Be Strong and Courageous

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT) So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

I love this verse above.  I love that God calls me to be strong and courageous.  However, in life, I don’t always feel that way. As a man I cannot be afraid because that is socially unacceptable and a public cry of weakness.  Our society has two categories for men: weak and strong. There seems to be no middle ground. What God has been showing me, about myself, is that society is wrong and I can’t let those negative images define who God says I am.

Growing up, and even now, I am not an outdoors person. I don’t hunt, fish, camp, work on cars or fix things.  I like to be indoors. I like to play board games with my kids and watch funny movies. I play video games and read books.  Does that make me weak? I used to think so. I used to think that the guys that loved all of that outdoorsy stuff were super manly however, God is changing my mind.  

What I see in the Bible are people that rise up and listen to what God says to do and do it.  In Deuteronomy, Moses asks Joshua to lead the Israelites into the promised land because he cannot go. Joshua had been following Moses for 40 years and then had to take all of the Israelites into the promised land. Moses knew that Joshua was the man for the job because he just scoped out the promised land.  Joshua was operating in the gifts God had given him. Instead of doubting or letting fear take hold he trusted in God knowing that he was doing His will. Joshua would lead his people into the promised land and God would be with him. 

Joshua 1:9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Being strong and courageous for God is as simple as talking to that person in the grocery store that looks upset or down.  Or using the gifts God has given you in a new way, like singing at church or stepping out in a Bible study. God is showing me that as I take steps to do what He asks I am being strong and courageous.  It doesn’t matter how fast I can split a cord of wood (which isn’t fast), being a man can be how slow I am to anger with my family or friends. Or just simply showing up. Maybe a friend needs help moving and you may not be able to move the grand piano alone however showing up is what God wanted you to do.  

The world wants men to believe a false image of what makes you a man.  They want you to deny who God has created and called you to be. But that isn’t what God wants for you.  He wants us to rely on Him. Jesus will not ask us to do the impossible. He will equip and empower us to finish the task. As a man, we can take heart knowing that as we operate in the gifts He has given us we can stand strong and courageous.  Just simply saying yes to Jesus, and no to ourselves, is how to be a strong man of God.   

Romans 8:31... If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 

You Say

You say I am loved when I can't feel a thing

You say I am strong when I think I am weak

You say I am held when I am falling short

When I don't belong, oh You say that I am Yours


 Lauren Daigle had a chart stopping hit called, You Say.  It was a powerful song about how, as humans, it is easy to believe the bad and not what is true.  Our world is constantly bombarding us with images and sayings that make us feel like we are not enough or do not have enough.  We live in a society where it is normal to constantly compare yourself with others. It is easier to believe the bad than it is to trust in the good.  It reminds me of when I first started here at the church.

 Last year was a rough year for my family and me.  I had a great job at a software startup in Post Falls.  Then in the middle of summer they laid me and 8 other people off.  I was devastated. I was also scared and humiliated because I had never been let go of a job. I was already struggling with depression and this pushed me further down.  I was able to get a temporary job that helped us pay our bills but my depression was getting worse. I did not want to get up in the morning, did not want to get out of bed, just wanted to watch Netflix all day.  When I started disconnecting from my family then I knew I needed help. I reached out to Eric and he agreed to meet me for lunch. 

 At lunch I told Eric that I felt like God was done with me.  I felt like I was a total failure as a father, husband, friend, and basically every aspect of my life.  Even though I felt hopeless I wanted to change. One piece of advice he gave me, that made a huge impact, was to do things I did not want to do.  For instance, I did not want to get up early and read my Bible or did not want to watch a kids show with my youngest girl. When I started doing things even though I didn’t feel like it, things began to change.  Instead of checking out from my family, I became more invested. Then two weeks later I responded to an interview to be the Office Administrator at Cedar Hills.

