Encouragement & Real Stories of Changed Lives

Full of new ideas, insights, and inspiration.

My head says GYM My heart says NACHOS

My head says GYM my heart says NACHOS.Who else can relate to this?The beginning of the year always holds grand thoughts of that 10 lbs. I want to lose, or organizing my entire house, or the budget I want to live by.  What are your grand thoughts?  Do you have aspirations for this year?My head says, “take the initiative with my neighbors.”My heart says,*too much fear of rejection*I’m tired*someone else will do it*my house isn’t pretty*I don’t know enough about the Bible*I’m hurting*I don’t know howAs this year begins we want you to know that we are praying for you. Many of you have communicated that you are pro-actively reaching out to your “neighbors.” We rejoice with you!  Many of you have communicated your desires to do so but you face barriers like the ones mentioned above.  We understand!Personally, I am heading into my 10th year of leading a neighborhood Bible study.  In many ways that sounds like a lot of years.  In some ways, it feels like I just got started.  And to be perfectly honest I face internal hurdles just like I did the first year.  Will anyone be interested?  Will I sit alone? Will I know the answers to their questions? Will the Lord show up and teach us what He wants us to know?  Will there be genuine life change?  Will this make a difference anyway?What is it with us humans?  Vulnerable.  I just feel vulnerable.  Do you ever stop to wonder if Jesus felt that way?  In his humanness, certainly there had to be times when he felt this.  This has deeply encouraged me each year as I trust Him to continue to reach out.  By faith, I press on.  By faith, I will put my neighbors lives in front of my fears.  By faith, I trust that God is “drawing men unto Himself.”I choose to live by faith.  Will you come along side of me and do the same?  I need you to gather around me and pray.  Our team wants to gather around you and pray for you. We need one another.  We need to trust the Lord together.Please drop us a note, give us an update, let us know how we can gather around you and pray for you. Connect with us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. fellow human,Joanfor the NBS2go team Joan, with three sons (21, 20, and 17 years old) and one girl (15), is thankful for her large capacity washer and naps.  She loves Mountain Dew, dance parties in the kitchen when all her kids are home, and laughing about anything. She remains bewildered with God's indescribable and constant love for her in the midst of heartaches and plain normal days. 
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Seven Weeks, 12,000 Miles and Eight Flat Tires

When I was a child, our family loved to travel, camp and explore God’s creation. One summer we had one of those vacations of a lifetime!  For seven and a half weeks, we traveled 3,000 miles from Michigan to Alaska and back. Mid-summer, the four of us piled into our red station wagon with a hand-made sign, “Alaska or Bust” proudly displayed in the back window. We drove north through Michigan into Canada where we began our trek to Alaska on the hard-packed gravel road called the “Al-Can Highway.”

As a child, it never occurred to me to consider the time, preparation and money my parents put into this grand adventure. I never once worried about what we would eat, where we would sleep, what we would wear or what would happen if the car broke down. My parents thought through every detail of our seven-and-a-half week trip and took care of everything. My brother and I just had fun! A simple example of my parents’ preparation was visible on top of our car.My Dad anticipated many flat tires along the uninhabited highway. He had purchased and strapped two extra tires to the luggage rack. Believe it or not, we had eight flats! But, I never even considered it to be my problem to solve. Dad took care of everything while my brother Dan and I explored, played and picked wildflowers. Mom used the stops as opportunities to make sandwiches or prepare snacks.This was a totally stress-free vacation for us as children because our parents had gone before us in the planning. We traveled with them, and they took care of everything expected and unexpected during the 12,000 miles of vacation.Isn’t this the heartbeat our heavenly Father has for us? We are His children, and His plan includes taking care of everything expected and unexpected from now to eternity. Enjoy being God’s child….it’s “Heaven or Bust.”

            Psalm 131:1-3                        Matt 6:25-34                           I Peter 5:7

Find more Fresh Stories here!Debbie McGoldrick is the founder of NBS2GO and blessed to be married to Mark and the adoptive mother of Melissa and Matt. Debbie is an avid collector of heart rocks and shells, a lover of color and always looking for a reason to go to the beach. 
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New Year’s Resolutions: Will I Walk on Water or Stay in the Boat?

