Unwrapping Your Spiritual Gifts

December is an exciting time of year. The anticipation of Christmas morning: opening gifts, fellowship with family, singing carols…When I was a little girl, I knew Christmas was coming soon the day that the Sears catalog arrived in the mail! I would sit for hours checking the items that I wanted to add to my Christmas wish list:

  • A new baby doll ✅
  • A new pair of skates ✅
  • A new bicycle ✅
  • A new pair of pajamas ✅

Spiritual Gifts

Fast forward many years later and my wishes have changed. 

What I’ve been thinking about lately are spiritual gifts. I find myself “checking off” my wish list in the Bible just like I did as a little girl with the Sears catalog:

  • The gift of wisdom  ✅
  • The gift of prophesy ✅
  • The gift of healing ✅
  • The gift of tongues ✅

Lessons learned

To begin with, all gifts that I check are not gifts that I receive. As a little girl, I had a long list of wishes, but didn’t always get what I had on my list. My parents loved me so much and wanted to give me good gifts. My parents would’ve never given me a gift that I wasn’t ready to receive. For example, they would’ve never given me a bicycle if I hadn’t learned to ride a tricycle. Or they would not give me a new car until I was responsible enough to use it correctly.

Each child in my family received different gifts. My parents didn’t give me the same gifts as they gave to my brother and sister. They were older than me and had different desires than me. My parents knew that I didn’t want a football and they knew my brother wouldn’t appreciate a Barbie. They were good, good parents and gave us appropriate gifts because they loved us. They got to decide what was best for each of their children!

Just like my parents, God loves me and wants to give me good gifts. He knows when I’m ready to receive certain gifts and even though I have them “checked”, He decides when I am ready to receive them. Maybe I’m ready to receive the gift of wisdom, but maybe I’m not ready to receive the gift of prophecy. Does He love me any less because He doesn’t give me the gift of prophecy? Absolutely not! I have a friend who has received the gift of tongues. Does he love her more? Is she a “better Christian” than me because she received that gift and I didn’t? NO! God is a good, good Father who knows what gifts we need in order to grow His kingdom.

1 Corinthians 12:11 says that “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines.” God gets to decide when I’m ready to receive an extra gift!

Be content in all things

As a little girl, I don’t remember a time when I woke up on Christmas morning and was disappointed because I didn’t receive a certain gift that I had checked off in the catalog. I was content with the gifts that I was blessed with.

I am content with the gifts that God has given me through the Holy Spirit. Do I want more? YES! However, I trust Him to give me the gifts when He says I’m ready for them!  Psalm 37:3-4 says to “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Using my gifts for others

I remember one particular Christmas, I received an Easy-Bake Oven. I was so excited to use that gift to “bless” others. My dad ate lots of tiny brownies that I made using this amazing Christmas gift! It was a gift that kept on giving!

God gives us spiritual gifts, but they are not meant to be consumed on ourselves. As we receive, we give it away and then more is given to us. When I feel like I’m not doing enough with my gift, I need to step back and reflect on how God is using my gifts to grow His kingdom.

Trusting that your gifts are good

I never doubted that my parents would give me good gifts! Although they threatened telling Santa to put coal in my stocking when I misbehaved, deep down I knew that I would get good gifts for Christmas. You can trust God to give you good gifts as well!

Luke 11:11-13 says, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Merry CHRISTmas!

You can trust God, our good, good Father, to give you gifts that you need to receive in His time. I pray that during this holiday season, you unwrap your gifts and receive your spiritual blessings with the same kind of excitement as receiving the Sears Christmas catalog in the mail!

Be Blessed.

We would like to thank Vickie Young for writing this post!

Seen & Heard

Seen & Heard

This week we asked Kendra Huckabee of the Lubbock Campus to share a little bit of how she loves her family well during the Valentine’s Day holiday.

