Where Can I Find Belonging?

Not long ago, I was eagerly anticipating spring, and now, as the dog days of summer come to an end, I find myself anticipating yet another change.  Not only in the seasons, but in the pace of life.  Kids go back to school, routines return, and the opportunity for relationship grows.  Something about the onset of fall encourages community.  There is no better way to experience community than in a small group of people who meet weekly to love, laugh, pray, and live life together.  It’s what we call Life Group.

My husband Danny and I have had the honor and privilege of leading a Life Group for almost 10 years and we have been blessed with a myriad of life-giving, spirit-filled relationships because of it.  People come and go, but each person makes a lasting impact on my heart.  Memories of shared experiences (both joyous and tragic), of laughter, of tears, of sweet fellowship, and great food will remain with me forever.

And yet, my natural tendency is still to withdraw to my safe place and live life from the confines of that space.  Being what the professionals call an introvert has its challenges.  BUT GOD, through His unending love and grace, has shown me the freedom that comes from stretching myself, opening myself up to others, and allowing myself to love and be loved.  God created you for community, and if you don’t believe that, you are believing a lie.  My prayer for us as women is that we will stop believing the lies and cling to God’s truth.  

God’s truth about each one of us is that we are all He says we are and we can confidently put ourselves out there and find love, acceptance, and joy.

A friend told me recently, “Find joy today.”  That made me realize that if we really look, we can always find joy—maybe even in a group full of people.  So, if you have yet to find a Life Group, may I encourage you to visit one?  If you already have one, I pray that you will find new and refreshing joy rising within you as you embrace your group and the people in it.

As we anticipate this new season, may we hold tight to God’s truth and begin to anticipate the abundant life that living in community brings.  Romans 12 instructs us to live in harmony with one another and in Christ, each of us belongs to the other.  I am needed, you are needed, and together we are all necessary, chosen members of God’s Kingdom.  May He give each of us the grace and courage to step out of our safe place and into a place of belonging, relationship, and joy.

We’d like to thank Melissa Hooks for writing this blog!

The Inspired Mom Class

Editor’s note: This semester we’re focusing on Titus 2 as it relates to many areas of our lives as women. We hope you find real hope and encouragement as you read through these stories of God’s revelation to women all across our campuses.

I recently stopped by the home of a dear out-of-town friend of mine. This was my first time being in her lovely home. Her husband and four children were home and I couldn’t help but be inspired in the short time I was there. Her children were full of life and joy and couldn’t wait to share their treasures with me.

Titus 2:3-5 says this… 

Teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. 4These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, 5to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.”

 Have any of you ever wondered where this class is being offered? I have! Where IS this class and PLEASE sign me up! Everything mentioned in these verses are things I struggle with daily and if I could just find me one of these older women, I’m sure they would help me figure out how to be a woman. 😉

But here is what I discovered in the home of my sweet friend: Living life with other women is the class. She’s not much older than me, but she is further along in motherhood than I am. In 30 minutes, God used her to teach me how to love and connect with my children in a way I hadn’t thought about. It really was as simple as that.  I’ve been thinking and praying for months about how to connect with my three-year-old boys’ hearts and involve them in the daily chores. In the short time I spent visiting and sharing time with my friend, God answered those prayers with three very practical ways to love and train my children.

Are you wondering how to find an older woman to learn from? One of the easiest ways for older and younger women to connect in our church is through Life Groups. I can’t tell you how many opportunities I’ve had to learn AND teach in my group. Being a part of a Life Group is a very simple way to put Titus 2 to practice in your life.

I would like to leave you with this quote from one of my favorite older women, Elizabeth Elliott.

It is doubtful that the apostle Paul had in mind Bible classes or seminars or books when he spoke of teaching younger women. He meant the simple things, the everyday example, the willingness to take time from one’s own concerns to pray with the anxious mother, to walk with her the way of the Cross with its tremendous demands of patience, selflessness, lovingkindness—and to show her, in the ordinariness of Monday through Saturday, how to keep a quiet heart.

Amber Curry wrote this post. To learn more about her, please follow this link.

LIFE Groups

life group pic 2A few years ago when we came to Harvest, I hardly knew anyone. For a while, I felt I was on the outside looking in at a group of people who had close friendships and years of stories to share together.   I wondered how I could ever make those kinds of friendships, and I wasn’t sure if I could “break in” to what was already here.

But it wasn’t long until my husband Gabe and I were invited to a Life Group. We chose to jump in, allowed ourselves to be known, and took a chance on making friends. Since that time I’ve lost count of the number of groups we’ve been in, led, and hosted. We have literally made hundreds of friends—and not just casual friends, but people we consider dear to our hearts. We don’t have any family in Plainview, but God has given us sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, sons and daughters in Christ.

Not only have we made friends, we have experienced so much LIFE through our own growth, and through being part of the maturing of others. Our mission at Harvest is “making disciples who make His ways known.” Life Group is the best place I know to become a disciple—a fully devoted follower of Christ—through living in community with those ahead of us, behind us, and beside us on the road. None of us have arrived. We need each other to become all we were meant to be; but in order for that to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen and known by others. Our family motto is this: We receive from God, and we pass what we receive on to others. This is how it should be, as we have nothing of real value to offer except what we have first received from God through Christ. In our relationships, we point people to Christ and watch them experience LIFE!