 One of my biggest fears that I had to get over was to trust in who God said I was.  Imagine the fear that I had, two weeks out of debilitating depression, to then working alongside such awesome men and women of God.  I was not sure if this was God’s plan because I thought you could only work at a church if you were super spiritual. At first it was rough for me to not compare myself to everyone but what got me through it was knowing that I am a man of God. Everyone has things they are working on and I am not unique in that.


But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.  

1 Timothy 6:11

What I love about that is God says Timothy is a man of God.  Even if he did not feel like he was a man of God, he was. That’s what I love about God.  Even if I do not feel like I am a father or husband it doesn’t change the fact that I am both.  The world will try to break you down and tell you lies but we need to hold onto the truth and know that God has called us sons and daughters.  And knowing that, we can hold our heads high.

A Personal Message from Pastor Eric

Cedar Hills,

This past weekend in all three of our gatherings we shared a difficult announcement with you about the resignation of one of our church’s staff members. 

I, along with our church board, serve as your elders. This means we carry the responsibility to ensure our church is spiritually healthy and protected. I am sharing this update with you as your pastor, with the support of our church board. Joe Woodruff came to Cedar Hills in October of last year with his wife Natalie to serve as our Executive Pastor. In that role, Joe was also a regular part of our teaching team.

Last Wednesday morning (May 15), Joe walked into my office and announced that he was resigning his position effective immediately. As the morning unfolded, it became evident that Joe has had a moral failure and has engaged in behavior unbecoming of a minister of Jesus Christ and of this church. On that basis, his resignation was received, and as of Wednesday morning Joe is no longer a part of or a pastor of Cedar Hills Church.

Obviously news like this creates many questions and emotions that are hard to know what to do with. I am still processing my own questions and emotions as this situation continues to unfold. So I’d like to share a few thoughts with you as your pastor.

  1. We are a church committed to authenticity and transparency. While we must exercise discretion in speaking of details, you can count on us to be as open as possible. 

  2. While we cannot disclose specifics about what has occurred, there are two things that you need to know are not at risk. Firstly, we assure you that no financial impropriety has occurred. Secondly, we assure you that no children or minors are at risk.

  3. While we desire to extend grace and forgiveness to all who seek it, at this time Joe has not expressed sorrow or a heart of repentance. Until that changes, our board has a responsibility to establish appropriate boundaries and is requesting that our church not make contact with Joe, but rather pray wholeheartedly for him.

  4. Grief is a natural outcome of news like this. No matter your emotion—anger, shock, sadness, confusion—know that your grief is important to us and we are here to listen and help. If you would like to contact me directly, you can email me at Our board of directors (elders) are also available to you and can be contacted at We will prayerfully read and respond to every story, question, and comment. 

  5. This weekend I took a few minutes to talk about our identify as a church. I shared 5 cultural statements about the kind of people we are at Cedar Hills. I have provided a brief outline of my “What Do We Do When Life Gets Messy" talk at the end of this email.

While some of us may not have developed a connection with Joe during his time here, others of us became quite close to him and Natalie, which makes this very painful. It’s much more difficult to communicate my emotion in an email than it is in person, but please know I am grieving with you. Nicole and I take our task to lead and serve you incredibly seriously. Our board feels the same way.

We believe this is a time for us to exercise wisdom, clear communication, and unity. My hope is that this letter provides all three.  There will be a time in the future where we talk about what is next and where we go from here. Until then, let us not forget that "if God is for us, who can be against us?" God has great things in store for our church. We will honor him in how we handle this. We will serve him even in the mess. We will rise to the occasion.  

You are loved. Your pastors, 

Eric and Nicole


  • We are authentic about our emotions. Messes are emotional, and whatever you and I are feeling is okay. Grief is not a sign of what is wrong with us. It is a sign of what is right with us.

  • We put our faith in Jesus, not in a person. When storms kick up, we need an anchor to stabilize us and keep us grounded. Jesus is the only one we can count on. As Hebrews 12:2 says, we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Fixing our focus and faith on any other person will always lead to disappointment.