This past weekend we took a day trip to Clovis, NM, of all places, to take our boys to a traveling dinosaur event called Jurassic Quest. Think robotic dinosaur museum (or circus…whichever you prefer). Throughout the entire planning process, buying the overpriced tickets, and honestly, even on the drive there I kept thinking:

“Why in the world are we doing this?”
“This better be worth it!”
“The things we do for our kids…”.
But seeing my 3 ½-year-old dinosaur fanatic’s face light up at every turn immediately made me glad that we chose to take the time to do something he loves. Loving my family is one of the most important jobs I have. Although it has taken me some time, learning to show love to each member of my family in a way that speaks to them individually and makes them feel seen and known is the best way to do it.
John 13:34 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
Jesus gave us the perfect example of how to love people. It’s so cool to me how when Jesus healed people, had an encounter with someone, or spoke into someone’s life it was different every time. He didn’t have a “How to Love People” checklist that he followed. He simply knew them and loved them in a way that was specifically meant for them.

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He doesn’t care the cost, time, or distance it takes to show his love towards us.
I would have much rather stayed home this weekend in my pajamas drinking endless cups of coffee than standing in the cold watching my son move dirt around with a paintbrush to uncover a “fossil”, but I would have robbed myself of a chance to show love and my son of a chance to receive it.
I’m so thankful that I chose to move my SELF out of the way this weekend so that we could shower our son with love in a way that spoke to his little dino-loving heart.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, chocolate and teddy bears have never really been my thing, but loving my people is! My goal this Valentines, and every day, is to take the opportunity to speak my family’s love language. I pray that you, too, will take the time to love your family in ways that make them feel seen and known. Whether it’s something simple like their favorite candy, or a random trip to another state to see robotic dinosaurs, learn what and how they love and show them love in that way.

Some things that have helped me learn how to love my family:

The 5 Love Languages books by Gary Chapman
DISC personality test
Simply spending time with them

 

This post was written by Kendra Huckabee from our Lubbock Campus. To learn more about her, follow this link.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Becca Wilhite)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Christmastime is full of surprises.  Usually they’re in the form of excited children opening long-awaited gifts, or a visit from a far-away loved one. Almost exactly 10 years ago, my husband James and I got a not-so-great surprise, but it led to one of the most memorable Christmases we’ve had together as a couple.

To make a very long story short, a trip to the local doctor led to a transfer to the Lubbock emergency room.  Things quickly became more serious and resulted in emergency open-heart surgery for my then-28-year-old husband.  All went well with the surgery.  I can remember going to Wal-Mart for some necessity and wanting to tell everyone I saw how good God was, and that my husband was going to be ok! But a hiccup with our insurance company left us stuck in the hospital.  For Christmas.

So what do you do?  We had no choice but to make the most of it!  I had my guitar, and James was really feeling pretty good, considering all he had just been through.  We went to visit an older gentleman on a different floor whom we had befriended.  He was stuck for Christmas as well, so we thought maybe he could use some company.  We ended up spending the evening singing Christmas carols and worship songs that we knew—and surprisingly to us, he knew all the same songs we did!  It was simple.  There were no gifts exchanged.  And yet somehow, the true spirit of Christmas was very much alive and well in that hospital room.

My prayer for all of us is that the peace and love of Emmanuel—God with us—would be evident in our hearts this Christmas, no matter where we spend it.  Merry Christmas!

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Easy Pecan Pie (and yummy!)

1 Pillsbury roll-out crust
1 cup pecans
1 cup light Karo syrup
½ cup sugar
½ stick butter
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together, pour into crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.

For a perfect crust, cover the edges with foil until the last 10 minutes.

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Becca Wilhite is a worship leader at the HCF Plainview campus, and coordinates many of the Guest Experience teams at Harvest. She is the wife of James and mom to Chord, Paisley, and Sam.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Amber Curry)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

November and December are my favorite months of the year. They bring so many things our way…the end of our harvest season and with that, gratefulness for God’s provision. Cooler weather and hot chai tea from the Broadway Brew. Pulling out the Christmas decorations and sitting by a crackling fire. Celebrating the birth of our Savior.

