Encouragement & Real Stories of Changed Lives

Full of new ideas, insights, and inspiration.

Remembering what the Lord has done: Fun ways to wrap your NBS

joan.web
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. Psalm 77:11

There's no doubt as you read God’s Word that “remembering” is a main theme. The Israelites were told over and over to remember what the Lord had done for them. Even Exodus 20:8 says “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” The Lord wants us to be revived in our minds with all we have learned from Him. As we grow spiritually, He wants us to take time to look back and ponder what He has shown us. When we wrap up our Neighborhood Bible Study year, this is exactly what we do.

Recalling what the Lord has taught us always leads us to celebrate!
Brunch and encouragement blast

Set aside the last day of Bible study for brunch. Have everyone bring salads or breakfast items for a longer time of conversation. On 3x5 cards (before everyone arrives), write the name of each woman who attended (one per card). After brunch, pass around the cards for each woman to write a note to the person whose name is on the card. Keep it short and simple. I have them answer a question like, "In what way have you seen this person grow spiritually this year?” Or “What do you most appreciate about this person in Bible study?” The ladies in my Bible study still have these notes from five years ago! Who knew encouragement would be so powerful?

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Who Doesn't Love a Party?

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Did you know that the Christmas season is the No. 1 time when people are most open to consider matters of faith? Among adult Americans, 47 percent of people are OPEN to matters of faith. There is no better SOCIAL season ... and no more open time in people's lives. Christmastime is a perfect time to DREAM dreams for the Kingdom of God!

Little did I know, when I spoke for two Christmas Gatherings in 1981, that it was the beginning of a lifelong adventure that would be used of God to touch lives literally all over the world! Today, through Christmas Gatherings, thousands have indicated that they have received Jesus Christ, and numerous follow-up Bible studies have been started. Not only have the Gatherings brought exciting changes in people’s lives through a relationship with Jesus Christ, but they also foster incomparable growth opportunities for Christians who want to reach out and share their faith with others.

What is a Christmas Gathering?


Christmas Gatherings are holiday parties! They feature seasonal goodies, sharing of Christmas traditions and a brief, non-threatening talk on the meaning of Christmas. They provide a time for people to invite their neighbors or other groups into their home to hear about the love of Jesus Christ. About one out of every three Gatherings causes enough interest in a Bible study to start a study for that group right in the neighborhood!


What are the benefits of a Christmas Gathering?



  • An opportunity to reach out to others and build loving relationships

  • Learning to share the Gospel clearly and with relevance

  • Modeling the simplicity of prayer - talking to God about the desires of our heart

  • Providing your home as a safe environment to not only hear about Jesus Christ, but also to learn about Him in His Word

  • Counteracts the trend of isolation. Many people are never invited into someone’s home, and they are honored to be included.

  • Requires only two people to initiate – host and speaker

  • The privilege of experiencing the joy of trusting God


How does it work?



  • Create an invitation that includes the phrase: “a friend will share some inspiring thoughts about Christmas.”

  • Present a 10 to 15-minute talk by someone other than the host that includes the following:




    • A Christmas theme

    • A clear non-threatening presentation of the Gospel

    • An opportunity to receive Jesus Christ

    • An opportunity to respond to the host and speaker

    • An opportunity to attend a Bible Study



The best part is that this is a simple idea that anyone can do! After reading the manual or attending a training session, people say they feel prepared to share Christ in their home or workplace. Our prayer is that God would create in each of us a heart that loves and cares enough about the people around us that we are compelled to lift Jesus up and share Him in a way that brings Him glory and moves people toward God.

The essence of the ministry of Christmas Gatherings is found in I Thessalonians 2:8: “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God, but our lives as well.”

Merry Christmas!

Find more Fresh Ideas here!



Joyce Bademan
Founder and National Director, Christmas Gatherings

From the website Christmas Gatherings ... Visit the website for a free download of a Christmas Gatherings manual in English, Spanish and Chinese! Like Christmas Gatherings on Facebook here.
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How My Daughter's Hatred of Tights Gave Birth to Cookie Tuesdays

Figuring out effective ways to connect with our neighbors doesn't have to be labor-intensive and full of angst. Sometimes it just happens! Jeanette, a blogger and busy mom of three in Franklin, Tenn., writes about how her daughter's hatred of ballet tights led to a burgeoning weekly gathering that allows neighbors and friends to connect and find a little sweetness in the midst of ordinary life.