  • We refuse to gossip. Human nature wants to fill in gaps with whatever “feels right" to us. Unfortunately what "feels right" rarely is.  We are careful to protect church unity and resist division by guarding our words. Gossip always involves two people…a speaker and a listener. We refuse to do either.

  • We risk being hurt in order to experience deep love. The possibility of hurt and love must always go together. The only way to avoid being hurt is to close yourself off from others—which guarantees that you’ll never experience love. We are people who believe in love so much that we gladly accept the risk that others might hurt us. 

  • We trust our leadership. While our faith is only in Jesus, we choose to trust in our leadership—our pastors, staff, and board. We trust that our leaders love us. We trust that our leaders want the best for our church. We trust that our leaders will deal with this with wisdom and discretion.  Our prayer is the same as Jesus’ prayer in John 6:39…”The will of God is that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me.” We don’t want to lose a single person who calls this church hom

Summer at Cedar Hills Kids!

Cedar Hills Kids exists to partner with families to help kids see their place in God’s story. Kids matter at Cedar Hills.  We believe kids aren’t just the future, they’re the NOW!  They can make a difference for the Kingdom of God in their community, with their families, and with their peers.  We want to create environments throughout the year where kids can experience God’s love.


Summer is a happening time for our kids at Cedar Hills!  Last year we launched our first ever KIDS KAMP.  This was a 5-day day-camp here at the CH warehouse where kids played games, did awesome activities, ate tasty snacks, and learned about God’s powerful, rescuing love.  Close to 150 kids were involved throughout the week.  We saw God change lives and families find community at Cedar Hills. Over 85 people in our congregation were mobilized to make a difference in our community.


This year we’re taking things to a new level.  We’re expanding KIDS KAMP to an event we’re now calling KIDS WEEK.  This will be a week-long event for kids at Cedar Hills that will include not only a day camp, but family service projects, a family worship gathering, and family events throughout the week.  We’ll be partnering with local organizations here in Sandpoint to help our kids make a positive impact in their community.


Logo, Date, Theme.png

Our KIDS WEEK theme this year is POWER UP: Raise Your Game.  Think retro video games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders.  The Cedar Hills warehouse will be transformed into the inside of a video game for the week.  Kids will learn that, in Christ, God has given us everything we need to know Him and the power to spread His love with others!  KIDS WEEK is June 17th– 23rdand is open to all kids entering Kindergarten – 5thgrade next fall.  Check out the KIDS page to sign your child up and find more info.


That’s not all!  Our older elementary kids will be heading to summer camp this year at Silver Lake Camp in Medical Lake, WA.  Camp is a blast!  This is a week where our kids can get away from distractions, have fun, meet new friends, build great relationships with their leaders, and dive deep in their walk with God. 


Hydroblast Graphic.png

This year’s theme is Hydroblast!  Camp is open to all kids entering 3rd– 6thgrade next fall.  Dates are June 22-26, 2019.  Head to the KIDS page to register your child online and download parent/guarding info.


I can’t wait to see what God will do this summer.  We’re praying and expecting some “wow” moments.  Don’t miss summer at Cedar Hills Kids!


Andrew Muncherian

Kids Ministries

A Season of 'Yes'

I would like to introduce Luke Patterson. Luke is a fellow Cedar Hillian, and part of our Rooted Leadership team. The journey he has been on and the insights he brings, continue to inspire me and challenge me. I asked him to share his journey with us because I am confident the work the Lord is doing in him will inspire you as well. 


Alyssa McLaughlin 

Adult Ministries 


A Season of 'Yes'

Imagine being a fisherman, standing in your boat with your brother and father, sorting the nets. A crowd approaches, following a man. Amid the murmur of voices you catch a name: "Jesus". You've heard incredible stories of this man the last few months. Surprisingly, he approaches your boat as you look on. When he is within speaking distance, you are shocked when he looks right at you and says "Come, follow me." What arises in you in that moment? Surprise? Fear? Curiosity? Likely, you'd have some questions too, such as "Where are we going?", "For how long?". As we see in Mark 1:16-20, Simon and Andrew, and also James and John said "Yes." Not just in word but with their actions. Both that day, and again and again. 