One other thing I LOVE about this season is getting to spend lots of time in my kitchen. My happy place. It brings me so much joy to cook for my precious family. I come from and now belong to a family full of incredible cooks. When I think back on my holiday memories, these women come to mind. And in those memories are the dishes they are known for. Granny Smith’s AMAZING buttermilk chess pie. Grandmommy’s famous chicken goulash and dressing. (Don’t let “goulash” keep you away, that dish is heaven!) California Grammy’s rich and creamy chocolate delight. Granny Curry’s buttery pound cake. My mom’s stacked beef enchiladas with a fried egg on top. My mother-in-law’s “to die for” scalloped potatoes. Oh my, this is making me hungry!

These women and these dishes are part of my most cherished holiday memories, and since I’ve been married, I’ve been searching for the recipe that one day I might be known for. The recipe everyone secretly hopes I bring to all the family gatherings. The recipe that my grandchildren will one day pass down to their children and be a part of Curry holidays long after I’m gone.

And y’all, six years of searching and I’m pretty sure I’ve found it! The BEST homemade rolls you’ll ever eat and they are surprisingly easy to make. They are heavenly and Melt. In. Your. Mouth. I’ve made them for three holiday events now and everyone loves them. My nephew Brett eats at least 10, no joke.

Do your taste buds a favor and make these rolls! Your family will thank you, I promise. Blessings from my table to yours, and I hope that you create many fun and lasting memories this holiday season.

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The BEST Potato Rolls

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Sticks (3/4 Cup) Land O’Lakes Unsalted Butter
3 Cups Scalded Milk* instructions below
1 Cup Potato Flakes
1 Tablespoon Salt
4 Eggs
1 Tablespoon Instant Yeast or 2 Tablespoons Regular Yeast (I use instant)
6 1/2 Cups Flour
*1/3 cup additional butter, softened

DIRECTIONS:
Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat and add the milk. Cook until the edges begin to foam and froth, but do not allow it to boil. There will be a little layer of the milk “skin” on top. Remove from heat and add the sugar, butter, potato flakes and salt. Stir thoroughly and allow to cool to lukewarm.

Add the yeast, stir and then add the eggs, stirring until they are mixed in.
Place the flour in a large bowl. Pour the milk mixture in and stir until the dough has come together, but is still soft. This is not like a bread dough. It is a slightly sticky dough.

Cover the bowl with a towel or saran wrap. Let dough rise for one hour. Push down and divide dough into 2 parts.

Roll out one portion at a time to 1/2″ thick and butter 1/2 of dough with a few pats of butter. Fold the unbuttered dough over the buttered dough and press to seal. Cut into 1″ wide strips. Pick up one strip at a time and tie into knots. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise for 1-2 hours more or until doubled in size.

Bake at 350 until golden brown (14-20 min)

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Amber Curry is the Administrative Assistant to the Executive Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship. She’s married to her favorite farmer, Bryan, and they have adorable twin boys, Elliott and Samuel.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Jill Brown)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Deep, dark, frozen Alaskan winters huddled around the kitchen table. Only the light of Advent candles flickering while we sang Christmas carols before bed. Knowing every verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by heart by the time I was nine or ten. These images flood my mind when I think of holiday memories that are special to me. Though all of my family members were just baby Christians at that time, I know now my mom was doing her best to help us prepare our hearts for the truest meaning of Christmas.

Fast-forward 20 years or so to cozy nights in Plainview as a young mother myself. Two precious, expectant little boy-faces bathed in candlelight, mostly excited to practice lighting the matches by themselves, of course! Also bathed in candlelight: one older, wiser, more hairy face which was probably just a little less expectant to go along with all my annual attempts to create these beautiful nightly Christmas rituals!! I have to laugh at myself because I was a classic at dreaming up all kinds of great family-enrichment activities and then pressuring Greg to lead them all!