Read Jeanette's blog post here.

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How Would You Feel if This Showed up at Your Door?

BlueBasket-1
Do you have a friend or neighbor who is feeling blue? A woman in my neighborhood Bible study, Amy, recently received some discouraging news about an adoption that she and her husband were going through. As a study, we really wanted to come around her, just love on her and give her some support. We came across the idea to make a “Blue Basket.”

We found different gifts that are blue -- the items themselves can be blue or you can wrap them in blue. They are small, personal gifts that may include a devotional with a blue cover, some blue bath salts or a CD. Another contribution could simply be a personal note. There are all sorts of things you could put into the basket. The idea is that you give your treasured friend a big basket full of goodies, notes and love. Let her know that whenever she is feeling blue, she can reach into the basket and pick out one of the presents.

Amy later told me how meaningful all of the things were that she received in the Blue Basket. She opened the included CD one day, and it was just the right music to lift her spirit. Even the simple notes made her feel loved and special. It gave her encouragement just when she needed it most.

 

 

Tara Thompson attended her first Bible Study ever in the summer of 2001, shortly after re-dedicating her life to Jesus Christ. She was hooked, and she stepped out in faith to start a Bible Study in her own neighborhood in the fall of 2005. She loves being a wife to John and mom to their three boys. With her treadmill and neighborhood tennis courts, she maintains her sanity amidst the craziness of this life, while loving every minute of it.
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Make a "Hearts for Healing" Quilt to Cover a Neighbor in Prayer

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The summer before last, I was asked to attend a “laying of the hands” prayer time for a sweet sister in Christ who was fighting cancer. Unfortunately, I was riding in my car on the way to a family vacation spot when I received the e-mail. The importance of this need for prayer washed over me, and I began to feel disappointed that I could not be present to lift her up. God called me to prayer in that moment and as I prayed, I imagined her sitting atop a quilt with a circle of loving friends praying healing prayers over her. I poured out prayers for healing,...“Heal her Lord, I know you can...I know you are the God of miraculous healing...You want us to live, to bring others to you...the longer we live, the more we can do...”

Fast forward a few months, and I am saying this prayer for another friend before she has brain surgery. As I prayed for her, the quilt vision came to me again, and I knew the quilt held some type of significance. As my friend healed from the brain surgery, I wanted her to be wrapped in healing and loving prayers. The quilt was a tangible way to make these prayers come to life for her. A quilting and prayer fellowship of friends and women just wanting to help sprang together in her honor and an amazing “Hearts for Healing” quilt was created. Soon after, the person who inspired the original quilt and other friends in need of prayer received quilts, too.

If your NBS group knows of someone who needs an extra dose of love, whether they are struggling with an illness, divorce, a financial setback, or any of life’s challenges, the “Hearts for Healing” quilt is a wonderful way to share your prayers and love. A quilt may seem like a difficult project to tackle, but if someone in your group, or community can sew, all your members need to do is pray for the person in need with a little heart in their hand; stitch it on to a 5x5 square, and they are done! The hearts do not have to be expertly stitched on the squares. A simple “in and out” stitch or whip stitch can be used. A rough edge around the heart creates character, so no need to know how to applique’ either.

The sweet “Hearts for Healing” quilt is more than just fabric and thread. It represents God’s love working through us and through our prayers. “...And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:14-15). “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). Prayer is the divine weapon given to us by our maker and wielded in power by our faith.

If a “Hearts for Healing” quilt seems like an impossible task, “Hearts for Healing” pillow instructions are offered as well. Or, instead of a quilt or pillow, just get together and pray for the person in need. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16). So start praying!

