Cedars Elders Update

Hello Cedars

The elders of Cedars Church continue the process of defining the leadership structure of Cedars Church for when Joel departs at the end of June. We truly appreciate the prayers and comments of support that we have received from a number of individuals. At this time, we are still praying through where God is leading us, weighing out a few alternatives and discerning the merits of those options. We invited Ray Van Gilst from the CMA back last week to provide some objective, feedback that we are currently thinking and praying through. We met again this week and will meet again on May 21st. While we are as anxious as many to make a decision and progress, we are committed wholeheartedly to ensuring that God brings us to one mind, His mind. Thank you for your continued prayers. 

Sincerely, the elders.

A Rooted Story - Gordon and Bethany Fung

Hello Cedars

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What a blessed journey to have graduated from Rooted. Prior to taking this course, we had heard positive stories from others whom have had great experiences. However, we let life came up with excuses after excuses to avoid participating. It wasn’t until our close friends expressed their interest in joining that finally nudged our interest. However, we still hadn’t officially commit until the first week of the course.

Immediately, our reservations were lifted upon sitting down on the first day. We were surrounded by other individuals with various backgrounds yet for some reason, we felt at ease and comfortable within this safe environment. We knew God had strategically placed all 10 of us together for a reason. Lindsay assured us that it did not matter whether you had accepted Jesus into your life or barely knew who He was as we were all equal. Everything was strictly confidential and judgment free. Each week topics were broken down into easy-to-follow foundational information ranging from who God was to how we can serve Him within our community. As someone who found it difficult at times to follow in The Bible’s words, this course motivated us to study deeper.

Upon completion of the Rooted course, we decided to get Baptized (Bethany, again) and dedicated our lives to receive Jesus Christ as our Savior while utilizing His words to become a spiritual leader for our family. The fact we were blessed to get baptized together symbolized a covenant of our marriage. We not only walked away spiritually stronger but have gained the bond of brothers and sisters whom we can share our journeys with. It’s just the beginning and we look forward to stemming from this Rooted course into other avenues to serve God and others. Thank you, Lindsay and Rooted.

~Gordon & Bethany Fung

Worship at Cedars

by Esteban Warren

Cedars Worship Ministry exists to glorify God with the gifts of musical, video and audio performance. It’s our desire to create an environment where one can freely engage a loving God whom we worship and adore. This is accomplished when each worship team member recognizes his/her identity as a child of God first, and in so doing allows this gifting to flow from that place of true belonging and full acceptance in Christ.

This has been the goal since day one of Cedars church. It’s definitely hard to evaluate with any certainty where we are or how “well” we are doing, but there are some very tangible “WINS” the worship team has experienced over the last year and I wanted to share some of those with you.

One of the most amazing accomplishments is that we were able to integrate two separate teams from two separate churches.  That added up to more than fifty people! This was no easy task and it was extremely daunting for me personally, but I had great support around me! I really have to thank Antoinette Rodrigues for all her invaluable assistance in this process. She has been, and continues to be, such a source of encouragement and guidance. The current state of the worship team has much to do with her love for all involved.

Secondly, Cedars worship continues to grow and involve new members. This is especially encouraging since we have people who have joined the team who only know Cedars as their church and have little to no history with the previous churches that merged to become Cedars.

Another area of great improvement is in the area of Audio and Video technology. Completely new systems were integrated at the inception of Cedars that continue to evolve from month to month as those running said systems begin to troubleshoot and improve the ways we operate. I want everyone to know that the people working in the back of the church who run sound, lights and video are as much of a part of the worship team as any vocalist, instrumentalist or worship leader. They are SO valuable and I personally appreciate them so much! I encourage you to personally thank them some time and I guarantee it will be appreciated more than you can imagine.

Lastly, and most importantly, I want to acknowledge Cedars worship team as a whole for consistently creating an inviting atmosphere of worship from Sunday to Sunday. These people have such uniquely beautiful stories that have brought them to a place where they were convinced they needed to express themselves through worship. What you see on Sundays is just a continued expression of the worship that is happening in their individual lives throughout the week. This ability to lead by example is not overlooked or taken for granted. This group has such a desire to work selflessly with each other as part of ever-changing teams from week to week. Each member does this because each has tasted and seen that God is good. They worship because they know Him who created them for worship.

A Jr. HIgh Retreat Report - So Fun!

Dear Cedars Family,

            Sami Seeds here, your Middle School Director! I wanted to take this time to give you an update about how our Winter Retreat went! First off, I want to thank all of you for helping us get there, whether you participated in our Duffin Fundraiser, donated, or prayed over us. I knew going into it that God had big plans for this weekend because He was so faithful in providing for us (financially, logistically, and in our sign-ups) before we even got into cars. Even though I had full confidence in this, it was so sweet seeing everything come to fruition, and ended up beyond far beyond what I had planned or imagined, as it so often does.

            On our trip, we had a total of 3 leaders and 8 students. This student to leader ratio was perfect for us because it gave our leadership team the space to be intentional with each student and make sure they felt well loved and cared for. We spent the weekend outside in creation snowboarding and hiking. Most of the students had never been on a ski slope before, let alone snowboarded, but each of them rose above the occasion in their abilities, patience, and encouragement to one another. The leaders were so impressed with their positivity, contentment, and perseverance even though all their butts were sore the next day (all part of the master plan, wink wink). The cabin we stayed in acted as our perfect home base where we broke bread, played together, shared stories and jokes, and stayed up way too late, all of which helped us further develop a deeper sense of community and fellowship amongst the students and leaders. Shared experiences and food are some of the absolute best ways to bring people together.