I’m pretty sure our whole family’s very favorite years were the ones when we read a nightly Christmas family devotion called Jotham’s Journey. A young Jewish boy at the time Jesus was born gets caught up in suspenseful and meaningful encounters near Bethlehem. Each day’s story incorporates a Scripture and a spiritual truth to discuss. Plus, if I remember right, the author, Arnold Ytreeide, does a great job of leaving you on a cliff-hanger from day to day so your kids (and may I add, your husband) begs for the next night. That did not happen with all of my motherly schemes, trust me. But that one worked out pretty well (and subsequent books were later added to the series!). You could still bring up Jotham to this day with my grown sons Levi and Luke, and they will know exactly what you’re talking about.

One way or another—over years of burning candles and Advent prayers and mugs of hot cocoa with extra marshmallows and twinkly lights and Christmas carols and late bedtimes and reading stories and footie pajamas—we carved the holy meaning of Jesus’ birth and God’s heart for redeeming the world into the hearts and minds of another generation of merrymakers. I’m forever grateful.

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Cranberry Nut Bread
Out of Alaska’s Kitchens, 1961

2 cups wild Alaskan cranberries, picked in empty coffee cans with your family while one of you watches frantically for bears
OR, alternately, Walmart cranberries, cut in half

1 egg, unbeaten
⅓ cup orange juice
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2 cups flour
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
1 ¾ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. grated orange rind
¾ cups nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine egg, orange juice, and water. Stir in melted butter. Sift together all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda). Make a well in center and add liquid mixture all at once. Stir only enough to moisten all. Add cranberries, orange rind, and nuts. Pour into large greased bread pan and bake for 70 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

My mom likes to use 3 smaller loaf pans or a 13×9 baking dish, which turns out more like a coffee cake. Adjust baking time shorter.

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Jill Brown has a high value for imparting the values of the Kingdom to the next generation. She is mom to Levi and Luke, and the wife of Greg, one of the elders of Harvest Christian Fellowship. 

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Erin Smart)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Growing up, I promised myself that I would always be excited about Christmas and never be grumpy about it, like some adults I knew (Inner vows never work out!). Now, I find myself being Scrooge-ish, wishing Christmas only came every other year so I’d have time to miss it. While I’ll probably never miss the gift and budget dilemmas, I do treasure the little things we do as a family to make the season meaningful—our family traditions.

Christmas traditions are the stuff of which life-long memories are made. And they are what help center me on what matters most during the hub-bub: Jesus and my family.

Every year, I surprise the kids with a new ornament just for them on the day we decorate the tree together. If possible, I try to coordinate the ornament with something that was going on in their lives that year, such as Garrett shooting his first deer, or the girls starting ballet. Sometimes it can feel like a chore to figure out what the right ornament should be, but it makes the kids feel special and they still get excited each year. Heaven only knows what will happen to these ornaments. One year I told the kids they could have their ornaments when they were adults, and Sonny said, “No way. We’re keeping them” (He’s the sentimental one, if you can’t tell).

Another yearly tradition is to take one night to drive around and look at lights and, of course, to drink hot chocolate.

But my favorite, most meaningful tradition starts about two weeks before Christmas. (We have to start this early because so many things can interrupt the evenings). Every year I pick out a new book or movie to add to our collection of Christmas stories. And every possible night we set aside time to read or watch one or two of them with cookies and milk or hot chocolate. In my perfect world, the cookies would all be homemade, but that’s just not realistic these days. The kids are happy with store-bought, as long as they each get to help make our annual batch of sugar cookies. I wouldn’t trade anything for these times together.

My oldest is 12 and growing out of the precious picture books we’ve treasured over the years. It happened so fast! This year we will probably do less of them and read Man of the Family by Ralph Moody, just to enjoy story time together.

I have included pictures of some of our favorite stories for the younger years, in case you’d like to add one to your traditions, as well as our sugar cookie recipe.