This is a common pattern you'll see in the Gospels as Jesus ministered. A call, a command, an invitation. The ones who responded with a 'yes' received the miracle - the healing, the deliverance, the very presence of Jesus. He invites us, beckons us into something, then waits for our response. In His Kingdom, there is choice. We always get to choose whether to respond or not. That freedom is so beautiful and powerful, but also heavy. Heavy because of the responsibility that it gives us over our spiritual life. We are fully, 100% responsible for our part in the relationship. 

For me, this has been a season of saying 'yes' to where I feel Him inviting me. In the fall of last year, Kiersten and I were given the opportunity to go through Rooted with several other people. Rooted is a 10-week group experience hosted by Cedar Hills that establishes deep spiritual foundations and growth in a community environment. It is vulnerable, deep, and real. Being a part of that group was such a beautiful experience for us. We didn't have to say 'yes' though. We are busy, have kids, businesses, and other pursuits. But when we prayed about it, we felt that it was a God invitation. Then, as we went each week and did our studying at home, we continued to say 'yes'. 'Yes' to going deep, to wrestling with the topics, to being genuine and vulnerable during our group times. During that 10 weeks, lots of things came up in our life - other opportunities, events, etc. that we had to say 'no' to. Our 'no' protects our 'yes'. I am learning to use my 'no' a lot more, so that the few things I say 'yes' to can really be great. I can give them the time and attention they deserve. 

After a 2-month break, Cedar Hills launched a new 10-week round of Rooted groups, and this time Kiersten and I were facilitating a group of our own. During our first meeting together, as the 11 of us strangers sat in a room together, we went around and each shared what had led us to sign up and what we were hoping to get out of our time together. The common theme that we heard was that while almost everyone was nervous, hesitant, or even uncomfortable, they all simply wanted more of Jesus. Their hunger was greater than their fear, busyness, insecurity or questions. 

This morning, we had our 10th and final meeting. As we broke bread and took communion together I looked around the room at each person. I can say that we all have our share of problems, of pain and struggle that we've lived through, or are still in. But I see how each one of us has continued to lean in to Jesus these last 10 weeks, opening up to Him and each other, and giving Him room to work in our lives. The growth, breakthrough, and transformation that we all have experienced is real and amazing. 

I think that life is really all about our 'yes' and 'no'. I believe that right now, in this season, the invitation from Jesus is clearer than ever. Breakthrough is happening, and people are choosing to follow Him at a greater level than they ever have before. He is ready and willing to come into our lives and heal, deliver, teach, grow, and LOVE. The question is, will we say 'yes'? And will we protect that 'yes' with our 'no'? 

In the place within your life where you sense Jesus beckoning for you to follow Him - I ask that today you will take a moment to talk to Him about it. Tell him of your fears, your hesitation, your doubt. Put simple words to what you are feeling. Then ask yourself this: "If I am standing in the boat, and Jesus is calling me, what am I going to do?". There is always a price we must pay with our 'yes' - but we get so much more back than we give out. He is really that good. 

Be Blessed, 

Luke Patterson


Night of worship // February 16 2019

You know what I’ve noticed? People rarely avoid new things because of a lack of desire or a lack of ambition. More often then not, we as humans resist new things because there is a real or “perceived to be real” perception about the outcome, consequences, or implications of a decision.

During my time in Sandpoint, I have noticed an exciting potential with faith community collaboration that I’m not sure is “normal” across our country. Sandpoint has a very wide representation of life-experience diversity; it’s quite a melting pot of sorts. People from all over the country and the world have discovered the beauty of North Idaho and the allure of outdoor sporting opportunities. The landscape and all that this corner of the US has to offer has captured the hearts and lives of many travelers…who have caved in to its beckoning and decided to put down roots here.

…Because of this diversity, I believe there is amazing potential for things to happen, that we have never seen happen in this community before.

