraid that the church is losing influence – or worse, has already lost all of our influence. We’ve lost our voice in the public square and our ability to shape values. We’ve lost our own children. I’ve heard people say, “We are in a storm” and it is not just a sprinkle or even a passing thunderstorm – it is a hurricane.

Not every storm is created by problems ‘out there.’ Some storms are caused by the mess  that comes from our own brokenness. These storms threaten the church from within. If the state of the church is that we are threatened by the storms from inside and outside, what do we do about it? The book, The Disappearing Church by Mark Sayers suggests that in these stormy days, the
church-and the world-needs Christians who thrive in a hostile environment by finding  deeper intimacy with God. When storms blow, we trust in the One who calms the storms. There is another book that has a lot to say about this:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:1-7).

Resilience in a time of storm comes when we know the one who is our strong shelter, the God who is our fortress. The God who makes the sunshine and the rain. The God who calms the storms. Jesus said,

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15:9).

Abiding with Jesus is the best place to be when the strong winds blow and the rain beats down. It is the place we discover the love of God.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:10-11).

The state of the church is in need of a shelter in the time of storm, and we have a shelter. As we develop this resilience we discover that we actually survive the storm and that we really do have something to offer to the world. We can offer the world the shelter that they so desperately need.

We do not bear the turbulence of storms alone, we face them together with God as our refuge and strength, our ever-present help, our mighty fortress.

Kent Landhuis
Pastor of Preaching & Leadership

Bright Spot – CRU

Image result for icon cru.orgOur congregation supports the work of CRU, which is a campus ministry dedicated to reaching students with the good news of Jesus as Savior and Lord. Katie Smith, our CRU missionary at the University of Iowa, shared that they reached over 1,000 students through an outreach event last week called “The Maze.”

Thanks for your support, celebrate their impact, and keep praying for the students Katie is reaching at Iowa and Kirkwood this fall!


“Cru is a caring community passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ. Our purpose is helping to fulfill the Great Commission in the power of the Holy Spirit by winning people to faith in Jesus Christ, building them in their faith and sending them to win and build others and helping the body of Christ to do evangelism and discipleship through a variety of creative ways. We are committed to the centrality of the cross, the truth of the Word, the power of the Holy Spirit and the global scope of the Great Commission. Cru offers spiritual guidance, resources and programs tailored for people from all cultures in every walk of life through many diverse outreaches.”

Growing in Prayer

One of the ways to grow in your prayer life is learning from other practices of prayer. Regardless of the practice of prayer you choose, a good place to start is by asking the Lord to birth inside of you a desire to spend time with Him. The purpose of spending time alone with God is to develop intimacy with Him, secure our orders for the day, and to come alongside the things that are the closest to His heart.

Time not scheduled to be alone with God in prayer or any other discipline will be filled with other things in life. We must make time to pray, even schedule it on our calendars like every other important meeting in our life. Spending regular time in prayer will radically deepen our personal lives as disciples, transform our priorities, renew our commitment to service, and increase our awareness of how involved God really is in our lives.

There is considerable variety in prayer and nearly as many different ways to pray as there are people to pray. Some people  write out their prayers; others prefer more spontaneous praying. Some people pray silently; others pray loud. Some people like praying alone; others like praying in groups like their cells. While it’s true that most new prayer disciplines feel uncomfortable at first, you do grow into them if you stay with them, and often the fruit results in a new and fresh encounter with God.

Because different prayer formats are helpful to different people, refusing to try new ways to pray may mean that you never discover a format that enhances your relationship with God. Visit and look at the Disciplines of Prayer for new ways to grow in your prayer life.

J.R. Henderson
Pastor of Spiritual Formation
Isaiah 56:7

Journey – October 2017 Cedar Chips

This year the Journey student ministry is dwelling in the Word of God by reading through the parables of Jesus. Each week we pick a different parable and seek to understand what God is speaking to us through this story. We have also encouraged our students to engage in God’s Word by giving them five passages to read and respond to each week. Our hope is that each student will grow in their knowledge and application of the word of God during this year. Please also pray for our Fall Retreat coming up Nov. 10-12. If you know of any student in 6th -12th grade who would like to join us, please let me know.

Jeremy Van Genderen
Director of Youth & Young Adults

Worship Ministries – October 2017 Cedar Chips

Every now and then a song text that I’ve sung for years and years will suddenly strike me with new meaning. It’s not quite Christmas season yet, but I’ve been listening to a Christmas Lullaby with my kids and heard the song “We Three Kings.” Have you ever pondered the meaning of that song? It’s quite moving once you realize the song is about us on a journey towards Jesus and not about the wisemen from the East at all, though we may have thought it was, having heard the song hundreds of times since our youth. I think sometimes scripture can be like that to us.

There are verses we’ve memorized and stories we’ve heard and enjoyed since childhood that we overlook and think we completely understand, when out of nowhere BOOM — and God suddenly brings a new and greater revelation to His Word. We can never ever completely have fully learned everything there is know about the Bible, His voice, His character, His love. There is always more for God to show us. This is what I love most about the Dwell series.

Even if we think we know all the stories, we are wrong. There is more. Dwelling: speaking, writing, meditating, singing, praying the Scripture helps our spirits to focus and receive more from God. And He has so much more for us! Never be content. Never settle. Never think there is nothing else to the Christian journey. There is always more, always a deeper place of intimacy and knowledge in Christ to be had.

Are you in a lull? Are you in a dry season? Are you bored? Keep seeking! God will break through! Even if the seeking seems mundane or worthless at the time… it is not. There is deep blessing in the journey. Be encouraged today that God is going to show you more.

Leah Carolan
Director of Worship & Media

Note to Self

I have a little devotional book on my desk that I refer to often entitled Note to Self: the Discipline
of Preaching to Yourself. Joe Thorn shares scripture and meditations that inspire me. Like this one:

Jesus is Enough
Dear Self,
Are you satisfied? It is pretty obvious that the answer is often no. I am not saying it is wrong to
want things in this life, but why do you find yourself so frustrated with the absence of those things? The
problem is not that you want evil things. The things you want are generally good, or at least harmless in
themselves. But more than wanting, you become frustrated by not having. You become jealous, envious, and discontented with your life. It is true; you need what you lack, but what you lack is satisfaction in Jesus.

When you find your deepest satisfaction in Jesus, you are protected from bitterness in times of want and pride in times of abundance. The world and all good gifts within it are temporal blessings. For you, Christian, their presence should remind you of the Giver, and their absence should remind you of that which never fades nor can be taken away.

Paul models this well for you. He knows the secret of being content whether he has an abundance or nothing at all, for he has  found his ultimate satisfaction in Jesus. Jesus is enough. Do you believe that? Can you say, with the author of Hebrews, that you can be content with whatever you have because God said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). This is a promise made to us in Jesus. Jesus is enough, but that kind of satisfaction is only experienced when we understand our greatest needs to be redemption and restoration. God in Christ has reconciled us to Himself, is renewing our minds, and promises to raise us from the dead, and we will dwell in righteousness and peace forever. If you have this, what more do you need?

These words encouraged me to draw near to Jesus. They also struck me in light of our recent discoveries in the REVEAL study about our getting stuck as we grow in our faith. I am not satisfied with my own stuckness, but want to keep growing, to know Jesus more so that I can experience him more fully.

That sounds very satisfying,

Kent Landuis
Pastor of Teaching & Leadership