For instructions on how to create and assemble a pillow, see the links below or visit:
www.nbs2go.com/fresh-ideas/

Hearts for Healing Quilt Instructions

Hearts for Healing Pillow Instructions
JoAnn has been a servant of the Lord for over 35 years, at a young age heeding the call of His words, “For by Grace you have been saved through Faith. And this is not your doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) “Social Worker,” and “Legal Administrator” are former titles she left behind years ago to embrace the title she really longed for, “Mom.” The mother of two God-fearing boys and the wife of “the best person she knows,” JoAnn’s life is a testament of God’s grace and His insurmountable love. When she is not leading a Bible Study and sharing fellowship with friends, she is volunteering at school, writing, or making something with her hands. A transplant from Louisiana, she’s a Southern girl who loves calling Georgia home.

 

“Hearts for Healing” quilts are lovingly created by JoAnn Stensrud. Permission granted to use this idea to bless neighbors, friends and family. “Hearts for Healing” quilt concept copyrighted and may not be recreated for sale. Pillow kits may be purchased: http://www.etsy.com/shop/prettyi

 

 
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Top 5 Bible Studies for Your Neighborhood Bible Study

Calm My Anxious Heart
One of our most frequently asked questions is “What Bible studies do you recommend to lead in a neighborhood?”  Well, here are some of our favs for you!  TFT (Top Five Topical) Bible Studies list for neighborhoods…in our opinion…from people like you…for people like you!

 

 

 

“Calm My Anxious Heart” by Linda Dillow.  Tension Tamer tea is my beverage of choice most mornings.  Who doesn’t long for calm and contentment?  This book is easy peasy to read and lead in discussion.  It addresses relationships, circumstances, careers, etc.  It has 12 chapters.  Use this for a semester or double up the chapters and have a six week study.

 

 

 

 “Conversation Peace” by Mary Kasian.  I think a lawn mower running over me would have been more comfortable compared to what she just said to me.   Or…could someone please help me put those words back in my mouth?  This book is one of my favs!  It addresses how to have peace (receiving and giving) in your conversations.  Seven chapters and full of wisdom…you will love it.

 

 

 

 “Lord, Change My Attitude before it is Too Late” by James MacDonald.  Do you have “tude” in your house, neighborhood, or work?  This is a great study to lead among peers and will be applicable to all areas of life. It replaces 5 "bad" attitudes with more "godly" ones. It has ten chapters, and there is a workbook found in the back of the book.

 

 

 

“Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver.  A refreshing invitation for every woman who feels she isn't godly enough...isn't loving enough...isn't doing enough.  Invite your neighbors in for conversations of rest and intimacy with God.  This book has twelve chapters.

 

 

 

“Seven” by Jen Hatmaker.  Geesh.  No idea how to pose this one.  Except…if you thought “Radical” by David Platt was a convicting read, “Seven” is off the charts.  This book will make you stare in the mirror and cry out to God for both mercy and grace.  It is a book that will challenge your faith in amazing ways.  Have I scared you?  Good.  Go look for yourself.  This has, you guessed it, seven chapters.

 

 

 

So there you have it! These are just five of our favs . . . what would YOU recommend?   Share your favorite in the comment section below.

From our hearts,

Joan and the rest of the NBS2GO Girls

Our Team
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The Nativity


Take a driveway, several adorable children, a few bed sheets, some hockey sticks, a couple of bathrobes, and twine...what do you get? Bethlehem on My Street!

I have no formal training in play directing. I have never been to acting school. I have never been taught the skills of designing costumes. But, I do have a heart for children and I do have a heart for the story of Christ to be shared. A few years ago, I decided to have a nativity play...in my driveway. I love seeing neighborhood children have the spotlight right where they live. Instead of asking friends and neighbors to come to our local preschool or church we asked them to come around the corner. I had no idea who would come or be interested, but I wanted to try. We had one rehearsal. One. The small children had one or two lines each. The narrators held the words in their hands and read from papers. We had angels, shepherds, and a baby Jesus doll. We had a bale of straw. We had small puppets.

The afternoon of the play came. It was the coldest day of the year. One neighbor came, then another, then another. At last count 50 neighbors stood in our driveway to watch the 2,000 year old story being told.