           Though adventure and fun were very much on the to-do list for the weekend, our leadership team had a deep desire to help facilitate not only a growth in community, but in their walk with Jesus as well. We prayed and prayed that each student would have a personal encounter with the Lord and would leave the weekend feeling well equipped for coming back down the mountain (literally and figuratively). Our focus word for the weekend was identity. As middle school students, we ourselves had experienced how difficult it was to not only figure out who you are, but to root your identity in the Lord.  Each day, we had a leader testimonial, main talk, and devotional time. We talked about how to overcome the other voices that try give us our identity, were honest about the earthly things we were putting our identity in, and gave them examples of what it looks like to fully embrace who the Lord has created us to be and how to use our gifts for His kingdom. Upon the end of the weekend, we asked the students where they experienced God. It became very clear that each of them had intimate moments with the Lord in creation, scripture, and in their one-on-one devotional times with Him. This answered prayer was the sweetest for me personally, because I fully know that those three things will always be within reach for the students throughout the remainder of their lives. Circumstances, leaders, group, and living situations could all change so quickly and easily, but the Lord always is faithful in showing himself to us. Our leaders were exhausted for the next month, but would do it all over again.

            Thank you so much for your continued prayers, encouragement, and support for our group. It is so humbling and exciting to see what the Father is doing in this group and through the students and our selfless, God-fearing leaders. Onto the next adventure!

 

Much Love,

Sami Seeds

Middle School Director

Announcement by Joel Mattsson-Boze

Cedars,

About a month ago we elders got together for a meeting.  In this meeting we decided to fast and pray to seek God for several things like more unity within our staff and more power and revival in our church.  We decided to fast for one week.  It was a long fast.  I had several other things to pray for during this time as well.

            During this fast we each experienced some answers to prayer and experienced powerfully the presence of God. 

            I want to talk to you about what God said to me.

            On my 6th day of fasting, I was at a retreat with CityServe pastors up on the Santa Cruz Mountains.  During this retreat, one of the other pastors, one from Harbor Light Church, took us through a fun game - a kind of ice breaker.  The game worked this way.  This pastor passed to each of us in the group a piece of paper.  We were seated in a large circle.  We were to write a “What if” question.  I, for example, wrote What if… “ Hitler had won World War Two.”  (The what if was implied).  Then, after everyone wrote their question we passed those papers back to the pastor.  Then he passed out those papers again, and each of us took a different piece, making sure to not take the one we had written our “what if” question on.  We took someone else’s paper.  Then, on that piece of paper, we answered someone else’s  “What if” question by writing on the back of  their slip of paper.  Again, he collected those papers.  Then he passed them out for a third time, and we each took one, making sure we did not take one on which we had written either our what if statement or our answer.

            Then we went around the circle.  The first person read the question on the paper he held, and the next person read the answer on the back of the paper they were holding.  It was silly and funny.  It was just a fun ice-breaker game.

            The slip of paper I received, with both the what if question and the answer said this.  Someone had written What if… “I moved from the Bay Area”.  And the answer written on the back said, “Release”.  Beth and I had been praying to God about the direction in our life, where he was taking us.  And I told God I needed a really clear answer.   So He wrote to me.  I have the slip of paper right here.

            So, we are moving out of the Bay Area.  We are leaving Cedars Church.  We will be moving in July.  Our last day here at Cedars is June 30th. 

            I am going back to seminary to get my Doctoral degree.  Beth and I feel that God has called me, and us, to teach.  As you know I have been teaching village pastors in India for eleven years and in other countries for many years before that.  I have also taught for Tozer Seminary in Woodland on an occasional basis.  Last year I taught at a college in Lebanon.  I have been asked to go back there in May to teach a two week intensive course.

            What we want to do is to teach younger kingdom workers.   We feel God’s call to teach pastors.  I don’t know how this will work exactly as we are counting on God’s continual leadership but it might look something like this.  After completing my doctorate, we might teach at an existing school.  We are praying about the possibility of starting a school somewhere, maybe here in the U.S. or in Europe.  We dream of teaching pastors and then taking them with us to places around the world to teach village pastors.  We would be giving them two different kinds of education, one in the classroom and one on the mission field actually teaching village pastors like I do in India.

            Beth and I have been here in Newark for almost 16 years.  God has done so much in us and changed us.  We are thrilled to have been a part of CBNC and now Cedars.  Admittedly, the beginning of Cedars was very hard on me, and us.  We are excited to have come through the hardest parts and we anticipate that God has great things planned here at Cedars.

            We love that we are connected with you.  We are the body of Christ.  Christ is the head.  Thank you for your partnership in the gospel.  We will miss you.

Joel and Beth Mattsson-Boze

The Cross Progress

Cedars,

I wanted to let you know about what is happening with the cross.  I spoke this week with the people who are putting our new cross up.  We are excited to put it up, but we have some barriers with the city which we need to overcome.  We have to get a drawing into the city and get it approved.  We are working on this.  It should be done soon.  We hope to get all this done quickly now,  It would be great to get this done and get that cross up.

Thank you,

Joel Mattsson-Boze