Wishing you a joyful and meaningful Christmas,

Erin Smart

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Erin Smart is wife to Sonny, the campus pastor for HCF Lubbock. Erin has a heart for each person in our church to know they are noticed and valued, and for them to be equipped to live a victorious life in Christ.

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Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Allison House)

The other morning, I was driving through one of the neighborhoods in Canyon. It was a perfect fall morning. The colors on the trees just about took my breath away. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen colors like that before. Has anyone else noticed how rich the colors are on the leaves this year?

It made me think about my childhood and my family’s Thanksgiving meal. The formal dining room table would be decorated, the fine china, crystal, and silver would be perfectly placed, and the smells of the best food I’ve ever had would fill my grandparent’s house. My mom’s mother, “Mama,” would be wearing her apron, her pearls, red lipstick, and heels. This was her day. She was the best cook. Her rolls were famous at every family meal. They were the most perfect things I’ve ever put in my mouth. We all hoped there would be some left over so that we could eat them for breakfast the next morning.

As I thought about how gorgeous the leaves on the trees were, it occurred to me that they are most beautiful when (in actuality) they are dying. However they MUST go through this dying process so that there will be new life in the spring. I thought about the Apostle Paul saying, “To live is Christ, but to die is gain.” I thought about Jesus explaining to His disciples that if we do not die to ourselves (our sinful nature), then we will not experience the abundant and glorious new life that He intends for each of us. I thought about the beauty of the Cross, and what it represents: freedom, forgiveness, righteousness, grace, mercy, eternal life.

Death is not something we would normally define as “beautiful.” Our community has experienced four untimely deaths in the past four months. From my human heart’s perspective, there is nothing beautiful about that. However, I have watched as the Body of Christ has come together, prayed for, taken care of, and carried these families who are hurting. God has revealed His goodness in various ways, and that is beautiful.

All of us struggle with dying to our own sinful nature on a daily basis. But when we do, God is faithful to reproduce a harvest of good fruit so that His kingdom will be glorified. Sometimes the only way we can see the beauty in death is to see it from a Kingdom perspective.

I was by Mama’s side when she breathed her last breath here on earth. It might be one of the most spiritual moments I’ve ever experienced. It was the first time I witnessed someone go from glory to glory, from this earthly life to eternal life. She has a new body and is with her Father. That is beautiful.

This holiday season, I would encourage you to live fully in this amazing time we have here on earth. Love your family, thank God for all He has done, and die to the things that quench the Spirit in your life. Look ahead to the abundant life that is awaiting you!

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Mama’s Rolls

Ingredients:

1 ½ sticks of butter, plus another stick to brush over rolls
¾ c. sugar
2 dry yeast packets (Fleischmann’s), dissolved in 1 C. lukewarm water
3 eggs-beaten
1 c. boiling water
1 tsp. salt
5 c. flour

Dissolve yeast and set aside. Beat eggs and set aside.

Using a large glass mixing bowl, almost melt butter in the microwave, then add sugar and mix. Pour 1 c. of boiling water over butter and sugar. Set this aside until cooled, then add eggs, yeast mixture, and salt. Add flour last, 1 c. at a time. Cover with wax paper that has Crisco on it, and seal around the edges of the bowl. Refrigerate for 24 hours so it can rise.

When ready to roll out, take part of the dough, roll out on a floured surface and use a round biscuit cutter to cut into circles. Fold over each roll and put in a glass pyrex sprayed with cooking spray. (They should all be touching.) Brush all with melted butter. Let them rise in a warm place for 2-3 hours. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

This makes enough for up to three 9X13 pyrex dishes, depending on the size you cut them. You can use only part of the dough and keep the rest refrigerated for up to a week before using the rest. Enjoy!

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Allison House is a passionate worship leader at the HCF Amarillo campus, wife to Curtis, and mom to four precious (and growing) kiddos.