A hush came over the crowd and a little voice said, “Today, in the city of David, a Savior has been born. He is Christ theLord.” Several of us became misty-eyed as the children of our neighborhood once again proclaimed the miracle of “Immanuel, God with us.” It lasted 15 minutes and was absolutely, indescribably simple and profound all at the same time.

I have included in this blog my simple play script. All you need is a few children and small bit of faith. God will do the rest! May He be proclaimed right where you live!

Nativity Script

Welcome: Narrator #1: King of Kings, Lamb of God, and Lord of Lords...these are the names that speak of the one true God. Today we are gathered to celebrate and bring honor to the One who is the King of Kings, the One whose name is above all names...Jesus Christ.

Narrator #2: Today we will share with you the true story of Christmas. This is the story of God the Father, God the Son who is Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit. God the Father made the heavens and the earth and all living creatures. He created us to have a trusting relationship with Him. When man sinned against God everything in the life of man changed. Most importantly the relationship between God and man was changed forever.

Narrator #3: No longer could imperfect man live in the presence of a perfect holy God. Because of sin, man was separated from His creator. But our God is loving and good. On the very day that sin entered the world, God promised He would send the World a Savior...

Narrator #1: This Savior’s name is Jesus. He would come and save the world from sin’s penalty, death. Those who believe in this Savior would not experience separation but would be forgiven of every sin against God. God’s promises were spoken through the prophets.

Narrator #2: “But you Bethlehem, though you were small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me, One who will be ruler of Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2

Narrator #3: “This is the promise I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. For I will forgive them and remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34

Narrator #1: “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Narrator #2: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign, the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

Narrator #3: God spoke through man regarding the One who would come to save the world from sin and suffering. The world looked for this King of Kings who would reign over His people...little did they know or understand that this King would come as a little baby in to the world...listen and hear of His humble beginnings

Narrator #1: This is Mary, a girl of Galilee. She lived long ago, but such a wonderful thing happened to her that we remember her and love her still. (Mary walks forward and stands in the center facing the audience.)

Narrator #1 continues...One day an angel appeared to Mary (Angel “Gabriel” steps forward and “Mary” kneels before angel head bowed.)

Angel: You are blessed among women, for you shall have a son, whom you shall name Jesus. He shall be called the Son of God and His Kingdom shall never end.

Mary: I am a servant of the Lord. May it be as you have said.

Narrator #2: Mary married a man from Nazareth. His name was Josephand he was a carpenter by trade. (Joseph enters and stands next to Mary.)When Joseph had to go from Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judea, to pay his taxes in his father’s town; Mary went with him. It was a long, weary journey for her. When they reached Bethlehem at last, they found many travelers there before them. The streets were full of cheerful, jostling kinsmen.

Narrator #2: The inns were crowded. Joseph went from inn to inn in search of a room.

Joseph: (Knock on 1st door.) I need a room.

Inn Keeper: We have no room.

Joseph: (Walk over to next door.) I need a room.

Inn Keeper #2: We have no room.

Joseph: (Walk back to center knock on door.) I need a room.

Inn Keeper #3: We have room in our stable.

Narrator #3: Though Joseph asked shelter only for his wife, every innkeeper turned them away. Joseph continued to search and at last one innkeeper, seeing Mary’s weariness and need, showed them to a stable full of warm sweet hay. There Mary brought forth her son (Mary picks up baby). She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the manger, since there was no room for them in the inn. (Mary holds baby close and places in manger.) Mary and Joseph were not alone in the stable (Puppets await cue and pop up one at a time.)

There was a cow (mooo), a donkey (eey-a) and alamb (baaa).

Cow: What is that in my manger?

Donkey: Not what friendly cow, but who!

Lamb: Who?

Donkey: This is the very Son of God. His name is Jesus. He is the King of Kings and the Savior of the world!

Lamb: Let’s all sing “Away in the Manger.”Piano and singing (while shepherds and angels go backstage.)

Narrator #1: There were in that same country shepherds in the field keeping watch over their flocks by night. “An angel of the Lord (Angel steps forward looking at shepherds) appeared to them in shining glory and they were all afraid. But the angel said to them...