I usually don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. There are enough things I fail to do on a regular basis -- why would I add to the list? But, this past year I did. I made a big one: I resolved to give up fear. Fear of man, that is.I decided that I was not going to allow the fear of man to influence me in any way. I would follow God wherever He led me, and I would do whatever He told me. I would not be intimidated into silence or complacency. I would be His to use however He saw fit regardless of the consequences.Wish I could say that I have had a successful year ... that I have been God’s faithful servant, and that my resolution has become my reality. But, alas, I have not conquered my fear of man. That desire to please people is hard to shake. And it comes dressed up in so many disguises. But it has been an interesting year, and I've learned some important things: God honors my desire to please Him. Even when I fail and allow my fear to keep me from doing what I know I should, He is right there with me, cheering me on. He does not condemn my weakness or shame my pitiful efforts. He reminds me that His power is made perfect in my weakness, that He loves me still and that He is with me and for me. Sometimes God takes me to lonely places to teach me to be strong for Him. I don’t always like this. I like a good party with good girlfriends and lots of laughter. But, giving up my people-pleasing ways sometimes means I walk alone with Him. There is always more at stake than I can see. Choosing God over man (or myself) always involves something bigger. It's never just about the thing before me. It's usually about something more significant and someone else. Sometimes God lets me participate with Him in something really big and cool! I often remind myself that I have to get out of the boat to walk on water, which can be scary and seemingly crazy. But, I can trust God and walk on water or follow man and stay safely in the boat. I’d rather walk on water.So, you may be asking and rightly so, what in the world does this have to do with neighborhood Bible studies? Well, EVERYTHING, maybe. We know that it's God's desire to reach the lost. We know that there are lost people all around us and in our neighborhoods. We know that we have been called to love our neighbors. And we know that sharing the Word of God with our neighbors is the most loving thing we can do.What then keeps us from beginning a neighborhood Bible study? Is it the fear of man? The fear of rejection? The desire to be seen in a certain way? The desire to be accepted? The fear of not measuring up or of not being qualified? What keeps us from taking the next step? Perhaps it’s time to trust God and step out of the boat. Perhaps it’s time to make your own resolution. Perhaps it’s time to give up fear and follow God! And if you get to walk on water, you’ll never want to ride safely in the boat again ... I promise.Lisa Hankins is a native Georgian and the leader of a Neighborhood Bible Study with a passion to help others find healing by trusting Christ with their brokenness. Lisa lives with her husband Richard and their two sons. When she is not shuttling her boys to various activities, she is busy serving as the sponsorship coordinator for an orphanage and school in Uganda called Hands of Love. Her favorite verse is Hebrews 10:25: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
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Lord, don't I need new furniture?

And in today’s story, the key to a successful neighborhood Bible study is an old, sunken in couch.Just as we promised here is Part 2 of Nancy Samra's story. Part 1 was posted Monday, December 5th. Scene 3: My husband built the houses we lived in. At this point in time, we had a brand new home but my husband was changing businesses, requiring us to live on a strict budget. As a result, the living room couches were in desperate need of replacement but were not going to be replaced. I was upset with God because, after all, since I was willing to open up my home for Him the least He could do was provide nice furniture. I thought for sure it would happen when one of our friends sat down on the couch and sunk down so low we had to help her up. Now my husband would see the need for new couches. But all he did was turn the couch upside down and pound a board across the bottom.We were having a neighborhood Bible study with couples. Some of the attendees had a couple on their street they wanted to bring. Although the wife was willing, the husband was not. I will never forget his first evening. The two men came into my home literally dragging this third guy in. Oh, oh, I thought to myself.Not only did this man stay for the evening, he and his wife continued to come back time after time. One of those times he prayed to receive Christ.  We were all overjoyed. When I asked him why he came back when he was so resistant, he told me that walking up to my house was threatening but when he came into my living room that first night, my furniture reminded him of his childhood home.Lesson learned:  Physical appearance or size does not matter.  Willingly open your home with whatever God has provided for you and He will do the rest. SCENE 4:  I was hosting a weekly neighborhood women’s Bible study at my home. On one particular morning, the phone kept ringing with the all kinds of reason why each lady would not be there that morning.  Finally, it came down to only one lady who was able to attend.I told my husband that I was going cancel this week's study and we would pick it up next week. My husband told me that I could not do that. When I asked him why he replied that if I were to cancel on the woman who could come, I was telling her she wasn't important. Needless to say, I took his advice and let her come, explaining after she got there that it was just going to be the two of us.  She asked all kinds of questions that day. She did not know the Lord and was too embarrassed to ask these questions in front of the group.  She prayed to receive Christ and later on so did her husband and two sons. Eventually, they joined our church and began serving the Lord in all sorts of ways.Lesson learned: Numbers do not matter. God is a personal God who is interested in individuals. Success is never based on how many people are in attendance. SCENE 5: Fast forward to today. I am a mentor mom for my daughter’s neighborhood Bible study. I got grand-mothered in when we were temporarily living with my daughter and her family while we looked for a place to live.  We were living in a brand new condo when my husband was diagnosed with dementia.  I saw the handwriting on the wall and knew that if I was going to care for him at home, Iwas going to need my children's help and I needed to make it convenient for them.  Well, our condo sold before we found a house.I attended while I lived with her but told myself I was too old and needed not to be there when I moved out of her home. I had heard about a book called, Giddy Up Eunice, and read it just before I was going to tell everyone that I wouldn't be back to Bible study. It was all about the need for the older women to mentor the younger ones. It was God convicting me not to leave the group, not to buy into Satan's lies concerning age. I stayed on and have seen much fruit from my time with these young women.Lesson learned: Age is not a barrier to service, especially old age. In fact, my son says I am at the prime of my serving years. One of the fringe benefits of having Bible studies in our home is the impact on my children. All their growing up years this is what my children saw. As a result, they figured this what you are supposed to do and I never said otherwise. All of them have had Bible studies in their homes and joy of all joys, my granddaughter had a Bible study this summer with eight of her high school friends, some of whom do not attend church.As I look back, I see how I’ve been wooed with a grace I don’t deserve. I’ve experienced love like I could never imagine. It’s the quiet whisper of a breeze, the powerful pull of the ocean’s tide, thunder across the skies, deep rumbling laughter. It’s beautiful, it’s scary, it’s wondrous.It’s understanding that God’s character is predictable but His activities are unpredictable. I have learned that instead of just accepting His unpredictability, I can actually appreciate and embrace it because HE IS an AMAZING GOD! Haven't you enjoyed reading Nancy's story?  Would you take a minute and respond and let her know how she encouraged you?As you set your thoughts on the new year think of the lesson's Nancy has shared with us.  Am I willing to trust the Lord with opening my home?  How do I evaluate success in reaching out to my neighbors?  Am I willing to fail?  Am I worried about my age, my ability, my knowledge?  
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Hospitality is not from the hands; it's from the heart