Life Groups have become a part of the rhythm of our life. Each time our group has grown to plant a new one, there is a twinge of sadness about the change. But it doesn’t last for long. The tune changes somewhat, but the rhythm stays the same. Some people we invite, some people just come…and suddenly we realize God has once again orchestrated his plan: bringing people to a deeper experience of Christ through community.

Some are coming to Christ for the first time, but all of us need to come to Christ daily. Life Groups help us do that as we apply the Word of God to our real-life situations. As I come to know the love of Christ in a deeper way, I can resist the urge to “wow” people in my home, and can start to really love and welcome them with hospitality through hosting a Life Group. I can speak up when God puts something on my heart, and not feel condemned if I don’t have anything to say that week. I can ask for prayer when I need healing in my life. I can pray over people with prophetic prayers that encourage, strengthen and comfort them.  I can receive input from others without feeling like a failure or getting defensive. I can lead well by following the Spirit and texting a friend during the week when she is on my heart. I can be encouraged to believe the truth about my identity in Christ. At times I can just simply take time to BE with my Life Group friends, and to believe that my presence is enough.

Have you experienced what I’m talking about? If not, what’s holding you back? If you HAVE experienced these things, please consider being equipped to lead or host a new group! Go for it!

This post was written by Jill Moudy. To read more about her, click here

**Fall Life Groups start back September 2nd! If you have not yet joined a Life Group, check out the Life Group Directory on our website (click here)! You will be so glad you chose to start living LIFE in community! 

We See Leaders

life groups picThis post was initially written by Jodi about her life group during the fall semester. However, it is still a great post for us today, as we have just begun life groups for the spring semester! For more information on HCF Life Groups, click here.

We kicked off the Fall semester Life Group last night with a meal at our home, and I’ve been thinking about what a great time we had being together. We’ve led this group for quite a few months, and this morning I am pondering our group’s personality and potential. My husband and I felt totally filled up with love and goodwill last night by having two Life Groups share a meal in our home (we literally ran out of chairs and people were sitting on the floor).

Colossians 1:27-29: “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”

God showed me that I get to be a part of creating an atmosphere for each one of these precious people to experience Christ revealed in them. Each person is a depository of His grace, His power, His heart, His creativity. They are future leaders who will impact their family’s legacy. Literally generations are held inside them, and our Life Group team gets to speak life and encouragement over their giftings, callings and potential.

We don’t just want to gain members at Harvest. We train leaders. Life Groups help us disciple people to lead. That’s our group’s mission. We are leaders and we want to come alongside other leaders as they grow.

We desire each person in our group to SEE themselves as a leader.

Why, you may ask?

Dear Reader, you lead yourself as you submit to Christ. You lead your family as you serve. You lead those outside your family group as you stay true to who you really are in Christ. He is our hope of glory! Simply put, leadership = influence. And you have influence. I beg you to leverage your influence to build God’s kingdom.

In case you haven’t heard, there are a lot of people in this world and in your realm of influence that aren’t experiencing a Jesus-filled life. I’m NOT saying you have to quit your job and become a full-time evangelist. I AM saying that you need to see yourself as a full-time evangelist as you leverage the giftings and unique personality God has given you to serve those around you, however God calls you.

In other words, be yourself!

May we remember our true identity as sons and daughters of the King as we live (more than just survive) through this day. We have a choice to rely on Christ’s power in us moment by moment. Let’s step up to the plate, actively depend on Christ today, and encourage each other as we go.

This post was written by Jodi LaFrance. To read more about her, click here.

If you are not currently in a Life Group, we would love to have you! Find a group by checking out the HCF Life Group page here.

Community Within a Life Group

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When I think of a thriving life group, I equate it with the word  community. Life groups are really special to me because the leaders and people who attend those groups are fun to be with. In the life group that I attend, I’ve noticed that we are all a conglomeration of mixed personalities and occupations. But within our life group, we find the common ground of praying for each other and encouraging each others’ walk with the Lord.

The leaders of my group have a good grasp on what it means to live a life fully serving the Lord. While we are discussing the questions of the week based on Sunday’s sermon, they are always eager to listen to our stories and share their own experiences, too. Even they will admit that they do not have all the answers, and that they certainly don’t live a perfect life. But what makes my life group so personal to me is that they are trying to follow the Lord and are willing to share joys and hardships that they have experienced. This type of vulnerability makes it easier for everyone in the group to open up and share any questions or related situations we’ve faced.

I have two favorite parts of my life group! One is the food that is served! I’ve been to some life groups who ask each person to bring a dish and share a potluck dinner before the previous week’s sermon is discussed. In our group we have elected to pay five dollars each week to have a homemade meal. It is delicious! Another favorite of mine is the time that we take to pray for each other. Currently our life group leaders have decided to choose a person or couple to pray for throughout the week. Then the following week, the entire group is invited to share what they have heard from the Lord about that person. Our leaders also open up the floor to anyone who needs prayer, and our group prays for individual requests of the week. This prayer time helps everyone in our group to have a part in the fellowship and spiritual aspect of our life group, and I think it is vital in building a community.

What is your favorite part of life groups?

If you are not currently involved in a life group, now is a great time to join one! Life Groups kick off for the fall semester on August 20th! Click here to learn more about life groups, find a group that fits you and your family, and get plugged in to community! You can also pick up a copy of the Life Group Directory in the church foyer on Sunday mornings.

This post was written by Hannah Dillard.