A few years ago I decided to contact some local church leaders, and start some conversations about this very thing. As I mentioned earlier, people rarely avoid new things because they lack the desire. So we started asking questions like “Why do we not see more churches collaborating together? Why do we not see more opportunities to merge resources, knowledge, experience and share facilities, finances, and people? Why do we not see large groups of people coming together to worship, pray, and serve? Why don’t we see organizations joining together, large scale, to share and celebrate the love of Jesus Christ with each other?”

I believe it’s because we simply haven’t come together and started doing it. Again, I don’t think it’s a lack of desire!

There is something new starting, something new pushing against the walls of reality, something new growing in the cracks and crevices of our church communities and culture. Over the last couple years, a few local churches have started experimenting together to see what would happen if we started to collaborate together in building large-group, multi-church gathering environments, focused on leading people in musical worship, prayer, and reflection. These environments have the goal of breaking down the walls of denominations and opening up the doors for community.

This weekend, Saturday February 16 2019 at 6pm, we will step into this again. Numerous people from our community will join together and partner together in musical worship, prayer, learning, and awareness. Click here to learn more about this event.

I want to invite you to push pause in your reality and embrace the idea that God may want to continue this move of unity we are starting to see to a whole new level we haven’t thought possible. Not a move of unity that takes us out of our churches, but a move that unifies each of us across all of our churches.

Weston Grillo

For Good?

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). 


There are times when I just don’t understand how a circumstance could be used for “my good,” but it happens more often than I’d like to admit. There are events in my past that happened, some good, some bad, some so horrible that my mind has blocked them from memory—but they happened. I mean let’s be real here, we really only harp on the bad ones. How can this happen? How could God let this happen? How is this good? The only real and true answer I can come up with is…I don’t know. We don’t know. That’s so tough to understand, let alone write out. We just don’t know what the purpose is until we’re far removed from it.

There is so much peace in knowing that whatever you are going through, God is right there next to you. In fact, even when you think you can’t go on anymore, he’s right there with you. He’s fighting for you. He’s telling you he loves you, no matter what’s happened in your life, no matter what you’ve done, or any of that, He loves you. It’s also hard though right? I mean you’re going through some rough stuff, and God’s right there? Why isn’t he stopping it? I don’t know. All I know is that in my life, that’s usually when I need to cling to him more. He didn’t cause this to happen, but you know what, he’s still there. I may have done something stupid, and it’s my choice that put me here, but he’s still right there with me. 

 I came to a realization last week…had I not been in a car accident 3 years ago and lost my job, I wouldn’t be in Sandpoint.

I wouldn’t be in a church where I am comfortable enough to sit through a gathering by myself. 

I wouldn’t be in a place where I could raise my hands in worship.

I wouldn’t have made friends with people who are not only awesome because they are present in my life, but more importantly they’re awesome because of the massive spiritual impact they’ve had on my life. They challenge me in ways I never would have experienced. 

I am who I am today because of the things that happened in my life. They formed me into the person I am, and that’s not to say I don’t have faults, because I have plenty of them, but I am just getting to a place where I FEEL God’s presence in my life, BECAUSE of what’s happened over the past 3 years, over the past 30 years for that matter.

 One question that will always have an answer: Can God use this? Let me answer that question with another question…is there anything God can’t do? We’ve already seen some of the amazing and good things God has done. How can WE limit Him? He has already done so many great things, that it’s almost like we’re insulting him by thinking he can’t do something. I’m sure He doesn’t take it like that, but sometimes I need a swift kick in the butt to remember that’s how I would feel if someone doubted my ability to do something I’ve already done. We sing songs in our gatherings with lyrics saying, 

            “Hallelujah, God above it all

            Hallelujah, God unshakeable

            Hallelujah, you have done great things”


“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now”

Or even

You're never gonna let
You're never gonna let me down

Shouldn’t we at the VERY least try to see that in the everyday? He’s done great things, and he’s not done yet. I for one will choose to sing my hardest, because I know they’re true.