Lean in close and “listen” to this story from Nancy Samra. Nancy has been a member of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan for 26 yrs. Widowed after 48 years of marriage, she is a mother of three, grandmother of eleven and spiritual mom to a number of others. Her greatest joy is being able to continue to serve the Lord. Her son, Jim Samra, is the head pastor of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids. This is the story of her loosening her grip on her plans, desires and dreams. We will post it in 2 separate posts. We don’t want you to miss ANYTHING! PART 1

Play On! Scenes from the Film of my Life

By Nancy Samra

 I have come to realize God is at work in my life beyond my expectations. He is an out-of-the-box God and when I encountered Him nothing was ever the same again. When He comes to us, he calls us to a new vision, a new way, a new dream. He has no problem interrupting our ordinary lives with a call to the extraordinary. And He expects us to loosen our grip on our plans, our desires, and our dreams and take on His. And when we do, it’s like being on a crazy roller-coaster ride with Jesus beside you.            Here’s my story….SCENE 1: I came to know the Lord at a neighborhood Bible study. It was held at a church near my home but it was this church’s first outreach into the community. On Wednesday mornings the only people from the church were the group leaders, assistantsand the child care workers. They had their own church women’s Bible study on Tuesday mornings.The church targeted neighborhoods around the church and put flyers in everyone’s mailbox. The free childcare definitely drew me in. I had a rambunctious child named Jim and was eager for a break!Very religious and working my way into heaven, I would have never listened to someone witness to me. God in His grace used a non-threatening Bible Study in my neighborhood on the Gospel of John to introduce me to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.Lesson Learned: A prayerful willingness to provide a nonthreatening environment to enable people to get into Scripture is all that is needed—Our amazing God can do the rest.SCENE 2: Both my husband and I had become believers and found ourselves in a new church where we were growing. Reaching out to invite people into our home for Bible study was a foreign concept to me. However, the church was asking people to volunteer their homes and invite people from the neighborhood to attend two meetings where the pastor would do a walk thru of the Old and New Testament. They would provide the invitations and we just filled in the date, time and our address.  My husband insisted we sign up for one of the slots.One evening we had just settled the kids down when the doorbell rang. It was a couple from churchdropping off our set of invitations. Instead of just taking the invitations from them, my husband invited them in. I excused myself to go into the kitchen, put on some coffee, and come up with something to serve. To appreciate this, you have to understand my Middle Eastern background and that culture's attitude toward hospitality. I had not been to the store that week and the cupboard was bare. I stood in the pantry desperately praying, "Dear God, a raisin, a graham cracker, a marshmallow--please let me come up with something to serve." Words will never convey the desperation I felt as I begged God for a miracle.Just then the doorbell rang again. There stood a friend of mine with a warm apple pie.  She told me she was going to bring it the next day as a thank you but then decided to bring it while it was still warm. Definitely a miracle and answer to my prayer.The next morning, as I was once again profusely thanking God for that pie, He said to me.  "Pay attention. I won't be doing this again. I understood your need last night but this is not a true need. Hospitality comes from the heart not the hands. You can make anyone feel welcome in your home regardless of whether you serve food or not."Lesson learned:  Hospitality is not from our hands; it’s from the heart.  Making people feel warm and welcomed does not require food. A necessary lesson because when the meetings were over some of the couples wanted to continue meeting for Bible study and George offered our home.  I agreed because I did not have to prepare refreshments! Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!Grateful for you,Joan Parsonsfor the NBS2go team
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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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