Find Freedom

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Many years ago, I went through a very difficult time. I had been attending CedarCreek for a few years, but I wasn’t connected. I simply attended service weekly. I felt very alone and I was really struggling. I really didn’t know anyone at CedarCreek.

Community Care Pastor Rick Dushane always made an effort to say, “Hi, Marsha.” I talked to him a little bit about the difficulties I was experiencing. He suggested I meet with him the next day. We talked for two hours. He really helped me. He stressed the importance of joining a Group at the church. He said a Group was important because it helped make a large church seem smaller. He said It would give me an opportunity to meet and build relationships with people who attended CedarCreek.

Rick suggested I attend Kathy and Rick Shortridge’s life group. I remember how scared I was to attend the group for the first time. The members of the group were so warm and welcoming. I found the people authentic, caring, fun, and loving. We studied the Bible and prayed together. We encouraged each other, ate great food together, laughed and cried together. (I will forever be grateful for these amazing friends who helped me feel like I mattered and helped me to take my next steps in my spiritual journey.) Eventually, I started my own Group.

James 5:16
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

I am currently leading a women’s Bible study Group. I am so blessed by the amazing women in my group. They are my closest friends. These ladies are authentic, loving, kind, and funny. They are faith-filled women who have a heart for Jesus. I am so grateful for these women that I feel tears of gratitude welling up in my eyes as I write. We study the Bible together. We pray for each other. God has answered our prayers in amazing ways. We hold each other accountable, trust each other, support each other, and truly love each other. We encourage each other to take the next step in our adventure with Jesus.

There is such freedom in Groups because you can be yourself, you don’t need to be perfect. It is a place where you can be loved and accepted for who God made you to be.

Questions:
How are you connected at CedarCreek? Have you joined a Group? If you have been in a Group before, have you ever considered leading a Group? How has belonging to a Group changed your life?

Next Steps:
Sign up to join Group. Invite friends to join your group. Journal about the ways group life has changed your life.

Prayer:
Jesus, you love me so much you want me to live life in true freedom. Free of guilt and shame. Free to accept your love and flourish. Help me to love others as you have loved me. I am so grateful for the rich relationships with which you have blessed me. Please give me the courage to take the next step in my faith journey. Amen.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


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6 replies
  1. Ben Snyder
    Ben Snyder says:

    Joining a group has been so powerful for me. Thanks for sharing your story! I would love for everyone to have a place where they take off the mask and grow spiritual one step at a time!

  2. Luke Shortridge
    Luke Shortridge says:

    Great reminder of the power of doing life in community! We were made to be in Christian community, to help carry each other’s burdens, and experience the highs and lows together.

    Also, thanks for the Shortridge shout out, Marsha!

    : )

  3. Christine Liedel
    Christine Liedel says:

    I felt the same Marsha, Cedar Creek was a great church but I felt alone. I felt God telling me to volunteer, I was afraid but I finally listened. What a difference that made! I started meeting people and developing friendships. It wasn’t long and I got the courage to join a group as well. Groups and volunteering are a wonderful ways to meet others and grow spiritually together.

  4. Kathy Shortridge
    Kathy Shortridge says:

    Marsha, we were so blessed to have you in our group and are so thankful for your friendship still! Thank you for using your gifts and talents to glorify our Lord!
    Love you, friend! ❤️

  5. Casey Stengel
    Casey Stengel says:

    Thank you for sharing! You almost had my eyes welled up in tears reading that, it reminded me of the group I’m in and how much I care for each person in it.

  6. Tina Whalen
    Tina Whalen says:

    Thank you for sharing Marsha. It is amazing how a Life Group can fill you up. I started leading a Woman’s Life Group last winter after a gentle nudge from our Associate Pastor, Jason Dittus. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in awhile and I am so very grateful for this nudge. Here we are, on our 4th study. I have a gal that has been driving from Dundee Michigan to my house in Swanton for a year now because we fill her up. I have so many awesome stories about these Amazing Woman that i could type you a book right now.

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