Angel: Do not be afraid.

Narrator #1: ...which is always the first thing that angels say.

Angel: I come to bring you good news of great joy which shall come to all people. Today in the city of David a Savior has been born for you.

Narrator #1: The angel went on to say that they would find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Suddenly the sky was full of angels (enter younger angels) praising God and saying...

Younger angel: Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth!!

Narrator #2: When the angels disappeared into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, (shepherds huddle speaking to each other), “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing which the Lord has made known to us.”

Narrator #3: They hurried to the town and found Mary, Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. Afterwards the shepherds ran and told everyone they met about the child! (Go shepherds...run and tell.) Let’s all sing Silent Night. Piano and singing...

Narrator #1: This child was called Jesus the name given by the angel before He was born. Jesus grew into a man and did what no other man was capable of...he offered forgiveness with God. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6  He was fully man AND fully God.  He came to save us from the penalty of sin, which is death.  He came to give us meaning and purpose in life.  Christ came to change lives.

All children quote...”For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Merry Christmas!

Joan

Joan, with three teen sons and one preteen girl under her roof, is thankful for her husband and naps. Between laundry loads and fixing beef you might find her in the McDonald’s drive thru ordering a coke with extra ice and a chocolate chip cookie...because this is her happy place.
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10 Neighborhood Christmas Outreach Ideas


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The Thanksgiving Tree


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Housewarming Gift Ideas


Here's a fun idea for you and your neighbors!

Plan ahead by dropping your friends a note with the idea and a list of things that can go into the jars.  Schedule a date, (at your regularly scheduled NBS would be perfect!)  Gather the supplies and get creative!

You can make several at a time and have them on hand for the new neighbors when they move in - and even for those that are moving out...


 

Some items for the jars could be :  measuring tape, mini hammer,  picture hangers, 6-in-1 screwdriver set, 2 extension cords (white and brown which would blend better on their wood floors or white walls), line level, or kitchen towels. You could even paint the lids with chalk board paint! Add a bow and, TA DA... Blessings abound.

What would you fill the jars with?
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Blessing Bags


Blessing bags are a great service project to prepare together within your NBS.  One blessing bag is kept by each person.  In the future, whenever an NBS member sees someone in need during day-to-day commutes or in travels, they may bless the individual (or family) with the bag.  This is a neat answer to those we see holding signs, asking for money or help.

The goal is for each of member to leave with at least one bag.  Following is a list of supplies.  Divide the chosen items amongst your members.  Have each person bring the appropriate number of items.  For example, 10 bars of soap if there are 10 members in the study.  Many of these items can be purchased at a dollar or discount store.  With each person remitting their items, then assemble the bags so that every bag contains one of each item on the list.  Simple!

Gallon size Ziplock bags
Items to go in the bags, such as:

  • Chap Stick

  • Packages of tissues

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

  • Comb

  • Soap

  • Trail mix

  • Granola bars

  • Crackers

  • Pack of gum

  • Band aids

  • Mouthwash

  • Coins (could be used to make a phone call, or purchase a food item)

  • Hand wipes

  • You could also put in a warm pair of socks, and maybe a Starbucks gift card

  • Small Bible

  • Bible verses on paper or cards



Do you have nay thing to add to this list? have you participated in this service project before? Tell us about it!

 

“From the Lord comes deliverance.  May your blessing be on your people."   Psalm 3:8 NIV

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What is NBS2GO?

NBS2GO = Neighbor Bible Studies 2GO - nbs2go.com is simply the packaging of ideas, resources, and inspiration to equip believers to launch and multiply Bible study groups.


What's the big deal about a Bible study group?

Like a one-room schoolhouse, a Bible study group brings together a wide range of seekers and Christ-followers to study, discuss, and encourage one another toward life application of God’s Word. This blending of spiritual maturity levels creates a dynamic, life-transforming community. Friendships are formed, and group members are equipped to minister to others where they do life. Life transformation and multiplication!

NLT Scripture references on nbs2go.com and in publications, unless otherwise noted.

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